Vacation Guru Irene Sauger’s “Must-Dos in Jamaica”

Vacation Gurus, like Irene Sauger, want visitors to experience as much of Jamaica as possible, including its food and culture. Find out what made it on Irene’s list of Must-Dos in Jamaica.

What’s something that would surprise most people about Jamaica — any off-beaten path things to explore?
I think it may surprise some people that Jamaica has other accommodations besides All-Inclusive Resorts. Don’t get me wrong, All-Inclusive Resorts are king there, but I’ve had some incredible stays at hotels and villas throughout the island. Usually, when you are not at an All-Inclusive Resort, you have to fill your days with activities. I offer fully customized itineraries that can accommodate any type of stay. One of my favorite off-beaten path things to do is to visit Floyd’s Pelican Bar. It is a bar that is in the middle of the ocean! A short 10-minute boat ride from Parrottee Bay will get you there. If you are lucky, you will catch a game of dominos with Rasta Floyd. Be sure to bring something to mark your visit. After my father passed away, I brought his license plate. You can find the Sweet Home Alabama plate above the window where you order your food and drinks, which include FRESH fish and Red Stripe. You can also pay a carver to carve your name into the wood. Jamaica is the Land of Wood and Water so it is really cool to leave your mark on wood in the middle of the water. You can see Vacation Guru carved on the table and Reggae Renie carved on the bench. Both were carved long before the expansion that Floyd recently did. I would say it is a MUST to do this at least one time, but you will find yourself wanting to go back again and again.
Floyd’s Pelican Bar

From roadside stalls to holes in the wall to fine dining experiences, what are the best places to try that celebrate Jamaica food culture?
I recently created a checklist for my guests with items they need to try while in Jamaica. Whether it be patties, jerk chicken, fried breadfruit, or escovitch – needing to check them off the list is a fun way to experience the Jamaican food culture. One thing I love to do is stop along the road to get a fresh coconut from a stand. The person uses a machete to open it and pops in a straw for me to drink the water. Then they cut it open, make a spoon from the coconut so I can eat the jelly inside. Jamaica also has fruits that I don’t see in the states so it is also fun to try them all – sour sop, sweet sop, june plum, guinep, and my favorite are these little plums that no one can tell me the name of. Another place people should visit for the experience is Border, which has fish and bammy. If you don’t know what that is, then you need to go!

Fresh Coconut Water

The most Instagrammable spots in Jamaica?
I would have to say the sunsets. There are so many images of the beautiful sunsets in Jamaica. You will never need a filter to post your breathtaking images. Everyone who sees your posts will feel the need to go see one in person.

What’s a recommended “treat yourself” (spa, massage, etc.) experience you should do in Jamaica?
Get out to see some LIVE Reggae Music, whether at a resort or at a local venue, like Bourbon Beach in Negril. There is something about seeing a live performance and embracing the local culture.

Live Reggae Music

One guilty pleasure you enjoy on the island that you suggest to visitors?
I am not sure if people would say that this is a guilty pleasure or not, but I love to drink my Blue Mountain Coffee with tin milk. I always tell my guests to try it. We call it sweetened condensed milk back in the States. Since it is full of calories, I only treat myself while I am on the island. And for some reason, it tastes better in Jamaica.

Irene Sauger
Irene Sauger (also known as Reggae Renie) is the President & CEO of Vacation Guru. Follow Vacation Guru on Facebook and Twitter.