We’re back with Part 2 covering our recent trip to the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa!
In Part 1, I gave you the history of the Jewel Dunn’s River property, told you about the rooms along with some tips on each room level, and pointed out some of the other features of the resort. If you missed it, here’s the link to catch up:
Part 2 is all about what to eat, drink and do while you are at the Jewel Dunn’s River. I’ll tell you about the different restaurants, and share some of my favorite dishes from each one. At an all-inclusive, the bars are always important, so I’ll tell you where to find a drink and which bartenders to look for. I’ll also cover the activities, including some of the evening themes and shows. Finally, if you want to venture off the resort, I’ll share with you some of my favorite places to go.
As a multiple return guest to the Jewel Dunn’s River, I know all the ins and outs, so keep reading to get my tips!
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What to Eat
Although the Jewel Dunn’s River is a smaller resort, there are still plenty of food options to keep everybody happy.
There is only one option for breakfast – the Coral Café buffet. If you just want something small, you can also grab a coffee and a muffin at the Irie Cafe.
Coral Café: The Coral Café serves a buffet breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. There is a great combination of cold and hot items. The “cold” items on the buffet include everything from cheeses and meats, to fresh fruit, to cereal. The “hot” items include eggs, bacon, potatoes, French toast, pancakes and sausage. There is also a chef who will cook “made to order” omelets and eggs any way you like them.
Tip #1: Be sure to check out the “hot” items on the right end (near the Diamond building elevators) of the buffet. Those are traditional Jamaican dishes. I had jerk pineapple eggs benedict one morning, and it was amazing!
Tip #2: Also be sure to check out the smoothie station in the back center of the buffet. They make really delicious smoothies out of a combination of different fresh fruits.
Tip #3: The dress code for breakfast at Coral Café is pretty informal. Men need to have on shoes (they can be sandals or flip flops), shorts (they can be swim trunks) and a shirt (it can be a t-shirt). Women need to have on shoes (they can be sandals or flip flops), shorts and a shirt. Women can wear their bathing suit, so long as they have on a cover-up.
There are three options for lunch – Coral Café, Aquamarina (beach grill), and Court Jester’s (brick oven pizza).
Coral Café: Just like breakfast, if you are looking for a buffet at lunch, you should go to the Coral Café. The buffet is open for lunch from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. As with breakfast, there is a combination of hot and cold items on the buffet. There is a salad bar every day, as well as assorted cold cheeses and meats. You can also have a cold sandwich made (where the smoothies are made in the morning). Be sure to check out the “hot” items, as the selection changes every day.
Tip #4: A new addition to the lunch buffet this year was a “make your own ramen” station. I didn’t try it, but my husband loved it!
Aquamarina: The beach grill is open from 11 a.m. to 7 a.m., so this is the place to grab something to eat almost any time of day or night. The grill serves everything from hamburgers to grilled cheese. If you want something more “Jamaican”, get the jerk chicken platter or jerk chicken or jerk pork wrap. They also have soup at lunch time. Be sure to get an order of fries too. They are addictive!
Tip #5: There is often only one chef working the grill, so order your food at an “off-time” to avoid a wait. To order, walk up to the counter and wait until the chef asks you what you want to eat. The chef will make it while you wait.
Tip #6: At the grill, you can also find a self-serve nacho chip warmer. One of my husband’s favorite things to eat (especially at 2 a.m.) are nacho chips with cheese, and he adds some jerk pork on top. Just help yourself to the chips and cheese, and ask the chef to warm up some jerk pork for you.
Court Jester’s: For the 14 years I’ve gone to the Jewel Dunn’s River, the first lunch I get when I arrive is a brick oven pizza from Court Jester’s. They are delicious! The pizza is personal size, so order one per person. Just sit down at one of the tables and someone will be over to take your order.
Tip #7: If you are with a group and can’t agree on where to eat for lunch, I recommend grabbing a table at Court Jester’s for those that want pizza. Others in the group can hit the buffet and grab a plate “to go”, or order from the grill and bring your plate over.
There are several dinner options at the Jewel Dunn’s River. Be sure to check the daily schedule, however, as not all restaurants are open every night. In general, the dress code for all the restaurants for dinner is “resort casual” (the exception is Platinum). Men can wear shorts and t-shirts, as well as sandals.
Moonstone: Moonstone serves dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It serves Italian food, and even includes an antipasto bar. All their pasta dishes are delicious. The pasta is freshly made. However, my favorite dish on the menu is the lamb chops. I try to get them at least twice during my stay! Make sure you save room for dessert and order the tiramisu.
Tip #8: There is a really nice deck on the front of Moonstone, so if it’s a nice night ask to be seated outside. You can see the ocean and hear the waves!
Jade Samurai: Jade Samurai is the Japanese steakhouse. They serve dinner from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tip #9: Jade Samurai is the only restaurant that you need to make reservations for. There are several “seatings” each night, with 10 people being seated at a table in each room. Reservations fill up quickly, so I recommend making a reservation as soon as you arrive, particularly if you have a large group. Just go to the concierge desk and give them your name and room number to make a reservation.
When you sit down for dinner, you order your choice of an appetizer and soup. The rest of the meal is prepared in front of you by the chef. It’s a combination of rice, vegetables, steak, chicken, shrimp and tuna.
Tip #10: If you have any food allergies, let the chef know at the beginning of your meal, and they will accommodate you.
Platinum: If you want to be a little fancy, have dinner at Platinum. They serve dinner from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The chef definitely takes the food up a notch at Platinum – both in taste and presentation. We always visit this restaurant twice during our stay.
Tip #11: There is a dress code at Platinum and it is strictly enforced. Men must wear closed-toe shoes, long pants and a collared shirt. Women must wear sandals (no flip flops) and a dress or capris (no shorts). Please don’t be a jerk and try and walk in not properly dressed. Over the years, we’ve seen men try and get around the dress code and give the host or hostess a hard time. The dress code is there to make the atmosphere in the restaurant nice, so please abide by it.
Coral Café: If you are looking for something a little more laid back, the buffet is also open most nights for dinner. As with lunch, they have a combination of hot and cold items. We particularly like to hit the buffet on “Caribbean Night”. You can get some local dishes like curry goat and jerk chicken and pork.
Court Jester’s and Aquamarina are also open for dinner, so if you are looking for something more casual, those are good options.
Where Do I Get a Drink??
About the Drinks
So, if you are going to an all-inclusive, I’m guessing you will be interested in having a “couple” of drinks throughout your stay. Luckily, the Jewel Dunn’s River has plenty of places where you can get a drink, and the bars are open from early in the day to late at night.
In general, the bars have a variety of name brand alcohol to choose from. Unlike some resorts, you aren’t going to get well liquor during your stay. If you are a wine drinker, there are two house wines. For red drinkers, they have the Don Simon Selection Tempranillo. For white wine drinkers, they have the Don Simon Selection Arien. They also have champagne.
If you are a beer drinker, your only choices are Red Stripe and Red Stripe Light. And, if you like rum, you’ll be drinking Appleton Special, which is made on the island.
Tip #12: Appleton Special is the standard rum served, but if you want something a little smoother, ask for the Appleton Signature Blend. It’s a blend of their 5 and 10-year-old rums. If you want to really sound like a pro, ask for VX (that’s what it used to be called before Appleton re-branded it).
If you aren’t sure what to drink, head over to the beach bar and check out the drink menu hanging on the wall at the back of the bar. You will definitely find something there that appeals to you.
We love the bartenders at The Jewel! Some of our favorites are Garnet, Damion, Cornell, Morris, Shaquille and Timoy. They are all a lot of fun and genuinely nice guys. Take the time to get to know them while you are there. I guarantee they will remember you year after year!
Tip #13: The bartenders tend to be a little heavy in the pours – particularly a couple of them. So, pace yourself. Particularly on a hot and sunny day, you need to drink water!
There are multiple bars throughout the resort. Here is a list of the bars, their location, and the hours they operate:
Aquamarina Beach Bar: Located on the beach just behind the beach volleyball court (on the other side of the grill). Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with the exception of the beach party night, when it is open during the party).
Boardwalk: Located just outside of Moonstone. This is a small bar mostly set up to support the Coral Café and Moonstone. Open 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, and then 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner.
Emerald Tree Lounge (aka the Tree Bar): Located inside the Sapphire (main building) just outside of the Bling and Platinum. This is where most people hang out in the evening. There are tv’s, so if you are there during a major sports event, this is where you want to go to see it. Open from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Sunken Treasure (main pool swim up bar): Located in the main pool. There are bar stools in the pool as well as the back side outside of the pool. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Jaspers Chillin (aka the Piano Bar): Located on the east end of the property near the Emerald Lanai building. Open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. There is lots of seating here, as well as a pool table.
Jade Samurai: Located just outside of the Jade Samurai restaurant. The bar is small with limited drinks, and is there primarily to support the restaurant. Open from 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Irie Café: This is the coffee bar, located right next to the Court Jester’s pizza. You can get full service coffee drinks from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tip #14: If you need a late night pick me up, there is self-service coffee available here 24/7. I like to grab a cup and have the bartenders add some rum cream to it for a nice after dinner drink. During the day, they have self-service jugs of fruit infused water on the table in between Irie Café and Court Jester’s.
Tip #15: If you are lounging by the pool or on the beach and don’t want to get up to get a drink, just wait for Basil or one of the other staff to come by and bring something to you. They wear white polo shirts and tan shorts, and walk around the property regularly.
Don’t Just Sit There – Do Something!
Day Time Activities
The nice thing about the Jewel Dunn’s River, is you can be as active as you want, or as lazy as you want. Each night when you go back to your room, you’ll find a newsletter with the next day’s schedule, so you can determine if there is anything that you want to participate in.
Tip #16: The daily schedule will also tell you which restaurants are open for dinner each night. As mentioned above, depending on the evening’s activities, some of the restaurants may be closed.
Most of the daily activities occur around the main pool. The entertainment staff coordinates a couple of games each day. Everything from playing Bingo to Name that Tune. There are also “educational” activities each day, like a cooking class.
If you want to be more active, there is usually one “organized” beach volleyball game, but you can get together your own game anytime. There is also a pool volleyball net in the far end of the main pool (closest to the Moonstone). The gym also offers classes. In the mornings there is everything from a power walk to yoga or Pilates. Mid-morning, Junior does an aquasize class in the main pool if there are enough takers.
If you are into water, there are a bunch of water sports activities. They have four-person sailboats, kayaks, water tricycles and other water toys. Just go over to the water sports section of the beach (on the east side past the piano bar) and ask the staff to get you set up. There is also scuba diving and snorkeling available for an additional cost. There is a desk located in front of the pier on the west side of the beach (next to the Riu). Check with them for times and cost.
For most evenings, the restaurants open around 6:30 p.m. At around 9:30, the entertainment staff kicks-off “show time” in the Bling (located next to the Tree Bar). Each night’s entertainment is a little different. One night is a staff/guest talent show. Another night is a reggae band.
Tip #17: If you don’t go to “show time” any other night, be sure to go on Sunday! That’s the night the Silver Birds steel drum band perform. They are amazing! Here’s a little peek.
“Show time” wraps up around 10:30 or so, and then the house band plays until 11 p.m. At 11 p.m. the Bling usually turns into a disco and is open until 2:30 a.m. They also have “crazy karaoke” a few nights. If you don’t like the loud music in the disco, you can go down to the piano bar. They have a resident pianist who plays requests and has a sing-along.
Tip #18: If you have a big group, bring a game with you to hang around and play. We always bring Cards Against Humanity and sit in the Tree Bar or Piano Bar and play.
Weekly Theme Nights
On some nights, there are special events/themes:
Tuesday: Beach party night! There is a buffet set up on the beach, and you eat at tables on the beach. They also have entertainment on the beach.
Thursday: All- resort dinner on the pier. This is a sit-down multi-course dinner for everyone on the resort. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, they hold it in the Bling.
If you want to go and explore the island, there are lots of excursions that you can do. I would recommend going down to the tour desk and checking out what they have. Some of my favorite excursions are the Blue Hole and Mystic Mountain.
While the food on the resort is great, we like to go out for a couple of meals off property. We always make a lunch run to Scotchie’s. It has the best jerk chicken and jerk pork! It’s just a quick 5 minute ride from the resort. Ask the bellman to get a car for you, and they will drive you down and bring you back.
Tip #19: When you get to Scotchie’s they will take you to a table and have a server wait on you. However, make sure you walk back by the “kitchen” and take a look. They make their jerk the authentic way.
If you want to venture into downtown Ocho Rios, you will find lots of other food and shopping options. Many people ask if Jamaica is safe. My answer is always YES! But, be aware of your surroundings (like you would in any city). Be careful with your purse or wallet and don’t wander off the beaten path on your own.
So, that is a ton of information! I could probably write another whole article full of tips, but then you would know all of my secrets. I have to leave you to figure out some things on your own!
If you go to the Jewel Dunn’s River, I hope you fall in love with it like I have. If you go, be sure to give all of my favorite staff (Judeen, Kevin, Monte, Anthony, Peggy, Cornell, Garnet, Damion, Ludlow, Marcia, Fabian, Shareen, Andrew, etc, etc.) a big hug from Christine in Philly, and tell them I will see them soon!
Have questions about the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa? Want to learn more insider tips? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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