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First Vacation EVER!

Bel Air, Maryland
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First Vacation EVER!

Here are the details and advice from seasoned travelers, people who have experienced the country, were in similar situations etc. would be greatly appreciated. I used bullets for easier reading.

- I am planning a surprise 30th birthday getaway for myself and my husband (he is 6'5" and 260lbs).

- I have a $3,000 budget

- I would like to go in October for a 4-night stay

- This is our first REAL vacation (neither one of us has been out of the states before)

- We are going primarily for rest and relaxation and probably won't go crazy sightseeing

- Besides possible zip lining or a little cave exploring, we'd stick close to the hotel/resort

- We would also stick more to the swimming pool than the beach, unless the beach was just THAT irresistible

- We do drink alcohol and would probably eat two times a day.

Additional details: I am not opposed to all-inclusives and would like as much bang for my buck as possible as far as accommodations go. A nice bathroom is a MUST (weird, I know lol).

Any suggestions at all on area, resort, travel site/agent, etc. would be great. Actually, a wonderful travel agent would be AMAZING!

I have done research but there is just SOOOOOO much information it is making my head spin.

Thanks so much in advance.

New England
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2,463 posts
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1. Re: First Vacation EVER!

For a four night stay I would recommend something in or near Montego Bay, so you don't spend two of your days traveling to and from...

Bel Air, Maryland
9 posts
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2. Re: First Vacation EVER!

Thanks Livin... That's a good point!

I would like to see Dunn's River though. Is it worth it (in our short stay) to venture out to Ocho Rios?

Marion, Iowa
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803 posts
22 reviews
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3. Re: First Vacation EVER!

My most important advice would be to try and go a couple more nights if at all possible. We always go 7 nights if we are not bringing the kids. It's seems we are just getting into a routine and the vibe of the resort on about day 3. Would hate to have to leave that soon. I know it's not possible for everyone, but if you can book one of the cheapest rooms to be able to go an extra day it 2, it would be worth it!

Bel Air, Maryland
9 posts
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4. Re: First Vacation EVER!

Thanks funlover.

I'll have to see if we can manage that with a one and a half year old at home.

Any suggestions on what we might be able to cram into a few days if we can't change the length of our stay? Or maybe just the MUST see stuff?

London, United...
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275 posts
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5. Re: First Vacation EVER!

In terms of where to stay...it's up to you! If you can get an early flight in, the 2 hour journey to Ocho Rios and the 1 1/2 hour drive to Negril won't seem so bad. It the later flights when it can really drag! Plus, you get to see the real Jamaica during the journey which is always nice for tourists!

In terms of excursions and things, there are a lot more things to do in Ocho Rios than Mobay or Negril. You could stay in Mobay and do a day trip to Dunn's River etc and there are loads of tour companies that you can use.

I would say the top things to see and do, which will also help in determining where you stay are:

1. Dunn's River - just to say you have done it. It is overly touristy now but hey!

2. Blue Hole - this is just outside Ocho Rios in a town called Exchange but it is stunning to say the least!

3. Mystic Mountain - For zip lining - again in Ocho Rios

4. Ricks Cafe - In Negril so 3 hours from Ocho Rios and 1 1/2 hours from Montego Bay. But I personally love going. If you set out early you can see the cliff divers, use the pool facilities, eat and drink and then watch the sunset.

There are loads of other things but in only 4 days, I would say those are the main things you should do. If you could extend it to 7 that would be ideal, could spend maybe 2-3 days doing excursions and then the rest of the time relaxing!

Waterford, NY
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6. Re: First Vacation EVER!

4 days? Sandals Royal Carib or Sandals Montego Bay. Zero travel time from the airport, you are on vacation in a flash.

Pools not so hot at MoBay, but nice beach... better pool choices at SRC, not so much beach,but there's that island out there! For our money the best pool in the joint is the river pool in front of the Buckingham building. You do not have to be a river suite guest to use them. Beautiful surroundings and a thirty second walk to the Albert at the beach bar.

On a short trip, why bother with running all over the place to Dunn's River or Ricks, as much as I have to admit that Ricks is a good time. A tourist trap, but a good one. Once you get on island time you will realize you don't want to go anywhere!

There are plenty of other hotels in MoBay, and my Sandals bias is well established, but it is nice to be able to bounce back and forth between the two of them for dinner or some pool or beach time. If I only have four or so days, I'm going to SRC every time, with dinner over at MoBay one night; followed by hanging around for the pretty lively evenings over there.

Edited: 02 January 2014, 21:53
Connecticut
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9,807 posts
6 reviews
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7. Re: First Vacation EVER!

Not sure how much of a surprise this Jamaican trip will be, but I need to say that you both need passports.

Edited: 02 January 2014, 22:47
Maryland
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988 posts
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8. Re: First Vacation EVER!

KCollins, the air for both of you will be around $900 to $1000. Look at Airtran out of BWI. They have non stops that leave Baltimore early in the morning, get you to Jamaica just after noon. The return flight is around 4 PM. If you are only going for 4 days, you do not want to waste any time.

As mentioned, you will need passports.

Guelph, Canada
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9. Re: First Vacation EVER!

Sandals Montego Bay might be a good choice. It's only a few minutes from the airport and you should be able to get it for your budget in October.

Marion, Iowa
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803 posts
22 reviews
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10. Re: First Vacation EVER!

if i were only going for 4 days, i may not leave the resort. but, on our first trip, we did do dunns river, just to say we did it, have not been back. we have take kids to ys falls, so much more beautiful, but quite a drive. on idea might be the luminous lagoon in falmouth, depending on where you end up staying. we have stayed at jewel runaway(before it was jewel), breezes starfish(it too has changed names), hedonism several times, sunset beach resort, and most resently, couples swept away in negril. i do have to say that we dont go and do alot of touristy stuff now that we have been there enough, but we do love to walk the beach and this last time we went to couples swept away, we walked the beach to margarittaville just for change of scenery and good margaritas. we also did the one love bus tour.