Welcome to the Turquoise Travel Diaries, a collection of interviews, stories and excerpts from our fabulous team, as they travel around the world. Here at Turquoise we pride ourselves on unrivalled knowledge of the destinations in which we specialise, so that we can provide honest, expert advice to all our guests and fellow travellers.
- If you could describe Jamaica in three words, what would they be? Jamaica in three words: Authentic, Heart-warming and colourful
How long were you in Jamaica, where did you stay and do you have any top travel tips for those thinking of planning a twin centre holiday in Jamaica? One week in Jamaica was not enough. We spent two nights in the stunning Blue mountains above Kingston followed by 5 nights near coastal region of Ocho Rios. If you want to see Jamaica properly, I would highly recommend a minimum of two different places but if you can spare two weeks then this would be perfect. Make it up to the Northeast and explore the area of Port Antonio, or over to the west coast and Negril for white sandy beaches and fun bars.
- Usually people think of the Caribbean as a beach only destination, did you enjoy your stay in the mountains? What was your highlight and would you recommend to others? Jamaica has the best of so many worlds with culture, history, music, food, lush green scenery, adventure and of course beautiful beaches. Two nights in the blue mountains was a great introduction to the country. At Strawberry Hill we decided to go on a downhill trek with our local guide Ricky. He told us about his Rastafarian lifestyle, the local area, the growth of Organic food in Jamaica and the different fruit seasons- we learnt that October was ‘Avocado month’. We stopped off at a local waterfall and jumped in the fresh mountain pool which was full of minerals- a natural spa treatment! The highlight of this excursion was the local fried chicken we picked up from Gordon Town before the drive back to Strawberry Hill-the first of many delicious meals!
- What is the local food like in Jamaica? Did you visit any bars or restaurants that you would recommend? Is there a local dish everyone should try? Local bars and restaurants in Jamaica are easy enough to find, but going with a local is always a plus- their warm smiles and laid-back attitude make the whole experience more memorable, and the fact that they all seem to know each other well makes you feel like you’re having much more of a ‘family experience’ rather than just being a tourist. Down the road from Strawberry Hill is Café Blue in Irish Town, which offers great value for money and fantastic views over the blue mountains. Our trip to Goldeneye also included a lunch out to Ocho Rios at the brilliant Miss T’s kitchen- wonderful local vegetables, spices and Jerk chicken- it makes me miss it already!
- Where was your favourite sundowner spot? If you’re looking for epic sundowner spots in Jamaica, then Strawberry Hill is fantastic- watching the sunset over Kingston and the harbour lights twinkle on was really magical and very romantic. As for Goldeneye, we loved the Bizot Bar and listening to the waves crash whilst watching the sunset. Top tip: the ‘Dirty Banana’ cocktail was incredible (the famous Blackwell rum included!)
- Please could you tell us a bit about Golden Eye and the story behind the resort? Which room was your favourite? The origins of Goldeneye resort lie behind the author Ian Fleming- famous for creating one of the most best-known characters ever invented- James Bond. The 007 author loved the coastal spot of Goldeneye, built the original Fleming Villa in 1946 and proceeded to write all 12 Bond novels. Years later in 1959, Chris Blackwell founded the Island Records music label which introduced Reggae music to the world through Bob Marley. Blackwell then purchased the Fleming estate in 1976 and expanded the original property to turn Goldeneye into the luxury resort which it is today- and somewhere which is one of the most relaxed and beautiful retreats in the Caribbean. We stayed in one of the newly built beach huts which we loved. Although the rooms don’t have air-con, the décor, layout and truly Jamaican vibe of the rooms was bliss- a real home away from home.
- Do you have a highlight of your stay at Golden Eye that you’d like to share? If I could pick a Goldeneye highlight, then without a doubt it would be going to meet Mel Tennant who is known as the ‘Turtle Man’. We witnessed baby turtles hatch on one of the local beaches and helped to release them into the sea! Mel surveyed the hatchlings and decided to take a couple of those turtles which seemed weaker than the others up to the turtle centre, to give them a few days to strengthen up before their journey. Mel has spent the last 11 years confronting Turtle poachers, moving eggs to safer spots on the beach and he has helped to increase the survival rates from 37% to 80%! It was something we will never forget.
- Was there anything that you didn’t know about Jamaica before you went that surprised you and you loved? Something which made the biggest impact was most definitely the food. I can’t honestly say I have gone out of my way to eat Jamaican food before, but we couldn’t get enough of it whilst we were out there. All the ingredients were fresh, local, delicious and exciting- we loved the variety and actually, the healthy aspect of the food. They grow so much in the country and make the absolute most of the huge variety of produce. Every dish had such a wonderful mix of ingredients from salads, to soups, curries, and barbecued food.
- Finally, did you manage to get out and about to explore the island from Golden Eye? Are there any ‘must do’s’ or ‘must sees’? From Goldeneye, there’s plenty to go out and see for couples, friends, honeymooners and families. We spent a few hours at Dunn’s River falls, which was very touristy but a lot of fun and so refreshing to climb up and swim in the waterfalls. We also made a trip up to Firefly, the home of playwright Noel Coward who entertained many famous guests in this stunning hilltop location, including the Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier and Elizabeth Taylor. The house has been preserved completely and the trip is well worth it even just for the view! Ocho Rios has loads of other attractions including the town itself for bars and restaurants, the Blue Hole waterfall and cavern, and Mystic Mountain theme park for ziplining and bobsledding!