Jamaica is a magical island filled with natural beauty. A lush mountainous interior with rainforests and waterfalls gives way to pristine white sand beaches lined with sparkling clear Caribbean waters.
There are six beachfront Sandals Resorts in Jamaica; this article will compare Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean. Both of these adults-only all-inclusive resorts offer the romance and luxury that couples have come to expect from Sandals, as well as many of the same amenities, and they have similar ratings on TripAdvisor and Google.
So how do you choose which Sandals is best for you? This article will help you decide between Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean for your romantic Jamaican getaway.
Sandals Montego Bay has a long stretch of white sand beach, plenty of watersports, and a lively social scene. It’s located near the more intimate Sandals Royal Caribbean, which is known for its private island and gorgeous Over-the-Water Bungalows. The good news is, even though you have to pick one resort to stay at, you can enjoy all the amenities and restaurants of the other (and easily get there via a free shuttle service)!
Your rate at either location will cover the same inclusions offered at all Sandals resorts: complimentary airport transfers; all dining and beverages including unlimited premium liquors and unlimited Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines; a stocked minibar in your room; a coffee maker with Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend coffee; water sports and equipment plus professional instruction; roundtrip shuttles to the other resort; WiFi; daily and nightly entertainment; unlimited land sports; state-of-the-art fitness center; and all tips, taxes and gratuities.
Location and Overview: Sandals Montego Bay vs. Sandals Royal Caribbean
Both resorts are located in Montego Bay and are close to the airport, so travel time is minimal. They are both on the beach, but Sandals Montego Bay has more beachfront.
Sandals Montego Bay is where it all started. The first-ever Sandals Resort is set on a long stretch of pristine beach with offshore reefs that ensure calm waters. While Sandals Montego Bay opened in 1981, it has been renovated recently and feels modern and fresh; it’s still one of the most opulent resorts in Jamaica. The sleek open-air lobby overlooks the Caribbean, many restaurants are waterfront, and there’s even an overwater bar. You don’t have to lose sight of the ocean here if you don’t want to. Rates here start at $331 per person per night.
Sandals Royal Caribbean has also undergone renovation recently and is a luxurious resort with a more private feel, nestled on a smaller but still stunning beach It can have lower prices than Sandals Montego Bay (starting at $280 per person per night). This resort showcases Jamaica’s British heritage with a Georgian-style Great House and activities such as afternoon tea and croquet. Something that truly sets Sandals Royal Caribbean apart is the private offshore island with its own beach, amenities, and overwater bungalows (see details below).
Accommodations at Sandals Montego Bay vs. Sandals Royal Caribbean
While both resorts offer luxurious rooms and fabulous amenities, only Sandals Royal Caribbean has Over-the-Water Bungalows. These romantic hideaways are located on the private offshore island, set around a heart-shaped walkway and perched over the stunning turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
The Over-the-Water Bungalows here give you direct access to those gorgeous waters from a large private deck that features a Tranquility Soaking Tub™ for two, an overwater hammock, loungers, outdoor shower, and swim-up platform, while the interior has a see-through glass floor insert, a king-size bed, and a spa-like bathroom with rain shower. Some of the overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean even offer private infinity pools.
When you stay at an overwater bungalow at a Sandals resort, it includes personalized butler service. Your butler will greet you with lemongrass-scented hand towels to refresh you from your flight, cocktails, and culinary treats before escorting you to your suite. Check-in is completed at your villa where the butler can even unpack your luggage for you.
Throughout your stay, your butler can make all the reservations you need for dinner, activities, or spa treatments. They can bring you drinks or food on the beach or at the pool, or serve you a romantic candlelit dinner on your private deck.
The main resort area at Sandals Royal Caribbean features plenty of romantic room options that provide butler service as well. Choose from Beachfront Walkout Butler Suites, which are set right on the beach and have a Tranquility Soaking Tub for two on the private patio; Royal Beachfront Butler Corner Suites with private balconies overlooking the ocean; Crystal Lagoon Honeymoon Penthouse Oceanview Butler Suites; and Crystal Lagoon Swim-up Butler Suites, where you can walk right out and slip into the pool. Some of these feature oversized patios that are set into the pool, where you can relax on private loungers or even have dinner served on a bistro set.
There are also luxury room options that don’t include a butler but do include incredible views and amenities, such as the Beachfront Club Elite Suite with a private balcony and Tranquility Soaking Tub or Crystal Lagoon Hideaway Swim-Up Club Level Junior Suite that offers a private patio with direct access to a beautiful pool plus a Tranquility Soaking Tub for two.
At Sandals Montego Bay, you have most of the same room styles except for the overwater bungalows. Some of the swim-up rooms here, however, also overlook the ocean. You can stay in a Beachfront Swim-up Butler Suite which features a retractable glass wall that slides open so you can step right into the pool and go for a swim, lie in the sun on your private in-pool lounger, or enjoy the Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, with a view over the pool and to the sea.
Other romantic options include Beachfront Honeymoon Butler Suites with a balcony that overlooks the Caribbean and has a Tranquility Soaking Tub; Crystal Lagoon Swim-up Elite Luxury Rooms with a private patio and direct access to a swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens; or Beachfront Honeymoon Walkout Club Elite Junior Suites, located just steps from the beach and featuring Tranquility Soaking Tubs with ocean views. Private butler service is included in all butler-level suites here as well.
Dining at Sandals Montego Bay vs. Sandals Royal Caribbean
Sandals Montego Bay has 6 bars (including swim-up bars and a piano bar) and 12 restaurants, many of which overlook the beautiful beach. These include an elegant Old Jamaican restaurant, a seaside bar and grill, Italian, Japanese, a steakhouse, a waterfront restaurant serving international dishes, a sushi bar, a Caribbean jerk shack, a British pub, a casual pizzeria, a Parisian café, and a toes-in-the-sand open-air restaurant serving fresh seafood and local dishes.
Sandals Royal Caribbean has 9 restaurants and 6 bars, including swim-up bars and a piano bar. The 9 restaurants offer a range of world-class dining, including authentic Thai, French haute cuisine, Indian, Italian, and the Caribbean. A casual pizzeria, Caribbean jerk shack, seaside bar and grill, and British pub round out the culinary offerings here.
When you stay at either resort, you have access to all the dining options at the other (and easy transportation back and forth via the free shuttle).
Amenities and Activities at Sandals Montego Bay vs. Sandals Royal Caribbean
If you’re planning a destination wedding in Jamaica, give Sandals Montego Bay serious consideration. This resort offers the incredible over-the-water chapel, where you can walk down a glass floor aisle and say your vows surrounded by the stunning Caribbean.
If you’re not getting married on this trip, you can still enjoy an overwater experience at Sandals Montego Bay by visiting the Over-the-Water Bar for a refreshing drink surrounded by the Caribbean. You can even laze the day away with your sweetie in one of the overwater hammocks for two!
If you’re coming to Jamaica for water activities, you’ll also want to choose Sandals Montego Bay; it offers a full range of water sports including wakeboarding, tubing, and waterskiing as well as the usual scuba diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and Hobie Cat sailing.
Sandals Montego Bay has a wide variety of land sports available as well, including day and night tennis in addition to beach volleyball, bocce ball, pool tables, and a fitness center with exercise classes.
The private offshore island at Sandals Royal Caribbean is a unique amenity that is available for all guests, even if you’re not staying in one of the overwater bungalows. Just a few minutes by boat from the main resort, the island features a beautiful beach lined with thatch-roofed cabanas, a pool with a swim-up bar, a Jacuzzi, and two dining experiences including an authentic Thai restaurant. At night you can enjoy bonfires, “island-style extravaganzas,” and dancing on the sand.
Sandals Royal Caribbean also offers watersports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and Hobie Cat sailing, as well as land sports including beach volleyball, bocce ball, pool tables, and a fitness center with exercise classes. If you want to go waterskiing, tubing, or wakeboarding, or play tennis, you can do so at Sandals Montego Bay.
Both resorts offer optional spa services at the full-service Red Lane Spa as well as optional area excursions and adventure tours.
Nightlife at Sandals Montego Bay vs. Sandals Royal Caribbean
If you enjoy socializing and partying, Sandals Montego Bay is known for its vibrant atmosphere. Sandals Royal Caribbean tends to be quieter, although the nighttime beach bonfires and entertainment on the private island are pretty spectacular.
Both resorts are close to the active nightlife scene in Montego Bay, if you want to go out to local clubs, and both offer daily and nightly entertainment including live shows.
Now that you know more about the difference between Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean, which one will you choose for your Jamaican vacation?