We were dying to get away from winter, but had no plans till April, so, last minute, I tried to book a trip to Jamaica (during the school vacation). We were able to get out on a Sunday, then return on Thursday. We found a hotel/resort in Ocho Rios online for a reasonable price, and booked it. We were immediately disappointed when we arrived, since the resort was old and somewhat run down, but we decided to stick it out.
On Monday, we went down to the beach (thankfully our hotel was right on the beach). The beach was nice, but, almost immediately after we arrived, we were accosted by a local who was trying to sell us various excursions. We finally told him, maybe tomorrow, that we wanted to enjoy the beach, so he left. Later that day, we went to a rental car agency in town (we had made a reservation before arriving) and picked up our car. Driving is on the left in Jamaica, just like England. We took a short drive to Dunn’s River Falls, a rather unique and very pleasant place where visitors can pay a fee to walk, climb, and stumble up a lengthy series of cascades. The rocks are an unusual shade of light, yellowish brown and the water is cool and refreshing. You can even hire a guide to lead you up the falls.
We then traveled westward to Montego Bay where we checked out the beach and the community (wishing we had stayed here, since the resorts looked much nicer) and then returned to Ocho Rios.
Before returning to our hotel, we drove through another local oddity, Fern Gully, which was like a tunnel of dense foliage which extends over the winding roadway, reduces light considerably and creates a rather eerie experience. It also is only a few miles outside of town.
The next day we took our longest excursion, a hair-raising ride on narrow, winding, mountain roads (the condition of the roads in Jamaica is horrible, with numerous pot holes, wash outs, etc) to the capital, Kingston. All the guidebooks maintain that this is essential Jamaica. We found it unpleasant, unattractive, seedy and a colossal waste of time. The only redeeming feature of this "scenic drive" was our introduction to Blue Mountain Coffee, which we truly enjoyed and which was the only item we brought back from Jamaica.
On Wednesday, we were back on the beach, trying to finally rid ourselves of those winter doldrums. We were approached again by our enterprising friend, but again we put him off by promising tomorrow, knowing full well that we would be leaving in the morning to return home.
1. Last minute trips are risky, in the sense that you probably do not do the normal amount of research, and you can’t be picky about flights or accomodations, since the good places have already been booked. Remedy: Do not take last-minute trips or find places that are not "in season" or are not as popular.
2. Unfortunately, there are many places around the world which are somewhat dangerous to visit. We were warned, prior to this trip, that walking at night in the town of Ocho Rios may not be safe. We did, one evening, take a short walk into town, to the local gathering place, but only because I felt certain that my size would discourage anyone from bothering us. We were looked at a bit strangely, but did not have a problem.