We weren't supposed to head to Jamaica, actually we had planned to travel to Israel, and then that changed to head to Miami, both of which did not pan out the as we had expected. Israel was in lockdown for Covid, we found our perfect condo in Miami, which wouldn't be ready until May 1st ( way after Passover, when we were looking to go), and so one night my husband shook me awake at 1:15 am.
"Rivka, wanna go to Jamaica?" Even in my sleep I'm a little too practical, but I also love travel, so the inner struggle was real.
"Dov, we have the Bar Mitzvah coming up, don't we have to do Covid tests before and after? What if we get stuck in lockdown there right before the Bar Mitzvah? Also, kosher food, I dunno." But I also asked him to show me the villas he was obsessed with, that came with a staff mind you. And so, we went and had what our kids claim was the best family trip of their lives.
What you've been waiting for, all the details so you can plan your own trip:
We stayed at the Casa Bella of Montego Bay, which totally matched up to the online pictures. Having a private house offered us privacy, our own pool, enough bedrooms for our family, views that were unparalleled, and plenty of space for our family of six. The owners were super accommodating and let us arrive as early as our flight landed, and hooked us up with an awesome driver. The staff was friendly, informative, took us on hikes, and I exchanged my chicken soup recipe for their Jerk Chicken (worth it).
Activities we did:
Located in Oches Rios, this was breathtaking and quite the hike. Don't worry though, with a guide they provide you, our kids ranging in age from four-twelve made it to the top, sliding down naturally formed slides, climbing through the falls, and swimming. Keep your wallet in the lockers provided though, pictured is the moment my husband jumped and his fell out. THANK THE LORD our guide found it with the bottoms of her feet.
This isn't like your white water rafting, here you witness the most unusual shade of blue while being paddled down with your guide down the river. This was relaxing and a welcome change after the challenge of the hike at the Falls, but of course our kids jumped in anyway. 10/10
3. Luminous Lagoon:
Due the mixture of hot and cold water meeting up together, and the micro organisms that live there, the water here literally lights up. We took a boat out at night, where you can swim (the water wasn't deep at all) and literally every movement causes the water to glow. This only exists in a few other places, so this was truly once in a lifetime.
4. Other fun things to do included going shopping at the market where fruits, vegetables, eggs, and more are sold, and of course Dr. Cave's Beach in Montego Bay, which has Margaritaville as well as fishing and boating.
We are Orthodox Jews so keeping kosher, and being near a synogogue are of the utmost importance. We could not have done this trip without Rabbi and Rebbetzin Raskin and their beautiful family, the Chabad of Jamaica . They came to our kitchen the day before we arrived and kashered it, making it kosher for us to eat on during the most strident of holidays.
They provided all the pots, pans, blenders, and food we could use. They had an option of prepared meals as well as buying ingredients, and were super helpful when our kids finished some of the ices, and meats half way through. The praying at their synagogue was lively and beautiful, and we have definitely kept in touch and made a friendship that will last a lifetime.