Work was stressful and life was a little crazy so I needed a quick getaway. I haven’t been to Jamaica and I was anxious to try the Bioluminescence Tour where they actually let you get in the water.
I normally fly out of Atlanta. Since I’m from there, I drive from Columbia, SC and stay an extra day to see a friend or two. However, Delta had cheaper flights leaving from Columbia than Atlanta, which hardly ever happens. So, I decided to fly straight from Columbia. BIG MISTAKE! The Columbia airport is so tiny and the planes are as well. The plane had maintenance issues so they delayed my flight. I missed my connecting flight leaving from Atlanta, to Jamaica. I was so frustrated because I normally just drive to Atlanta. Long story short, I missed every flight from Atlanta to Jamaica that day. The airline put me in a crappy hotel in Atlanta for the night and I missed one whole day of my Jamaica trip.
I purchased a Groupon promotion for The Grand Palladium Resort and Spa. The traveling agency was JetSet Vacations which is affiliated with Travel by Jen. The lady was very nice reserving everything and I actually called her crying when my flight got delayed. Yes, I’m very emotional when I’m stressed and things are out of my control. I definitely have control issues. I asked if she could extend my reservation one day since I missed my first day. She was able to, so that made me very happy because the reservation said no changes or refunds.
I finally get to Jamaica and there was supposed to be a cab waiting for me to take me to the resort that was set up through JetSet. There was no one with a sign with my name on it so I start asking the people at the kiosks and no one heard of JetSet. Already having one meltdown at the airport was enough in a 24 hour period so I kept my cool and just kept asking. They sent me back and forth and tried to hustle me to pay for a cab. Eventually someone took me to a kiosk that had my reservation. Oh btw I did email the traveling agency and never heard back until Monday. I don’t know if they have an emergency contact for situations like this where you need immediate help but I didn’t have that information, if they do.
Finally I am in the cab on my way to my resort. I’ve heard Jamaica is so relaxed and everyone is like no worries mon, no problem mon (did you hear my Jamaican accent? lol). Well, I have to say I disagree! Everyone is in intense hustle mode. Everyone wants a tip and is not afraid to ask for it. It’s not even a pleasant hustle, it’s a very pushy, stressed out hustle. I felt like they’re hustling for their next meal and haven’t eaten in a week. The Jamaicans didn’t seem relaxed and carefree to me at all.
When I arrived at the Grand Palladium I had to wait because my room was not ready. But my first impression of the place was great. It was beautiful.
I went to eat at the complimentary buffet because it is an all inclusive resort. The food was average. I would have liked more Caribbean food but it was very Americanized. Finally my room was ready! The person driving the cart was informing me that there are two sides of the resort and the side I was staying on was the older side. Oh great, I sarcastically said in my head but when I walked in I was pleasantly surprised. The room was beautiful!
The view was nice, showed the resort but the ocean peeked through from the corner.
My only complaint is the jacuzzi tub had paint peeling off of it. Yes, a jacuzzi tub in the room, which I didn’t use because of the pealing paint. Lets be honest, I didn’t spend much time IN my room. If they resurface the tub, the room would be perfection!
So the first day I spent at the resort. I ate, explored the resort and I watched a show. The show was decent. The best part of my day was taking pictures. If anyone knows me, they know I love to take pictures. I found one of the resort photographers and convinced him to basically give me my own mini photoshoot.
I enjoyed that and tipped the guy a $20 and he didn’t seem to pleased, maybe I should have tipped him more.
That night I chose to eat at an Indian restaurant at the resort for dinner. It was pretty good. The decorations in the restaurant were really pretty. Again, it was a beautiful resort.
The entertainment was also very Americanized. I wanted to hear reggae and soca. But I guess you hear Amaerican music at a resort even if you are in Jamaica. I was invited to a party outside of the resort but me being a female and traveling alone I politely declined.
So, the next day it was time to explore! I’m pretty sure I got hustled but I paid a cab driver that was at the transportation table in the resort to drive me around for a few hours. I paid him $100. He did more than just drive me around to a million places, he took pictures of me, held my purse, watched my stuff while I ran around the beach. So, I can’t complain. Well, he did make a stop that made me nervous and brought weed while with me. That was pretty disturbing but it is legal over there.
I explored Negril. First he took me to some old fort. It had a beautiful view.
Then we went to the 7 mile beach in Negril. The water was so beautiful! After that, we went to Xtabi because my friend Tina told me about some really cool caves. The caves were amazing!!! The beautiful water, people cliff diving, the excitement of being inside of a cave, this is definitely a must see!
After exploring the caves I had to grab some lunch at Ricks Cafe. Also a recommendation from my friend Tina, and TT never steers me wrong.
The food was so good! Way better then the resort food. I had the Jerk Chicken Pasta. OMG! So delish! I had to take my food to go because I needed to make it back for my Bioluminecne Tour.
The bioluminence tour was magical. Now, I’ve seen one before in Costa Rica, but I was a kayak. This one you can actually get in the water. I was able to get a photo and a video of one of the tour guides jumping into the water. AMAZING!
The tour guide and the bus driver of course asked for tips, which I guess is normal there but it made me want to tip less. I don’t think they should say, ‘make sure you take care of your driver and tour guide’.
Don’t get me wrong the experience is amazing and Jamaica is beautiful but be prepared for the pushy hustle. I’ve been to Costa Rica, The Bahamas, Mexico, Trinidad, and Dominican Republic and no other Caribbean people were pushy and hustled to that extent, even in the tourist areas. So just be prepared for that.
It was a quick trip and I do want to go back one day. The beach in Negril is beautiful and hopefully I’ll get to explore more parts of Jamaica next time. Until then, every ting irie mon!
Be sure to check out my 360 degree video footage of Jamaica, coming soon!