Travel: Jamaica’s Half Moon Club

'On the Beach at Jamaica's Half Moon Club' is the first in a series of riding holidays even non-riders will enjoy. Written by Dale Leatherman for EquiSearch.

It happens in the best of families and friendships — sometimes there are members who do not ride. These (misguided) souls usually feel an equestrian-oriented vacation is a sentence, not a sabbatical, and become surly at the prospect of sitting on the periphery watching you have a good time. If you find yourself in these unfortunate circumstances, you can take separate vacations, be a martyr and suffer through a non-riding holiday, force or trick your beloved into the vacation of your dreams (not recommended) or be a hero (read: have your cake and eat it, too) with a gloriously democratic getaway.

On the Beach at Jamaica’s Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club

Ten minutes from the airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, lie the white gates and flower-lined driveway of Half Moon. In 2002 this 400-acre enclave was voted the best resort in the Caribbean for the fifth consecutive year at the World Travel Awards. A mile-long crescent of spotless beach gives the resort its name.

Just off the beach and screened by tropical foliage are more than 400 rooms, suites and villas, many tucked behind privacy hedges and with their own pools. Interiors are elegant and distinctly Jamaican, with furnishings of wicker and mahogany, original art and woven carpets.

There are several excellent dining options on the property or in the nearby shopping plaza operated by the resort. At the center of the resort, the boughs of a 90-year-old sea-grape tree provide a canopy for the ocean-side Seagrape Terrace, which serves Jamaican-continental meals. Overlooking the golf course is a 200-year-old sugar mill and the Sugar Mill Restaurant, a winner in many international cuisine competitions.

For the Rider

Half Moon’s riding program is based in a Georgian-style riding center run by Trina DeLisser, one of Jamaica’s top riders and a riding coach for more than 20 years. DeLisser stables two dozen horses for use in the resort program, many ridden by her and her students in Pan-Caribbean competition.

Facilities include a polo arena and jumping and dressage rings where DeLisser and her staff offer lessons. Trail rides include a Jungle Jaunt through the resort’s nature preserve and deserted parts of the beach; Tryall Trail, a mountain trek to the quaint old village of Tryall; and Trail and Treat, which combines the Tryall ride with an opportunity to swim with your horse in the ocean. Arena polo is played at least one day a week, and weekends sometimes feature horse shows.

For the Non Rider

Anyone with a pulse can find something wonderful about this island paradise, beginning with the beach. Half Moon Bay is a crescent of perfect sand bordered by palm trees and brightly flowered tropical plants on one side and warm, clear water on the other. Waterfront personnel ride herd on a plethora of water toys, including kayaks, sailboats, windsurfers, paddle boats and snorkel gear, all free to guests. The resort’s glass-bottom boat tours local reefs, while its large catamaran flirts with breezes offshore. Deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and parasailing excursions are easy to arrange. A yen for fresh water is easily satisfied; there are 52 swimming pools on the resort, most of them assigned to villas. The main pools available to all guests include the Hibiscus Pool, Oleander Pool, and Lap Pool. Both the Hibiscus and Oleander pools are free-form, freshwater pools. The Hibiscus Pool Bar and La Baguette serve refreshments and snacks. The Lap Pool is an Olympic-size pool.

Twelve composition tennis courts and four international squash courts are on the resort proper, along with croquet and horseshoe venues and a putting green. A complete modern fitness center caters to the workout gang, and bicycles are available to explore the grounds. Half Moon’s golf course, a long, windswept Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design, is one of the finest in the Caribbean.

Resort vehicles shuttle guests to the local attractions of Montego Bay and to tours of area Great Houses, moody relics of the days when sugar was king.

For more information, phone Half Moon Golf, Tennis & Beach Club at (800) 799-1709 or (876) 953-2211, fax 876-953-2731,

EquiSearch Lifestyle Editor Dale Leatherman is also a freelance travel writer specializing in adventure travel and golf.




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