Hilton

Ocho Rios, Jamaica & The Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort

I like to think of my travel style as adventurous – always exploring new places and pushing myself to the limit physically and mentally. However, we all need a relaxing getaway every once in a while. All-inclusive beach resorts are the perfect venue for that. Honestly, the world would be a better place if we all did this more often. I recently took a trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica to celebrate a friend’s 30th, and want to share my experience and recommendations here…

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View of the ocean and our resort from the balcony

Why Ocho Rios?

Ocho Rios is in the parish of Saint Ann on the northern coast of Jamaica. We chose it because it was more affordable than Montego Bay, but still had plenty of what we wanted to do. And honestly, all I wanted to do was sit on the beach in the sunshine with a tropical drink! Ocho Rios has several different resorts and tourists activities and is famous for being featured in the very first James Bond movie.

Getting to Ocho Rios

We flew into Montego Bay (Sangster International Airport) and our resort included airport pick up and drop off which was AWESOME! There was a traffic jam and the bus stopped at other resorts first, so we were on the bus for several hours. Not as fun, but still worth the trouble and cost savings.

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The Resort: Jewel Dunn’s River Resort 

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-25,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YWe stayed at Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton (btw, when I’m not in an Airbnb while traveling, I’m probably staying in a Hilton!). We got a great bundle deal on flights and resort from Cheap Caribbean and were able to upgrade our room to an ocean view balcony! I truly enjoyed my stay here and here’s why:

  • Adults only
  • Several pools and outdoor bars
  • Small feel to the resort, and it wasn’t crowded at all
  • Variety of food options and pretty good food! The buffet serves Caribbean/Jamaican food so it was fun to try new things (always plantains. I love plantains!). We also had SO much fun at the hibachi/Japanese restaurant
  • Dive shop on site that can take you on snorkel, scuba and sailboat trips for a very reasonable price
  • SO MANY free activities: water sports (sailboats, water bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, etc.), volleyball, fitness center, tennis courts, shuffle board, basketball and more
  • Free entertainment at night and bars open late (other resorts I’ve been too are basically dead after dinner!)
  • Coffee bar – not the best but definitely took advantage of it!
  • Clean beach with lots of seating
  • I took advantage of one of the spa specials and had a nice massage
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One of the pools at the Jewel Dunn’s River Resort

Excursions: Scuba, Blue Mountain Coffee, Dunn’s River Falls and Park

You know how I said this was a relaxing trip? Well that still doesn’t mean I’m going to do nothing! While lots of lounging at the pool and beach happened, I also took the opportunity to get off of the resort!

Scuba (through the resort)
As I mentioned above, the resort has a dive shop on site which made planning our dive super easy and affordable! We went to the dive shop the day before, paid $100 per person for a two tank dive and met the dive master the next morning. We took a boat from the resort out to the water. We dove around the reefs and saw some fish and rays – first dive was down to 60 feet and the second was to 30 feet. Nothing spectacular, but it was nice to get a dive in!

Blue Mountain with Dr. Fun Tours (Click here for the direct website | click here for Trip Advisor)
Delton (aka Dr. Fun) will basically take you on a custom tour based on what you want to do! We wanted to see the famous Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica. So he picked us up from our resort and the road trip to Blue Mountain began! It was a great time and the highlight of the trip. It was a long ride to Blue Mountain, but Dr. Fun made it FUN! Delton talked almost the entire ride telling us about Jamaica and the area, plus we added some extra stops!

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We learned about and tasted the local fruit from a fruit stand and straight from the trees (Jamaica Apples which are kinda like pears and only grow two places in the world, Coconuts, Sugar Cane and more).

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Stopping at a local fruit stand to drink coconut water and try coconut jelly (flesh of young coconut) for the first time!

We visited the James Dennis Coffee Farm where we learned about the coffee process from start to finish. We then tasted fresh, fire roasted coffee and enjoyed an authentic Jamaican lunch. You can buy a pound of beans for $30 – much less than you’ll find at the airport! The coffee was very unique and fresh tasting. As someone obsessed with coffee, I loved being able to try this.

The last stop was Bob Marley falls for a dip in the refreshing water – OK, I totally fell in on accident 🙂

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Bob Marley Falls on Blue Mountain

We booked a tour with Dr. Fun through Trip Advisor, but I also linked to his direct website above. I would totally trust booking with him directly. (Click here for the direct website | click here for Trip Advisor)

Dunn’s River and Falls Park (through the resort which included admission and transportation)
These falls are famous in Jamaica and they basically made a water park out of it. After entering the park, you’ll be grouped together and hike up the falls. You’ll be asked to leave your hat, sunglasses, etc. behind so you don’t lose them! Groups were holding hands to help each other up, but we opted not to do that as we were very comfortable with hiking (wear good water shoes!). It was pretty crowded but we still had a good time climbing up the falls and getting in the water. I wouldn’t go again (I’m glad I did it once, though!), but if I were to, I’d try to go much earlier to beat the crowd!

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Three Days in San Francisco, California

My boyfriend and I recently returned from a quick trip to San Francisco to celebrate our two year anniversary. It was my first time in the city as an adult and I absolutely adored it. There was so much to do in so little time, so I’d love to back and see more. Here’s what we did with our time in SF.

Day 1 (Thursday night)

  • Checked in to the hotel: Hilton Union Square. I loved staying here! It was central and walking distance to most of what we wanted to see. We received a complimentary upgrade to a room with a balcony and awesome view of the city.
  • We were hungry after a four hour flight and walked over to Super Duper Burger for some cheese burgers, garlic parmesan fries and beer. The name says it all… the food was super duper and I’d highly recommend! It was so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a picture. I believe this is a chain restaurant, but it was totally new to us.

Day 2 (Friday)

  • We walked over to farm : table for coffee and breakfast. This was such a cute spot with a daily menu, great coffee and a friendly pug dog! We ordered the daily toast – brioche toast with mascarpone and fresh fruit – the egg croissant sandwich, lavender latte and cappuccino. The toast and latte were FANTASTIC! I wish I could eat here again and again! If you’re ever in the tenderloin neighborhood of SF, you should stop by!
  • After we were caffeinated and full, we started our walk toward Golden Gate Bridge. Enough said, right? I  mean, we’re in San Francisco and the weather was perfect. We walked about six miles to the Golden Gate National Park recreational area and loved every minute of it. On the way, I saw a stand selling donuts and coffee, Dynamo Donuts. I ordered the maple bacon and toasted coconut donuts. It was the perfect snack to keep our energy up for the long walk.
  • After our walk, we were starving! We ordered an Uber to get us closer to our hotel and ordered a late lunch at a Thai restaurant, Lers Ros. We got the Tom Kha Gai Soup, Pad Kee Mow and Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob (crispy pork belly with basil) – and it was all delicious!
  • We had some down time and then headed to Chinatown for some more grub. Unfortunately, we missed the window for Dim Sum, so stopped at Great Eastern Restaurant which proudly boasts that Barrack Obama came by for takeout once (not the first time I’ve visited a food place after the Obamas). I ordered steak and scallops – it was just OK. Walking down the streets of Chinatown, I was mesmerized by someone in a shop window making Dragon Beard Candy. I had to drop in and try some. While the texture is just how I’d imagine eating a cotton ball is like,  I really enjoyed the taste of this unique Chinese candy! Then we were back at the hotel in time to watch the post-baseball-game fireworks from our balcony.


Day 3 (Saturday)

  • We started the day with brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food, which is a fancy way to say Cajun food (as we call it here in Texas). We got there around 9 a.m. and there was already a long wait. However, I’d definitely go here again. The beignet sampler and fried shrimp eggs benedict were delicious and highly recommended!
  • OK, every time I told someone I was planning a trip to SF, they insisted I go to the Ferry Building Market. We strolled around after brunch, but it was way too crowded to enjoy myself. Plus, I have a very special place in my heart for Pike Place Market in Seattle, so it didn’t really compare. We got a cold brew and a couple bags of coffee beans to take home from the Sightglass Coffee stand. Damn good coffee! While sipping coffee, we walked down to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions for a bit.
  • While walking back to the hotel, we noticed a line outside Boba Guys. As a long time fan of boba tea, I had to check it out. I got the dirty horchata and my boyfriend got an unsweet green tea. They have a unique menu of drinks, and it’s worth checking out!
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Then, we had round two of Super Duper Burger (we love burgers) and the trip was over in a flash. What’s on your list of great things you’ve done or want to do in SF? Share in the comments!