When traveling abroad it is always good to keep the phone numbers of any really good cab drivers that you have. The driver that I have used my last two trips to Jamaica is a friend of Ruth’s brother and is named Blacks. Friday afternoon Blacks picked us up from UTech and drove us to New Kingston to buy bus tickets for our weekend adventure.
New Kingston is Kingston’s financial district. There are a few buildings with 20-30 stories but for the most part, it resembles the downtown district of a medium sized city in the Midwest. New Kingston is also littered with chain restaurants like KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Tastee Patty and Juici Patty as well as local favorites such as Scotchies and Chelsea Jerk. (More on food in a later post.)
The main strip in New Kingston is on Knutsford Boulevard. Just off the strip in a large parking lot behind a “mall” is the Knutsford Express office and bus stop. The Knutsford Express is a luxury bus line similar to BoltBus or MegaBus that offers express travel between New Kingston and Montego Bay (with a quick stop in Ocho Rios). The Knutsford Express is the most efficient way to cross the island for tourists and visitors. Most of the roads in Jamaica are narrow and winding so it is not advised for inexperienced drivers to make the 2-hour cross-island drive.
In order to reach Montego Bay, you must drive north from Kingston through Ocho Rios (Ochi) and finally west along the coast to Montego Bay. There are only 2-3 direct routs to Ochi from Kingston, so when one road is out, the 2-hour trip to Ochi can quickly turn into a 3-4 hour trip. The drive through the mountains to Ochi is absolutely beautiful! See below.
Anyways, so we caught the 6am Saturday bus to Ochi and arrived around 9am. We spent the morning wandering around downtown Ochi looking for the hotel and scouting out food. Almost an hour later we finally made it to the Silver Seas Resort Hotel. The hotel was located just off the main strip in the center of town and the views were to die for. Sadly that’s all I can really say about the hotel. 15 years ago it was probably one of the finest hotels on this side of the island but things have gone significantly down hill from there. Still given the views and price ($60/night) I would recommend it to anyone looking for an authentic Jamaican experience on a budget.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out at the hotel, enjoying the view, and resting up for a busy upcoming week.
Sunday morning we woke up early and headed down to the beach below the hotel to go snorkeling. This has easily been one of the highlights of the trip. We took a short boat ride out to the reef from the hotel and spent an hour in the water. While we had no luck Finding Nemo, we did see the family Dorry forgot she had. We also saw Mr. Ray (a stingray) stalking in the deep water. Having learned a lesson from Steve Irwin, we turned and swam the other way. In total we saw hundreds of color species living peacefully on the reef; some fish as tiny as a marble. After about an hour we began to get cold so we climbed back into the “Butt” (baby fish speak for boat) and headed back home to 42 Wallaby Way (aka the hotel).
After lunch and hot showers, we climbed back onto the bus and headed for Kingston. Following a quick pit stop at Pizza Hut we went back to our house to prepare for the first day of class!