There was a time when singles, couples and even groups of like-minded adults could let go of their inhibitions and shed their swimsuits at the all-inclusive Hedonism III resort under the warm sun of Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Like its sister resort Hedonism II in Negril, this all-inclusive was one of those places couples either loved or hated.
Nude bathing was permitted; children were not. The emphasis was on erotic travel and the environment encouraged unbridled sensuality both day and night. Whether it was the proximity of another Hedonism resort so close by, the general decline of the physical property, competition from the Sandals Resorts of Jamaica (which are not clothing optional but offer private places to undress), or a return to propriety, Hedonism III closed in 2010 and the property has fallen into disuse.
Runaway Bay Today
One of the prettiest coastal towns in Jamaica, Runaway Bay is ten miles east of Ocho Rios and easy to reach from there. Montego Bay lies to the west. And some of the best beaches in the Caribbean surround Runaway Bay, which is protected by a large tropical coral reef.
Part of Runaway Bay's attraction—aside from the gorgeous scenery and pristine sands—is that it attracts fewer visitors than those other destinations. So your serene holiday alone together won't be overrun by hordes of tourists arriving on cruise ships. With them nowhere to be seen, aggressive vendors and ladies who offer to braid hair will ply their trades in bigger beach destinations where they disembark.
Runaway Bay won't dazzle you with things to do, but if all you want on a honeymoon or romantic getaway is a good hotel, perhaps a golf course, and clear turquoise water for swimming and aqua sports, it's worth considering for your next vacation destination.
Runaway Bay Points of Interest
Unless you join a tour, you will need to rent a car to visit these attractions. Remember that driving is on the left!
- Nine Miles: Bob Marley's childhood home and mausoleum is a must-see for reggae fans. Expect a rollicking ride over uneven roads, but the views—of Jamaica's cool Blue Mountains and tiny roadside towns—are priceless. And according to one TripAdvisor commenter, "There is certainly no other tour in the world where you can buy your weed and smoke it while on the tour."
- Seville Great House and at Columbus Park Museum: Considered the birthplaces of modern Jamaica, the park (named for Christopher Columbus who stopped here in 1494) extends 300 acres. The Great House museum reveals the polyglot cultures—Taino Indians, Spanish, English and African—that shaped the country from 650 AD to the late 19th century.
- Green Grotto Caves: this underground system of interconnected caves are estimated to be approximately a half-million years old. The central feature of this natural attraction is the large labyrinthine limestone cave with its unique rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites, grotto lake and overhead ceiling pockets. Don't say you weren't warned about the bats who make their homes there.
- Mystic Mountain: Close to Ocho Rios, this adventure center offers a variety of jungle adventures that include zip lining, sightseeing by chairlift, and even a bobsled ride through the tropical forest.
Where did that smiling, helpful hotel staff member learn to cook so well or anticipate your needs? Runaway Bay is also home to the HEART College of Hospitality Services, a school run by the government to help young Jamaicans to develop tourism skills.