Monday Morning Montage: Jamaica Outside the Gate

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“Sun. Sea. Beaches. Sun.”

Uh, you said “sun” twice.

“I like sun.”

Ask someone who’s been to Jamaica what they liked best about their trip and your conversation might sound much like that. It’s no mystery what draws people to Jamaica. The weather is amazing. The sun and beaches are beautiful. The resorts are plentiful and varied. It’s really everything one looks for in a tropical getaway.

Jamaica is also well known for its all-inclusive resorts. Now, before we go on, let me assure you. This isn’t some travel purist bashery on all-inclusive travel. In fact, while there we stayed at beautiful Half Moon in Montego Bay and really enjoyed it. For Tara and I, where we stay is much less important than what we do with our time while traveling. That’s where this is going.

We were in Jamaica for only four nights. Even with so limited an amount of time we wanted to experience as much of Jamaica as possible. To do so meant leaving the resort. For most of our time there, we did exactly that. We left the gated all-inclusive resort behind to see what was out there.

We found amazing Jamaican jerk at Scotchie’s and The Pork Pit. When someone asks me what I like best about Jamaica, I always reply with, “The food.” Then again, I am in many ways a typical male, and the way to my heart is truly through my stomach.

We discovered unbelievable birds at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. Located in the hills above Montego Bay, Rocklands is little more than a local’s home turned birder’s heaven. In this relaxing and peaceful setting you will be delighted by the abundance of bird species and even have an opportunity to feed them by hand, including the Red-billed Streamertail Hummingbird (Doctorbird), the national bird of Jamaica.

We sharpened our haggling skills at the local crafts market in Montego Bay. We found some treasures among the multitude of colorful shop fronts and really enjoyed the experience and meeting the local people plying their wares.

We toasted to my Pops at the home of his favorite drink. Rum is the drink in Jamaica and deep in the heart of Jamaica’s lush countryside lies Appleton Estate.  For over 260 years they’ve been perfecting their craft and it shows. Take the tour. Taste the rum. You’ll be glad you did.

While in the neighborhood, we cooled off in a spectacular waterfall. YS Falls is a short drive from Appleton Estate and a perfect way to refresh your muddled mind after the rum tour. A wading pool and seven-tiered falls await you.

We had a drink with Floyd. A sight to behold, Floyd’s Pelican Bar sits a quarter of a mile out to sea on a sand bar. You’ve got to skip over the waves with a local fisherman to get to the rustic driftwood and thatched roof bar. We’ve never seen anything like it before or since. It’s the perfect spot to knock back a cold Red Stripe and admire the setting sun.

This only begins to scratch the surface of what Jamaica has to offer. Sun? Of course. Sea? Well, it is an island. Beaches? Yep, still an island. Beautiful resorts? You’ve got to sleep someplace. Just remember our advice; venture beyond the gate. You never know what you’ll find.

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