Travel Plan Idea – 5 Romantic Days in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The year-round tropical climate of Jamaica attracts all types of travelers from celebrities and the very rich to college kids on spring break, families, honeymooners, and solo travelers. Made famous by the songs of Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley, and Lee Scratch Perry, as well as today’s favorite rock stars, Jamaica is an island of art, reggae music, and dance. Featured in the first James Bond movie, Dr No and the more recent Live & Let Die, the resort area of Ocho Rios is a popular vacation and cruise ship destination known for the natural beauty of waterfalls, white sand beaches, and lush tropical vegetation. This itinerary will appeal especially to couples for their wedding, anniversary, or for that rare opportunity to spend quality time together in an unforgettable romantic getaway.

Day One – Arrive Montego Bay Airport and take the shuttle bus to the Couples San Souci adults-only resort about 70 miles from the airport.

(Note: The new Ian Fleming International Airport named after the creator of James Bond and resident of Jamaica in the 50’s and 60’s serves private and charter aircraft only.)

Check into a luxurious suite equipped with colonial style furnishings and modern amenities, as well as an amazing view of mountains, gardens, and the Caribbean Sea from the private balcony/terrace. Experience the romantic ambiance of this fantastic 35-acre resort while strolling on the beach at sunset or wandering through the lovely gardens filled with exotic plants and sounds of tropical birds. Before dinner, indulge in an hour or two of personal pampering or couples massage in a private cabana at Charlie’s Spa. $50 & up.

Dine tonight at the Palazzina restaurant featuring a wide selection of delicious entrees, desserts, coffees and teas. Excellent service. Reservations required. Hours: Breakfast, 7:30 -10:30am, Lunch, 12:30-3pm, Dinner, 6:30pm. Closed Tues & Fri.

Relax with an after dinner drink at the Balloon Bar while enjoying piano music or mingling with other guests of the resort. Make it an early night before all day sightseeing tomorrow.
Resort Rates: $490/per couple a night (all inclusive). Special off-site excursions and numerous complimentary activities included. Packages & bonuses available.

Day Two – Exploring the Sights

After breakfast, begin with an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, a unique national treasure of natural springs less than 5 miles from the hotel. Extending over 600′ wide and emptying into the Caribbean Sea, the 100′ high Falls are relatively easy to climb accompanied by a guide. Not into climbing, you can watch the others from balconies by the falls or from the beach below. Just a few minutes away is Dolphin’s Cove where you can spend several hours with various activities such as interacting with the fish, snorkeling or viewing the amazing marine line from a glass bottom kayak, meandering through the nature trails, watching the Shark Show, taking photos, and visiting the gift shop for local artwork, music, and island souvenirs. Enjoy the buffet lunch and a refreshing rum cocktail or the local Red Stripe beer. If you like spicy, pepper hot food, be sure and order the Jerk Chicken or Pork (spicy barbequed meat). Lunch: $12/pp.
General Admission: $45p/p. Prices vary for individual activities.

This afternoon there’s time for an educational, leisurely visit to the 18th century Prospect Plantation before returning to the hotel. Open air jitneys take Dolphin Cove tour groups to explore the 1,000 acres of this ecotourism site. From the highest point to the fields below, a variety of crops such as coffee, bananas, pineapple, and allspice thrive in the fertile soil. Signs on trees planted by famous visitors bear the names of prime ministers, statesmen, celebrities, and playwrights. Also of interest within the plantation is the Great House complex of more than 18,000 sq ft. Five different tours available, as well as horseback riding for $70p/p for 1 ½ hours.
Tours: Mon-Sat, 10:30, 2pm, 3:30pm. Prices: Adult – $27, 12 & Under – $15.

Returning to the hotel, unwind with something from the mini bar in your suite and relax on the ocean view terrace. Reflect upon what has been a most interesting day as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea.

Dinner at the resort’s elegant Ristorante Casanova featuring gourmet French, Caribbean, and international cuisine. Outstanding service, delicious food, and premium brand beverages are all part of the romantic atmosphere in both indoor or outdoor dining at Casanova. Hours: 6:30-9:30pm. Closed Tues-Fri. Reservations required & Dress Code. Menu prices not listed, so my guess would be expensive.

Before retiring for the night, you’ll appreciate the alone together time at Couples Sans Souci, where the cares and worries of everyday life have been left behind.

Day 3 – More to See

You could easily spend the entire day at the resort; it has so much to offer – maybe golf or tennis, swimming, sunbathing, lounging at the beach, a yoga class, or just daydreaming in a hammock doing little or nothing. Yet, there is more to see in Ocho Rios and only a couple days left on this itinerary. Early morning breakfast buffet at the Palazzina and on to Coyaba Gardens 4 miles from the resort. (Taxis average $5 for 10 miles.)

You’ll delight in the beauty of Coyaba water gardens amid old Spanish architecture and giant banyan trees, as well as a natural aquarium of tropical fish. Coyaba Gardens feature a panoramic view of Ocho Rios Bay and Lookout Point at Mahoe Falls nearby in addition to a Museum of Island History and early Arawak culture. The gift shop offers Jamaican arts and crafts, rums, and coffees.
Hours: Daily, 8am-5pm. Admission: Adults – $10, 12 & under – $5. Special events and weddings can be arranged here.

Next on a list of popular tourist attractions is Margaritaville, a name made famous by Jimmy Buffet’s song, and now an island tradition since 2002. Located at the Island Village shopping complex by the cruise ship docks, the restaurant has 3 bars, pools, and a trading post. The restaurant is full most of the day, but nighttime brings in the party people. Have a Margarita and a special Cheeseburger in Paradise before the entertainment and fun begins. Dance to reggae/disco music and stay as late as you like. Expect lots of noise and crowds at a typical Jimmy Buffet hangout. Hours: 8am-11pm, Bar – till 4:30am.

Day 4 – At the Beach

After a big night at Margaritaville, sleep in, have a late breakfast, gather your beach supplies and taxi to James Bond Beach, 10 miles from town. The beach is located next to the Goldeneye Estate, formerly owned by Fleming and Marley and currently locally owned. Spend the afternoon sunbathing and swimming in the clear blue waters of James Bond Beach. You’ll find this beautiful, small beach uncrowded and quiet, although the area is frequently used for international music concerts. A few hours in the sun and water and it’s time to check out the Moonraker restaurant onsite before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Entrance fee: $3.

Day 5 – Shopping Spree

Be ready to spend some money while shopping today in Ocho Rios and ignore those persistent street vendors you’ll encounter. There are several shopping malls and a number of specialty stores including Island Plaza for the best in Jamaican art, Casa de Oro for fine jewelry and perfumes, and Hemp Haven’s huge inventory of any and everything made of hemp. Take a break from shopping at the Coffee Café for a sandwich, espresso, or a meal. Gift shop of coffee memorabilia and packages of Jamaican coffee.
Prices: Sandwiches – $5.50, Espresso – $3, Main courses – $10-$28.
Hours: 8:30am-8 or 10pm.

Since your romantic getaway is almost over, why not end it with a moonlit dinner on the beach at the Bella Vista. Typical Jamaican cuisine, casual attire, reasonable prices.

Day 6 – Leaving Ocho Rios you’ll remember it as a place the locals call Irie, – a simply beautiful tropical paradise.

Sharon L Slayton

(Note: June – Jazz Festival. August – Seafood Festival)

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