Ask any of my friends or family members and they will tell you the same thing: That only The place I wanted to go this summer was Jamaica. For three years my only thought was finding my way to the beautiful Caribbean island my mother and grandmother call home. When I created my vision board in early 2022 with all the things I wanted to achieve this year, “Spending time in Jamaica” was right in the middle.
You’d think having family in Jamaica would make the visit easier, but I haven’t been to the island nation since I was 8 years old – and that’s *far* too long to be away from your roots. I’m a millennial and work-life balance is difficult enough. A journey of self-discovery to a tropical island that also felt unreachable.
But it seems a sweet opportunity landed in my lap with CheapCaribbean. CheapCaribbean, a travel site for beach lovers (hi, hello), curates beach vacation packages that are both affordable and customizable. Everything from excursions, transfers and your resort stay can be booked through the website.
Not only has this allowed me to return to my mother’s homeland, but last month I was able to experience the island in a way I never could have imagined. My long weekend at one of Jamaica’s luxury all-inclusive resorts was pure bliss – and believe me, the magic of this island transcends family ties.
My holiday must-haves
Celebrity Status Accommodations
If ever there was a travel tip hill worth dying for, it’s this one: always take the first flight. Not only did I arrive at my destination early in the day, but the airport was virtually empty when I arrived, making it a breeze to get through customs. After packing my luggage, I was taken to the adult-only all-inclusive Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa using Amstar transportation.
Having been to Jamaica as a child, I often dreamed of the Caribbean island – what it would be like to return there, what color the sea water would be – but this resort exceeds anything I could ever dream of. Located in the Montego Freeport area, Breathless Montego Bay offers incredible views of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains just behind the beach. *Literally* everywhere I turned – whether in the lobby overlooking the pool or on the balcony of my ocean view room – I was struck by the scenic surroundings.
I stayed in a suite at the Xhale Club, which is nothing short of celebrity status accommodation. It features a huge floor-to-ceiling rain shower separating the bathroom and bedroom, a romantic bathtub on the balcony, a well-stocked minibar and a tablet for easy control of lights, air conditioning and blinds. And another standard amenity is a personal concierge. Mine was Raynard and he arranged my morning coffee delivery every morning; arranged a picnic lunch for an outing, and he even requested that the spa stay open late one evening. To be honest, I cried to say goodbye to him.
The resort has three pools for every mood — a lively main pool with DJs and daily foam parties, a slightly quieter hot tub where you can still enjoy the music (without feeling the bass in your chest), and a hidden one on the rooftop . There’s a sky bridge that connects the Breathless Montego Bay to one of its sister resorts, Secrets St. James Resort & Spa, so you can enjoy the amenities — delicious restaurants, bars, and beaches — there too.
Breathtaking Montego Bay Resort & Spa
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Everything is included in this adults-only vacation, from premium spa treatments to 24-hour room service. If lounge time is your priority, plan to park by the rooftop pool and bar. Or if you don’t want to think about planning at all (honestly, same thing), check out CheapCaribbean’s $99pp itinerary inspired by cosmos Must Visit List. And because you’re an adult who deserves nice things, CheapCaribbean is offering a five-day all-inclusive hotel stay for one lucky reader.
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A paradise for food and drink
If you’ve never tried Jamaican food, I’m sorry. I was so excited when Breathless Montego Bay delivered authentic cuisine and iconic dishes not so far away from grandma’s home cooking. (Sorry—nothing and no one can beat Grandma.) I had akee and saltfish, oxtail with rice and peas, and jerk chicken at Culinaria, a buffet restaurant. And I would have easily fallen back for seconds buuut I wanted to try everything. The property has four other restaurants, including Altitude and Bare Buns Grill, which serves steaks and burgers in a more intimate setting.
Now I’m a breakfast person – like I can eat eggs and toast at every meal – and when I was greeted each morning by a beautiful spread delivered to my door, I was in heaven. A little thing I learned on vacation: Omelettes taste even better with a sea view and zero responsibility.
If you get thirsty, remember that Jamaica – like so much of the Caribbean – is known for its rum. All five bars serve the resort’s signature Breathless Rum Punch, but you can ask any bartender to make whatever drink you want. This all inclusive life! Thanks to Nico from the Altitude Rooftop Bar, I’ve learned that my new favorite liquor is Rumcreme, which he used to mix the best espresso martini I’ve ever had.
Outside the resort
Having been to Jamaica and knowing all its splendor, staying at the resort was *not* an option for me – and luckily CheapCaribbean booked me some incredible adventures. I’ve wanted to see Dunn’s River Falls since I was little – mostly because my mom and stepdad never stop talking about it.
One thing to know about the island is that although it is relatively small it can take a while to get from town to town. Dunn’s River Falls is in Ocho Rios, about an hour and a half from Breathless Montego Bay, so I brought a book to occupy myself during the drive. I have read? no Have I been staring out the window and drooling over the lush greenery, 18th-century architecture and fruit stands? Yes.
I was speechless when we arrived. Although the attraction draws millions of tourists each year, when I first saw Dunn’s River Falls I thought of generations of my family standing in the exact same spot. With an experienced tour guide, we set out for the 180-foot falls. At the top of the cascade is a park with gardens, a water slide and a paddling pool. There is also a photography shop where you can have your picture taken and a local craft market.
Another day we took a more leisurely excursion with a rafting trip down the Martha Brae River, which lies on the north shore of the island near the western edge. You know those bamboo rafts that seem to float downriver in the middle of nowhere? Yes, I took one! It was so relaxing just sitting and feeling the cool water and warm sun. At some point my raft captain let me steer a bit.
Jamaica is so important to me and my family so of course this trip will always hold a big place in my heart. But – listen to me – even if you book a cheap Caribbean trip to Jamaica without history, I can guarantee that this incredibly special island will mean something to you too.
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