By Dan Rice
I love Jamaica because it embodies what most people envision to be the perfect Caribbean vacation: soaking in the sun on a beautiful beach, sipping a tropical fruit drink, and getting lost in the omnipresent reggae riffs. What’s also great about Jamaica is that its the perfectly cheap Caribbean vacation — accessible to just about anyone on any budget, not just the rich and famous.
My formula for a fantastic Jamaican getaway starts with a solid hotel. I highly recommend the all inclusive Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort in Montego Bay. It has beautifully renovated public areas, a perfect location, clean, comfy rooms, and all the food and drink you can consume — all included! However, you will have to venture across the street at least once during your trip for lunch at Scotchies, arguably the best jerk food in all of Jamaica. I recommend the ¼ pound chicken, festival (fried dough), and a bottle of Red Stripe to wash it all down. Yum! And it all costs less than $5 per person.
For a little bit of nightlife on your cheap Caribbean vacation, catch the free shuttle that takes you directly from the Holiday Inn to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Montego Bay’s Hip Strip. There you can take in the sun by day and dance all night in the fun-filled frenzy made famous by Buffet and his beloved music. Or, if a more chill vibe appeals to you, head down the block to Bluebeat, an intimate lounge where live jazz and reggae bands play almost every night; you’ll also find the drinks here are a lot cheaper than you’d find in similar places in the U.S. Whatever your flavor, Montego Bay can deliver, and for a lot less than you might expect!
A Senior Market Manager for the Caribbean, Dan Rice has experienced nearly 30 island destinations over his 15-year career in the region. When not occupying seat 13F on a 757 headed south, he enjoys renovating his South Florida home and futile attempts at training his dog Rocco.
Editor’s note: At the time of this posting, a limited state of emergency has been issued for the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew. Both parishes are some four hours from Montego Bay, which remains safe for travelers and where normal daily activities continue.