I get asked "Where are you from?" pretty often. I usually answer, "Canada." or "Toronto." much to the asker's displeasure. I find it hilarious to toy with people's expectation for me to answer where my family is from because it's often posed in a rude way. I don't believe my background defines who I am, but I do believe it has helped shape my character. This fall I returned to Jamaica where my grandmother and most of my family are from. Through adult eyes, it was incredible to experience the place that my family had emigrated out of over 40 years ago.
Keep reading for my tips on where to stay, what to do and how to get around in Jamaica.
How to Get there
I visited Jamaica after the devastation of hurricane season. Thankfully, our resort the Grand Palladium in Lucea Jamaica was fine and we were good to go! Our trip was booked as a package with Sunwing Vacation. About 10 of my extended family members were there. After we grabbed our luggage and went through immigration, our family group was put on a transfer bus along with other passengers. Some were heading to Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Our drive was only about an hour long to our hotel.
Where to Stay
We all stayed at the Grand Palladium Lucea and it was alright! We experienced it as non-members and members of their club. My family invested in getting members passes so we would be able to take advantage of some of the perks. Private transfers, a beautiful villa, an internet lounge, and a private beach were all included in member services. If you're looking to just have a simple stay, don't take the membership meeting. However, if you'd like to bring your vacation to the next level, membership might be what's best for you.
My roommate for the trip was my hilarious great aunt! You can blame her for my sense of humour. Our hotel room featured dated decorations and I wasn't a fan of the odd smell in the bathroom (not gross smelling, but it was slightly offputting). However, we had a beautiful ocean view so make sure you ask for a room like that! If you're travelling in a group it's very convenient. You can stay in the same villa where rooms are close to each other.
The food at the resort was pretty varied. The best restaurants were the Hibachi bar and the seafood restaurant Poisideon. The Jamaican restaurant was a great place to visit as well just to get a little Caribbean flavour. Read my full review here.
What to Do
Negril is an essential destination for any island visitor. From Dunn's River falls to Ricks cafe the town is an incredible center for parties and adventures. Read my full review her
Take a boat to Pelican Bar
Imagine enjoying fresh lobster on a man-made island in the middle of the Caribbean sea? Read my full review here.
Visit the Crocodiles
Black River is full of crocodiles. I didn't know there was such a big population or that there was a protected area in Jamaica for them. Read my full review here
Go for a swim
My favourite part of Jamaica was, of course, the beach! I spent most of my time in the water with my baby cousin. We roughhoused and I got to know him in such a different way! We took the water kayaks out and even used the paddle boards (I totally didn't stand).
Jump off of the Falls
I jumped off of a waterfall. I've already said before I'm not a strong swimmer (for now), so that was daring and super fun. We scaled wet rocks and jumped into refreshing pools. It was so much fun. YS Falls was Read my full review here.
Eat Roadside Food
Patties, sugar cane, jerk pork are all essential staples of a Jamaican trip. While on the road, our driver stopped to get us a bag of sugar cane. I ate it like a beast! I hadn't eaten cane in so long and I felt like a kid again.
Visit a Market
My aunt was desperate to get sweet sap and mangoes so we visited a market during our excursion day. I had a great time chatting with the local women about the area and their kids as we perused their tables. When we got back into our van, we dove into our bag of goodies.
How to get around
Usually, resorts offer drivers at the leisure of the hotel guests. Sometimes they're expensive so do your research on websites like trip advisor and book your own private driver if so.
I really loved my experience in Jamaica. It brought me closer to not only my heritage but my family too.