Towards the end of January me and my girlfriend were lucky enough to escape the Manchester weather and have a much needed break from the monotony of the British winter. As we booked the trip fairly short notice we decided not to plan anything and just wing it when we arrived - while I suggest you do the same I thought it might be nice to provide 4 pointers for visiting Negril.
I visited Jamaica when I was 10, me and my family stayed at the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay for two weeks, at the time they absolutely hammered it in to us that we should not leave the resort for safety reasons, which made a bit of an impression on me (although me and my Granddad thought we were the baddest men on the planet when we had the temerity to not only leave the resort but CROSS THE ROAD to get some bottled coke from the adjacent petrol station). The same was said to us by our travel company this time round, and not to walk on the beach at night, we arrived at night and wanted a beer so we did just that, yeah.
A couple of days in to our stay we decided to visit the famous 'Rick's Cafe' (we'll get to that) but rather than get a shuttle bus we thought we would walk it. A walk which should have taken 1.5 hours ended up taking nearly 3 as there is so much to see, awesome locals to meet and frequent visitors who know what they're talking about.
As I mentioned it before, Rick's seems a natural follow on - we arrived about 12:30 while it was still more or less empty, apart from a large American family and a few Canadian groups. After the walk we fancied a drink so we sat down to the rightly famous view with a Red Stripe and a rum and ginger beer. Seriously, the view is amazing, you're right up in the cliffs, all you can see is the sun, open sea and some beautiful buildings and rock formations as you look down the coast.
A little later on, after a few swims, and more importantly a few beers we decided to do the 35ft jump! I had intended to make a vine of my jump but my designated camera woman was having a chat instead of filming - so I'll save that for next time.
We loved the day at Rick's Cafe, we decided to leave about 4pm as we wanted to walk home before it got dark and head out in good time. It gets really busy at night, with shuttle buses pouring in every couple of minutes, although we didn't get to experience the evening at Rick's it is apparently a very good party.
Try everything, forget the diet, try everything from everywhere. I'm going to write a separate post about all the amazing shacks and restaurants we ate at but I thought I would cover it off in my 4 starting points as well. Jamaica's national breakfast is Saltfish and Ackee, served with 'Johnny Cakes' and a boiled plantain. The Ackee fruit is toxic when unripened and not prepared right so I don't know how viable it is to get in the UK, but it tastes really good, a little bit bitter but it complements the saltfish really well, while not something I'd have at 8 am before work it did make for a nice brunch. The other ingredient/meal I'd never come across before was conch, which it turns out is sea snail. I ate this at a place called Montana's in fritter form and it was stunning. It tastes a little bit like calamari, if not a little bit tougher, I then had it again in a curry, and while still very nice it wasn't close to it's frittery-counterpart.
Obviously Jamaica and the Caribbean are famous for their crystal clear seas, and they are a joy to swim and play in, when I visited as a child I probably spent half my holiday chasing the fish which came in close to the shore, this time around, I still did that! But we also managed to visit the reefs, which was an absolute pleasure and the highlight of my trip. We visited about 4pm, when the sun was past it's hottest and there would be a good amount of wild life around, personal highlights where a couple of Stingrays and a Trumpet fish, which I'd never seen before. Snorkelling in clear waters is one the the best experiences anyone can have, make it happen!
Music is everywhere, as you might expect. The Jamaicans are understandably very proud of their island's contribution to world music. As you're in a area which drives it's income from tourism you're presented with the more stereotypical reggae music in bars and restaurants but there are a number of live events on at anyone time which feature Jamaica's more contemporary music scene. The Boat Bar was the best music venue we came across on 7 Mile beach which had a live band on every couple of days and always seemed to pull a healthy crowd.
Thanks for reading guys, feel free to add some suggestions