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Old 03-13-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Reggae, Rastas, and the Rissasks- Negril, Jamaica, March 2011

For our second winter escape from the Great White North this year we decided to try somewhere other than Mexico for a change.

Although we love Mexico, and will always continue to travel there- after 21 and 16 trips there between Don and I respectively, to 12 different areas, and only one other hot destination together (Cuba), we felt we should branch out and see a bit more of the world.....but it had to have heat and an ocean if we were going in the winter, natch!

We had wanted to go to Roatan, as we were OW diver certified a couple of years ago and wanted to go to a dive destination..... sadly, we could not find a decently priced flight (none under about $1200 each ) to there that did not also involve overnighting both on the way there and back....since we only had one week that was not appealing, so we will try to get there next winter.

We also considered Turks and Caicos and the Caymans but ended up booking a non AI in Negril, Jamaica in the end- at just under $1000 each for a week for air and hotel from Regina, it was a great price for Jamaica. And Negril is the part of the country we always knew we wanted to go to, after researching- 7 Mile Beach sounded amazing (and it was!)

I won't do a day by day as that would get quite boring...this is mostly going to be pictures....and, mostly pictures of the beautiful water and sunsets, to boot....sorry! There is only a very few food pics, too, as I always forget to snap them, or feel too silly.


Our flight was a non stop direct (yay!) red eye (boo!) at 11:50 pm on Wednesday, March 2 -my birthday was the next day, I greeted it by getting on a plane that left about a half hour late.

We had both been up since VERY early that morning (5 AM for me) as we had worked that day, then drove two and a half hours to the airport in Regina, then sat and drank 3 beer each in the lounge waiting for the plane.... we were SO tired and hoped we would sleep on the plane, but didn't get much shut eye, I find it hard to sleep sitting.....wow, but we were tired when we arrived in Montego Bay at about 7 AM local time.

We woke up in a hurry on the hair-raising drive to Negril, which took about 90 minutes....even longer since it was rush hour, MAN Montego Bay is one busy city! We dropped two other couples off at their hotels on the way, I wasn't overly impressed with Mo Bay, and we were glad we chose Negril.

I say 'hair-raising' because they drive like maniacs! They make Mexican drivers seem like little old ladies, holy crap. Not to mention the wrong side of the road aspect, and narrowly missing stray dogs and GOATS at every turn....and our driver was texting the whole way, and there were no seat belts! Yikes. I was pretty happy to arrive in Negril.
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Old 03-13-2011   #2 (permalink)
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Whooo hooo! Negril, here we come!

I think I'll go grab one of the cold Red Stripes Jason brought home earlier.


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I say 'hair-raising' because they drive like maniacs! They make Mexican drivers seem like little old ladies, holy crap. Not to mention the wrong side of the road aspect, and narrowly missing stray dogs and GOATS at every turn....and our driver was texting the whole way, and there were no seat belts! Yikes. I was pretty happy to arrive in Negril.
Now you know why I begged you to reconsider renting scooters.
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Old 03-13-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Our room was not quite ready yet, it was only about 10 AM, but they promised us it would be ready in a couple of hours. We changed in the pool bathroom, left our stuff in the lobby, and strolled down to the beach....heaven!



The hotel was 'Rooms on the Beach Negril'- there is also a Rooms Ocho Rios. They are affiliated with SuperClubs who also owns Hedonism, or just 'Hedo', which was just down the beach in Bloody Bay and sort of world famous for swinging and nude beaches and other goings on...and sights like this....





More on that later.

The hotel was very comfortable. Recently renovated, the rooms were modern, had glass showers with dual showerheads (big enough for two), flat screens with tons of channels (all English, of course- we even had CBC!), a lovely king size bed, decent sized balcony.

It was right on the beach and had a nice, but small pool, that was empty 99% of the time. It had a restaurant and bar and gym, also free internet. You got a free continental breakfast with the room.

Location was perfect, an easy walk down the beach to several bars, like Margaritaville, Alfred's Ocean Palace, Kuyaba, Legends, the Jungle, Chill Awhile, the For Real bar, etc. And down the beach and across the (VERY busy!) beach road, there were several restaurants in walking distance.

To get around, you could also easily grab a 'route taxi' which had red plates and also a red or white 'stamp' painted on the side. It was 100 JA to go down the road or into town, then another 100 JA to get up to the cliffs, for example.

Money - we always just get local currency from ATMs, but I had read they were iffy and often either broken or out of money here so to be safer we pre-ordered $600 CAD worth of Jamaican money. It is about 86 JA to $1 CAD. Don used his ATM card twice at the Scotiabank ATM to get more, no problems there. Mon.
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Old 03-13-2011   #4 (permalink)
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Me thinks this will be good.....
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Old 03-13-2011   #5 (permalink)
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Whooo hooo! Negril, here we come!

I think I'll go grab one of the cold Red Stripes Jason brought home earlier.




Now you know why I begged you to reconsider renting scooters.

Oh, HAIL no, there was NO way we were going to rent scooters...you were so right.


The cliffs road was way worse, though! We were walking out of Xtabi and going just next door to 3 Dives? Well, a motorbike came around the blind corner and he was leaning in so far I could have reached out and knocked him right off....scary as hell! There was no way I would have been walking anywhere up there!
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Old 03-13-2011   #6 (permalink)
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Can't wait to hear more, I'm glad that you had a great trip.
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Old 03-13-2011   #7 (permalink)
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It's not going to be that good, I have to warn you, we mostly just lazed around on the beach!

But some of the pics will be purty....here are some of the hotel and beach.











The water was just as clear and calm and warm as Cuba....perfect.





This is what I did most days too, we brought floaties along....






The Jamaican version of mariachis on the beach...




Our first breakfast at Alfred's....I think it might have been the only not-great meal we had all week!




The ubiquitous beach doggie....he was eyeing up our breakfasts....Don shared his less than yummy sausages with him.




The bathroom was very nice.






view from the ocean....





Rasta dude with his mushroom dread cap....




There was a low wall so that you could plop your loungers on the beach side where all the vendors could harass/chat with you, or the 'quiet' side where they were supposed to leave you alone (but would still try to catch your attention).

This is the fruit lady- I loved her calls of "Any FROOOOTS...Any MANG-GOES...ANY Pine-apples....Any coco.nuts....any frooooots..."



That guy with the orange shirt was the 'fruit juice guy'....we bought tall bottles of papaya or orange or pineapple or mango juice from him to mix with rum a couple days. Yummy!




And this jerk pork from the guy with a metal box was THE BEST jerk we had all week, other than the jerk chicken the hotel actually made one day.....so good!



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Old 03-14-2011   #8 (permalink)
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Too funny to see all of those familiar vendors. Wasn't that pork fabulous and the fruit lady was so sweet. She always gave the kids a free piece of fruit.

Last edited by heater; 03-14-2011 at 09:23 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 03-14-2011   #9 (permalink)
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Great pic's Maggie! The beach looks really nice. Beach floss! Did they escape from the nudist beach retirement home?
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Old 03-14-2011   #10 (permalink)
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Too funny to see all of those familiar vendors. Wasn't that pork fabulous and the fruit lady was so sweet. She always gave the kids a free piece of fruit.

Yes, I loved her! She was my favourite 'fruit lady' out of four or five regulars we saw. The prices were a little much, we thought....2.50 for a mango? We can buy them here for $1!

The patties from the beach vendor were pretty good and only 100 JA each. Niah's patties were the best, we though, though, a short walk down the beach.

We went there almost every day for lunch. Here are some pics I found on the net, I recognize Niah and the assistant lady.





Niah and his girlfriend...I think she is Quebecois?





One day Don went alone to get patties and he was yelling at everyone, he said he was trying not to laugh....aren't Rastas supposed to be laid back?
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Old 03-14-2011   #11 (permalink)
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Great pic's Maggie! The beach looks really nice. Beach floss! Did they escape from the nudist beach retirement home?

yeah, I am not sure....*shiver* ....I could never stay somewhere with a nude beach, I would be giggling and horrified and distracted the whole time.
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Old 03-14-2011   #12 (permalink)
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Old 03-14-2011   #13 (permalink)
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Wow, just look at that awesome perfect water Love it! Never been to Jamaica, it looks gorgeous
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Old 03-14-2011   #14 (permalink)
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Wait until you see the water and views at the cliffs!

The sand and water clarity was very similar to Playa....the main difference was that Negril was very calm. Even though March is the windiest month in the Caribbean, it never seemed to get too windy there- in Playa when we were there in March the wind was really strong every single day- and got tiring and annoying. There was just a nice light breeze that would come up later in the day in Negril, but the water was always calm.

Diving and snorkeling was better in Playa because of the Palancar reef of course, and there was more variety and number of fish. Jamaica is obviously severely overfished,at least this West coast is. More on that later.


We couldn't help but compare it to Playa and other places in Mexico....it was a very different vibe and culture in Negril. Much less developed and commercialized than Playa, I was not really prepared for just how rustic and casual it was- most restaurants were like being in someone's front porch- you'd sit down at one of just a few tables, no menus, the cook would come and say 'Welcome, we have chicken in brown stew, jerk goat, or curry chicken tonight', and you would order and get a big heaping plate of whatever you picked with boiled cabbage and vegetable and 'rice and peas' (which was rice with black eyed peas I think? I would call it 'rice and beans', they looked like mini kidney beans?).

And then you wouldn't always get a bill, they'd just say "it's 1500 JA" and you would pay....now that is laid back!

Of course they had some restaurants that were more upscale and we went to a few of those....but most near our hotel were the casual type. Or, even more casual, just a jerk stand with a 'grill' made out of a metal barrel. 400 JA got you a little handful of jerk chicken with a couple pieces of bread. Yummy.

Overall the food was VERY good. Neither of us felt the slightest bit off the entire week. We drank tap water too, not exclusively, but quite a bit. That was a bit strange- that they live in huts, yet have drinkable tap water- and not once did the electricity go out, nor did we ever have low water pressure or run out of hot water.
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Old 03-14-2011   #15 (permalink)
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That's funny about Niah's because we heard from a couple staying at our hotel that had witnessed a little family fight while they were waiting for their patties. Must be a regular thing there. I love the italian patty and the bbq sauce.
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