We are just back from a visit to Jamaica’s east coast, and we have to say we are truly impressed! This is an amazing place for a honeymoon, particularly if you value character, intimate hideaways, lush scenery and rich culture.
When most people think of Jamaica, images of mega all-inclusive resorts and overdevelopment come to mind. Yes, these areas do exist, but there is a very different side to the country, where honeymooners in-the-know encounter stunning mountains, boutique resorts and local people quick to share a smile and a friendly wave. We are talking about the eastern side of Jamaica.
We flew into Kingston and were whisked an hour away into the Blue Mountains to Strawberry Hill https://www.islandoutpost.com/strawberry_hill/, a peaceful retreat which is also home to some amazing musical history. Owned by music mogul Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and responsible for introducing Bob Marley and reggae music to the world, Strawberry Hill is where Marley convalesced for 6 months after being shot in 1976 during a period of political tension in Jamaica. Guests can enjoy the charming gingerbread cottage "Gong", one of 12 on property, where the reggae master himself stayed during this period.
Today one comes for the quiet, the romance and the fabulous views over Kingston towards the ocean, which are magical as the lights come on at dusk. Music is omnipresent. Not only will you enjoy great grooves playing in the cozy bar, but gold records by Marley, U2, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and others are on display in the boardroom. You really feel like you are part of music history at Strawberry Hill!
If Strawberry Hill is a privileged look into music's past, our next stop, the tropical enclave of Geejam https://www.geejamhotel.com/, is a look into music's future. Set just outside the coastal town of Port Antonio, Geejam boasts just 5 intimate cottages and one villa, and is tucked into a beautiful hillside setting, complete with private beach club below. Owned by two music executives, the theme continues: the Bushbar displays a slick iMac showing the current iTunes playlist, for example. But more surprising and delightful is Geejam's state-of-the-art recording studio. What? In the middle of a Jamaican jungle? Absolutely - it's brought in many top artists such as Alicia Keys, No Doubt and Amy Winehouse to name a few. Escapists love the setting and the amazing personal attention provided by the staff - nothing is too much trouble!
After Geejam, our final stop was the off-beat but very cool beach resort of Goldeneye https://www.goldeneye.com/site/, in the town of Oracabessa in the northeast. If the name sounds familiar it should – the property was formerly owned by Ian Flemming, creator of James Bond. While it’s changed since Flemming’s day, guests can still choose to stay in or visit the Flemming Villa – an extensive compound set on a beautiful piece of cliff-side property where the author penned his iconic novels.
Also owned by Chris Blackwell, Goldeneye received major investment in 2010, resulting in a series of charming new cottages, both on the pretty beach and on its crystal-clear lagoon. Lagoon cottages even come with their own kayaks - just drop into the water and off you go! Other great watersports include stand up paddle, swimming in the lagoon, snorkeling, jetskiing and diving.
Of course Goldeneye has a musical component to it - great reggae tunes and other laid-back beach music are played over the Internet at the Bizot Beach Bar, which is adorned with album covers from the 60s and 70s. This is also a destination for musicians on holiday, so you never know who you might run into! Not to be missed is the nearby Firefly Estate, the Jamaican home to British musician, artist and friend of Ian Flemming, Noel Coward. The estate has a magnificent view, and is often the site of intimate concerts by visiting artists - for example, U2 played Firefly in February for the 50th birthday of one of Bono's friends.
Clearly, this is a different side of Jamaica. In addition to very cool places to stay, everywhere you go you'll find Jamaicans eager to chat, welcome you, share a laugh, or show you their town. Music, culture, beauty and romance come together at once for a truly unique experience that is perfect for a honeymoon or other special occassion!