Who doesn’t love a good baecation, especially if it involves taking flights and knocking back shots in an international locale? And where, in the world, is more alluring—with diverse options for almost every couple—than Jamaica?
It is undoubtedly my favorite island in the world, and recently I got the chance to try out a few amazing new experiences with my man, taking us from the east to the west, from sexy excitement and fun mayhem, to alluring sightseeing and connection. If you’re looking to take your bae to the Caribbean (or give your partner a few hints for your next trip), try these itineraries curated by yours truly.
CRAZY… BUT WORTH IT: Cross-Island Road Trip
Start your road trip in Westmoreland Parish and make your final destination an oasis of rum. On this trip, bae and I drove through nine of the island’s 14 parishes in 24 hours. Rent a car or hire a driver and get on the road. Jamaica is best seen and experienced by car for sure!
Where To Stay
Start in Negril on Seven Mile Beach, and skip the big resorts to enjoy a bit more bang for your buck with the vibes, modern amenities, and beachfront access here. It’s affordable, the rooms are cute, and you’ll be in a prime location to take the main roads for this trip.
1st: Cool Oasis, Negril
It’s the largest indigenous fuel provider in Jamaica, the prices are great, and the gas price matches the quality. It's a great place to get all the snacks, extra cash for tolls, and drinks you need to enjoy a road trip for two. After gassing up and getting snacks and drinks, we hit the road along Seven Mile Beach, on through Hanover and into the next parishes of St. James, Trewlawney, and St. Ann, and on into Clarendon.
2nd: Murrays Fish And Jerk Hut, Clarendon
Located in Clarendon, this stop is a must if you’re taking any sort of trip west to east. And while there are dozens of jerk centers across the island, this is one of the best simply due to the unique taste and smoke of the meats. Bae likes the chicken but this is the only time I cheat and eat pork ever. (When it's your turn to order, just say "I want a quarter pork please." It's a portion perfect for one.) Add festival, (a fried slightly sweet bread that tastes a little like hushpuppies but better) to your order, and thank me later.
3rd: Worthy Park Estate Rum Distillery, St. Catherine
Just getting up the winding hilly terrain for this attraction is scenic (and borderline scary) enough, and once you arrive, you’ll find the trip was well worth it. The lushness of the expansive property embraces you, and your tour, which originates at their welcome center, begins with rum punch served by the in-house bartender.
You’ll then be immersed in the history of the company, how their diverse brands of rum are made (with my favorite being Rum Bar Rum Cream), and a full walking tour of their distillery (which could actually give any California winery a run for its money when it comes to the alluring atmosphere, cool-comfy valley breezes, and the delightful sticky-sweet smell of fresh barrels of liquor).
The tour, of course, ended with a tasting of four samples of different types of rum (and a bottle of water to sip in between). And of course, one of us had to take one sip and call it quits since we had some more driving to do.
We headed on through St. Catherine (passing near Linstead and Spanish Town to be exact), then through the southern part of Clarendon, and then on to Manchester (where there are big beautiful homes and the weather can get cold like in the States). We then went through St. Elizabeth to pass through my second-favorite town, White House, then finally to Savanna-la-Mar, and on to where we started, Negril.
SEXY & CHILL: Club-Hopping, Cocktails, And Cannabis
For this trip, bae and I wanted to let loose and explore a little wild fun. We hadn't had a crazy, drunken, throw-caution-to-the-wind weekend since the day we met, so we wanted to lounge, do a little partying, and try a few new things. To spice things up, we were able to check a few things off our "We Ain't Too Old Yet" bucket list.
Where To Stay
Deja Resort, Montego Bay
It’s right on the Hip Strip, across the street from Doctor’s Cove Beach and literally steps away from any and every popular restaurant (think, Margaritaville). You can enjoy the open bar and the complimentary breakfast, and after one too many rum-punch rounds, slide on into a little secluded rendezvous with your boo in the upper-level hot tub. The area gives sensual vibes by sunset, and the added shade of the palm trees and other greenary around the pool just adds to the allure. (Again, keep it on the hush, sis, and take heed to discretion. There are several little hidden nooks that it’s just irresistible, but if you get caught, you’re on your own!)
Where To Go
Taboo, Montego Bay
I’d heard about the location in Kingston, but since I’m always traveling to the western parts of Jamaica, I’d never visited. I’m no stranger to strip clubs (well, the ones that employ women) so I thought it would be a good idea to check the Montego Bay location out.
We went on a Wednesday, and it wasn't too crowded. The entertainers there were fun, down-to-earth, and beautiful in a way that was inviting and relatable. They really didn’t hold back, to the point where my man—a born-and-raised Jamaican who is 10 years my senior, has several children and has been well around the block several times— was even blushing. We both got private as well as couple's dances and enjoyed every minute of it.
Added bonus: The drinks were exotic, strong, and worth every penny.
Lounge 2727, Montego Bay
This is another spot on Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, and if strippers aren’t your thing, you can get your party, drink, and eat on here. They have hookah, beer, wine, and cocktails, and again, the views, the views, the views! Depending on the night, you can dance (or lounge) to the soundtrack of dancehall, hip-hop, and R&B hits, and, as a bonus, it’s steps away from Island Strains, a marijuana dispensary that, on my first visit, I actually accidentally walked into thinking it was a lounge. (And do I have to spell it out for you sis? This has all the makings of a potentially Hangover-worthy spontaneous sexy adventure waiting to happen.)
Featured image by PeopleImages/Getty Images
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images