> Destinations > Jamaica > Trip Reports > Trip Report
The arrival of the vacation was slightly tainted with the worry of having to wake up at 3:30a.m. for a 6:20 a.m. flight time coupled with the fact that the time changed and we were losing a precious hour of sleep. But what do you know…the trusty Sony came through along with my inner clock that ticked so loud that I only allowed myself about 20 minutes sleep! Oh well just another groggy/blurry charter flight that thankfully was only an hour late taking off.
The morning arrival in Montego Bay began with our baggage guy offering us "any ting ya need… mon" with a very intimate hand gesture! As we boarded the bus to Negril several of our flight companions were under some trees already sampling the local home grown!
The bus route, surprisingly, was in better shape than I expected and the driver made us all feel comfortable and at home. By noon we had picked up some "Red Stripe" and by twelve fifteen we passed what apparently is known as "ganja-bridge". We couldn't help laughing at a guy chasing after the bus holding the biggest "spliff" I had ever seen (must have been a foot long!). After another interesting pit stop at a local watering hole ("and anyting else you want mon, I'm your man, mon") we arrived at the T-Water all-inclusive hotel.
Well....a pretty tired spot with iffy rooms even after a long awaited room change after day one. The tour rep did do her best and we finally had a room with some light, a T.V. and a ceiling fan the worked. A quick walk out to the beach and our first comment was "busier than we expected, guess we'll explore some quieter parts of the island after a day or so". The beach is truly beautiful…that calm water that is great to float around in with a soft white sand bottom that creates those wonderful aqua blue colours. First discovery is "don't make eye contact with locals on the beach" or you will be offered…well lets just say
"all manner of tings!". Well we did finally just get comfortable with saying "no thanks" assertively and with that discovered that the local Negrillians were really nice folks.
Negril has decided to capitalize on "Spring Break" and it was still going on when we arrived. Grandstands were set up on the beach to blast as much live and piped reggae music as you could fit into one section of the beach (unfortunately it was our section!) We happen to love music so "no worries mon".
We took in one night of really decent live bands doing a lot of Marley cover tunes and off we went the next morning down the south coast with a fabulous taxi driver Irvine McKen, from McKen's Shuttle. We were heading to a spot that my partner had some vague information about and that Irvine said would be very quiet. Treasure Beach we were told by Irvine was in St Elizabeth's Parrish (like province/state) and was best known for its fishing and farming. We were surprised about the farming because the land was changing from an almost rain forest like wild and lush quality to a more dry, arid and brownish appearance with, we were told, less rainfall. Must be something really rich in the soil because everyone is growing things everywhere on their property and Irvine says they make a pretty good living taking their crops to market.
So we finally arrive at Jake's Place (no… not a person. apparently a resident parrott that passed away) where we were told we could have two nights accommodation in two different rooms. Yes!!! A great room and a beautiful view and trendy " thirty something's" all around us! We discovered that this spot is owned by the guy who wrote, "The harder they come". If your "forty something" you might remember that this is a cult film from "twenty something" years ago starring the famous reggae star Jimmy Cliff who's got to be "sixty something" by now!
So… our room was one of a smattering of detached and semi-detached dwellings creatively situated on a smallish but beautifully laid out piece of land. It houses maybe twenty or so persons and one spot is nicely and naturally separated from another. Our building was sort of Adobe like with a Moorish influence. The windows were open-air and had stunning glimpses of the Caribbean landscape from almost anywhere we stood. Not locking everything up took a bit of getting used to but what a refreshing change! Armed with a mosquito net and some coils we easily handled the odd "mozzi" that intruded into our idyllic environs.
There is a small restaurant on the property and everyone we spoke to said it was the only place to have dinner so we had three nice meals of which the shrimp and smoked marlin fritters were my favourites. The menu only changed slightly each day, which would have been a concern if I'd been staying there for the whole week. I discovered coconut rum and pineapple juice and drank plenty of them while dangling my feet in the small salt water pool and listening to great "Stanley" stories.
Day two we moved upstairs (Abalone Up as opposed to Abalone 2) and seemed to magically slip into a more romantic mood. It's a very private suite where two can cozy into a double built-in chaise where only the landscape can look back and guess what your up to!
Ohhh no it's true … there's no room at the inn for night three. Since we did discover a lovely, quiet stretch of dark-sand beach perfect for walking and dipping we just knew we were not ready to return to Negril. We were told at the desk to try next door at The Sunset Resort Villas …no…no…not what we were looking for…unless we really wanted to be in despairing withdrawal from our experience at Jakes. Way too over designed (and quite tacky too) where every piece of furniture could be converted into an extra bed. Not reasonably priced either. So off we trotted to Trans Love Café, the local breakfast spot in the village to discuss our plans and feast on one more plate of Ackee and fish (my newest favourite dish) and delicious home baked breads, especially the Johnny cakes.
On our way back we checked out a hotel we noticed previously on our beach walk. Yes…we lucked out at the Treasure Beach Hotel and were given a really nice ocean view room (one of thirty). Not cheap $143.00US but more tasteful than I expected. I loved the way the doors louvered open to create a really open-air type experience with a spectacular vista. We closed up in the evening though because there was no way the mosquito netting was going to get around the four-poster king size bed! Not to mention the holes in the netting already by those who tried to impale in onto the four posts!
We spent a beautiful day in one of two pools (which we had completely to ourselves), walking the beach and taking dips in the salt water. In the late afternoon we were promptly picked up by Irvine our trusty driver and guide and driven back to Negril. We took a pit stop on the way back in Westmoreland Parrish, a little place called Breadfruit Pub in Belmont Bluefields where we were told Kim serves up really good local fish dishes. Irvine says a good night out for the locals consists of freshly cooked fish with okra followed by lots of dancing and well you can guess the rest!
It seemed fitting that our last day in Jamaica would be a rainy one because truly nothing in Negril could possibly have topped the fun and pampering we had experienced in Treasure Beach. Of course this is a biased opinion and it's our style to consistently seek out quiet beaches, small intimate hotels and surroundings where we feel comfortable to talk to the local folks. I have visited many Caribbean islands and always felt a bit embarrassed that I had not been to Jamaica. I think I had the impression that I would be constantly clutching my handbag and swimming with my waterproof money pouch (which I took with me by the way and never used). In truth, I discovered that it's no different that most Caribbean islands where "sensible self safety rules" apply and when you accept this you discover you can explore the local culture (of which there is plenty in Jamaica). In Jamaica, more than any other Caribbean island I have visited so far, I felt I was in a different country where tourism is not the only thing happening…. there is also real life going on too. I'll say no more…
Thanks to Kim for this trip report ...