Ekateryna & Marshall’s shoestring pre-honeymoon in Jamaica!

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Honeymooners: Ekateryna and Marshall

Type: International travel

Budget: Mid-range ($1000-$5000)

Where did you go: Jamaica — Montego Bay and Negril

We chose to go on a “pre-honeymoon” because we desperately needed a break from work stress, school stress, our crazy families, wedding planning, and bad Edmontonian weather!

DSC01342We chose Jamaica as neither of us had been there. Marshall had never been anywhere tropical, and it was cheaper than most of the other options we had. We ended up staying a night in a Toronto hostel, since the cheapest flight arrangement meant we had a twenty-one hour layover.

What did you do: While in Toronto, we snooped around Chinatown, Greektown/Danforth, and downtown at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Coporation) headquarters, where we discovered that the World Cup (shiny gold soccer trophy) was in Canada for just that one day!

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In Jamaica, we snorkelled, hiked, and lounged around the beach when we weren't out exploring.

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It is such a naturally beautiful country coupled with a people who have a wicked sense of humour. So, even if you don't have a lot of money, you can still have an amazing time. We did, however, eat a stupidly large amount of jerk barbeque, and enjoyed cheap, delicious rum.

What would you have done differently: Jamaican cash machines are very different from the ones in Canada. We couldn't take money out with our debit/bank cards, so we used our credit cards, which really isn't the greatest thing (our bank back home gave us a better exchange rate). So I wish we had brought more Jamaican cash.

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What's your advice for other offbeat honeymooners: For DSC01370Toronto:

If you are staying in Toronto, the downtown hostel we stayed at had cheap private rooms with your own washroom and a super comfy bed! As well, for some reason “limos” (really just luxury cars) from the airport to downtown are cheaper than cabs, but the bus is even cheaper (however, we missed it).

For Jamaica:

Some restaurants will provide two totals — American and Jamaican — the American cost is actually more expensive than the Jamaican when you take the exchange rate into account, so try to pay with Jamaican dollars.

If possible, try to avoid the “Americanized” restaurants, as Jamaican fare is pretty fantastic.

DSC01451Take cabs. You can usually negotiate a really great price, they will show you stuff that a tour guide will never think to show you, and it gives you the opportunity to interact with local people. One of our cab drivers stopped at a roadside stand and he bought us plums, mangoes, and peppered shrimp! They are also a wealth of information about good places to eat, as the best places we tried were the places they recommended.

Look into some of the smaller resorts. We managed to stay in pretty fantastic places for around $75 USD; part of the affordability was off season, part of it was not staying all-inclusive.

Bring really good sunscreen and bug repellent to Jamaica. The mosquitoes there left scars all over my legs!

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What was the most meaningful moment of the trip? One of my favourite moments of the trip was walking down by the beach watching the sunset. Sunsets in Negril are incredibly beautiful, despite being very short. It was so peaceful, which is something that we weren't getting much of back home.

Less chat more vacation photos!

Comments on Ekateryna & Marshall’s shoestring pre-honeymoon in Jamaica!

  1. That’s lovely! The idea of a ‘pre-honeymoon’ is one that I can definitely groove with. Can I ask what time of year you went? I know it was “off-season” but the month would be helpful because it looks gorgeous. Great trip!

  2. A quick suggestion to help with the bank card issue…use Scotiabank machines instead of NCB or RBTT. Scotia machines work with all Canadian cards that has a PLUS or Cirrus sign and will dispense either US or Jamaican dollars. Also you may not be able to get Jamaican dollars in Canada so exchange your currency at the airport at the cambio before you come through customs 🙂

  3. How did you plan your trip? agency? internet? did you had anything pre-booked? or just winged-it once there?
    Sounds like awesome

    • Internet or winging it. Tripadvisor provided us with places to stay, things to do, and restaurants to try out. Generally speaking, it provided us with fantastic suggestions!

    • HI Toronto Youth Hostel. It was great for the 21 hrs we were there as it was super close to everything downtown, or to transit. 🙂

  4. What’s the tipping situation like in Jamaica? That’s where we’re headed for our honeymoon and I want to be prepared to dish over cash for awesome taxi drivers and the like!

    • Just celebrated my parents 40th aniversary in the Montenegro/Negril area! Go into the mountains and away from the tourist areas, really worth it. Arranging 1 driver to show you around when you’re there can make all the difference–ours went above and beyond! Know the conversion rate, and pay in Jamaican $–you’ll save a bundle and get hustled less !
      10% -15% tip is customary for restaurants and taxis. Check your bill to make sure it’s not already added 😉 Taxi trips taken between midnight and 5:00 a.m. run 25% tip on top of the metered fee except when they aren’t metered; then prices are negotiable.

      Something like 80% of Jamaican economy depends on tourist dollars, so they’ve been hard hit by the US recession. If you go, know you’re supporting people and a country who need it! Sorry, that was WAY long!

  5. My hat is off to your two and your sweet idea of a pre-honeymoon. I’m sure all of us are in need of a break from wedding planning.

  6. We’re headed to Negril, too! My fiance is vegetarian, though, so we’re a little worried about the food situation. Did Negril seem vegetarian-friendly? Can you recommend any restaurants that would have tasty options for him? He does eat eggs and dairy, but not seafood or any other meat product.

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