Well, it’s winter again and the yearly urge to go somewhere warmer came upon me again. This year, I opted to spend four days/three nights in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica. I’d heard great things about this beautiful island and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
-Traveling to Montego Bay-
Getting to Montego Bay isn’t too difficult. Both Air Jamaica and US Airways runs plenty of flights out of several American cities. Your best bet is to try to get as early as a flight as you can, thus maximizing your time on the beach. I left Philadelphia at 5:30am, and with a transfer through Charlotte, NC, ended up at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay around 1pm.
Because it is a foreign country, you do have to go through customs – not a hard thing as long as you keep all of your paperwork. The worst part was that the air conditioning in the immigration area was broken, so it was a bit warm when stuffed with several hundred people.
After customs and baggage claim, you need to find transportation to your hotel/resort. Some hotels offer shuttle buses, but often it is easier, quicker, and cheaper to take a taxi. Go to the J.U.T.A. counter and ask for a ride to your hotel/resort. They will give you a flat rate that doesn’t change based on the number of people. For example, I was staying at the Sunset Beach Resort – completely on the other side of the bay – and it cost me $20 plus tip. That may seem like a lot for one person, but if you have four people, it breaks down to only $5 per person. If you are further out of Montego Bay, you may need to research other options to get to where you are staying.
-Staying in Montego Bay-
I opted to stay at an all inclusive resort – Sunset Beach Montego Bay – and encourage anyone who has the money to do this to do the same. After checking in, the only things I ever needed to worry about was making sure I had my room key and if I had enough sunscreen on to avoid a bad burn. All food, entertainment, and alcoholic beverages were completely free.
Riu Montego Bay
The resort says that tipping is not required, and is in fact discouraged, but there is a lot of handshaking going on with favorite bartenders or the beach maintenance crew. This is done in part as a thank you – these people work long hours with little thanks, dealing with people who treat them as if they were beneath them. Sometimes, as in the beach crew, this is done to ensure that the section of beach you claim stay s clean and seaweed/rock free.