I went on a cruise with my mom and best friend about ten years ago that stopped at Haiti, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Jamaica. I had the time of my life and have revisited two of these locations. Jamaica is one location I loved but haven’t gotten the chance to revisit yet. I’ve been wanting to revisit the island for some time and have looked into all of the best all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, which is what I’ll be going over today.
Jamaica is known for its crystal clear, blue water beaches, reggae culture, and jerk chicken. Unfortunately, I did not visit the beaches when I was there because we had about six hours to explore and decided to zip line and hike up Dunn’s River Falls instead. However, I did learn a few Jamaican Patois terms, like “Irie,” meaning everything is alright, and “Ya mon,” which basically means okay or yes.
The Best Up Front
If I ever revisit Jamaica, I’ll choose Sandals resorts. They have a little bit of everything with seven resorts that you can hop around to, a ton of restaurants, all of the activities you could want on vacation included, and budget-friendly options. If I had to choose one of the Sandals resorts, it would probably be the new Sandal’s Dunn’s River since it is located near one of my favorite locations in Jamaica, Dunn’s River Falls.
My Top Picks
- Sandals Resorts
- Holiday Inn Resort
- Franklin D. Resort and Spa
- Round Hill Hotel and Villas
- The Caves Hotel
- Bluefields Bay
Why Should You Go All-Inclusive?
All-inclusive resorts are accommodations that include everything you could need, and the things that aren’t included can be quickly booked through an available concierge service. All of your meals, drinks, transportation, activities, and entertainment are a few things that could be included in the price of your stay. Usually, these things are right at your resort, too, so you don’t ever have to step off the resort if you don’t want to.
Here are a few of the benefits that all-inclusive resorts have:
- You can save money. Since everything is included, all you have to purchase for your vacation is accommodation and airfare. Bundling all of these costs can save you a ton of money.
- Everything you could need is at your fingertips. All-inclusive resorts typically have everything you want from your vacation, like tours, massages, shows, and local cuisine. Anything that isn’t on-site for you can be quickly booked through a concierge service.
- You could get special discounts for excursions. Some all-inclusives have deals with different tour companies that get you a special price.
- There’s usually entertainment on site. Almost any all-inclusive resort I’ve been to has some type of show every night, games to play during the day, and themed parties day and night.
- It could be safer. These resorts are usually gated and have security at the front to ensure nobody on the resort that shouldn’t be there. Each resort has security that you can go to with any concerns.
What I look for in an All-Inclusive Resort
Personally, I’ve never been to a horrible all-inclusive resort. Probably because I really dig into what’s included and reviews, but it’s most likely pretty hard to find an all-inclusive resort that is downright awful. However, to ensure that you are getting the best possible experience in Jamaica, here are a few criteria that I kept in mind when choosing these resorts:
Part of the fun of staying in an all-inclusive is the elegant vibe you get from all the little things. Most of these rooms have a stocked mini-fridge or even a full kitchen. The decor and furnishings are top-notch, and there are a lot of outdoor spaces with places to relax or have fun. Staying in an all-inclusive should make you feel like you’re a movie star.
One of my favorite things about traveling to new places is trying all the food they offer. I have gained weight in less than a week on vacation because of how much food I eat. All of the all-inclusives below have multiple restaurants you can choose from and, most likely, a snack bar. I also like to ensure that at least one of the restaurants serves local cuisine.
Most of the time, when I book an all-inclusive resort, it’s because I don’t want to plan what I’m going to do for the week. Any resort I stay at must have many activities for me to enjoy without ever leaving the resort or booking something. Some things you can find at these resorts are snorkeling, kayaking, boat tours, water parks, and yoga.
Everything you will most likely want to do in Jamaica is on the North shore, from Dunn’s River Falls to partying at the Hip Strip. Most of these resorts are on the North or North-West shore of Jamaica. You shouldn’t have to travel more than an hour and a half to get to any of these resorts from Montego Bay Airport.
Great Customer Service
One of my favorite parts of visiting all-inclusive resorts is the friendly and fun staff. It’s like the staff at these resorts are trained to entertain you on top of providing top-class service. I legit feel like I’m close friends with some of the staff whenever I leave an all-inclusive resort. These resorts also do a fantastic job of fixing anything that isn’t going right for you and ensuring you have a stress-free vacation.
The Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Jamaica
Best Adults-Only: Sandals Resorts
I had to include this one because it is the one that I always hear of when people talk about all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, and for a good reason. These resorts are massive, with not only giant campuses but also a massive amount of locations that you can jump around to. I love when resorts let you travel to their different locations because it gives you more restaurant options and different activity experiences. One resort may have something the other doesn’t, like a golf course.
Even though you can travel to other resorts to try other restaurants, you may not need to because they have so many options at each location. Sandals Ochi has the most, with 16 restaurants, but the least you’ll see is five at Sandals Royal Plantation. You’ll also get premium liquor, like Crown Royal and Don Julio, with your package, which is pretty rare with all-inclusive resorts.
Another thing I absolutely love about Sandals resorts is they come with so many experiences, including instructor-led water sports like skiing, scuba diving with rental equipment, and snorkeling excursions. Plus, the Sandals Royal Caribbean is situated on a private island that can be visited from other resorts. They also have a private lounge at the airport where you can wait for your free shuttle to the resort.
Another service that is included is a butler with premium suites. However, I’ve heard this butler service is no more than a private concierge that you call for restaurant reservations and to book any spa services or excursions. I also don’t like how crammed some of their resorts look.
- It has seven locations in Jamaica that you can visit, transport included.
- These resorts have many restaurants on-site, with the most being 16.
- Premium liquor is included.
- It has super unique activities.
- There’s a lounge at the airport exclusively for Sandals customers.
- Free butler services for those staying in certain suites.
- The butler service seems to be more of a concierge service.
- It doesn’t feel as intimate because of the size of these resorts.
Best for Couples: Secrets
I feel like the name of this resort is a pretty indication that this is a resort for couples. They also have specific packages for those special dates in your and your loved ones’ lives, like wedding, anniversary, and honeymoon packages. These cost a little extra but include couples spa treatments, special treats waiting in your room when you arrive, and breakfast in bed.
This is one of those resorts you never have to leave if you don’t want to, which I’m guessing you don’t if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. There are two resorts you can travel between, and they are located right next to each other. The two resorts combined have over fifteen restaurants and a mile of beach to walk along.
You can also do many activities right from your resort, including stand-up paddle boarding, yoga, windsurfing, and parasailing. Although, a lot of the activities they offer are an extra cost. You can join the preferred club, and you might get free access to some of these activities, plus upgraded amenities, a private lounge, and special concierge services.
- It has two locations next to each other, and you can visit both.
- Has wedding, anniversary, and honeymoon packages available.
- You can join the preferred club for more amenities and services.
- The rooms feel extremely luxurious and have a hot tub.
- It has unique spa services, including couples services.
- Feels secluded, being on its own peninsula.
- Some activities incur an extra cost
Best on a Budget: Holiday Inn Resort
We all know Holiday Inn as a budget-friendly hotel that you can find anywhere. You may not know that they also offer budget-friendly all-inclusive options in certain locations. You’re not going to get the most luxurious experience with a Holiday Inn, but I’ve personally never had a bad experience staying at one.
You can stay at this Holiday Inn All-Inclusive for as low as $240 a night, and the price is per room. Not per person, like most other all-inclusive resorts. Your first kid, 11 and under, is free, but the second kid is an extra $50 per night. If you have a third person with you, it’s an extra $80 per night. This is a fantastic deal, saying that most other resorts start at about $240 per person per night.
You will only get the basics staying here, like free meals and drinks at their five restaurants and free on-site activities, like volleyball and a kids club. They don’t provide transport to and from the airport, but the resort is only ten minutes from the airport, so you shouldn’t have to spend much on a taxi or shuttle to get there.
- The first kid 11 and under is free.
- The price shown is for the room, not per person.
- They have their own tiny island.
- Less than ten minutes from the airport.
- Recently renovated rooms and open spaces.
- Airport transportation is not included.
- There aren’t a ton of included activities.
Best for Families: Franklin D. Resort and Spa
If you want your kids to experience the vacation but never want to see them beyond bedtime, this is the place for you. I’m just kidding, but you can quite literally keep your kids so busy with supervised activities, like crafts, fishing, beach picnics, and kayak races, that you may forget they’re even there. On top of that, each booking comes with a free nanny that can take your kid to all these activities and watch over them while you have adult time.
There are also many activities for adults to enjoy right on the resort, such as a glass-bottom boat, snorkeling, and bicycling excursions. A spa is also available if you need to wind down from all the crazy fun you’ll have. Although, I honestly feel like I would have a great time joining in on some of the kid’s stuff, like the 100-foot waterslide and the reggae dance classes.
You will never feel like you need your space from the kids at this resort, especially since the accommodations are so big that you never have to be in the same room as them, with two or three bedrooms, a living space, and a fully equipped kitchen. The only downside I’ve found with this place is that everything is a little outdated, which isn’t a huge deal to me.
- There’s a nanny service included in the price.
- It has an enormous amount of activities included for all age ranges.
- There’s a kid’s buffet that is open all day.
- All rooms have a full kitchen, two to three bedrooms, and a living space.
- The kid’s clubs and activity rooms are adult supervised.
- The design is not super luxurious or up-to-date.
Best Luxurious: Round Hill Hotel and Villas
When I first saw this place, I thought, “This looks like those beach resorts I see in fairytales.” Anything that pops into your head when you think of jungle beach vibes, Roundhill has it, including indoor/outdoor living spaces, white wooden planked ceilings, wooden shutters across the balconies, and clawfoot tubs that you can soak in all day. It only makes sense that these rooms look so luxurious because they were designed and furnished by Ralph Lauren.
If you think the rooms are nice, wait until I tell you about the villas. They have the same aesthetic as the rooms, except they have outdoor showers situated in a tropical garden, private pools, and designated staff to ensure you have everything you need.
Another thing that takes this resort beyond any of the others is nearly all of the food served is cooked from their garden that is on site. You can even reserve a spot to have the chef cook lunch for you inside the garden. They also have beachside cookouts and live entertainment during dinner some nights.
You’ll find all the basic activities, like snorkeling, kayaking, and a glass-bottom boat. One thing that these rooms surprisingly do not have is a TV, which may be perfect for those wanting the ultimate escape, but not so much for those with kids. However, there are a remarkable number of activities for the kids, such as tye-dying, painting, and kids’ clubs.
- Feels like you are living in a tropical paradise with luxurious rooms that give all the beachy/jungle vibes.
- They have a private lounge at the airport for you to wait at before departure.
- The villas have a private pool and staff that make you breakfast every morning.
- Most of the food served comes from their on-site garden.
- It has quite a bit of children’s activities and nannies available.
- There are no TVs in the rooms or villas.
Most Unique: The Caves Hotel
I had to throw this one in here because I’ve never seen a resort quite like it. It is situated on the seaside cliffs in Negril, and they use that fact to its full potential. They have ladders down to the ocean where you can swim or kayak in and around the sea caves. They also have an expert cliff diver that can show you how to jump off yourself, although it may not be as graceful.
Another way they incorporate the sea caves into their resort is you can eat, drink, and relax inside of them. They have two restaurants and a bar located below the resort. You can also book spa services within the caves, but they also have a regular spa and outdoor spa areas if that seems too dark and gloomy for relaxation.
Not only is the use of the caves unique, but each room has its unique style as well. No two rooms or villas look the same. Another thing that is different about this resort, not in a good way, is that there is no sand beach on the property. They have a bar called The Sands, but it is just an outdoor bar with sandy ground and no beach access.
- It has a restaurant and a bar located inside the seas-side caves.
- Each and every room and villa is unique.
- You can kayak around, swim inside and even cliff jump off the sea caves.
- You can get spa services done inside the caves.
- The largest villa comes with a butler, private pool, laundry room, and full kitchen
- There’s no sand beach
- The pool is small and unremarkable
Best for Groups: Bluefields Bay Villas
Look no further if you’re looking for that perfect family reunion vacation spot or a small corporate retreat location. Bluefields Bay is the perfect place to spend some much-needed bonding with your family or co-workers. This place feels more like a luxury vacation rental with its large, private villas that have everything you would see in a normal house, like kitchens, living spaces, and many bedrooms and bathrooms.
Even though you may feel like you’re in your own secluded house, you still get all the things you would typically see in an all-inclusive, such as three free meals a day prepared by your chef, a butler, housekeeping, and all the activities you could want. On top of all that, they’ve also included child AND senior care, so you can relax knowing that granny or the kids are having a great, safe time.
Some of the activities this resort includes are unique, like hiking up their private mountain, hydro biking, and an on-water elliptical. Although they have some pretty special activities for you and your group to enjoy, you won’t get to socialize too much with anyone else. There aren’t any common areas here to meet new people, so you’ll have to make your way off the resort if you want to socialize a bit.
- There are six villas with up to six bedrooms and six baths.
- They have child care and senior care available.
- All villas come with a butler, chef, a private pool, and private beach access.
- There are tons of unique activities included.
- The villas feel incredibly private and secluded.
- There isn’t a lot of socializing other than with those that are traveling with you.
Question: What is the cheapest time of year to go to Jamaica?
Answer: The cheapest time of the year to go to Jamaica is at the end of summer or the beginning of fall, around August to October. However, I do not recommend booking a trip during this time because it is also hurricane season, which is probably why the prices are low. If you want reasonable prices and fewer tourists, try to book for November.
Question: How many days do you need in Jamaica?
Answer: This depends on what you want to do while you’re in Jamaica. Five days should suffice if you want to unwind on the beach and try some local cuisine. However, if you want to experience some of the local cultures and go on excursions, like ziplining and hiking up Dunn’s River Falls, I recommend going up to ten days.
Question: Is Jamaica safe for tourists?
Answer: Jamaica does have some gang violence going on, but as long as you’re not trying to start trouble with a gang, you shouldn’t run into any issues. This violence usually stays within those gangs. However, there is a very rare chance that you could get caught in some crossfire. You should use usual travel caution when visiting Jamaica, staying where you know there’s security and not flashing your wealth.
The Best of the Best Round-Up
I think writing this article reignited my excitement for Jamaica. I still tell people it had the best ziplining tour I’ve ever been on despite my going on several zip lines since, and I can’t wait to experience those beautiful coasts.
The Sandals resorts seem to have just about everything that I could want. However, I don’t have kids, so if you want to take your kids to Jamaica, Franklin D. Resort is the place to go. I think I would even have a great time there, letting out my inner child.