Monday, October 29, 2012

Jamaica ~ Day 4 & 5/recap

Jamaica Day 4 ~ Thursday October 18
We got up semi-early on Thursday to eat breakfast and be in the lobby by 11am for our excursion to Dunn's River Falls.  I read about this hike once our Honeymoon was booked, and it was recommended as a MUST DO activity.  I was immediately nervous.  Who knows if my fat-kid mentality will ever go away, but mention just about any physical activity and I get nervous.  My thoughts immediately start to race with anxiety and questions of "can I DO this?"  I shared my hesitation with Chris and he promised to do the whole thing with me.  I looked at pictures and reviews trying to find people bigger than me who had accomplished this climb. We chatted with a couple who did the excursion a few days prior and they said they are glad that they did it, but probably wouldn't do it again, as there were some parts where you literally have to climb up the rocks.  Going on a hike, maybe not really a big deal, climbing UP a that's a big deal.
 On the entire bus ride to the fall's I was nervous.  I was looking for a way out.  They said their would be lockers to put our items in.  The lockers were never covered with us, and before I knew it we were walking down getting into the water and I still had my sunglasses and dress on.  We handed our camera (not waterproof BTW) to our tour guide and we all connected hands and made our way up the waterfall.  Thankfully and luckily I was first, and was holding hands with our tour guide (KC was his name) right in front of us with Chris right behind me.  We would climb some then stop at a leveled-off area and take some pictures.  In the picture above we had just done the first trek and were getting used to the water.  Everyone was mentioning how cold the water was, and to be honest I didn't even realize, just because I think was still mentally preparing what it was that I was doing!

No problem!

 The total climb was about 950 feet.  Looking back, I'm (of course) so excited that I did it!  Along with our tour guide who held our camera (along with about 3 others) the whole time taking pictures etc...we also had a guide follow us along and shoot a DVD.  We purchased that, and it was so much fun!  Along with the picture above there were points where we went down a little water slide, feel back as a couple into some open water, and posed with Chris dipping me, kissing me, and then dropping me in the water! 
looking down from the top

we finished!
 I wished we could have gotten some pictures of the actual falls so I stole these pictures from google images.  I would highly suggest doing a search of "Dunn's River Falls" to see all of the awesome pictures!
this is basically how we climbed up(hand in hand) - photo credit

there are easily about 3 or 4 different groups all going up at the same time - photo credit

the beautiful cascading falls - photo credit
 Our tour guide was truly a rock star and made the trip so much fun.  He definitely helped calm my nervous and the fact that he does the climb with bare feet (we did it with water shoes), holding cameras in his spare hand seems nothing short than a miracle to me!  This part of the trip was Chris' favorite activity of the trip, and he says he would definitely do it again!
Once we got back to the resort we had some lunch and hung out in the room a bit.  We then headed outside to lay out by the beach just to find out it was raining!  Up until this moment our weather had been absolutely perfect!  I knew it was the rainy season (and hurricane season, we missed Hurricane Sandy by a week!), I think we just got lucky with no rain prior to our last day.  Once the rain let up a little we went and played in the sand (see pic below) and enjoyed our beautiful view.

the catamaran boat ride

 Our last night we ate at Eight Rivers.  The super fancy restaurant on the resort.  I didn't read the details prior to our trip, but this restaurant requires pants for the men.  No shorts, no jeans.  Thankfully we got a pair from the hotel so that we could eat there!  I got dressed up in my wedding reception dress, wedding day jewelry and shoes!  I was super excited to wear some of wedding day essentials again!
Jamaica Day 5 ~ October 19th
Our last morning was super early.  We had to be in the hotel lobby by 7:15am.  We walked along the beach one last time and reluctantly went back to reality.

good bye Jamaica!
We arrived at the Montego Bay airport by 9:30am, and our flight didn't leave until 12noon.  We had a short flight to Miami, where we had to get our luggage and go through US customs.  It was insane.  I had completely forgotten how crazy international travel can be.  The flight from Miami to Denver was definitely long but we sat next to a super fun dude who lives in Denver and because of our newly married status we got a couple of free drinks!
That Saturday Chris and I unpacked organized a little, did some laundry, then did some returns of wedding gifts.  Sunday we spent truly relaxing, staying in our PJ's, cuddling on the couch, catching up on TV, and only leaving the house to get some Taco Bell to eat.  As much fun as our honeymoon was last Sunday was just as nice.

Jamaica was fantastic!  I have some pointers and tips to keep in mind in case we ever go again, or if you are now ready to plan your trip!
We obviously booked our trip way in advance.  And who knows if booking way in advance makes the price any significantly cheaper, but considering what we paid this trip wasn't really that expensive, Chris booked it through  We only spent about $300 in souvenir's and gratuity.  The resort covers everything.  We did tip for our massage (because it was free for us) and the non-resort workers (shuttle drivers/Dunn's River Falls tour guide).  I had never been on a vacation like this and thought we would get envelopes the last night of our stay with everyone requesting a tip (like what you get on a cruise) but we didn't.  Once we got home I pulled up the FAQ's page on the Couples website, and it specifically says you don't have to tip.  That's a huge advantage compared to a cruise vacation.  The main pro to a cruise vacation is you get to see more than one place.  The pro's for this type of resort vacation are no gratuity, you don't get charged additional for alcohol, and you don't have to pay for the excursions.  The resort does have a representative on site offering other types of excursions not included (like zip lining, horseback riding) but all of the off site activities we did were included and at no extra cost.  They are very similar in regards to, like the theme nights, and always activities going on.  So truly you should never be bored, if you do want something to do other than lounging back and relaxing.
If you are staying at a resort you do NOT need any Jamaican currency.  This was a mistake.  Everyplace we went took American money.  Unless you are doing some hardcore research and truly going off the beaten path, there is no need to switch out your money.
Bring cheap sunglasses.  I brought with me my nice sunglasses, and I was nervous I would lose them (especially during Dunn's River Falls).
When in doubt where you swimsuit.
Pack a nice formal outfit for a fancy dinner.
Do NOT pack workout clothes, because even though you think you're gonna workout, you won't. 
Bring a beach bag to carry water bottles/magazines/towels with you to the beach.  This would have definitely come in handy for all of our various trips to the water.  We did purchase one when we went shopping on Tuesday so we would have something for Dunn's River Falls. One of the handles unfortunately broke as we w were packing it to bring to the airport so it's now in the trash.
Buy a waterproof camera.  My cousin Kari gave me this tip (unfortunately if was after we had already gotten back) that if she's going anywhere with water on vacation, she buys a waterproof camera.  I would have loved this for our snorkeling trip and Dunn's River Falls. 
We were in Jamaica for 5 nights.  I think our timing was just about perfect.  Although I do think 6 would have been better.
Come back a couple of days early.  Having the weekend at home before going back to work was perfect.  Truly a little vacation from our vacation.


Emily Foley said...

I looove that white dress with your wedding shoes! Gorgeous.

My good friend from here just went to Jamaica earlier in the summer and their favorite part was the waterfall day too. It is so pretty! Awesome for you to do it, April!

Summer said...

oh my gosh. Waterfall hike? AWESOME.

sarahlove said...

You are so lucky!!! That hike just tops it all! Just accept that you will always be nervous and it helps.... that's what I do! :)