Almost all newlyweds in the United States go on a honeymoon. But very few get the chance to honeymoon in paradise.
When Michael and I got married in June earlier this year, it was the happiest day of my life. Publicly sharing our love with our friends and family, and dedicating our lives to each other was extremely important to us. I’m grateful that Michael, my parents, and my bridesmaids took the care they did to ensure all my wants and needs were cared for that glorious summer night. But our luxury Caribbean honeymoon at Sandals Ochi in Jamaica was special—it was a gift that I personally handpicked for Mike.
Perhaps the most difficult part of our honeymoon was the drive from the airport in Montego Bay to the resort in Ocho Rios. Although that drive was a part of our travel plans, it had completely slipped my mind. When our pilot told us we were 10 minutes from touchdown I unconsciously assumed we were 10 minutes from heaven. We weren’t. Heaven was an hour and forty minutes away.
Nevertheless, that little journey allowed us to get a good feel for this pretty little Caribbean country. Everything was so green and full of life! We heard rhythmic Jamaican music pouring out of several buildings and passing cars. Even the way the people walked seemed to have a natural rhythm that harmonized with the island.
Arriving at the Resort
When we arrived at the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, we immediately noticed the elegance, warmth, opulence, and professionalism of the hotel and its staff. As soon as our car pulled up in front of the lobby, our car door was opened by a smartly dressed bellboy who smiled broadly, greeted us in his melodic Jamaican accent, and took our bags. Within 15 seconds we were sipping martinis. Five minutes later, we entered our fabulously furnished suite in the Riviera Village that, among other essentials, came equipped with a gorgeous beach view, a king-sized bed (Mike’s favorite attraction), a private pool, and two personal butlers—Ricardo and Devin.
While I’m on that topic, let me just say that Ricardo and Devin were incredibly helpful, alert, and courteous. They took the time to explain anything we didn’t understand and got us everything we needed, including a few things we didn’t even know we needed. They were always available and ready to pamper, and even surprised us several times with delicious, exotic snacks. Their service was individualized, sincere, and truly 5-star quality.
Unlimited Gourmet Food and Top Quality Drinks
The resort offered 16 gourmet restaurants that served expertly prepared food from all around the world. But as we were in Jamaica, we decided to explore Jamaican cuisine as much as possible.
There’s something deliciously unique about Jamaican food. It’s hearty, tasty, and spicy—and reminded me a bit of the Southern cuisine Mike and I grew up eating. But there is deeper deliciousness in Jamaican cooking that I can barely find words to explain. The flavors are so powerful that it’s almost as if you can taste the food in your mouth even after eating it. We were always left smacking our lips!
If you haven’t tried ackee and saltfish—the national dish of Jamaica—you are missing out. The meal is as delectable as it is beautiful, with mountains of yellow ackee, red tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, flecks of fiery hot scotch bonnet pepper, and a healthy sprinkle of black pepper. Our favorite restaurant was The Reef Terrace, and it specialized in amazing Caribbean food. We also spent a lot of time at The Jerk Shack as we quickly became addicted to the heavily seasoned and heavily smoked portions of jerk chicken and jerk porn on offer.
And FYI, there is a huge difference between authentic Jamaican jerk chicken and roast chicken that is smothered in jerk sauce. HUGE difference!
We were also impressed with the selection of excellent Robert Mondavi wines on offer. Our waiters made insightful recommendations as to which wine was best paired with each meal. But as we were determined to stick to our Jamaican experience as much as possible, we drank as much Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum as we could when we weren’t at dinner.
And did I mention the incredible Blue Mountain coffee we enjoyed each day? If you’re a coffee-fiend like us, you’ll know that the deep, rich, fruity taste of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee ranks it among the very best in the world.
So Much to Do!
I’ll be honest. We didn’t make the best use of all activities we had on hand at the resort. It being our honeymoon and all, we spent a lot of time pursuing other entertainment (wink). But thinking back, there was a lot that we did do.
We went sailing on an open-air catamaran that allowed us breathtaking views of the island’s beautiful coastline. The sea air was crisp and salty. After the captain brought us further out to sea, we put on our life jackets, fins, and masks and went snorkeling. The world beneath the clean blue waters of the Caribbean Sea is alive with color and movement. Mike isn’t much of a swimmer, but I was enthralled by the hundreds of colorful tropical fish that darted by without a care.
While many guests had also signed up to visit a few of the natural attractions in Ocho Rios, we decided to skip the organized tour and head to the world famous Dunn’s River Falls on our own. When we arrived, we had fun listening to and trying to understand a group of young local girls chattering excitedly in Jamaican Patois. They entered through the main gates just ahead of us.
Like the resort, the white sand beach at Dunn’s River Falls was also clean and inviting. We spent a few minutes at the base of the falls and allowed the water to pound against our heads, backs, and shoulders. Once we had gotten enough of our natural massage, we climbed the slippery rocks all the way to the top. We headed back to the hotel feeling very pleased with our own little adventure.
Back at the resort, there were many watersports and beach activities. However, we were most interested in the Caribbean beach parties. I still remember Mike doing the limbo and trying to keep up with the local men as they danced and gyrated to the beat of the steel pans. He did his best, and I had a good laugh.
We also had a great time at The Rabbit Hole. Ricardo told us The Rabbit Hole is the first speakeasy to be opened in a Caribbean all-inclusive resort. He encouraged us to dress for the occasion, and he was right. I wore a gorgeous blue dinner dress and Mike donned a sharp suit. The decor, lighting, and furniture was very classic. In fact, the entire setting made us feel as if we had traveled back in time to the days of Al Capone.
Of course, we took the opportunity to enjoy a few more shots of authentic Jamaican rum.
As you may already have guessed, the service for our entire stay was excellent. We want to give a big shout out to Ricardo and Devin, as well as Lloyd our favorite bartender! It’s really a pleasure to see people show real love for their work and genuine concern for their customers. I’d come back just for the service.
Here’s a tip if you decide to visit: Don’t tip. Yes, you’ll want to. I certainly wanted to as well. But the staff members may lose their jobs if you do and they get found out. If you feel as if you have to tip, be very very VERY discreet about it.
Spending our honeymoon at the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort was a fantastic idea. Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the sun, the locals, and the culture. People often say money can’t buy you happiness and they may be right. But I’ll tell you what, money can certainly buy you and your special someone an unforgettable week in paradise!