Ask any of my friends or family members and they’ll tell you the same thing: The only place I wanted to go this summer was Jamaica. For three years, all I’ve thought about was finding my way to the enchanting Caribbean island that my mother and grandmother call home. So, at the beginning of 2022, when I made my vision board of all the things I wanted to happen this year, “spend time in Jamaica” was smack dab in the middle.
You’d think having family in Jamaica would make it easier to visit, but I haven’t been to the island nation since I was 8 years old—and that’s *way* too long to be away from your roots. I’m a millennial and the work/life balance is difficult enough. A self-discovery trip to a tropical island on top of all that felt way out of reach.
But as manifestation would have it, a sweet opportunity with CheapCaribbean landed in my lap. A travel site for beach lovers (hi, hello), CheapCaribbean curates beach vacation packages that are both affordable and customizable. Everything—from excursions, transfers, and your resort stay—can be booked through the site.
So not only did I get to return to my mother’s homeland, but last month I was able to experience the island in a way I never imagined. My long weekend at one of Jamaica’s luxury, all-inclusive resorts was true bliss—and trust me, the magic of this island transcends familial ties.
My Vacay Must-Haves
If there was ever a travel-tip hill worth dying on, it’s this: Always take the first flight out. Not only did I get to my destination early in the day, but the airport was practically empty when I arrived, so getting through customs was a total breeze. After grabbing my luggage, I was whisked away to the adults-only all-inclusive Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa via Amstar transports.
Having been to Jamaica as a child, I’d often fantasized about the Caribbean island—what it would be like to go back, what color the ocean water would be—but this resort is beyond anything I could dream. Located in the Montego Freeport area, Breathless Montego Bay has unbelievable views of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains just beyond the beach. *Literally* everywhere I turned—whether I was in the lobby looking onto the pool or on the balcony of my ocean-facing room—I was awestruck by the picturesque surroundings.
I stayed in a suite at the Xhale Club that’s nothing short of celeb-status accommodations. It features a massive floor-to-ceiling rain shower separating the bathroom and bedroom, a romantic soaking tub on the balcony, a fully-stocked mini bar, and a tablet to easily control the lights, air conditioning, and blinds. And another standard amenity is a personal concierge. Mine was Raynard and he arranged my AM coffee delivery each morning; Arranged a picnic lunch for an excursion, and he even asked for the spa to stay open late one evening. Honestly, I said goodbye to him.
The resort has three pools to fit your every mood—a vibey main pool with DJs and daily foam parties, a slightly calmer whirlpool where you can still enjoy the music (without feeling the bass in your chest), and a tucked away rooftop one. There’s a sky bridge connecting Breathless Montego Bay with one of its sister resorts, Secrets St. James Resort & Spaso you can enjoy the amenities—delicious restaurants, bars, and beaches—there too.
Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Everything is included at this adults-only getaway, from top-notch spa treatments to 24-hour room service. If lounge time is your priority, plan to park yourself at the rooftop pool and bar. Or if you don’t want to think about any planning at all (honestly, same), check out CheapCaribbean’s $99 per person itineraryinspired by Cosmo’s Must-Visit List. And because you’re a grown-up who deserves nice things, CheapCaribbean is offering a five-night, all-inclusive hotel stay for one lucky reader.
A food & drink paradise
If you’ve never tried Jamaican food, well, I’m sorry. I was so excited when Breathless Montego Bay delivered authentic cuisine and iconic dishes not that far off from my grandma’s home cooking. (Apologies—nothing and no one can beat grandma.) I had the ackee and saltfish, oxtail with rice and peas, and jerk chicken at Culinaria, a buffet-style restaurant. And I would have easily gone back for seconds, buuut I wanted to try every single thing. The property has four other eateries including Altitude and Bare Buns Grill, which serves up steaks and burgers in a more familiar setting.
Now, I’m a breakfast person—like I could eat eggs and toast for every meal—so when I was greeted by a beautiful spread delivered to my door every morning, I was in heaven. A little something I learned on vacation: Omelets taste even better with ocean views and zero responsibilities.
When you get thirsty, remember that Jamaica—like so much of the Caribbean—is known for its rum. All five bars serve up the resort’s signature Breathless Rum Punch, but you can also ask any bartender to make you any drink you want. That all-inclusive life! Thanks to Nico at Altitude Rooftop Bar, I learned my new favorite liquor is rum cream, which he used to mix in the best espresso martini I’ve ever had.
Outside the resort
Since I’ve been to Jamaica and know about all its glory, strictly staying at the resort was *not* an option for me—and thankfully CheapCaribbean booked me some incredible adventures. I’ve wanted to see Dunn’s River Falls ever since I was little—especially since my mom and stepfather never stop talking about it.
One thing to know about the island is that even though it’s relatively small, it can take a while to get from town to town. Dunn’s River Falls is located in Ocho Rios, about an hour and a half from Breathless Montego Bay, so I brought a book to keep me occupied throughout the drive. Did I read? No. Did I stare out the window drooling over the lush greenery, 18th century architecture, and fruit stands? Yes.
I was speechless when we arrived. Though the attraction brings millions of tourists each year, when I first saw Dunn’s River Falls, I thought of the generations of my family that stood at the exact same spot. With an experienced tour guide, we made our way up the 180-foot high waterfalls. At the top of the cascade, there’s a park complete with gardens, a water slide and splash pad. There’s also a photo shop to get your picture taken and a local craft market.
Another day we took a more leisurely excursion with a rafting journey down the Martha Brae River, located on the north coast of the island, near the western edge. You know those bamboo rafts that seemingly float downstream in the middle of nowhere? Yeah, I took one of those! It was so relaxing just to sit and feel the cool water and the warm sun. At one point, my raft captain let me steer for a bit.
To me and my family, Jamaica is so important, so of course this trip will always hold a huge place in my heart. But—hear me out—even if you book a CheapCaribbean trip to Jamaica with zero history, I can guarantee this unbelievably special island will come to mean something to you too.
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