I researched many honeymoon registry sites, but it was Traveler's Joy that offered the easiest access with the most tools. I also loved that my husband and I could build our site ourselves, adding pictures of the items on our registry, setting the pricing as well as adding our own slide shows. The Traveler's Joy site was a DIY bride's dream!
But when it comes to wedding planning, where do you start first? For us, it wasn't the dress, or the venue, or deciding on colors or flowers. We wanted to plan our honeymoon first! We booked our extravagant honeymoon a year-and-a-half before our wedding. Heck, we didn't even have a wedding date! We figured if all else failed, we could just get married on our honeymoon adventure.
Our idea of a wonderful honeymoon was going somewhere with great weather, other adults, and a place that would allow us to just relax all day and night if we wanted to. Jamaica was the place! Our honeymoon registry paid for the down payment on our honeymoon and it was so helpful.
Traveler's Joy really helped to make a nice honeymoon AMAZING! It was so nice to not worry about the extra costs of the things that you want to do but shy away from because of the prices. In addition, it was really great to be able to share our trip in such a special way with the friends and family who contributed.
Our wedding budget was on the economical side and after months of being frugal and thrifty in our planning, the last thing we wanted to worry about on our honeymoon was money.
The Caribbean is chockfull of honeymoon-worthy islands. But Jamaica is a slam-dunk if you're looking for a mix of white-sand beaches, crystal-clear seas, lush mountain landscapes, delicious multi-ethnic cuisine, and vibrant local culture.
The third-largest of the Caribbean islands, Jamaica is both geographically and culturally diverse. Although dominated by people of African descent, the island's identity has also been shaped by Indian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and British influences. This unique cultural melting pot is present as much in the people as it is in the dialect: Jamaicans speak English, as well as Patois, or Jamaican Creole, a local language that blends a variety of dialects.
Flying into Jamaica, you'll spot most of the major cities and resort destinations along the coasts, whereas the island's interior is dominated by steep mountains and the uninhabited Cockpit Country, Jamaica's largest remaining contiguous rainforest, filled with collapsed caves and sink holes.
Adventure-seekers can go on caving expeditions to explore these remote areas, while hikers can climb to the top of Blue Mountain Peak. For a more leisurely journey, there's the option to lazily float down Rio Grande on a bamboo-raft trip (someone else will even push you along and navigate). Aquatic types, meanwhile, can head off-shore for a deep-sea exploration of thriving reefs, be it scuba diving or snorkeling.
Every honeymoon couple, however, should explore areas such as Kingston, Ocho Rios, Negril, Port Antonio, and Montego Bay (called "MoBay," by locals). In each, Jamaica's cultural rhythms will lure you in. Music and dancing is practically everywhere you turn -- both the reggae, calypso, and ska that tourists have come to expect, as well as also newer Jamaican twists on more contemporary sounds.
Read on for our picks of the top hotels in Jamaica, plus restaurants and activities, so you can plan the perfect Jamaican honeymoon.
Like most places in the Caribbean, high season runs from December through March, when the days are warm and there's little precipitation. If possible, avoid travel during low season (June through November), when the island can be extremely hot and prone to heavy storms, including hurricanes. Shoulder season (April and May) are more ideal for milder weather than low season and fewer crowds than high season.
Honeymooners have the option of flying into either Sangster International Airport (MBJ), in Montego Bay, or Norman Manley International Airport (KIN), in Kingston. Since most resorts are situated along the island's north/northwestern coasts, chances are you'll arrive via Montego Bay. From there, arrange transportation with the hotel or rent a car for maximum island exploration. Note that there is a third airport, Ian Fleming International Airport (OCJ) in Ocho Rios, which is currently available to private and chartered flights.
Lounge on a Beach - Jamaica's beaches are one of the country's biggest attractions. The island is home to many long stretches of white sand fronting crystal clear waters. A few of our favorites include Cornwall Beach (at Montego Bay), Negril's Seven Mile Beach, Frenchman's Cove, near Port Antonio, and Treasure Beach, along Jamaica's South Coast.
Hit the Water - If you’re staying at a beachfront resort, expect prime access to snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and more just off the shore. Whether you're scuba certified or looking to get your PADI credentials while on your honeymoon, it's worth booking a dive excursion on Jamaica. There are tons of vibrant coral reefs surrounding the island, but a standout is Negril Marine Park's Throne Room, an underwater cave that's accessed by a crevice in the coral reef (not for the claustrophobic).
Go River Rafting - In Port Antonio, you can take a bamboo raft ride down the Rio Grande, one of Jamaica's largest rivers, which runs from the Blue Mountains to the Caribbean Sea. The two-hour-plus trip, bookable with an operator such as Rio Grande Tours, leisurely passes through lush terrain and banana groves. Be sure to pack plenty of Red Stripes to really enjoy the ride.
Chase Waterfalls - Jamaica is home to a number of scenic waterfalls, many of which are accessible to visitors. Dunn’s River Falls is arguably the island’s most famous (and crowded). Mayfield Falls offers a staggering 21 natural pools and a wide array of exotic tropical flowers to take in. Another must-visit is Somerset Falls, located between Port Antonio and Hope Bay; but skip past the main waterfall and duck instead into Hidden Falls -- as the name implies, it's hidden away in a cave-like grotto.
Visit the Cranbrook Flower Forest - If you tire of lounging on the beach, head inland to Cranbrook Flower Forest, a privately owned ecotourism attraction near Mamme Bay and Ocho Rios. Be sure to pack a camera so you can snap pics of all those exotic tropical gardens, rolling lawns, and natural pools.
Explore Port Antonio - In Portland Parish, on the island's rainy, less-traveled northeast coast, Port Antonio offers a relatively quiet, genteel ambience nestled in the Blue Mountains. In the early 20th century, luminaries such as J.P. Morgan, William Randolph Hearst, and Errol Flynn would escape to Port Antonio; you can even book a stay at Flynn's retreat on the 60-acre Navy Island.
Goldeneye Resort - A stay at this luxurious property will make all your James Bond fantasies come true: It's where famed author Ian Fleming wrote all 14 of his British spy novels. Couples can expect 21 chic accommodations, a private beach and lagoon, two pools, two restaurants, a treehouse spa, and endless on-site activities.
Rockhouse - Set amidst lush tropical gardens on the island’s far western end, this boutique resort stands out with its thatched-roof, cliff-side villas perched above Pristine Cove. The property also has a pair of award-winning restaurants, a full-service spa, watersports amenities, plus complimentary yoga classes.
The Caves Resort - If "getting away from it all" is your honeymoon goal, then consider booking a room at The Caves. Situated on the limestone cliffs of Jamaica's less-traveled west end, the property offers a remote antidote to crowded beach resorts. 10 hand-crafted cottages are nestled into the cliffside, offering picturesque sea views and private verandas from which to stand in the starry nights.
Half Moon, a Rock Resort - This 400-acre resort has been a honeymoon hotspot since it first opened in 1954. Newlyweds will be even more drawn to the place when it soon unveils expanded room categories, an adults-only swimming pool, two new restaurants, three bars, a grab-and-go market, plus a vegan cafe at the Fern Tree Spa.
Geejam Hotel - Music is a central focus of the Geejam, Jamaica's coolest hotel. Each of the cabins, suites, and villas is named for a musical genre (Ska, Rocksteady, Drum, and Bass) and there's even an on-site music studio (where the likes of Drake, Katy Perry, and Gwen Stefani have laid down tracks). If you're not vocally blessed, do a quick tour, then spend time wandering the avocado groves and lounging Geejam Beach or nearby Frenchman's Cove.
Sandals South Coast - You no longer have to fly to the South Pacific to sleep in an overwater bungalow. Sandals recently introduced 12 thatched-roof bungalows to its all-inclusive resort on the South Coast, located within a 500-acre nature preserve. (And soon after, to its Montego Bay location). Each overwater villa comes with 24-hour butler service and glass-bottomed floors -- so you can watch the fish swim by as you sip cocktails on your private deck.
Sugar Mill Restaurant - Set on a former sugar plantation at Half Moon resort, Sugar Mill is easily one of the island's most romantic restaurants. Between the 17th-century water mill, the outdoor tables lit by candlelight, and the modern Jamaican cuisine, dining here is a feast for all the senses. Especially when you order the lobster and coconut bisque.
Norma’s on the Terrace - At the signature restaurant of local celebrity chef Norma Shirley -- who helped put Jamaican cuisine on the map -- you'll dine on the outdoor terrace of Devon House, a 19th-century Georgian-style mansion. cooks up delicious Jamaican cuisine. Choose among menu standouts like jerked corn-fed roasted chicken and double smoked pork chops marinated in teriyaki, ginger, and Red Stripe Beer.
Mille Fleurs Restaurant - Alfresco dining is the hallmark experience at one of Jamaica’s best kept secrets. The restaurant, which delivers on seafood, meat, and vegetarian, offers incredible panoramas of the forested Blue Mountains, Port Antonio harbor, and the Caribbean Sea.
Bloomfield Great House - If you’re driving between Negril and Kingston, this historic hilltop restaurant in Mandeville is the perfect detour for a memorable lunch or dinner. Set in a former coffee estate, Bloomfield serves traditional Jamaican fare, such as seafood stew in a spicy tomato sauce and charbroiled filet mignon.
Pelicans Bar - Located on a sandbar off the coast of Negril, this thatched-roof shack looks more like a pelican's nest than a bar. But as soon as owner Floyd Forbes starts pouring rum punches -- or cooking freshly caught seafood over an open flame -- you know you've come to the right spot.