Stepping out of the arrivals door at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, walking towards the waiting resort shuttle with our Transat representative, my travel companion Casie Stewart cracks open a bottle of ice cold Red Stripe—purchased from a man in the parking lot—and hands it to me. There is no doubt we have arrived in Jamaica.

The island, famous for ganja-smoking Rastafarians, is much more than Bob Marley’s old stomping ground—it is a country with layers of colonial history, a rich culinary culture and, of course, endless white sand beaches. Our destination in Montego Bay: Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach, a new all-inclusive property housed along the famous “Hip Strip”.

Photo: Air Transat

The flight down from Toronto was punctual, comfortable, and uneventful, beyond the impeccable Club Class service on Air Transat. Arriving to Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach we discover that our resort is located just next door to Royal Decameron Montego Bay property. The adjacent resorts boast a number of additional dining options for guests, from sit-down experiences to alfresco snack bars and buffet service, and for those staying at the Cornwall Beach property—amenities and dining experiences on both properties can be enjoyed throughout one’s stay.

I suggest dining alfresco at Cornwall Beach in the morning, lunching at the shared snack bar, then reserving a sit-down dinner at a restaurant by the water. For guests looking to get rowdy, the swim-up bar at Royal Decameron Montego Bay offers a boisterous crowd ready to shoot back shots of Purple Rain over countless rounds of the drinking game Zuma Zuma.

MoBay is home to a vibrant nightlife, safe for tourists of all ages to enjoy, but the two most happening nights off-resort are indisputably Thursday’s Ladies Night at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritavilla (one of six on the island!) and Friday at Pier One. On-resort, the nightclub is open daily until two a.m. and the resort bars serve guests until one.

For those looking to spend their days on the water, Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach offers plenty of water sports equipment for rent, free-of-charge. Whether hopping on a SUP, sailing a miniature catamaran, paddling MoBay by kayak (solo or double) or simply snorkelling around the shore—there are a ton of activities to keep guests of all ages busy.

No vacation to Jamaica would be complete without a day trip to Negril, home to world renowned Seven Mile Beach and a variety of shops and resorts. With hotel pick-up/drop-off and a jam-packed itinerary complete with sunset at Rick’s Café, Tropical Tours offers a complete Negril experience. Starting on Seven Mile Beach, at the Boardwalk Village, guests wander the beach and neighbouring shops at their leisure. From Boardwalk, Tropical whisks the group onwards to experience some local shopping at Time Square Mall—an open-air concourse in the heart of Negril—before ushering everyone to what is, arguably, Negril’s most popular attraction: Rick’s Café. Perched atop the limestone cliffs of Jamaica’s western coast, Rick’s offers a robust menu and Red Stripe by the bucket, but the real attraction are the cliffs—from which tourists and locals jump, flip and dive into the ocean below. After taking in a breath-taking sunset from Rick’s, Tropical Tours jets the gang back to their respective resorts in time for a late dinner.

Regardless of whether your time in Montego Bay is spent on the resort or out exploring this island, Jamaica offers experiences for all sorts of travellers. But, we must say, the little perks—like the self-serve Red Stripe tap and the daily mimosa bar at breakfast—have me already dreaming of my next trip to Royal Decameron.

This trip was sponsored by Air Transat. For more information on Transat’s sun and beach destinations, or to book your trip to Jamaica, visit  https://www.transat.com/en-CA/destinations/south/jamaica