When I think of Jamaica, I think of white sandy beaches, spectacular sunsets and dancing to reggae on the beach whist sipping rum and that’s exactly what I got on my very first visit to this amazing island.
We split our time in Jamacia between the stunning Montego Bay and the Southern town of Negril. These are two very different areas both of which have plenty to offer honeymooners and couples wanting to tie the knot on this stunning Caribbean Island.
Upon arrival in Montego Bay we made our way to the beautiful Half Moon resort which is nestled on a two-mile crescent-shaped beach on Jamaica’s northern coast. This gorgeous resort was the perfect place to start our week of relaxation. Spread over 400-acres and surrounded by lush landscaped gardens, two miles of private white sand beach and the sparkling Caribbean sea, this is a truly heavenly spot to begin your newly married life.
The accommodation at Half Moon comprises of a large number of quaint whitewashed cottages as well as 33 private villas. Each villa features an en-suite bathroom, private swimming pool and your very own butler, cook and housekeeper to attend to your every need. All the accommodation comes with the most spectacular views. Our patio was the perfect place to spend the evening after a hard days relaxing, lying back watching the sun setting over the sea as we sipped on champagne. Later, we had one of the trained masseuses come and give us a blissful massage before sinking in to the large tub for a relaxing hot bubble bath and finally retreating to the enormous bed looking out over the star filled sky.
There is no lack of activities at Half Moon, whether you like to keep busy and active or kick back and relax, their 18 hole golf course, natural dolphin lagoon, 54 swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centre, equestrian centre, and not to mention their award-winning Fern Tree Spa will keep you as busy or as blissfully relaxed as you choose.
The award winning spa was one of the highlights of our stay. The 68,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor sanctuary for the mind and body was inspired by Jamaica’s lush landscape and centuries-old healing traditions. Here, guests can indulge in a personalised spa experience designed to achieve complete wellness and utter relaxation. With aromatherapy steam rooms, outdoor yoga pavilion and treatments such as West Indies Scalp and Body Massage and Coconut Milk and Sacred Lotus Soak all of your stress will slip away in no time. You can even opt to have your treatments in the Overwater Spa Bunglaow that juts out over the sea on its own wooden pier. Even if you are not having any treatments there are plenty of tucked away areas at the spa where you can lie back and relax with a book or slip into one of the outdoor lagoon pools or waterfalls for a relaxing swim.
There are a number of restaurants at the resort so whether you are in the mood for a beach barbecue, contemporary Caribbean fusion or a four-course meal in your villa, you couldn’t possibly tire of all the exciting options to tempt your palette.
Half Moon is not just perfect for honeymooners, it also makes a fantastic location for weddings. With so many scenic spots across the resort you would be spoilt for choice. Whether you envisage a large beach wedding on the sand or a small intimate candlelit reception under the stars at the old Sugar Mill, their fantastic wedding team will work with you to create your perfect wedding.
There are plenty of other impressive accommodations in Montego Bay such as Silent Waters, one of the most glamorous private homes on the island, which is located on one of the highest mountaintops overlooking Montego Bay making it an ideal wedding location. Highland House which is nestled in an idyllic mountain setting with mango trees, papaya groves, towering palms and vivid gardens, covering 7,000 square feet is another excellent choice. With six bedroom suites, the estate can accommodate up to 12 guests for overnight stays and larger parties for weddings. Another great spot for tying the knot is on Sandals Royal Caribbean Private Island. Their resort in Montego Bay has its own small private island which you can hire exclusively for around £3,000.
Montego Bay has plenty to keep you busy from helicopter rides over the island to zip-lining through the jungle or rafting down the river on a bamboo raft. One of my highlights was a horse riding tour that we did with a local company called Chukka. This was a really relaxing two hour ride though the countryside which ended with the horses going for a swim in the sea which was an amazing experience.
There is also great nightlife in Montego Bay with a wide variety of buzzing spots to eat and drink at. A must visit is Margaritaville where you can dance the night away with lovely rum cocktails and for sunset cocktails there is no better place than Pier 1. For food, some must-visits are The Sugar Mill at Half Moon, The HouseBoat which is a great experience dining on the water, Margarites which is a lovely seafood restaurant and The Native which serves up lovely local cuisine. Of course, no trip to Jamaica would be complete without a visit to Juicy Patties, a fast food chain selling the most delicious traditional Jamaican patties. Don’t be put off by the look of the place, they are truly the most scrumptious snacks, try the beef and cheese patty, you won’t be disappointed!
After a few days of exploring Montego Bay we were ready for the next part of our stay and headed to the beautiful southern town of Negril. There are many fantastic places to stay in this area of the island with a host of small and intimate boutique hotels set on the cliff’s edge overlooking the crystal waters. One such example is the Rock House resort which is a small collection of 34 thatched-roof villas with private sun-bathing decks perched on the edge of the cliffs and another is the Tensing Pen Resort which is a collection of wood, thatch and cut stone cottages and suites, also overlooking the sea. Mixing rustic with luxury, these boutique accommodations offer some of the most romantic experiences for couples looking to escape the larger more commercial resorts.
My favourite accommodation in Negril, however, was The Caves which are part of the Island outpost collection of properties owned by music producer Chris Blackwell. Poised on the limestone cliffs of Negril’s scenic West End strip the resort comprises of just twelve exclusive wood and stone thatch-roofed cottages that are interwoven between two acres of lush vegetation and sea caves.
Each cottage is uniquely designed and decorated giving it a very different feel from the next.
The resort also features a number of decks for sunbathing and relaxing with pools nestled in to the cliffs and the famous ‘jumping’ platforms dotted around where you can leap off the cliffs in to the crystal clear waters and explore the caves. Of course one of the highlights is the resort’s two main caves nestled in to the cliff’s edge where you can have a private candle-lit romantic meal for two or even a cave hot tub with champagne.
The property has a very intimate feel and with only 12 rooms, there are never more than about 25 guests staying. This is definitely one of the most romantic places to stay on your honeymoon and would also make the most stunning wedding venue for a cliff top ceremony and reception.
The nightlife in Negril is fantastic. The Blackwell Rum Bar at The Caves is a great spot for sunset drinks and then why not head out to the famous Ricks Café for some live reggae and dancing, no trip to Jamaica would be complete without a visit.
For food you must try Bourbon Beach, it is a great place to go and eat some traditional jerk chicken and most people agree it’s the best in town. Push Cart at the Rock House resort, which overlooks the sea, is another good place for local flavours and Kuyaba is a lovely beachside spot which serves fantastic seafood.
The activities in Negril are brilliant and range from deep sea fishing to scuba diving and crocodile safaris. One that is not to be missed is The Regency Experience, an amazing boat trip run by Jam Water Sport. Here you are taken out, just the two of you, on an incredible speedboat and given a private tour of some of Negril’s highlights while you sit back and sip some chilled champagne.
With so much variety when it comes to accommodation, activities and experiences Jamaica is a perfect destination for a Caribbean honeymoon. To find our more about Jamaica you can visit www.visitjamaica.com
Most of the major airlines fly to Montego Bay and Negril and it is roughly a 10 hour flight from the UK. We flew out with BA in Club World which is a very worthwhile experience for your honeymoon. With large comfy seats that convert in to flat beds, individual TV screens and cabin crew who take care of your every need this is definitely the way to fly. For me there is nothing worse than trying to get to sleep on a plane when you have a long flight but with these comfy beds I found it hard to get through the first movie before I was dozing of in to a peaceful sleep. I was also really impressed with their Club Kitchen which is fully stocked with savory and sweet snacks and a large selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Club World passengers can help themselves at any time during the flight so, of course, I over indulged in the delicious Cornish ice-cream and endless glasses of wine, a pretty good way to end your honeymoon!
British Airways offers 7 nights at the 5* Half Moon in Jamaica from £1039 per person based on October departures. This includes return flights from Gatwick and room only accommodation, based on two sharing.