As you may have read in my last post, we loved our honeymoon so much at Sandals Royal Bahamian that we decided to book another trip for out one year anniversary! Even though it was a whole year away, it was nice to have something else to look forward to as a newly married couple.
After we booked our trip, I realized that I hadn’t really even seen or researched the resort we had planned on staying at. While browsing the Sandals website, I quickly noticed that Ochi wasn’t the only Sandals resort in Jamaica. There are a total of 7 Sandals resorts on the island – more than any other. Each resort had different things to offer, and it seemed like Ochi was the one with the most.
Not only did we pick off of recommendation, but the Ochi resort seemed like he most lovely of all the resorts. We are young newlyweds who love to explore and socialize while on vacation. Ochi was also noticeably less expensive than most of the other Jamaican Sandals resorts. We were able to get a butler suite for about half the cost of the one in the Bahamas!
Second of all, if you research “things to do in Jamaica” you will notice that most of the touristy, adventurous activities are located in Ocho Rios (or within close proximity to it).
Although there are many options to choose from – “Love nests”, beachfront, villa, etc. We went with the Butler Village Honeymoon Poolside Villa-PV suite. Although, it looks like they have now changed it to a Club level room and lowered the price… Hmm I have mixed feelings on that. We loved our butlers, they did so much for us. Most of all, helped us get around easier.
Your choice on rooms will probably depend on how much you want to be in your room or in proximity to everything else. We liked being on the hill-side because we spent most of our days at the main pool.
The resort is HUGE. There are actually 2 sections, the Caribbean Riviera (down on the beach) and the Butler Village and Great House (up in the hills). Both villages are separated with the highway running through it. Since we were in the villas, we would usually call our butler for a ride when we wanted to go anywhere. They would drive us down in the golf cart. It only takes about 5 minutes and it is within walking distance of the “Great House” which has restaurants and the main pool is located, but the hill is so steep that you would never want to walk it. We always felt bad for those who didn’t have butlers.
(For mor pictures from the resort, scroll down to the bottom of this post.)
If you want to visit the beach, it is quite the journey to get down there. The butler will drive you to a landing spot where a shuttle will pick you up and take you arias the highway to the other side of the resort. The beach was okay, pretty short in comparison to other beaches we’ve been to. It was also a little rocky. We didnt spend as much time over there. It was good that we actually liked our side of the resort better.
How much cash should I bring?
Even if you’re not doing any tours, you should definitely bring cash. Make sure to bring small amounts of 1’s and 5’s as well because you will be tipping… A lot. Even though the resort provided a shuttle to pick us up from the airport, we still had to tip the driver and the men who handled our luggage. Warning: don’t be surprised if sometimes they get pushy. We learned quickly that if you forget to tip they will ask for it (quite insistently).
If you’re planning on doing any tours, be prepared to pay more for the taxi ride there than the actual tour it self. I think on average, it was about $90 for taxiing two people round trip to each tour. Then between $10-$25 per person per tour. Don’t forget- make sure to bring your small dollars for tipping!
Our tour guide was very upfront and explained that Jamaica’s #1 source of income is tourism. Jamaica is a VERY poor country and a dollar goes a long way. $1 American dollar = $121 Jamaican dollars. Therefore, when a Jamaican person sees an outsider (especially white) as purely a source of income and assume you are loaded. So they not afraid to demand a tip from you because they know you have it, and it’s expected.
What activities/tours did you do?
Originally, we planned to book our tours through sandals, but we ended up getting pretty lucky. A few months before our trip, I was in Hollywood for a bachelorette party. My friends and I called a Lift driver to get a ride home and our driver, Peter John, ended up being Jamaican. Not only that, when I asked where he was from, he said Ocho Rios! He told me it was the best city to visit there because of all the fun things to do. He then told me his brother, Jacques still lives there and that he has his own tour company, Jacques Tours Jamaica. I was so excited, it felt like it was meant to be!
Jacques is the best!
After doing some reasearch, reading five-star reviews on Trip Advisor, and comparing to what Sandals offered, we decided to go ahead and book it with him.
It was definitely worth it because Jacques is so nice and friendly. He also gives good advice on what to see and do in Jamaica. Jacques was very down to Earth and fun to talk to. He was very professional and prompt as well. He was quick to answer our emails and he was always early/on time. He would just call our hotel room to let us know when he was there to pick us up. He took great care of us and I would highly recommend his tours if you are looking.
The tours we did in order of favorite to least favorite:
#1 Blue Hole
By far our favorite! If you could pick one thing to do in Jamaica it would be this! There is a reason it is rated #1 on Trip Advisor – Top 10 things to do in Jamaica. It’s a beautiful hidden swimming hole in the middle of the jungle. There are a bunch of little waterfalls and one large one to jump off of. Only my husband was brave enough to do that one! They also have a fun rope swing and some caves you can swim under.
Just a warning, you may be sketched out by the drive there because it is in a remote location. You have to take a windy narrow dirt road up a hill to find it. All you need to bring is a bathing suit, beach towels, cash, and a small carrying bag. They do not include this tour as an option at Sandals because technically, this tour has not been sanctioned by the goverment yet. They are working on it though! You may have also seen it featured recently on “The Bachelor”. Ben Higgins took JoJo there on one of their last dates.
Definitely buy water shoes for this tour, you’ll actually probably want them for any tour you go on. You can buy them in Jamaica, but I would recommend getting them before you go on your trip. I got some decent ones from SwimOutlets.com. I slipped and fell on one of the rocks (my mistake though because they told us not to step there because of the moss and I wasn’t paying attention). I scraped up my leg/hip pretty bad, so be careful!
We did this tour right after visiting Blue Hole. Jacques was nice enough to also stop downtown and get us some coconuts to drink on the way there. The river was actually pretty calm and we just enjoyed floating through the jungle and being in nature. We saw some crabs and also made friends with a local dog who loves following you down the river.
Half way down the river, they have you stop at a resting spot where you can buy some food, drinks, and souvenirs. I got to have my first Red Stripe beer there, so we ended up buying a wooden Red Stripe carved souvenir. They also took some pictures of us and we paid about $12 for 5 pictures on a DVD. They hustled us pretty good! Haha. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and such a relaxing beautiful day.
This was the furthest away from our resort, but it was definitely worth it to do one time. It is one of few places in the world where you can experience something like it. There are organisms in the water that light up when there is movement and it looks really cool, but you can only go at Luminous Lagoon” images, you will find some cool ones.take you out on a boat with a group of people into the water and let you jump off and swim. When you move the water lights up and it is a cool experience. Unfortunately it was hard to take pictures of, but if you google “
*Make sure to wear some bug spray. I got bit up a lot before we even got on the boat. Luckily I was able to borrow some from a stranger. Only time we needed it on the trip.
If we had a chance to do it over, I think we would skip out on the horseback riding next time. I think it’s because we were expecting it to mostly be on the beach, but instead we mostly rode through the neighborhoods and then only spent the last 10 minutes on the beach. The only part we liked was at the end we rode in the water with the horses. It was kind of scary at the time because a storm was coming in and the waves were getting bigger. But it was neat that we were able to ride so deep in the ocean with them. Riding through the neighborhoods was kinds sketchy… We were the only tourists there and we stuck out like a sore thumb while going through the neighborhoods. Especially if you have ridden a horse before, I would skip out on this tour.
Here are some pictures anyways 🙂
We loved this trip – it was definitely worth doing once. It was less expensive and we did a lot more fun adventurous activities this time around. If I were choosing between the two trips, I would say definitely go to theliked the beaches and the resort better there vs the Ocho Rios resort.
More photos from our trip!
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