My fiance and I think we are about to book our honeymoon to CSA and are excited. We just had some concerns and wanted some honest feedback sooner rather than later.
First, neither of us have been to Jamaica (though I've traveled a good bit outside US), but we have heard stories. We understand there are places that are sketchy. However, we are only going to stay with CSA Resort and not touring Jamaica. My question is, once we land and take the shuttle to CSA, has anyone experienced people haggling or soliciting to you while you wait for your bus at the A/P? Is it safe? Has anyone tried to take your luggage and load it on the bus for you despite that you never asked for the help? Or does the CSA driver help with luggage as complimentary? Just curious...
Also, is the beach pretty exclusive to CSA guests only? A friend of mine stayed at another resort in Jamaica and said she would be sunbathing on the beach and locals would randomly walk up to her trying to sell her aloe or even pot. Does CSA security keep the beaches safe and under control in that stand point or will that be something for us to think about?
Finally, I'm all about au-natural and trust me, I've seen it in Barcelona, but does CSA try to keep a handle on beach nudity? We're not really interested in this, but willing to accept it if it is sporadic at this resort. Any thoughts?
Thanks guys! We are about to make a decision soon, so we would love to hear back any insight you might have!
First, neither of us have been to Jamaica (though I've traveled a good bit outside US), but we have heard stories. I bet you would find that the people who told you these stories never experienced it themselves, but in turn heard them from someone else.We understand there are places that are sketchy. Jamaica is just as sketchy as your hometown. Every city has it's crime or "bad part of town", so use the same common sense in Jamaica as you would at home or on vacation in the states. We have been going to Jamaica every year since 2002 and have never had any trouble and I know there are others on here who have been WAY more than we have and haven't any trouble either. No worries, mon! However, we are only going to stay with CSA Resort and not touring Jamaica. My question is, once we land and take the shuttle to CSA, has anyone experienced people haggling or soliciting to you while you wait for your bus at the A/P? While you wait for the Couples bus, you will be in the Couples lounge so there won't be anyone from the outside trying to sell you anything. I've attached a pic so you can see the lounge. Is it safe? Has anyone tried to take your luggage and load it on the bus for you despite that you never asked for the help? Or does the CSA driver help with luggage as complimentary? Once you arrive at the Couples lounge, they will tag your luggage for your resort while you belly-up to the bar for a drink When it's time to board the bus, there will be baggage handlers who will take your bags and load them onto the bus. It's perfectly safe. They, however, are NOT Couples employees, so be ready to tip them a couple of bucks for each bag. The bus driver is also not a Couples employee so once at the resort, be ready to tip him as well. A good idea is to keep a handful of small bills separate from the rest of your money so it's easily accesible for tipping. Just curious...
Also, is the beach pretty exclusive to CSA guests only?The area up by the resort where the beach chairs are located is CSA property and only for CSA guests. However, the water's edge is public property so not only can guests from other hotels walk along the beach, the public, vendors and musicians can as well. A friend of mine stayed at another resort in Jamaica and said she would be sunbathing on the beach and locals would randomly walk up to her trying to sell her aloe or even pot. Does CSA security keep the beaches safe and under control in that stand point or will that be something for us to think about? There will be vendors who walk the water's edge selling items. However, they are only allowed to come up on the beach property if they are asked by a guest. We did this several times becaase we prefer to buy our souvenirs from the vendors (jewelry, shells, wood carvings). CSA security is very tight and will make the vendor leave if they are not wanted. However, if you pull you chair to the water's edge, then chances are they will stop to talk to you. I would suggest that if you don't want to buy anything, politely tell them no, but thanks anyway. We've also done this several times. I imagine that if your friend had done this, she wouldn't have kept asking her. For some people, the vendors can be very intimidating, but they are people just like us trying to make a living. Be friendly, say hello, even strike up a conversation but don't be afraid to tell them no if you aren't interested in buying anything. Most of them are very friendly if you take the time to say hello!
Finally, I'm all about au-natural and trust me, I've seen it in Barcelona, but does CSA try to keep a handle on beach nudity? We're not really interested in this, but willing to accept it if it is sporadic at this resort. Any thoughts? CSA does not have an au-naturel section of their beach so it's not an option. However, you will see women going topless on the beach
Thanks guys! We are about to make a decision soon, so we would love to hear back any insight you might have!
I hope this helps! You will LOVE CSA!! We honeymooned at Couples in 2002 and got hooked. You've made a great choice with Couples! I'd be happy to share our pictures if that would help in your decision (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When you land in MB there is a Couples lounge you will proceed to after customs, nobody haggles you. Jamaica is not the horror story it is portrayed to be, but keep your wits about you and don't do anything stupid just as you would at home. CSA doesn't have an AN beach or area it is not allowed. CSA's beach is CSA's guests only except for vendor who walk the shoreline a firm NO THANKS is ok and they will move on.
as far as the good and bad spots go...there are good and bad spots where ever you go as im sure you know. on the resort your safe and wont have any problems...as far as people loading and unloading your luggage...the guys at the airport do it for everyone and just give me a couple dollar tip each time, no biggie but they dont haggle ya.
The beaches are open so to speak but there is a guard at each end of the property checking everyone. When you leave the beach they check you out and when you come back they check you in so thats a good piece of mind. as for the locals on the beach they might come up and try to sell you something like a jet ski ride or something but if you say no once they wont bother you again..if they do just let the guard know- they do a good job. We only got asked twice during the whole week about jet skis.
there were a couple people going topless but nothing crazy and it wasnt the norm...everyone there is real relaxed and doesnt gauk (sp). if you go to CSA trust me your going to have a blast and not regret anything....my wife and i just booked our second trip back for this spring.
Hi IrishLass - CSA is a great choice! Last year was my first time out of the country, much less Jamaica. I never once felt unsafe and we went on a off-site excursion for the day. I don't remember any soliciting at the airport. I just kept a firm grip on my things once we got them from the baggage claim and made our way to the Couples lounge - you can't miss it. I can be a "nervous Nelly" sometimes and never once felt nervous. The beach is kept fairly non-guest free meaning if you are close to the water, you might get someone walking by selling something but the guards keep them off the beach further up near the property. Once again, never felt unsafe. A firm "no thanks" and they are cool and move on their way. The guards at CSA are the best. Finally, the only nudity allowed at CSA is topless at the beach. We saw a few and it was never lewd or crude, just ladies enjoying the sun. Hope this helps!
At CSA the Beach is opened to the public, so you have people walking the water line. This will include those form other resorts and people trying to make a living selling goods tourist. A No thank-you should work, and security is there also.
Topless in allowed on the beach, but CSA doen't have an a/n section.
I believe that CTI and CSS have a more private beach.
Please keep in mind that Jamaica is like any where else, Some places are safe others not so much.... Be kind and resectful to the people who are willing to share their Island with us and everything will be wonderful.
Regarding the airport: Until you get through customs and immigration at the airport, you will not encounter anyone except for airport employees. After passing through the two checkpoints with your luggage, go directly to the Couples Lounge. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Once you make it into the main airport area, you can see it across the way. When you arrive at the Couples Lounge, there will be a porter there to take your luggage. Don't give it to anyone else, or they will literally carry it 20 feet and then stop at the Couples Lounge. LOL. It IS expected that you tip the porter as they are not Couples employees. We usually tip between $5 and $10 depending on how many bags we have. This is kind of an "expected expense." You hang out in the Couples Lounge while you're waiting for your bus, and the only offers you'll get there are from the bartender asking if you would like a Ting or Red Stripe. We don't tip the porters until we are ready to get on the bus. They will load up all the luggage onto a large cart and take it to the bus for you and load it all into the back. (You follow them to the bus.)
You may also tip your bus driver. We usually tip him around $10, but again, that depends on how many people are on the bus, and how personable/helpful he/she is. We have had drivers that are FANTASTIC and tell us about Jamaica and keep us entertained for the entire trip. We have also had drivers who talk on their cell phone the entire time and don't interact at all. *Guess who gets the bigger tip?? LOL.
Regarding the beach: Once on the resort, the beach is awesome. And security is vigilant. None of the resort beaches in Jamaica are public, however, people (locals and tourists alike) are allowed to walk down the beach -- ON THE WATER LINE ONLY. Thus, if you don't want to be approached at all, stay back a bit from the water line. If you are on the water line and someone approaches you, just say "No thanks." Trust me.... security will be right there, and once you say No, the vendor better keep walking or security will um, gently request that they keep moving. If you are off the water line, they won't approach you at all, unless you call them over. They will call out what they have for sale while walking the water line.
If you wander off resort, people will come up to you and offer you all manner of things. Our experience, however, has been that a simple "I'm good" or "No Thanks." is sufficient, and for the most part, the vendors are very respectful of that.
Regarding Nudity: there is no au natural section at CSA. You will not find ANYONE who is nude. Depending on the week, there will be some women laying out topless on the beach only, but that's it. We've never seen more than a dozen topless women at one time on the beach at CSA.
Hope you have a great time! It's a wonderful place. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
You will be waiting at the airport in the Couples lounge, no one will bother you, unless you count the Couples staff offering you a Red Stripe. They will have a porter take your bags to the bus and load them (I usually tip a dollar per bag). The beach at CSA will have an occasional vendor walking on it, but they will not come up to you unless you indicate interest in their product (typically cigarettes or jet skis). The beach is very safe, CSA has security gaurds on the beach and they do a great job. There is no Au-Natural area at CSA, but topless sunbathers are not uncommon, on an average day you may see 2 or 3, no big deal.
Ok, First off good choice in CSA!!! As far as security at airport. My wife and I had never traveled outside of US, and were skeptical as well. There is nothing to be afraid of. After a brief passage through customs and other security measures you enter a big open area with every resort having a station all are clearly marked. You head over to the Couples area where an employee of Couples will get you a beer and you relax for about 10-15 minutes in a sectioned off lounge area for couples only. From their on it is no wories. When the shuttle is ready, a representative from couples will take you outside and to the shuttle. NOTE the shuttle driver is not an empolyee of Couples they will load the bags and they dont leave your sight until they are loaded. (side note grab a cold one for the road). You should tip and it is almost expected but it is worth it. On the beach it is safe there is security guards on both ends and while they do let people through as it is a public beach they do monitor and dont allow people to be bothered. you will be asked anything from parasailing to pot and everything in between, a polite no thankyou and a little respect goes a long way. Jamaicans have a lot of respect and if you give them the respect back everything will be "eeire" allright.
Lastly as far as AU natural there is only topless on CSA if i remember right. While I saw one or two it is not the norm for them and when it is done it is done tastefully in my opinion. If you are looking for AU Natural look at CN or CSS.
You are going to hate that you choose couples because after you visit you will want to book over and over again and actually never want to leave!!!!
We've been to CSA 3 times and CSS once, so I will try to answer your questions.
Regarding baggage handlers at the airport. Because you check in at the Couples Lounge, the luggage is immediately tagged and set aside to go on your shuttle bus. Yes, a porter will take the bags out to the bus, but Couples manages it, and there aren't a dozen guys grabbing at your bags. It is much more controlled than any other place I've been to in the Caribbean. You tip the porter a few bucks for handling your bags. The shuttle bus driver is not a Couples employee, so you might also want to consider tipping him at the end of the ride.
The beach is a public beach at CSA. So, yes, there will be vendors approaching you. However, it is nowhere near as bad as Aruba or Barbados where they're trying to sell time shares and they just don't take no for an answer. The security at CSA keeps a very close eye on things. However, if you want a private beach, CSS is the way to go.
Finally, CSA is the only Couples resort that does not have an A/N option. There is topless sunbathing on the beach only, but no full nudity.
Wow, thank you guys so much for all your tips and info! We have a much better idea of what CSA involves and are thrilled to have just booked our honeymoon for this October! We can't wait & just wish it would come sooner!