For 10 days at over Christmas and New Year's, my family and I went to Jamaica!
My parents, brother and I flew into Montego Bay and had hired a driver to take us to Negril (~50 miles) over on the west coast of the island. We spent 4 days/5 nights at Country Country, which are beach cottages on the famous 7-mile beach of Negril. Our two cottages were a 30-second walk to the beach and I loved the laid-back feel of the place! Since there were only 24 cottages and not too many guests, we never had to fight for beach chairs or towels. We would have breakfast (included) at the beach bar every morning. My favorite was the banana pancakes with fresh fruit (papaya!) and pineapple juice. A lot of Jamaicans walked the beach selling their wares and we also bought fresh, warm, fluffy coconut bread from the bakery man on a daily basis. Yum! :) The rest of the day was spent wandering the beach, tanning/reading and water sports. That's my Mom and I parasailing in the picture below! Such an amazing 15-20 minutes with the most breathtaking views. It was expensive at $45/person (we negotiated) but my Dad treated us :) In the evenings, we would find restaurants out on the main road for dinner like jerk chicken shacks or (and this isn't a joke!) a place called "Perfect Restaurant" which actually WAS the best meal we had in Negril! (Oxtail with rice and "peas", which is rice and red beans.) Then we would play our favorite card game til 10 or 11pm, sleep until 10am and do it all over again.
Jake's in Treasure Beach, which consists of a Mediterranean-style villas on some small cliffs. This was on the south coast and the weather was amazing the entire time! The food at the hotel wasn't the best (except for the Baked Oatmeal every morning!) so we ate at the adjacent restaurant, Jack Sprat's, a lot. We took day trips to Pelican Bar, Y.S. Falls and a small, not-overrun-by-tourists-town called Alligator Pond where we got interviewed live by a local radio station! More reading and more card games, plus making friends at the bar while drinking delicious passion fruit margaritas. New Year's Eve was spent at Jack Sprat's with a bonfire, fireworks, a few hundred tourists/locals and a stage complete with bands and DJs.
It was a phenomenal trip! Jamaica was more expensive than anticipated, mostly because tourism is by-and-far the largest industry for the majority of the country. Still, I definitely want to go back one day!
- Take as many swimsuits as you own! I only took two and it definitely wasn't enough...even though I only own three. Good thing I had enough beach dresses!
- Jerk chicken in Jamaica is actually doused with BBQ sauce. It's not the "spicy jerk" that you find in the States! We actually think that type of jerk chicken is found in Trinidad or some of the other Caribbean islands.
- Jamaicans are incredibly friendly, but of course you only have to be careful that you aren't getting ripped off as a tourist. Even the little convenience stores away from the hotels weren't that cheap! And they really do say "No problem, mon!" all the type... but the whole Bob Marley thing is definitely a tourist attraction, as Jamaicans love their dance hall music.
- I would stay at both of these places again! Country Country was small, laid-back and low-key while Jake's was more expensive but still laid-back...it IS Jamaica, after all! :)