Jamaica offers a plethora of options for travelers seeking adventure and culture, and also for those who simply want to bury their toes in miles of crystal white sand beaches, with a cool drink in hand.
There really is something for everyone, a great winter time respite that’s only four hours by plane from Toronto.
This time out we highlight Negril, a resort area situated on the west tip of the island, and hour drive from Montego Bay.
Those who have traveled there report back about the high chill factor of the area, the laid-back mood, which really is a selling feature of the entire island.
Negril is special, though, marked by a seven-mile-long beach and surf, ideal for snorkelling and swimming, guarded by grotto-lined cliffs that stretch to the old Negril Lighthouse, built in 1894. Its coral reefs and calm clear waters make it a diver’s paradise.
This part of the island is marked by its architecture, wonderful examples of Georgian houses. The town of Lucea is one of the island’s earliest settlements, and includes Fort Charlotte, a British stronghold built in 1756.
Negril is also well known for its lively music scene – featuring calypso beach barbecues and a wide selection of all-night dancing at local clubs.
PLACES TO STAY
Azul Sensatori Jamaica. Located right on Seven Mile Beach, Azul Sensatori Jamaica offers 285 ocean view suites, seven pools, nine restaurants and bars and one spa.
The Cliff. It’s all in the name – panoramic vistas of private tropical gardens, azure waters, coral bluffs and limestone cliffs, nestled on five acres overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This is an exclusive hotel offering 22 suites and four private villas. Intimate, five-star luxury option.
Royalton Negril Resort & Spa. The property features 407 luxurious suites with the All-In Luxury concept – an array of world-class amenities including 24/7 concierge, unlimited reservation-free luxury dining, and the handcrafted DreamBed.
The Caves. An oceanfront sanctuary with 12 exclusive cliff-side accommodations, featuring a Private Dining Cave, The Blackwell Rum Bar, and a Seaview Aveda Amenity Spa. The ultimate getaway for relaxation, revitalization and pure romance.
Sunset at the Palms Resort. Eighty-five “treehouse-style” elegant guestrooms and suites, Sunset at the Palms Resort is a unique, all-inclusive adults-only retreat nestled amongst tropical gardens and flowering plants at the edge of Negril.
Hotel Riu Negril. A spectacular all-inclusive hotel overlooking Bloody Bay Beach, Hotel Riu has over 400 rooms in four separate buildings. All of the rooms have a spectacular balcony or terrace. There are five restaurants, from Italian to a steak house, to an authentic Jamaican barbecue down by the beach.
Couples Negril. Featuring 234 guest suites and rooms, Couples Negril is set on a tranquil white sand beach. All the rooms have furnished patios or balconies, with stunning ocean views.
PLACES TO DINE
Murphy’s West End Restaurant. Family-run jerk hut, a brightly painted wooden shack situated on West End Road. Sip on a Red Stripe, swinging on a hammock, then enjoy authentic jerk chicken and fresh seafood.
Pushcart Restaurant & Rum Bar. Also located on West End Road, guests enjoy a real Jamaican street food experience in a lively, music-filled outdoor kitchen experience.
Ciao Jamaica. Great Caribbean Sea views combined with a unique fusion of Italian and Jamaican cuisine – from Rasta Pasta, Jerk Chicken Alfredo, to Reggae Lasagna.
Zimbali Retreat. Using only the freshest, locally grown foods, the restaurant, located in Canaan Mountain in Westmoreland, specializes in chicken, fish, conch, lobster, vegetarian and vegan options. No red meat is ever served.
THINGS TO DO
Rick’s Café. Go watch the sunset from the best vantage point on the island, a cliff-side hotspot voted by Travel Channel as one of the best bars in the Caribbean.
Blue Hole Mineral Spring. Go chill by taking a dip in a refreshing, therapeutic mineral bath, located beneath a cavernous opening in Jamaica’s terrain, completely encased by Karst limestone.
Mayfield Falls. Caves, 44 mineral pools and 21 natural Jacuzzis. Visitors can also walk along one of the longest rivers in Jamaica, taking in exotic plants, birds, butterflies and other native wildlife.
Rhodes Hall Plantation. A very popular destination spot, on a private beach, Rhodes Hall Plantation is a magnificent, 500-acre historical Jamaican property, which visitors can tour on horseback, exploring the Crocodile and Mangrove Reserve, ending your day with a dip in the Caribbean.
Go to www.visitjamaica.com for more information on Negril and the island in general. The JTB blog is a great place for the most up-to-date travel information for those going there or thinking about going – www.islandbuzzjamaica.com