Jamaica Part 3: Montego Bay, the party spot

Oh my, Montego Bay…..the perfect destination for a Jamaican vacation with variety. Affectionately called Mobay by locals and visitors in the know, this North Coast city is the second largest in Jamaica. It hosts the most popular airport for tourist arrivals, Sangster International Airport (MBJ), which means that your Mobay resort will be no more that 20 minutes from the airport. If you’re only in Jamaica for a short getaway, stay at a Montego Bay resort for the shortest touch down to toes-in-sand time, because you know you’ll want to be on the beach asap!


There’s no better place on the island if you want to see and do it all. From Montego Bay, you can access most of the other key resort areas within a 2hr drive, opening up all of Western Jamaica for day trip exploration. Closer to home, Mobay proper holds many charms. Your resort is almost guaranteed to be on a beautiful beach (especially when you use Three Wishes Travel to find your perfect resort match). Scuba enthusiasts will enjoy exciting wall dives within a 20 minute boat ride. Golfers are spoiled by four fantastic championship courses. For the party, well…..you’ve come to the right place. The famous Montego Bay Hip Strip will satisfy all of your needs for local nightlife.

Let’s take a closer look at Montego Bay:

Rose Hall Great House: History buffs will appreciate learning about Jamaica’s plantation days. The Rose Hall Great House is the most famous of all Georgian-style plantation mansions in Jamaica. Legend tells that is is haunted by the ghost of it ruthless mistress, Annie Palmer, who earned the nickname “The White Witch of Rose Hall”. According to the story, Annie Palmer practiced voodoo, enjoyed beating slaves, and murdered several husbands within the house..before being murdered by a jealous slave that she had taken as a lover. Tours are offered of the property including the option to do an evening tour, focusing on the spookier aspects of the mansion’s history. The grounds also hold the White Witch Golf Course and a zip-line excursion.

Margaritaville Mobay-The Hip Strip: Home to shopping, restaurants, and clubs, the Hip Strip is the tourist activity center of Mobay. By day, the Hip Strip is one of the city’s many opportunities for souvenir shopping, dining, people watching and is home to a couple beach clubs popular with both tourists and locals. At night, the strip heats up at Margaritaville, Blue Beat, and Pier 1. If you like to drink and dance, you’ll definitely want to check out one of these clubs during your vacation.

Reggae Sumfest: Plan your travel during mid-July and be in Montego Bay for this annual Reggae festival. This multi-day event features popular Jamaican artists as well as international superstars. Resorts in the area sell out quickly for the festival dates…Be sure to plan your Sumfest vacation months in advance.

iberostar-grand-hotel-rose-hall-pool-view-2Accommodations in Montego Bay range from large all-inclusive resorts including luxury options for both families and adults-only, to smaller boutique offerings (both all-inclusive and not). Villas are also available. Work with me to find the best value accommodation for your needs.

Next up: Negril!

Jamaica Part 2: Ocho Rios, the adventure spot

You love the beach, but you’re not the kind of person who can lie on a beach for a week and call it a vacation. You want more. More activity, more excitement, more of everything. Ocho Rios is so much more than just a beach vacation. It’s the adventure capital of Jamaica and is just the spot for a vacationer like you.

Ocho Rios cruise port from the chair lift at Mystic Mountain
Ocho Rios view from Mystic Mountain

Known as “Ochi” by locals, Ocho Rios is located on the North Coast of the island. While Ocho Rios literally means “eight rivers” in Spanish, there aren’t eight rivers in the area. The city’s name is likely a British corruption of the original Spanish name for the village, “Las Chorreras”, which translates to “the waterfalls”…a more fitting name for the town. This part of the country features lushly forested mountains sloping down towards small cove beaches. From the airport in Montego Bay, its a leisurely 1 hr and 45 minute drive on the main highway. The city is a popular cruise port and resort destination and offers plenty of shopping opportunities as well as local eateries. Accommodation ranges from large all-inclusive resorts to small boutique luxury hotels and private, fully-staffed villas for rent.

In Ocho Rios, you’ll find some of Jamaica’s top tourist attractions! Bored on the beach? No problem, mon!

Here’s a sample of the active adventures you’ll find:

Dunn's River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls
  • Dunn’s River Falls- Probably the most famous tourist attraction in Jamaica..for a good reason. This multi-level waterfall is both picturesque and a fun way to spend a few hours. Adventurers form a human-chain by holding hands as they climb from the bottom of the falls (a beautiful sandy beach) to the top. Guides lead the way, take pictures of your progress, and make stops at key spots on the way up to allow you to enjoy the fall’s unique features, including a small natural water slide!
  • DSC05729
    Mystic Mountain zip-lining

    Mystic Mountain- The Jamaican Bobsled Team was made famous by the movie, Cool Runnings. No trip to Ocho Rios would be complete without a thrilling ride down the Jamaican Bobsled attraction at Mystic Mountain. The bobsled cars are attached to a smooth, gravity-driven rail track..and you control how fast your bobsled zips around the corners. Need more of a thrill? Mystic Mountain also features a zip-lining course and you can access the whole park by taking a scenic chair lift ride up the mountain.

  • Blue Mountain- It’s the highest peak in Jamaica and where the world-famous Blue Mountain coffee is grown…and, luckily, it’s not far from Ocho Rios. For a day trip, take a drive up the mountain’s slopes and cruise back down on a bicycle, making stops along the way to cool off in waterfalls and learn about the Jamaican culture. If that’s not enough, schedule a sunrise hike. You’ll sleep in a cabin up high on the mountain and wake up bright and early to ascend to the peak for a gorgeous sunrise. On the clearest days, Cuba can be seen from the top of Blue Mountain.
  • Getting some kisses at Dolphin Cove!
    Getting some kisses at Dolphin Cove!

    Dolphin Cove- Have you always dreamed of swimming with a dolphin? Make your dreams come trueat Dolphin Cove. On offer are several options for getting your fins wet, but the top package is the Ultimate Swim where you interact in the water with not one, but two of these friendly marine mammals. After your session (and a few dolphin kisses), enjoy the rest of your day snorkeling with the stingrays, visiting the parrots and reptiles on the informational Jungle Trail, or relaxing at the sandy beach. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT MISS the comical Shark Show, where you just might have a chance to swim with, and feed, the resident nurse sharks. Dolphin Cove also holds a special spot in my heart….it’s where my husband worked with the staff to create a fantastically memorable marriage proposal.

In addition to the ideas above, you can also enjoy horseback (or camel) riding, river tubing, thrilling dune buggy or ATV tours, and deep sea sport fishing. I’ve only just scratched the surface on all the activities that are available within easy reach of Ocho Rios.

Which adventures just made it to your “must do” list?

Next week: Montego Bay!

Better late than never: A slightly belated overview of my trip to Turks and Caicos in Nov 2012

Beaches Turks and Caicos

A few days after Thanksgiving, I packed my bag (a Briggs & Riley rolling duffel– which I love and highly recommend) and jetted off to spend 5 glorious nights at Beaches Turks and Caicos.I was fortunate enough to be sharing this vacation with two of my closest girlfriends who I had met during my former life as a zookeeper. Over the years, we had each moved on to other jobs in other parts of the country and this was a much anticipated reunion.

On a side note, I had arranged this trip such that one of my friends did not know that the other was going to be joining us… So we were able to coordinate a fabulous surprise reveal for our meet up at the airport in Miami. Her reaction was absolutely priceless!

It took approximately 15 minutes to clear immigration and customs in Providenciales before we made our way outside to the Beaches stand. There, we were greeted by a friendly gentleman who offered us chilled bottles of water and attached room tags to our luggage. Two minutes later, we found ourselves in a van and on our way to the resort. We had been upgraded to a concierge room, so after a refreshing chilled towel and rum punch welcome, we were escorted to the concierge lounge for check-in. I was very proud that my friends took my Pack for a Purpose suggestion to heart and we were able to present the Sandals Foundation with a large selection of donated school supplies!

Luxury SuiteOur room was a Luxury Suite in the Caribbean village with a view of gardens and the ocean. It was a spacious room with a mahogany 4-poster king and a twin day-bed with pull-out trundle. The room also had one of my favorite amenities… a fully-stocked bar! Later that day, we were offered a further upgrade and move to a concierge suite in the newer Italian village. This room had a second bedroom area with a set of bunk-beds with a trundle in addition to the king in the main area.Luxury Suite 2 It also had a gorgeous bath with a whirlpool tub and a separate walk-in shower. This room would have been wonderful for a family with kids, but we felt that it was too segregated for our girlfriends’ getaway and decided to keep our original suite.

After unpacking, we headed out for a walk around the property and a stop at the watersports center to sign up for our dives. I had been to the resort before, so I used this time to give my friends an informal tour. This is a large and grand hotel. I do recommend joining one of the orientation sessions so that you don’t miss any of it.

I won’t bore you with a complete play-by-play of the rest of our trip, so I’ll focus on the highlights….


Our favorite breakfast was a selection at Café de Paris, the resort’s French patisserie. We were easily able to make a meal out of the hot ham and cheese croissants, fruits, crepes, and specialty coffees. Otherwise, the breakfast buffet was splendid. For lunch, it’s a toss-up between the crispy, thin-crust pizza at Bella Napoli or the jerk chicken and burgers at Arizona’s. By far, our best dinner was at Le Petit Chateau. I could’ve made a very satisfying meal out of the scallops, hand-rolled butternut squash tortellini, and wild mushroom risotto that were all on the appetizer menu. Grand Marnier crème brulee and a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream were the favorite desserts of the trip!

Beaches Resorts serves up Beringer as the house wine. I personally love the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinot Grigio. You can also choose to buy a bottle of something else from the extensive Chairman’s Wine list. These wines and other cocktails are kept flowing throughout the day and night at the many bars spread throughout the resort. I like the local Turk’s Head beer and, of course… the BBC. It’s a delicious frozen blended concoction of ripe banana, Bailey’s, and coconut cream. They don’t use banana mix in their drinks here…only fresh whole bananas!

Beach-side Gazebo

When we weren’t eating, we were enjoying the pools, waterslides and lazy river, and of course..the beach! The weather on this trip didn’t cooperate perfectly with us. In fact, there were some very heavy downpours. However, we didn’t want to spend our vacation in our room, so we made the best of the rainy times and had a blast hanging out on the couches in the beachside gazebos. That being said, there was still sunshine on the trip and we were able to take a couple long walks down the beautiful 12-mile long Grace Bay Beach. On one of these strolls, I passed by a professional swimsuit photo shoot taking place, model and all!


Sea TurtleTwo of us took advantage of the scuba diving (included for certified divers) and I got the chance to come within a few feet of a large sea turtle!!! Other diving highlights were Caribbean reef shark and barracuda sightings. The dive crew was patient and helpful, although some dives were cancelled due to bad weather and one of our dive trips was severely delayed without much explanation. While we were out diving, our other friend took advantage of the exercise class offerings, which included yoga, zumba, and a boot-camp style session.

We were sad to leave on final day of our stay. We even woke up early to get some final runs in on the waterslides and a last dip in the ocean. Overall, the three of us had a great vacation and I was so happy that I was able to share one of my favorite places with my best friends. I’m looking forward to putting together another trip next year!

Please check out Three Wishes Travel on facebook for more pictures.


A website is born…

Three Wishes Humpback Fin

Three Wishes Travel was founded in December, 2011 and in November of 2012, it finally has a website. I guess 9 months wasn’t long enough for this bun to bake. Instead, like the calf of a Humpback Whale, threewishestravel.com needed 11* before its debut. I have to say, I’m quite pleased with how it’s developing.

This will be a showcase of what excites me about travel. I’ll share the resorts and destinations that I recommend as well as some travel tips, resources, and anecdotes. Perhaps something you read here will inspire you to try out a new type of travel, or better yet, set the date on that once-in-a-lifetime trip you’ve had on your wish list for years.

Michael Palin had it right when he said “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”

So hold on to your Humpbacks.. this is going to be a wild ride!

*note: It was more than 10 months before I enlisted the services of the ϋber-talented and incredibly fun Melinda Taylor of Weborization. From there, it has taken her less than a month to create the site. She is magical.