Travel

A Weekend Getaway

A few weeks ago, Alex and I escaped the New York winter and took a weekend trip to Jamaica. My mom took care of the boys (we were so grateful!), and it was such a treat to spend a couple days relaxing. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

We stayed at Jake’s, a quirky boutique hotel on the less touristy side of the island. If you’re looking for an awesome, affordable place, this is it. Super friendly, laid-back, fun. The hotel has a saltwater pool, plus a poolside bar and two restaurants serving local fare, like conch fritters and jerk shrimp. (FYI, this is not sponsored in any way, we just really loved it!)

Guests stay in cottages scattered around the property. Our upstairs room was small but cute, and the best part was…

…the terrace overlooking the sea! We could hear the waves crashing right below us as we fell asleep at night. (So much better than our old noise machine at home.)

The next morning, a friendly fisherman took us on his boat…

…to Pelican Bar, a tiny driftwood bar built on a sandbar three-quarters of a mile out to sea! How crazy is that? (Here it is on Google Maps!)

We chatted with really nice people and had fresh fish and rice for lunch.

When Alex told the owner that it was his new favorite bar in the world, he smiled and answered, “Everyone says that.”

Finally we cooled off on the sand dune around the bar.

Meanwhile, on our trip, I was reading the psychological thriller The Girl on the Train. I got completely sucked in and couldn’t put it down…

…from morning…

…til night. :) Sorry, Alex!

On our last day, we ventured to The Lobster Pot, a thatched lunch spot a few miles away from our hotel. When we walked up, a guy sitting outside told us that the chef wasn’t there (bummer!), so we tried to figure out whether we should head back to the hotel or wander around a bit. But suddenly we spotted the chef walking down the beach with a bucket of lobsters in each hand. He smiled and told us to stay put.

It’s funny how different Jamaica time is—stores and restaurants seem to open and close without rhyme or reason, and when you order food, you might get it in 15 minutes or two hours. You learn to just chill. :)

We drank Red Stripes…

…and played dominoes while we waited. (I got totally addicted during our trip.) A local guy, Damien, taught us the rules, plus bit of strategy and technique. (Tap a domino twice to pass; slam down your winning domino; perfect your poker face.)

And then his seven-year-old daughter beat us all. “My mom plays every day,” she said.

An hour or so later, the chef brought out curry lobster with rice. Spicy and delicious.

We swam in the ocean as the sun began to set. The water was warm and salty—you barely had the tread water to stay afloat. Jamaica, what a beautiful and amazing place.

Then we came back home to these little cuties! A huge thanks to Nana for taking such good care of them. xoxoxoxoxo

Have you ever been to Jamaica? Are you from there? What an incredible place and culture. Thank you so much for reading.

P.S. Our very first trip without babies.

  1. happy weekend

  2. Loved this so much! I’ve been to Jamaica twice, and both times we stayed in Treasure Beach. It’s so much better than any of the touristy areas- a true Jamaican experience. Seeing your pictures makes me want to go again!

  3. Nice! I actually live about 3 hours from Jamaica (I’m from Trinidad, also in the West Indies) and I’m going there next week for 6 days! I’ll be staying in Montego Bay though, which is the most touristy of touristy areas of JA. LOL. I’ve never been but I’m SO excited; Jamaica has FAR more gorgeous (and clean! Thank you lord!) beaches than my country. I can’t WAIT.

  4. I love the cozy pants you are wearing in the first photo!! Where are they from?

  5. oohhh, I love Jake’s! It makes me want to go back now. Did you make it to the Farm to Table dinner under the stars? Dreamy experience if you didn’t make it. P.S. Not trying to be anonymous…lol It’s not letting me log in.

  6. That BAR – it’s my new favorite and I haven’t even been! Glad you guys got some time away to relax.

  7. Oh my gosh – how good was The Girl on the Train?!?! I couldn’t put it down either!

    Thanks for sharing your trip! :)

    • Ashley says...

      Do you have any other book suggestions like “The Girl on the Train”? I loved it so!

  8. Now with my two girls, it is very difficult for us to take a long break (and abroad) like you and Alex did, but I really like to read about other people journeys and see nice pictures of it. I feel like I travelled too.
    xxx

  9. Love Jakes! We stayed in Octopussy 3 – it was fabulous. We actually divided our trip between Negril and Treasure Beach. If you go back, check out the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril. Seriously.

  10. YES, JAKE’S! My parents, brother and I stayed at Jake’s Dec 2010/Jan 2011 and it was AWESOME. So different from Negril and the all-inclusives (of which my family has never been a fan) – of course going to Pelican Bar was awesome. Glad you loved it, too! The western/less touristy part of Jamaica was incredible :)

  11. The trip sounds awesome. BUT most importantly, where is your son Anton’s winter hat from?? I need it for my super fair skinned little boy.

  12. Looks like a great trip! Have book marked it for a future vacation. As always, thanks for sharing Joanna.

  13. I’m so happy you had a great time in my home country Jamaica, and my people were good to you. We are pretty chilled and laidback folks for the most part (as in shops opening and closing on their own timetable)lol too funny I know. I laughed so hard with KM’s comment as she is absolutely correct– our guys are extremely manly there and won’t stand for it, not one bit. I’m still in shocked and bewildered when at the subway in Canada and see guys lip-locked french kissing away, in broad daylight no less. Some of the nicest guys I’ve met here are gay, so love them all. One of the things I love about Jamaica is that we don’t wait on the police to arrive, we take matters into our own hands and the neighborhood takes care of who or what caused the problem… pretty much like the show: Person of Interest! Love it! xx

  14. I’m thinking about Parrot Cay for a 40th birthday trip this summer. I would love to hear more details about your trip there and how you found such a great deal!

  15. I’m heading to Panama tomorrow and was going to get Girl on the Train to read – but now I think i might wait – cuz I actually want to see Panama! haha I’m excited to read that book though

  16. Magnifique!! Il y a une théorie selon laquelle 3 jours suffisent pour se ressourcer psychologiquement et physiquement. Just three days to revitalise ourselves, that’s what a theory says to struggle the bad consequences of stressed life.

  17. SR says...

    This is one of my favorite travel posts EVER! It put a big smile on my face. I haven’t been to Jamaica since I was 18, when it was our annual family destination for a few years. It is now on my list of countries to return to– thanks! I love going to places I’ve already been and experienced at a certain time in my life, to see it with fresh eyes…

  18. This looks like is was a fabulous break from a long, hard winter. So glad you had fun!

  19. Oh yes! Loved seeing pics of Jamaica. Is that the seven-mile white sands beach? I have to agree with someone (can’t remember who) that said Jamaica can be quite dangerous. During a week-long stay we heard gunshots throughout the night and were warned not to walk around at night on our own. I must admit that hasn’t put us off going again because we were treated superbly by almost everyone, the food was great and we don’t need to go out at night anyway!

  20. Can you share your workout routine if you have one? You look so great. Your friend, Courtney, looks great too.

  21. Just bought The Girl On the Train! Starting it tonight!

    Beautiful photos! It looks like you guys had a great time together :)

  22. Aaah, the land of my birth. So. glad you had a great time. Hi Jo, been following you for a few months now and really enjoy your blogs. My first post! Was looking at Jakes the last time I went but ended up in Negril. Next time.

  23. alexandra, good question! our experiences were very different—we stayed at the viceroy sugar beach in st. lucia and it was gorgeous with panoramic views and a pretty luxe resort where the service was very elegant and lovely; whereas jake’s in jamaica was way more laid back and low key and you chatted with the bartender/owner/etc more like friends and hung out with locals and experienced more of the local culture. so it depends what you’re looking for! have fun planning!! xoxo

  24. My husband and I went to Jake’s 10 years ago and I loved how remote it was. We felt completely off the grid! I love that Floyd’s Pelican Bar is still going strong. I remember treking from the beach across the grass to our cottage at night and having to watch out for frogs – they were everywhere and you’d often step on them while you walked in complete darkness. One of my favourite things about Jake’s was the rooms had no phones, no TVs and no glass windows…just the sound of waves crashing at night. Also, the local fare was simple and amazing – did you have the fresh crab served in the crab back shell?

  25. We went to Grenada about 10 years ago! We have fond memories of Red Stripe!
    And – how absolutely lovely that you got to get away without the babies. Our daughter is almost 9 and we’re yet to have a trip just by ourselves!

  26. Thank you for the pics, you look so relaxed and beautiful. Book recommendation looks great too! xx

  27. What a Lovely place! <3 I’d love to go Jamaica one day! Looks like so much fun and relaxing! :)

  28. Jake’s reminds me so much of Goa a beach state in India where my boyfriend is from. Very laid back and chilled… And yes you wouldn’t know when your order will be ready… 15mins – 2 hours… Who knows.

    As for the book Reading on a holiday… I’m a compulsive reader and on our first backpacking trip I carried a bunch of books…it was my first non-solo trip and books has always been my companion before (we had had a tough year with loads of overtime at work and I hadn’t hit a book in a long long time) and my boyfriend brought his iPad along. Verdict- we neglected each other and there were exchanges of puppy dog eyes every time a book or iPad came out. Next trip- no books or technology!!

  29. We just returned yesterday from Jamaica Inn just east of Ocho Rios…we loved it!!! Our first time there and I want to go back next year! Can’t beat a direct flight into Montego Bay from the midwest! The people, food, and beautiful waters are amazing!

  30. Awwwwwww that is amazing! What a lovely getaway, mama! You deserved it! You’re just glowing in the pics…
    My hubby and I have been thinking about doing an adult getaway together and my mum has even offered to watch my daughter. Now we just need to think of some place to go! ha ha…
    BTW, my in-laws live in Kingston :)

  31. I have always wanted to visit, your trip makes me want to go even more! Last year I seriously considered applying for a job in the American embassy. I still think of that job!

  32. Traveled to Banff, Canada from NYC for a wedding 2 weeks ago and could not put down “The Girl on the Train”. Any downtime found me with Kindle in hand.

  33. Regarding the homophobic violence: my husband grew up in Jamaica and we have visited together a bit. While it’s important to know about potential dangers, I would argue that many Jamaican young (and old) people absolutely do not support or condone violence or bigotry against gay or lesbian couples. In Spanish Town, we’ve hung out with gay (male) friends w/o an issue. I would say that Jamaica is evolving the way many parts of the US are evolving (we still have problems here, too), and more conversation and exposure will help.

  34. I really enjoy your travel posts! My husband and I want to take a trip to the Caribbean at the end of the year but not sure which island to go to. I remember your previous post on St. Lucia and I’m curious on what your favorite was between St. Lucia and Jamaica? Thanks!

  35. @angela, i always get sad a few days before we leave because i start dreading leaving the boys, but then as soon as we arrive at the airport, i’m so happy we did it! the trips are always wonderful and restorative.

    @cmm, we flew into montego bay, and the hotel send really nice cab driver to drive us to the hotel (a 2-hour drive). he stopped halfway through the drive so we could try his favorite jerk chicken place!

    @jessie, it’s from steven alan from maybe five years ago. i’ve worn it 8 million times, ha!

    • Trisha W says...

      i know i’m like a year late, but i knew you’d traveled to Jamaica so i checked out this post again…we are interested in visiting Jake’s. I was wondering, is it typical for the hotel to send a cab to Montego Bay airport? I haven’t communicated with Jake’s yet. Preliminary planning going on right now, so i was just worried about the transportation. Don’t really want to rent a car. Also, did you find plenty to do at and around Jake’s? We are looking at just a relaxing trip for 4 or 5 days and would probably not venture too far out.

      thanks joanna for any more info you could share!

      -trisha

  36. @katie, you are so sweet:) thank you so much.

    @workitmama, we left on thursday and returned on sunday (so three nights) but we’ve also done weekend trips for just two nights, like when we went to turks and caicos a few years ago. two nights still feels like a huge break. i think the key is trying to get a direct flight so you don’t spend a full day on travel. good luck planning! xo

  37. KM – my partner and I went to Jamaica for two weeks for our honeymoon and beforehand I was so fearful of their anti-gay nature, they are afterall listed as the third worst homophobic country (or something crazy like that!) but we stayed at very nice luxury resorts and we had zero issue at all. Everyone was super friendly and welcoming to us. We are two women, so I’m sure we mostly passed as friends in passing – It may be different for two men however we did see another couple (two men) who were quite obviously gay at the first resort we stayed in and they seemed to be having just as good a time. I think as long as you are safe, stay to the resort and don’t venture out late at night, it will be fine. But we were very pleasantly surprised!

  38. @alex, good question! for us, this is how we handle childcare with my mom: we ask my mom ahead of time and plan our trip dates around her schedule. then we pay for her flight to brooklyn and sometimes also ask a babysitter to help out during the day here and there, so my mom can have breaks or an extra set of hands. we also leave some spending money in case they want to go to a restaurant, museum, whatever else! we feel so lucky and grateful to have my mom help out—i know it’s a pretty rare situation!

  39. yes, thank you so much for sharing the information about homophobic violence. i’m definitely going to read more about that. we made friends with a lesbian couple who were also staying at the hotel and hung out with them the whole weekend. i’m curious to ask them about their personal experience now, too. LGBT issues have long been really important to me, and i’m glad to learn about this. thank you again!

  40. Congrats. I’ve been to Treasure Beach, 10 or so years ago. Jake’s is lovely. However, I would never go back to Jamaica again in my life. So sexist, violently misogynist, and homophobic. My girlfriend and I were routinely followed around by people just lurking and watching us and saying weird things to us. On the plus side as far as street harassment goes, calling someone “fatty” is apparently a great compliment there, so I rolled with that.

    Regardless, I would never spend my money again to go to a place that was so violently homophobic. I did not feel safe.

  41. I appreciate knowing about the homophobic violence in Jamaica. My relationship looks straight, but I would never want to sanction homophobia with my tourist dollars. Thank you to KM and AB for sharing that information so others can make well-informed decisions.

  42. This looks truly awesome – especially with the weather we’re having…

    I’m curious, and not trying to get too personal or anything, but how do you approach the kid-sitting with your mom? Do you call her up and ask if she’ll fly out to do it? Do you pay for her plane ticket? Or does she just offer?

    I ask because we’re expecting our first, and are starting to think about child care options for when i start back at work which will hopefully be a kind of slow, step by step process over 2 months. Mom might be an option if we can get her to come up to the city for 4-6 weeks…

  43. I’ve always wanted to stay at Jake’s!
    girlsofafeatherblog.wordpress.com

  44. i’m from Bermuda! you should make that your next place, it’s the best :-)

  45. I love your photos of your trip! Makes me feel like I am in Jamaica, too =)

    Juju

  46. I’ve been to J! We go to Negril all the time, I love it there. But the place you two stayed at sound so much more secluded and wonderful for a weekend getaway. Thanks for sharing your photos with us!

  47. This is going to sound crazy, but I actually teared up looking at your lovely trip photos. I’m so glad you and Alex got to have time away to relax and unwind a bit. Obviously it’s always nice to have that time away but with all your family has been through in the past year, taking some time for yourself is so necessary.

  48. So nice that you two got to escape for a weekend! Also love that you had your nose stuck in a book the entire time. I always end up doing that on vacation haha. Thanks for sharing! xx

  49. you always have great travel recommendations. i will add this place on my list. at the same time, thanks for bringing awareness to the anti-gay issue, KM.

  50. Always love following along! Looking to book a quick trip too- what airport did you fly into/ how did you get to the hotel? Thanks for your tips!!

  51. Omg this place looks great and I always support a adults only trip! :)

  52. I love your blog! Thanks for sharing.

  53. It’s difficult because to boycott Jamaica as a tourist destination would be to devastate their economy… but at the same time, perhaps this is what is needed to get them to change their anti-gay legislation and the violence/hatred associated with it.

  54. Thanks for the reply Joanna! I’m going to do some investigating!!

  55. Looks lovely–can I ask how long you went for? We are trying to plan a long weekend without the kiddos. Do you think that’s enough time?

  56. I feel just relaxed reading this! You give me hope that I’ll soon have a vaca without baby–I feel that it’s harder on mom than the kids!

  57. Oh how lovely! We did our first night away at a local hotel in our town. It was awesome but missed our 1 year old so much. :) I have to ask — where did you get your polka-dot dress? Thanks for sharing your photos!

  58. What a great trip! It looks so relaxing. Thank you for sharing your pictures!

  59. sumslay, hahaha, thanks for oyur note! the boys were wearing aprons at the brooklyn children’s museum, where kids can pretend they’re running a pizza parlor :)

  60. emmyjay, i think it would be amazing!! people would have privacy in their cottages and then you could all meet up at the restaurants/beaches/bar/etc. would be really fun! i think they also have larger houses/cottages for groups, too.

  61. I’ve been to the Bahamas, but never Jamaica…it looks so relaxing! Trips without babies are not in the cards for us (no available grandparents between the two of us – one dead, one incapacitated, two too far away) but I plan to be as cool as your mom as Grandma someday for my own kids!

  62. Joanna, what do you think of Jake’s as a location for a (super laid back) wedding? I’m from Seattle and my boyfriend is from England, but we live in California. No matter how we split it, the majority of the guests have to travel, so I’m starting to think a destination wedding might be a good answer for us.

  63. AB says...

    I was thinking the same thing KM. As lovely as Jamaica looks we can’t safely go there as a gay couple. Things are changing quickly so hopefully Jamaica will catch up. Fortunately there are lots of places where we can safely travel.

  64. Your entire trip looks absolutely perfect. I finished that book yesterday and last night I made my husband listen to me recap the whole thing. He was a good sport about it haha

  65. Never been but definitely want to now! You looked so relaxed. Good for you guys!!

  66. Looks great! We stayed in the same room at Jake’s ages ago and we also stayed in the same apartment in Venice, CA that you guys did last year!

  67. Wow! I loved reading this post. Could summer come any slower? Jamaica looks beautiful, and I should definitely put on my places to go list! And I love the fact that you went on the not so touristy side of the country, it’s something I would do too!

  68. Amazing! My boyfriend and I are headed to Jamaica next week and can’t for some R&R!

  69. Looks like it was a wonderful break! Pelican Bar is my favorite, too! We spent a week at the Rockhouse in Negril two years ago and we’re going back in May. This has me even more excited!!

  70. Looks like you had a great time!! You’re also more adventurous than we are… we tend to stick to the more resorty type hotels. I love seeing your photos!!

  71. This looks like an awesome trip. thanks for sharing. Quick question what airport did you fly into to get to this hotel?

  72. This post just makes me want to quit working and hop on a plane to Jamaica. What a wonderful looking spot- it looks like a quiet little piece of paradise.

  73. I’m definitely going to be checking out Jake’s!

  74. Yes! We just made plans for a week without baby. I can’t wait to read the paper and waste time with my husband….

  75. i got sucked into a book our last beach vacation and i had a not-sleeping 1yr old and a sick 3yr old who i completely neglected and left in my family’s care so i could enjoy the book. my husband was so annoyed i haven’t picked up another book yet. and that was a year ago (and another baby!). it was worth it! articles for me at this stage in life! your trip looks lovely.

  76. My husband and I – along with my dad and stepmom – were in Jamaica for Thanksgiving last year, and it was exactly as you describe it: relaxed and serene, the perfect place to unwind.
    We had a cabbie, Henry, who taught us the Jamaican word irie, which means excellent. Whenever we use it, it’s an instant flashback.

  77. Omg, I loved everything about this post:

    – Jamaica’s never been on my list of places to go, but if I do, I’m following you’re itinerary – it sounds PERFECT! However, I do appreciate KM’s comment above – definitely good to know!

    – I’m adding that book to my list now too.

    – Just when I’m all sucked into the vacation photos (am I the only one that loves other people’s vacation photos?) and think this post can’t get any better, it’s the boys in their little aprons working away. ;) ADORABLE!

  78. We went to Jamaica on our honeymoon! Stayed at Sandals Ocho Rios – it was amazingly relaxing. I adore exploring islands and experiencing the local vibe, but the honeymoon is NOT the time to do that! At least for us it wasn’t – we just wanted to chill, and order as many drinks and desserts as we wanted :)

  79. Ooh my husband and I went there 2 years ago for our honeymoon, and we loved it as well! we fell in love with everyone at Jake’s, and made it a point to try every island cocktail at the bar :) How cool is Pelican Beach!

    Our first little is due in one week so it’s always good to see couples making it a priority to get away for a little one to one time.

  80. LK says...

    My husband and I are going to Jamaica in three weeks to finally take our honeymoon! I can’t wait.

  81. My husband and I met in Jamaica, 11 years ago! Glad you loved it!

  82. KM, i’m so sorry to hear that. i had no idea! thank you so much for your comment. going to research now…

  83. sammie, that’s such a great idea! i’d love to do a post about the differences between the beachy places we’ve been. for now: jake’s in jamaica had a more casual, laid-back, friendly, hang-with-the-locals vibe…while parrot cay in turks & caicos was more serene, upscale, luxurious, and the water was turquoise and crystal clear…it depends what you’re looking for! xoxoxo

  84. I just finished The Girl on the Train. I read it in bed and the night I finished it I was so hyped up I couldn’t get to sleep!

  85. YAY lovely write-up! I went back and read your first trip-without-babies post about Turks and Caicos. If you have two minutes, I’d *love* to hear a quick comparison of the two. Is there one you’d way go back to more than the other? Was one easier to navigate?

    Thanks! Glad you had fun :)

  86. my baby is 7.5….still waiting for our trip without baby. i think i might finally be ready. now, to find a relative who is trustworthy and available…hmmmm.

  87. I loved this and felt a teeny bit more relaxed just reading it :)

  88. KM says...

    I really enjoy reading about your travel, Jo. And this looks absolutely beautiful and fun – if you’re straight. Unfortunately, I will not go because Jamaica is the most violently anti-gay of all Caribbean nations. They have harsh anti-gay laws and local gay rights activists have been killed or had their homes set on fire. I think this is valuable to know so that if you have resources to make the choice, you spend your money in places that are safe for everyone.

  89. Love it! I went to Jamaica this past February. Red stripes are aplenty but my tip… add a fresh lime wedge! Yum!