Mao and I left our home bound for Ocho Rios at 6am Thursday. The last time we were in Jamaica was October last year for our mini-moon at the Ritz in Montego Bay (MoBay). This time, it’s business related. We’re shooting a local couple who’s having a destination wedding at the Riu in Ochie.
The direct flight from BWI to MBJ was a little over 3 hours with Air Jamaica. After having flown 5 hours with another airline with one stop, this is a no brainer. At MBJ, it looks like most of the construction is complete and the airport looks great. It took us about 45 min to get through customs, immigration and baggage claim. Another half an hour to wait for our bus transfer to fill up for a two hour bus ride to Ochie. The bus was old and needed to be retired.A� Reggae music blasted right above the opposite overhead with a barely working AC system made it an uncomfortable 2 hour ride. The good news is that the road construction to Ochie from MBJ is done. Not that it helped our older bus since everyone seemed to pass us. I remember encountering pretty bad construction traffic last year.
We had a quick pit stop just after we passed Discovery Bay. Mao and I were enticed with some roast chicken stew being served at one of the roadside restaurants and it was delicious. Not knowing what Riu had to offer, we thought this might be our only opportunity to taste a local dish. It reminded me of the famous Filipino dish, Adobo.
We were luckily the second stop after the Grand Principe resort. We were immediately given a warm welcome by our couple, Niki & Erik, who personally welcomed their guests arriving at the lobby that afternoon. The front desk was busy and we were told our ocean front room was not ready until 3p. We decided to grab rum punches and walked around the resort. Grabbed a quick bite and when we checked for our room availability, it was ready.
We walked in our room and the location and the view of the room was worth the wait. We’ve stayed at excellent resorts in Jamaica and this is by far the best room we’ve stayed in. It was decorated well without the bright Caribbean colors and plenty of space to stretch out. It had a drop down sitting area. The bathroom had a whirlpool tub and double sinks. Once we opened the door to our huge balcony, the warm tropical breeze and the sounds of the waves immediately filled our room. We spent a half an hour cleaning up and start unwinding by drinking some Red Stripe beer from our mini-bar and just relaxing at the balcony. The Riu has an amazing in-room minibar. It has large bottled alcohol dispenser with rum, gin and vodka. The fridge was filled with sodas, tonic water, bottled water, Ting, and bottled red stripe beer which I probably finished. The mini-bar was a good touch.
We scoped out the resort grounds and joined the wedding party for the rehearsal at the wedding gazebo. Rehearsal was quick and everyone had dinner at the resort’s biggest buffet restaurant, St. Anne. We had a light bite since we had a 9:30 reservation at the resort’s Japanese restaurant. I was impressed with the food offered as well as the terrific service at St. Anne’s. We later had a Japanese dinner which was just ok.
The following morning, we woke up early and had breakfast. You’ll find all your typical American breakfast food accompanied with fresh fruits and juices. If your a bit more daring, you can try the local breakfast of akee with salted fish.
We relaxed on the beach after breakfast. I played beach volleyball then grabbed jerk chicken and ribs from the Jerk Hut. The jerk was tasty and served freshly off the charcoal grill. After lunch we got ready and walked four doors down the hall to shoot the bride, Niki, getting ready. How good is that?
The following day, we had the day all to ourselves. This was the only day we had no activities planned and we made the best of it and pretty much did nothing. The only activity we did was watch and jewelry shopping at the Island Village and Taj Majal shops. Jamaica is known for fine watches. We saw our friend Harry who typically worked at the MoBay location. After shopping, we relaxed on the beach, played volleyball and enjoyed our final night there.
The return bus transfer was quicker. It was a newer bus and a much pleasurable experience. We stopped at another rest stop where we grabbed more jerk. Air Jamaica had long lines but we were bumped up 15 minutes later. Air Jamaica was great in the sense that I didn’t have to check-in my gear.
We’re flying out to the Riu for another wedding held at the Coyaba Gardens late this month.