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You can’t help but fall in love with Jamaica! The air is warm, the sound of Bob Marley tunes linger in the background, the jerk chicken is juicy, and locals are smiling while dancing to the beat of drums. It’s easy to not worry about a thing.

Sweet: Since Jamaica is still affordable, we booked an eight night trip to the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa through cheapcaribbean.com. Located about 30 minutes from Montego Bay, the resort had all of the amenities that we were looking for. Spa, check! Beach, check! All-inclusive, check! Largest pool in Jamaica, check!

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P1050791The resort staff greeted us in the typical way, with fistfuls of delicious rum punch! We checked in early in the grand open air lobby, and upgraded our room to an oceanfront villa room for the small sum of $20 a day (worth it!).

Sour: We enjoyed the oversized jetted tub in the bathroom, but the mini bar was rarely stocked, and the room was slightly dated.

P1050753Sweet: Of all of the resort’s dining options, lunch at the jerk hut was my favorite. We were able to eat on the beach with paper plates and afterwards swim and kayak in the crystal blue sea.

Sour: The quality of the food was ok, but there were often times long wait times for the restaurants.

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Sweet: The shoreline in front of the resort is sprinkled with white sand beaches, leaving endless possibilities for fun in the sun!

Sour: Since we’re mostly sunseekers, we didn’t take advantage of all that the resort had to offer. There was no visit to the casino, participation in fitness classes or other calendar activities.

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Sweet: We took advantage of some of the island’s most adventurous excursions. Our first adventure was to Dunn’s River Falls, where we picked up aqua socks and climbed up mild slopes of the waterfall with the help of our tour guides, who went by the nicknames of Big Foot and Big Belly.

Sour: This was a fun trip, but on our way out of the park we were hustled by a smooth talking shop owner to buy wooden tiki sculptures with our names engraved them.

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P1050606Sweet: Our next tour was Chukka river rafting, which included (drum roll) rum punch!

P1050578Sour: This was the ultimate lazy river, we drifted through the jungle landscape, under the large bamboo canopies and past local fishermen. My girlfriend braved the cool river water and took a dip, meanwhile I kept all limbs in my raft, the water was way too cold for my liking! This really felt like the boonies of Jamaica, and I was surprised that this isolated area served the best jerk chicken! P1050632

P1050662Sweet:  We spent one day in Negril, where we strolled along the white sand Seven Mile Beach, and enjoyed even more jerk chicken. We finished the outing with a stop at the world famous Rick’s Café, where I braved the 30 foot cliff jump into the sea!

P1050641Sour: The Seven Mile Beach didn’t match the beautiful postcard-like images we had seen. It was also a popular tourist spot which led to locals selling everything from lobsters and trinkets, to joints.

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The skies above Jamaica are mesmerizing, and with the beautiful surroundings and feeling of relaxation, this trip allowed us to reflect on ourselves. We gained a greater appreciation of taking time off and leaving our worries behind. While we may not visit Jamaica again, we have many other Caribbean islands on our bucket list!