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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spice Up Your Relationship In Jamaica

Written by Stephanie Hiltz
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The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is a cultural paradise, bringing out any couples’ spicy side.  From music, to romantic sunsets, adventure and famous jerk dishes, Jamaica features ‘love’ as the main course.  It started out as a Spanish colony, but in 1655 it became English, and later a British colony, achieving full independence in 1962.  It remains in the Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and Kingston, which is located on the Southern coast, as the country's capital and largest city.

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After arriving through Montego Bay, the second largest city in Jamaica and the gateway to tourist activity on the North Coast, my husband and I stayed at Gran Bahia Principe Resort in Runaway Bay (http://www.bahia-principe.com/BP/resorts/resort/Jamaica). This was the spot that the Spanish "ran away" to Cuba when the British invaded the island. Cuba is only about 90 miles off the coast of Jamaica. The Gran Bahia Principe is known for their beautiful ocean view rooms, immense pool, a private beach and a picturesque gazebo (on its own stretch of beach) specifically for weddings and vow renewals.  A variety of specialty a-la-carte restaurants are also available, making for the start of a romantic evening.

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Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae, ska and other popular musical genres. Whether you are out on the town, hanging out at your resort’s bar or in for the night, these artists can always add to the romantic mood.  Such artists as Bob Marley, Shaggy, Notorious B.I.G. and HeavyD are of Jamaican descent; their music is a key cultural phenomenon.

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DSC00317There are several tourist attractions scattered across the country, including Dunn's River Falls in St. Ann, near Ocho Rios, a common port destination for cruises. Dunn’s River Falls, a 600-foot waterfall which drops down to the beach, is one of the most photographed and visited waterfalls in the world. It can be extremely crowded as people climb up through a series of "staircase" waterfalls -- but it’s still worth the experience.  Visitors form into groups and receive a guide. The guide will instruct everyone to hold hands and together the group ascends the falls linked in a zig-zagging line. It’s a perfect spot for some photo memories because the guides helpfully carry cameras and make time for photo opportunities.

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The Luminous Lagoon (or Glistening Waters) is a top romantic excursion. Your guide will take you on a boat after the sun has set to the town of Falmouth, a pivotal port in the 18th century when sugar was the number one export. The water is home to a phosphorous microorganism called dinoflagellates, which thrive in the layers where salt and fresh water combine and glow brightest in shallow, warm water. Located where the Marta Brae River meets the Caribbean Sea, this natural wonder is one of only four locations in the world and is regularly studied by Johns Hopkins University. The boat ride is about 45 minutes and they allow people to jump into the water which is about 4-5 feet deep in the center. As your body swirls, bright white and florescent blue lights shimmer around its movements. For those who did not want to get into the water, the guide kindly filled a bucket with water and let everyone move their hands around.  As the water dripped off; it illuminated. This excursion on a clear night was particularly beautiful because there were few lights nearby and the stars were easily seen, making everything sparkle below and above.

 


 


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A highlight to any Caribbean vacation is the beach. There are many resorts with man-made beaches, but nothing tops a natural sun-kissed white sandy beach. In Negril, about an hour and a half West of Montego Bay, lies 7-Mile Beach. Spending time with a loved one at 7-Mile Beach is definitely a relationship re-charge. If you are staying on one of the resorts near Montego or Ocho Rios and wish to visit the beach, Kenny Tours (www.kennytours.com) is a recommended method of transportation. They have been traveling in and around the island for 30 years.  Clarkey was more knowledgeable than anyone else we met in Jamaica. The turquoise water at 7-Mile beach goes out for yards before getting past the hips. The Jamaican culture is very flexible, with many helpful people, but do keep an eye open for the constant barrage of locals selling goods on a beach. They can sometimes be pushy, so being on a private part of the beach is sometimes beneficial.


On the Western most tip of Negril, the The Rockhouse Resort and Spa (www.rockhousehotel.com), deserves to be called a tropical paradise. The Resort was built using nature as their guide so that all the rooms, villas, restaurants and pools are situated along the cliffs. When the sun sets you can see it dip beyond the water without anything blocking the line of sight. The Rockhouse is on the more expensive side, but they have some of the best food on the island, and the view is worth every penny.


Save some of those pennies for the traditional jerk cuisine. Jerk is typically found on chicken, pork and fish. It’s made up of scotch bonnet peppers and allspice which includes cloves, nutmeg, garlic, cinnamon, scallions, thyme, salt and pepper. If you love it, as most do, make sure to bring some home. Jerk is sold all over the island as marinades, dry spices and hot sauces. It makes great gifts for people back home too. The Scotch Bonnet Pepper sauce is a real spice experience, among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale of chilies, so make sure to use that one sparingly!


DSC04406Jamaica is a prime location to spice up your relationship with a variety of resorts, tantalizing food, romantic beaches, sunsets and adventurous excursions.  Jamaica has a lot to love and makes it easy to love the one you’re with!



© Stephanie Hiltz


Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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