Randia Coakley grew up in The Bahamas, loving the great outdoors. While she enjoyed all that her place of birth had to offer, she wanted to see the world. So she began steadily ‘dating’ adventure, conquering one destination at a time. When a job opportunity led her to explore one of the Caribbean’s greatest treasures, before she knew it, she fell in love with the island of Jamaica.
“In the summer of 2009, I needed to complete a semester’s worth of credits for my international hospitality and tourism management internship. I researched countries throughout the Caribbean and decided Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica, was the most intriguing. I was 100 per cent correct,” she explained to The Sunday Gleaner.
Coakley would go on to spend the following two months exploring the countryside, rafting down the Rio Grande, horseback riding on San San Beach, shopping in the fruit market, and visiting Kingston, to name a few excursions.
“I enjoyed the fresh food and the lush landscape the most. At the Hotel Mockingbird Hill, every dish was made from scratch. This exposure left an imprint on my palate, forever changing the way I experience food. Also, Jamaica’s roaming hills and mountains, the lush green jungles and rivers meeting with beaches blew my mind. I’d never seen such beauty. I was even captivated by the red soil,” she said with a laugh.
Since her initial trip, she has visited Jamaica on three other occasions, enjoying Montego Bay, Portmore, Ocho Rios and Kingston, “The vibes of Jamaica are unmatched!”
On Christmas 2019, Coakley visited Nanny Falls in Portland, and she was impressed by the spot’s rich history, “To learn about Nanny of Maroons, the woman who led a slave revolt, was incredible.”
Choosing her fish to be cooked was certainly a new experience but one she would repeatedly do. “I love Hellshire Beach fried fish and festivals with escoveitched sauce,” she added. But her love for Jamaican food doesn’t stop there.
“Jamaica has several dishes and places that make me come back. After a night of partying, stopping on the side of the road for pan chicken was always amazing. But my ultimate favourite is getting lobster patty from Devon House Bakery and grape nut ice cream from Devon House,” she declared.
In the fashion department, Coakley is a lover of the local brand Bridget Sandals. Owning a total of three pairs so far, she loves the handmade treasures and is already looking forward to adding to her collection, “The craftsmanship is impeccable, and when I wear them, everyone always asks about them.”
Her tango with travel officially debuted on the world stage in 2007 with trips that would take her to places to stay with friends. She took full advantage of her break during college: spring break, summer and thanksgiving, visiting the hometowns of her classmates. As she got older, she elevated to making good use of flight deals.
Every enchanting reality begins with a dream. And for Coakley, it was no different. She always watched television and desired to experience those places she had seen on screen in person, meeting people from every corner of the globe.
“While working at a hotel, I spoke with a guest about his family’s ski trip. I was hooked on every word and instantly thought – ‘Yup, I am going on a ski trip!’” she revealed. Her vision would come to fruition a few years after when she found herself in a ski cabin, sipping hot chocolate, gazing at beautiful snow-capped mountains. That was a surreal moment.
According to Coakley, one of the benefits of travelling is that it introduces others to new moments, people, cultures, experiences and inspirations. “Fresh out of college, I was able to work in Jamaica because a guest at the hotel that I interned at owned a hotel in The Bahamas, where I’m from, and that gave my career a jump-start. You never know who you will meet,”she said.
And by forming new connections, you have the unique ability to learn, understand and grow. “I love interacting with and networking with people that I may have never met if I didn’t travel,” Coakley added.
She has gone on to visit over 15 breathtaking destinations and counting. Her trips include the exploration of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Italy, France, England, China, several states in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, and countries within the Caribbean.
“I think every Caribbean person deserves to play in snow! I don’t mean to see snow in a city, but to experience the beauty of snow and all the winter activities of a proper ski town. Explore a picturesque small town covered with fresh powder soft snow, build snowmen, take ski lessons, ride snowmobiles, go zip lining, wake up to hot chocolate and go tubing sledging down a hill.”
Her advice to people looking to travel is to start solo and take advantage of opportunities. “Don’t be scared to go alone. Take easy destinations to get you comfortable, like direct flights or on connecting flights. If you are nervous, arrive in the daytime to new countries. This helps you to be more aware.”
Also, she advises that you find flight and hotel deals within your budget. It’s easier than you think, “Travel opportunities are everywhere. So make the most of it.”