For an amazing beach vacation that is surprisingly affordable, I wholeheartedly endorse Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I took to the skies to travel to the island in search of some Zen, the smell of salt, the sound of the ocean, and the feel of sand on my bare feet, and I received more than I expected. Here are some tips to help get more than you bargained for on a trip to Jamaica, as well.
Tip 1. Adopt the Island Attitude. The quintessential image of Jamaica, at least in my mind, tends to be the “no worries” vibe common in Bob Marley music. The cool, easy-going mentality makes the island a fantastic choice for people seeking to leave reality behind for restful, peaceful recharging. While leaving our troubles behind can be incredibly difficult in a world of global internet access and smart phones, I encourage you to go “unplugged” and unwind.
While the island vibe is generally calm, it is also incredibly welcoming. The Jamaicans I met were eager to welcome me “home” and hear about where I came from. The individuals I met on my travels were truly some of the warmest people I have ever met.
Tip 2: Explore the Island. While my trip to Jamaica was largely meant to be an escape from the stress of life at home, I was grateful I ventured out to visit Dunn’s River Falls. The falls are a well-known attraction in Jamaica and a great way to escape the bright sunshine for a couple hours. During the visit to Dunn’s River Falls, tour guides lead you on a walk up and through the falls. The guides lead in groups and require you to hold hands with the other group members as you walk. In my case, this led to hilarious results when my traveling companion was situated next to a nervous woman who refused to let go of his hand at any cost.
Pro Tip: Aim to make the trek on a day when a cruise ship isn’t docked nearby, since the falls will be infinitely less crowded.
Tip 3: Eat Local. When in Ocho Rios I developed a habit-forming affinity for the jerk chicken. Seriously, I ate the jerk chicken every single day for the entire week I was in Jamaica. In fact, it broke my heart to hear a woman at a nearby table order the “jerk chicken without the jerk sauce.” I was deeply offended.
Aside from the jerk chicken, I would highly recommend noshing on a beef patty for a snack. Despite its familiar sounding name, a beef patty is not a hamburger thrown on a plate without toppings or a bun. Rather, it is a wonderfully-spiced mixture of beef wrapped in a flaky, curry crust. I also sampled Jamaican “stewed beef,” which is served over rice. While traditionally made with scotch bonnet peppers (which has a heat level matching that of the habanero pepper), the dish is prepared with the pepper whole, rather than cut. The result is a subtly spicy beef stew that screams comfort food.
By Sarah R. Riedl, Topics & Trends Staff Member 2017