Our honeymoon was our first, real vacation together since every other trip has been related to weddings, or else we were with friends / family. We were EXTREMELY excited to have the chance to go to the Caribbean for a week with absolutely no plans, and mom’s friend, Gail, was the best travel agent and set everything up for us!
We headed to the Sandals resort in Negril, Jamaica for a week of fun in the sun the morning after our wedding (a lil too early considering we had a 3.5 hr nap on Saturday so I just rocked my wedding hair on the plane). Negril is about an hour and half outside of Montego Bay, but Sandals has the pick up piece down pact. After customs, our bags were picked up by them, we got drinks (Red Stripe, mon) and then were taken to the shuttle to the hotel.
We stayed in the Caribbean Beachfront walkout grande luxe club level room with tranquility soaking tub (phew, what a name). Basically we were in a little 3 story building with condos. Our room was on the first floor and overlooked the beach, so we could walk 35 steps (yes, I counted) outside to lounge chairs on the beach… ahhhhh.
The room itself was amazing and huge. The patio out front had a soaking tub, plus table and chairs that I would read and enjoy some wine at. There was a king bed, fully stocked bar and mini fridge which was restocked everyday, and room service was included too. The bathroom was probably my favorite. It was easily the size of our living room and had the best shower ever. I miss that thing..
We even (got suckered into) had wine in the room one night! They set it up before dinner and we enjoyed it on our patio after feasting Tuesday night.
The resort itself comes with a lot of activities that are all included in your stay — no extra charge at all. We ended up being pretty active and would be lazy one half of the day, and active the other half. Throughout the week we went wakeboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and tubing. There were a few things we missed like scuba diving, paddle boarding (we do this at home), beach and pool volleyball, and paddle boats, but we knocked off everything we wanted. I think we both enjoyed tubing the most.
The snorkeling boat took us to a reef nearby where we explored and saw a lot of sea urchins, fish, and coral. It ended up raining on us, but that didn’t affect our views underwater! And we got nice google indentions on our faces haha.
Technically the catamaran ride is a paid excursion, but our stay came with a free catamaran ride, so we were pumped! We decided to do the Tuesday afternoon ride to Rick’s Cafe & Margaritaville on the Kool Kat Kelly (appropriate, right?). We became friends with a couple from Charlotte, Bri and Andrew, so they sat with us on the front and we enjoyed rum punch and the ride! Unfortunately we couldn’t anchor up at Rick’s because of the choppy water, but we stopped further down the island and swam into some caves instead.
Watching the sun set over the water on our way back to the resort was just beautiful. Definitely go if you have the chance.
The one paid excursion we did where we left the resort was a dune buggy tour 45 minutes outside of Negril. The place had an ATV tour, dune buggy tour, or you could ride horses, and clearly had 2 shifts of this. Since we were the first bus to arrive, we had to wait a fair amount before getting our helmets and going out. We rode all over an old sugar cane plantation, the countryside and woods and had a great view of the ocean from some of the high spots. Midway we stopped for a quick break to cool off and learn about some Jamaican history. Then we continued riding and came back to their HQ.
After that we ended up having to sit around for an hour before our bus came back to pick us up. I felt that the place was pretty disorganized and while the ride itself was a lot of fun, they promised 2 hours of riding (we only got 1.5) and we returned to the resort an hour later than scheduled. I think Hunter really enjoyed driving the dune buggy around though, esp on the flat roads where we got to speed up pretty fast.
Neither Hunter nor I have even been to a spa, or gotten a massage, so we were equally excited and terrified that our first experience would be a couples massage that came with our stay. Lauren and Fun Aunt Christa explained the basics of the spa process to me in March, which I promptly forgot, so I texted my sister the morning of the massage to get quick details.
Y’all, we were such newbies that you would have laughed if you saw us there. We got there early thinking we’d hit the sauna like instructed, and even told the employees we were new. They took us to the back, but the first room we went into was the massage room — aka already missed the whole spa process part… whoops.
Apparently part of their couples massage included lighting a candle from the unity candle and saying something nice about the other person. I’m so glad Hunter went first, and we both were looking at each other trying not to laugh.
They told us to undress and get on the massage beds, and they’d be back. Well, do we keep bathing suits on? Full nude? We both laughed and had no idea so kept suits on and got on the tables. When they came back in and realized we still had bathing suits on they (probably tried to keep from laughing) explained to us that we were supposed to be nude, but it’s ok.
The actual massage was great. Most of the knots in my shoulders were worked out, and even my leg muscles, arms, etc. The music was pretty relaxing, and there’s a good chance I nodded off during it.
At the end they left and we were both unsure what to do now that we have massage oils and lotions on us — do we rinse off in the shower? Do we just get clothed and walk out? I did the latter because I just had no clue and wasn’t sure if they had someone else going in there soon. Again, they were probably laughing at us when I left coated in spa stuff.
Overall, we enjoyed the massage, and kept laughing about the unity candle and just general lack of spa knowledge. Next time I need to go with some professionals..
Eat + Drink
Probably my favorite part of the vacation was all of the food. The resort had 7 different restaurants and we ate at each one once (except the buffet one) and the Italian place twice for dinner. There was a wide variety of food too: Italian, Japanese (straight up hibachi style), seafood, Caribbean, pizza, Americanized snacks, Jamaican, etc.
Favorite dishes: smoked swordfish carpaccio appetizer at Sundowner, spaghetti carbonara at Cucina Romana, swordfish with succotash at Barefoot by the Sea, jerk chicken and the pockets of goodness (no clue what the name was, but it was a local dish) at Beach Bistro, Calabrese pizza at Bella Napoli, and philadelphia maki at Kimonos.
It’s also worth calling out how wonderful their bar service was. Multiple servers at different places all knew who we were and most likely what we were going to be ordering (lots of Red Stripe during the day and pinot grigio at night). I was very impressed.
Every night the resort had some sort of entertainment on the stage in the main building. The first night there was a lot of crowd participation, so we sat safely in the back where we could still see. One night focused on the history of Jamaican dancing, so we learned about a dance, then performers danced it. My favorite night was the last night which featured a steel drum band. They were awesome and super talented. They played for about an hour, then danced at the end.
The Sunday we had to check out and come back to reality was hard on both of us – we didn’t want to leave! We grabbed one last pizza lunch on the water, then got in the shuttle to head back. Thanks to a delay in Miami, we didn’t get home until 2am Monday morning so took one more day off of work (what’s one more at this point?), started laundry, opened gifts, and got back in the routine of normal life.
We left very impressed by the Sandals resort, and will definitely be coming back again! Maybe a first anniversary trip???