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Ultimate Girls Trip to Jamaica: Where to Stay, What to Do


Ultimate Girls Trip to Jamaica: Where to Stay, What to Do

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Looking for some quality girl time?

Enjoy a best friend’s vacay. Celebrate a bachelorette girl’s weekend. Or bond during females-only family time. Because this idyllic Caribbean location offers it all.Jamaica also just happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth (and I’m sure I’m not alone.)  

The year-round warm temperatures make Jamaica a great winter escape or a summer vacation.  It has miles of gorgeous beaches, beautiful resorts, and hidden tropical settings. And there’s a vibrant culture and delicious Jamaican food.

But what really makes Jamaica special are its kind people. Everywhere we went on the island we met locals who were anxious to share the paradise they call home. They were gracious hosts and proud, as they should be, of their gorgeous island. It turns out we found that “yah man” isn’t just a saying. It’s a way of life for this constantly accommodating, always friendly, welcoming culture.

If you’re a first-time visitor you will likely want to go to one of the 3 main areas – Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios. Each location has its own take on a Jamaica vacation. So, here’s a travel guide on where to go and what to do at all three on an awesome girls’ trip.

Montego Bay
Montego Bay is located just 10 minutes from Donald Sangster International Airport, which has the most flight options from the U.S. So your toes can be in Caribbean sea sand practically as soon as you land on Jamaican soil. And you can maximize your time if you’re planning a quick girls’ getaway.
But, that’s not the only thing that makes this location ideal.

Montego Bay, or “Mobay” as it is sometimes referred to, is a tourism hub. It’s colorful and vibrant with a bit of an urban vibe.
Where to Stay in Montego Bay: This area has tons of options for lodging. There’s something for every kind of traveler, from all-day beachgoers to on-the-go adventurers.

Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall is an adult-only, all-inclusive resort with 344 rooms. It’s perfect for a girl’s vacation with nightly entertainment, beach and pool cabanas, and spa treatment rooms overlooking the water. For the ultimate luxe experience, choose the swim-up pool room option, which comes with butler service. Also all-inclusive and adult-only, Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay sits at the end of a peninsula for gorgeous ocean views.

If getting active is on the agenda, guests can scuba dive, snorkel, or take a catamaran tour, among lots of other water activities. Tennis courts, pickleball, and cooking or dance classes keep guests happy on land. And free access to the adjacent Secrets St. James means there are even more restaurants, pools, and activities to enjoy.

For a smaller, more intimate resort, check out the S Hotel Jamaica. The earthy tones and wood accents create a sophisticated Jamaican feel in the 120 rooms and beyond. Guests can enjoy the 4 restaurants, beach, and pool. And my fellow spa fans will love the restorative wellness treatments offered at the spa.

What to Do in Montego Bay:
Certainly, no one will blame you if you choose to spend your time here never leaving your resort.
However, Montego Bay offers fantastic things to do behind the amenities of its resorts. In fact, many people choose this area of the island because of the opportunities to be active.

Shoppers should check out the Hip Strip, which also houses plenty of bars and restaurants. Rum fans will want to taste local selections at nearby distilleries.

Architecture and history enthusiasts will love the legendary Rose Hall which celebrates Jamaican heritage. Here you can learn about sugarcane plantations where Jamaican rum has been distilled for generations. The Appleton Estate is another sugar estate and distillery where guests can see and sample famous Jamaican rum.

Nature seekers will want to add exploring nearby waterfalls and more. The Montego Bay Marine Park, for example, is a fully underwater national park that should be added to your to-do list. Or try a relaxing bamboo rafting trip down Martha Brae River or a horseback riding trip on the beach.

Negril was first made popular by budget and free-spirited travellers in the 1960s. While you still can often find a deal to visit here, those looking for luxury won’t be disappointed either.   The laid-back, drop-dead gorgeous haven that is Negril is in the westernmost portion of Jamaica.  The location screams girl’s trip thanks to its famous 7-mile beach and tranquil atmosphere. And don’t be fooled into thinking tranquil means boring. Because Negril’s nightlife is anything but. There’s always a party to be found once the sun sets on this side of the island.

Where to Stay in Negril
There’s no shortage or lack of variety in Negril’s lodging options.
For a boutique experience, check out The Cliff Hotel. Customer reviews earned the property Tripadvisor’s title of Best Luxury Hotel in the Caribbean. The 33 suites and villas at the resort sit on 5 picture-perfect acres. The secluded but easy-to-reach location features a huge pool, spa, restaurant… and attention to any little detail you can think of. They even partner with area schools, which guests can visit, to support the local community.

Beaches Negril may be on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of size, but it also is a great place to be pampered in paradise. Although the property’s fun onsite waterpark might seem to scream family vacation, it’s a fantastic choice for a girl’s trip too. You and your BFFs can get beachfront or tropical garden massage treatments at Red Lane Spa. Then pick from a plethora of onsite activities. And finish the day by grabbing cocktails in one of the many stylish lounges.

For something totally out of the ordinary for your girl’s group, take a look at The Caves Hotel. Twelve cliffside cottages sit atop sea caves in this one-of-a-kind lodging option. One of the caves even serves as the location for private dining for guests while another houses a rum bar.

What to do in Negril

Negril is packed full of things to do on your girls trip.
After getting plenty of beach time on the pristine shoreline, adventure seekers can ride ATVs or zipline. Snorkelers and scuba divers will want to be sure to check out Negril Reef, Half Moon Cay, or Booby Island. And those wanting a relaxing rafting trip should head to the Great River, which also offers other tours with a little more speed involved.  Mayfield Falls makes a great day trip excursion where visitors can explore dozens of mineral pools and natural jacuzzis. There’s also a river walk, caves, and a small community to meander through.

No trip to Negril is complete without the chance to listen to some live reggae music. Chances are your resort will check that box by offering some entertainment options but there are also plenty of opportunities to venture beyond your lodging choice. Alfred’s Ocean Palace and Bourbon Beach are a couple of places to do just that.

If your girl’s group prefers their tunes with dancing, Jungle Night Club Is the place to do it. The party starts at 10 p.m. and lasts till 4 a.m.
To experience the culture through your taste buds (isn’t that usually one of the best ways?), visit Negril’s great restaurants. Some of the best food on the island can be found at places like Zest, 3 Dives Restaurant, or Sweet Spice. Ranging from gourmet to super casual, diners can try authentic cuisine like jerk chicken, oxtail, and Jamaican seafood dishes. And Floyd’s Pelican Bar, accessible only by boat, is a rustic, swim-up bar that is iconic to Jamaica.

Ocho Rios
As the largest cruise port in Jamaica, Ocho Rios offers plenty of excursion opportunities and outdoorsy adventures.
In fact, this town which was once a fishing village now boasts the highest number of attractions per square mile in Jamaica. There’s more than enough to keep your gal pals entertained for longer vacations. But at about an hour and a half from the airport, it’s still easily accessible for shorter trips too.

Where to Stay in Ocho Rios:
Unique accommodations are plentiful in Ocho Rios. There’s a little something for every kind of traveller.
Our pick during our stay in the area was a staffed rental house. The unique setting was the perfect way to explore Jamaica. Located a little outside of Ocho Rios close to Discovery Bay, the beautiful home fit our large group. Our private chef prepared local dishes and two personal butlers catered to anything we needed. We left our vacation feeling like we had made true friends with our wonderful hosts.

There’s no shortage of mega-resorts for a more traditional stay too. For example, Sandals has three all-inclusive, adults-only resorts in Ocho Rios. Sandals Ochi tends more toward value-focused travelers while Sandals Royal Plantation and Sandals Dunn River caters to luxury-seeking travelers. Guests at each can enjoy the amenities at the sister properties, which include tons of restaurants, various pools, and lots to do.

For a mix of a resort vibe and smaller, more intimate accommodations, check out the Jamaica Inn. With only 48 rooms and one restaurant, you’re sure to get to know the staff and get personal attention. The soothing white and blue clad cottages and suites are perfect for all the gals in your group to unwind in.

What to Do in Ocho Rios:
Ocho Rios has a long list of tropical themed things to do.
Dunn’s River Falls is one of the most popular. And for good reason. The idyllic spot features staircase waterfalls that guests can climb.
Blue Hole also makes for a great day outing from Ocho Rios to explore natural limestone pools with perfect aqua water. Guides take visitors to swim, cliff-jump, explore caves, swing from ropes into the waters, and take a hike to the Secret Falls. The site is a bit of a hidden gem, with crowds tending to be low.

If your group is looking for more beauty to explore, think about floating down White River. Consider touring Konoko Falls and Park. Or, check out the waterfalls at Laughing Waters.

If the Caribbean is the body of water you want to explore, you’ll have tons of ways to do that too. Glass bottom boat tours, powerboat rides, and wading in the clear waters from the beach are just a few.


September 2023