Traveling to the Caribbean – Jamaica
When I think of the stories I’ve heard of traveling to the Caribbean, I think I’ve heard basically three things: honeymoons, cruises and all-inclusive resorts. In my mind though, there has to be more to it than that. So, in an attempt to confirm this thought, I’m going to research travel to different points in the Caribbean, just to see what is out there and what I can find beyond the pre-packaged destination.
To begin, I figured I would start with Jamaica, as I know a friend heading down there to go to Sandals, the well known all-inclusive resort. After traveling quite a bit, I figured there has to be a better way to see Jamaica than poolside everyday having my every whim catered. To find out where the bar is set though, I suppose I should start on the all-inclusive side.
I hear this name often with talks of honeymoons. Sitting on the beach. Doing nothing. All you can eat and drink. I suppose if you want to get away from it all (and after months of planning a wedding, who doesn’t) this is the ultimate in nothing to worry or think about. The Montego Bay version of the resort, the first one built, is located on Jamaica’s largest private white sand beach, so it is just you and the other guests hanging out in the sun. Then there is unlimited dining and drinking at seven restaurants that include a seafood place and an English pub to go with five bars. Add in four pools and four whirlpools and there is no wonder that you don’t want to leave the place. For a week’s stay that starts at $2,900, I’d want to stay to get my money’s worth as well. However, if you want to venture forth into other areas, there are cruises, deep-sea fishing and off-road safaris that start at $75 per person.
Now that we have a baseline, let’s figure out a trip on our own. Looking on the Jamaica tourism site, there is the Altamont West Hotel for $100 a night, which after a week means that before food you’re paying a quarter of the cost of Sandals. A step higher is Chateau Margarita that has rooms at $700 per week during the high season ($315 a week in low season) and then offers a menu plan for $300 per person per week and they will procure all of your food and cook it for you. After that, it’s about half of Sandals. Of course when the amenities include “Books & Magazines” you realize quickly what a budget rate means.
At this point I was going to list attractions like Good Hope for its Georgian architecture, the Negril Royal Palm Reserve for some eco-tourism or for you parrot heads, Margaritaville. Then, I started to wonder to myself, why does the Chateau Margarita offer a full time driver and van? Why are there many exclusive resorts that seem to keep you close to your room? Well, silly me, Jamaica has high levels of crime and one of the highest homicide rates in the world. In 2005, 2007 and 2008 it led the world in murders per capita and was second in 2006. For goodness sakes, there is something called murder music.
After reading that, I realized that visiting Jamaica might be best within the Sandals umbrella. Going on your own might cost you a lot more that $2000 in lost items and medical expenses. Having people that are familiar with the island offering tours and excursions is a better way to see this island than wandering off in the murder capital of the world.
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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."