Jamaica Sunshine: VIP island life
Looking for a VIP beauty spot with a gorgeous climate? Jamaica is a holiday hotspot for many celebrities. The tiny island is famed for sandy beaches, blue seas, reggae music and it’s unlikely bobsled team.
It’s biggest ‘export’ is of course the globally renowned late Bob Marley – but in more recent times has seen the likes of Bob’s sons (including rapper Damian Marley and reggae artist and film producer Ziggy Marley), R’n’B legend Sean Paul and of course the fast man in the world; Usain Bolt have hailed from its shores.
I arrived in Montego Bay, via one of only three international airports on the island. As there are only three airport, you never know who you might bump into as your flight lands – the likes of Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Gwen Stefani (who even named her son after the island’s capital, Kingston) are known to holiday in Jamaica. The famous bobsled and photos of it’s original Olympic Team (whom the film Cool Runnings is based on) can be seen at the Montego Bay Sangster airport.
Montego Bay is one of the more tourist-orientated parts of Jamaica, where LL Cool J and Eddie Murphy choose to spend their running Jamaican holidays. From here, various tourism organisations run excursions such as swimming with dolphins, horse-riding along the beach and climbing the Dunn’s River Falls, which are Jamaica’s most famous waterfalls.
On my visit I stayed at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa , which is in pretty close proximity to the Rose Hall; a former slave plantation said to be haunted by the plantation owner’s wife, the ‘White Witch’. The late Johnny Cash recorded a song about the legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall titled ‘The Ballad of Annie Palmer’. Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash owned a holiday home in Jamaica after falling in love with the island during one of their visits: their home Cinnamon Hill, was part of the Rose Hall Estate.
It’s easy to see how anyone can fall in love with such a relaxing place: the pace of life (‘Jamaica time’) is relaxed, which admittedly takes a little getting used to when you’re waiting for buses or timetabled excursions, and the sun is nearly always shining (just like Bob Marley’s lyrics). The food is also something that the locals are very proud of, one of the most common items on any menu is jerk chicken or jerk pork, made famous by Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce. ‘Jerk’ refers to a cooking procedure similar to Barbecuing which gives meat a little bit of a spicy kick, and Reggae Reggae Sauce certainly complements this.
There are plenty of cocktails bars across the island (I’d recommend a visit to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville) and there are boat trips and catamarans that will take you to those further afield bars and restaurants and offer rum punches and/or foot massages while you travel – you could even try your chances at driving a boat if you give your guide enough friendly banter!
Nearest airport: Sangster Airport (9 hours 50 mins)
Currency: £1 = 157.40 JMD (Jamaica Dollars).
Time difference: -5 hours
Travel tips: Pre-book taxis, transfers and day-tours via your hotel or travel agent. Flagging down taxis is not safe, or recommended, and can often led to disputes over prices, etc. Just remember you’re living in ‘Jamaica time’ during your stay though, so don’t panic if your taxis are running late – chances are, most of the other activities you’ve planned for your day are running late too. Just enjoy the chilled-out mentality!