In early January 2013 I travelled to Ocho Rios on a Costa cruise ship and took a five minute taxi ride up the hill to Mystic Ridge Resort. I hit with Desmond Brown for at least 75 minutes, and he charged me $50 -- a bargain. I was also allowed to use the swimming pool, restroom, etc.. The resort has two hard-surface tennis courts. One is in good condition, and the other is a bit chewed up. Desmond's mobile phone number is 876-458-1201. Trevor is another pro resident there. Happy hitting.
Snorkeling is a nice activity to do while you are in Jamaica. You will see wonderful beautiful coral as part of a coral reef that you need to be careful not to damage since you get so close. The Carribean Sea that you swim in is this beautiful blue color so crystal clear and nothing like the murky dark waters we swim in in the Great Lakes of Michigan. Also you see such a wide array of very colorful fish that don't seem too scared to swim right up to you. If you are even more adventuresome and have the time, you can even get certified scuba diving.
While in Ochos Rios, you can arrange to go horseback riding on the beach which is a nice thing to do on your honeymoon. But don't think its all romantic like you probably are picturing in your head. They take you along the beach for only part of your excursion and the rest is down a sandy road where they take you to these pools and the guides try to freak you out telling you that alligators have been sighted in these pools. On my excursion I didn't see any alligators. Also the horses aren't young bucks if you know what I mean. Half the time my husband's horse wouldn't even move.
A great way to learn a little about the history of the area and to get out and experience the wildlife is by taking a ride with Hooves Ltd.. They offer two different daily horseback tours in the Ocho Rios area. Private rides are also available. The Bush Doctor Mountain Trail takes visitors 1800 feet above sea level through the Jamaican forests. The guide shows you a different side of Jamaica, pointing out plants and trees along the way. The Heritage Beach Trail (the tour we took) starts at the historical Seville Estates in St. Ann. This is the oldest plantation house on the island and has been turned into a museum. After a guided tour of the museum you mount you ride and your guides take you on a trail ride through the forest down to beach where Columbus was shipwrecked (and incidentally spent a year of his life). At the beach you’re treated to Jamaican snacks while the horses get a little break before letting them out for a full-out gallop in the Caribbean Ocean. After the swim with your trusty steed, you ride back up to the Great House – affording a full tour of the plantation grounds and an amazing perspective of the coast. If you book the Heritage Beach Trail remember to bring a towel and to wear your bathing suit under your clothing. You will get wet! You can also wear shorts on this ride without worrying about chaffing, they drape your towel over the saddle (English) so you don’t rub against the stirrups.
The great thing about Hooves Ltd. is they rescue abused horses from all over the world and rehabilitate them on the island. I got to see a before and after picture of my mount and the transformation was extraordinary. They really care about these animals and treat them like family. The company is dedicated to giving these animals the life and retirement they deserve.
Equipment: They provide the horses and equipment. Just bring your bathing suit and a towel if you're taking the Heritage Beach ride. Transportation to and from your hotel and snacks on the beach are included in the price.
Both rides depart twice daily at 9:30 am & 2:30 pm.
At Sandals and Beaches properties all your water sports are included. Take advantage and pay a visit to the water sports desk on the beach. Here you can book SCUBA, snorkeling trips, check out the sea kayaks, water ski, etc. If you’re in the mood to take a sailing lesson they have instructors available to take you out. Our instructor was wonderful, so friendly and knowledgeable about the area. We even “competed” in a sailing race with another boat out on the water. It’s such a thrill to take the boat out on the open water, especially when the winds are up. I recommend signing up for a sailing lesson – or taking a boat out on the water yourself if you’re experienced. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
Equipment: At Sandals and Beaches properties all your boats, equipment and instructors are included. And since they don't allow tipping on the property you don't have to worry about bringing any money along as it's not necessary to tip your instructor.
A couple notes for certified divers at Sandals & Beaches properties:
1)if you answer yes to any of the medical questions you will need to have your doctor fax the dive shop a signed note saying you are fit to dive before they will let you check-out. Come prepared. It’s much easier to bring the doctor’s note with you than to try and get a hold of your doctor once you’re there.
2)The check out is really easy. You just need to assemble your gear, fill and clear your mask, do a reg retrieval and the go to the deep end of the scuba pool and get neutrally buoyant.
3)If you haven’t been diving for over two years they have a refresher course. One guy I met hadn’t been diving in 9 years. He took the course and was on the boat that afternoon.
4)They offer 2-3 dives daily for certified divers. You are allowed to dive as soon as you finish the check-out. The first dive is at 9 am. It’s a deep dive (75 to 90 feet). On Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s it’s a two tank dive – every other day it’s a single tank dive. There is also a 2 pm single tank, shallow dive (35 to 40 feet) everyday.
5)They offer night dives for a fee. The minimum is four divers. If you’re interested in a night dive tell them at the dive shop and they will keep you in mind until they can assemble enough divers.
6)They don’t decide which site they will dive each day until they are on the boat that morning.
7)Since the dive shop moved to BGS they no longer allow certified divers and non-certified divers dive together. If your partner isn’t certified and you are and you want to dive together don’t tell them that you are certified and go through the resort course with your partner. Later in the week if you want to do a certified dive you can always present your c card then.
Equipment: It's not necessary to bring any of your own equipment - just your C Card and if you want to get the dives logged don't forget your log book. If you want to snorkel on your own bring your own mask. You can't borrow a mask, snorkel and fins unless you go on one of their organized snorkel trips or dives.
After the Beach Party they scheduled a night volleyball game. Devon, one of the Playmakers, organized the group. We decided to split the couples apart so one would be guaranteed to be on the winning team, thus winning more points. It was a blast! We played with the couples we ate dinner with that night and met a couple more after we started the game. Participating in scheduled group activities at an All-Inclusive resort is a great way to meet other people!
Equipment: Just bring yourself and get ready to have a good time. As you can see in the picture I was wearing a skirt!
Go for a ride on the beach. I don't ride, but I love horses and I'm sure it has to be a great experience!!