I'm not really sure what took me this long to book a trip to Jamaica. It's got all the things I dream about on the dreariest of New York winter days - endless crystal blue beaches, reggae music, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, and the friendliest locals. The best part? Its all just a short 3.5 hour flight from NYC.
I'd been excited for my tropical getaway from the moment the tickets were booked, but upon landing in Montego Bay I quickly realized I was in for a real treat. I was greeted at the airport by one of the Club Mobay VIP hosts, a hospitality service that escorted me through immigration & customs, expediting the whole process down to mere minutes. Before I knew it, I found myself sitting in a shuttle that was headed straight to my hotel, the beautiful Half Moon Resort.
Just 15 minutes later I was already at the hotel, being warmly welcomed by the staff and given a brief tour of the grounds. It's easy to see why Half Moon is one of Jamaica’s most luxurious resorts. Some of the countless amenities on its sprawling 400-acres include over 50 pools, 3 restaurants, a cafe, 5 bars (including a swim-up option), 2 miles of private beaches, a stunning Spa, 11 tennis courts, 4 squash courts, basketball & volleyball courts, an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center for rescued racehorses, and a standalone children’s village.
I spent my first two days in Jamaica taking full advantage of the hotel's many on-site activities and relaxation opportunities. Long walks on the beach, Hobie Wave sailing, paddle-boarding, and practicing yoga in the outdoor cabana were just some of the ways I was able to stay active while enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean. Down-time meant reading on my balcony, chatting with other guests in the swim-up bar, or indulging in a 90-minute massage at the tranquil Fern Tree Spa.
Every evening the hotel slips a piece of paper under each of the guests' doors listing a variety of both on and off site activities available the following day. Some of the options included tennis lessons, scuba diving, a hike to a local waterfall, and zip-lining through the jungle. I decided to treat myself to one of the off-site excursions on my last full day in Jamaica: Rafting on the Martha Brae River.
The hotel arranged for transportation to and from Rafter’s Village (about a 30-minute drive in each direction). Once there, I had a short wait until a raft was available, but the time passed quickly as I enjoyed a complimentary fruit punch while listening to some live music by the outdoor bar. The raft ride itself was one of my favorite Jamaican experiences. Each bamboo raft is poled by a local guide as you peacefully drift down 5 kilometers of lush, jungle-lined river. The friendly guides make the ride even more enjoyable, as many like to talk about their beautiful country, of its local flora & fauna, or the meaning behind the colors of its flag. Other guides enjoy serenading their riders with a few reggae songs, and some, I found out firsthand, may even let you have a go at poling the raft down the river, should you decide its something you'd like to try (tip: you should, it was fun!)
My time in Jamaica included everything I had hoped for and more: sun-filled activities, plenty of time for relaxation, new experiences, and fun adventures. The only thing I would change about it for the next time, would be to schedule a trip that is much longer than just 3 days.
* I was welcomed as a guest of Half Moon Resort. As always, all opinions are my own.
All photography by Renee Choi Photography