Notices

back from all over Jamaica

Old Jan 18th, 2004, 09:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
back from all over Jamaica

Just returned yesterday from a great 2 weeks in Jamaica. I'll post details later, but here's a quick update: We spent a few days at the Blue Cave Castle in Negril, Jakes in Treasure Beach, and the Rio Vista Resort in Port Antonio. We visited YS Falls, the black river, appleton's, swam with manetees, went to the milk river mineral bath, hiked the blue mountains, saw Reach falls, ate jerk at boston beach, swame at long bay and Frechman's cove, and the blue lagoon.

PS Carolyn Barrett guided us around and was great. I highly recommend her.

Holly
_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2004, 10:20 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Holly , Glad to hear your back ! I had been checking out your postings and all the info. because I am doing the Port Antonio thing in 1 month with husband and 2 kids . So the advice you were getting was great for me as well I had also become quite nervous with going to Jamaica , with regards to all the negative safety stuff and heated discussions . Liza and a few others have helped allay some of my fears . We are staying for 12 nights at Goblin Hill , had conversed with Henry at Rio Vista and he was really nice but without a rental car Goblin Hill was better with the 2 kids . We will hire a local taxi for our little tours etc. , Rio Grande , Falls , trips to town that sort of thing . So any new info. or tips would be great and much appreciated ! Faith
willem is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2004, 10:38 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So HAPPY you said great 2 weeks !! WHEW ! cant wait to hear more , I am counting down on the calendar . And to boot it has been -32 here in Montreal ! Faith
willem is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2004, 12:01 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Willem, you will love port antonio. It is beautiful!! We loved the rio vista, but it is quite far from the beach (especially with kids). I've heared good things about Goblin Hill.

We did the rafting trip up the rio grande and loved it. We were the only ones on the river!

Frenchman's Cove is a nice beach...the prettiest one I saw in Jamaica. It costs $200 Jamaican each, but no one bothers you and there are drinks and food to buy as well. We didn't see San San beach but i have heard it is nice. Winifred Beach was also recommended to us but we didn't get around to seeing it.

Reach falls was beautiful. The water was so clear. Sommerset falls is also nearby.

Let me know if you have any questions. I'll try to find a place to scan some photos for you to see.

_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 05:03 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Holly , Glad to hear you enjoyed Port Antonio , especially when we seemed to have similar reservations and fears . I have the same responses from people when I tell them I am going so I have stopped telling them !! I tend to freak out when people say these things , mostly concern for my kids . Anyway , love to hear positive things !! Goblin Hill is closer to San San than Frenchmans Cove and it is also quite pretty supposedly . We are I believe within walking distance to Frenchmans Cove , and everyone talks about how beautiful it is . I would love to see some pics and anything else you can think of ! Faith
willem is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 05:22 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 164
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Holly,

Welcome back - glad to see you had a great time in Jamaica. Hope in some small way I was one of the people who convinced you not to change your plans about Jamaica.
jray is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 05:34 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've started writing a trip report on jamaicans.com so i'll post it here as well. Please feel free to skim over things (or skip it all together)as it might get a little long.


We left Toronto on Jan 2nd an hour late (5:30) and landed in Montego Bay around 9pm. It took us a little while to pass through customs but soon we were outside in the warm air and Errol (Carolyn's husband) was waiting for us. We got him to stop for some Red Stripe on the way to Negril and tried to sit back and enjoy the ride (which was difficult because we weren?t used to the driving yet and it was pitch black). We finally arrived at the Blue Cave Castle feeling a bit out of sorts. Luckily Pirate was there and took us under his wings. He asked if we were hungry and we both nodded. We walked across the street and ordered some jerk chicken?yum! Already we?re feeling better. Pirate asks us if we want something to drink and we nod. He takes us to Pee Wees where we happily spend a couple of hours drinking red stripes and playing dominoes with the bartenders. Finally ready for bed.

The next morning everything looks different?so much beauty we are amazed. The sun is shinning as we sip coffee and listen to the waves crash against the side of the cliffs. The grounds at blue cave are so nice and we are laughing at ourselves for ever feeling worried. Today we are being moved to the penthouse, where we will stay for the next 4 nights. In the meantime we do a bit of snorkelling and decide to venture out for breakfast. Outside the gates we are swarmed like mosquitoes: ?I?m Peachy, the taxi driver, where do you want to go??, ?want some ganga?, ?help me start my day our right? etc, etc. All of a sudden a man grabs my arm and begins walking with us. He asks where we?re going and we tell him ?Jus Natural?. He insists that we go to ?Mi Fathers Place? and takes us there. We?re feeling a little overwhelmed so we let him lead us there. After we?re seated he disappears and we order breakfast (our first akee and salt fish). Soon he comes back and sits down with us until finally he is looking a bit angry. It dawns on me that he wants a tip, which seems strange considering people offer advice all the time in Canada and expect nothing in return. We give him $2 US and he is very upset with this amount. He tells us that it is not enough money to buy anything and that he deserves more for finding this place. Considering that we didn?t really want to eat here and were just being polite, I was a bit put off by his ungratefulness. Finally he gives up and leaves. Breakfast was good and we head back to Blue Cave.

Back at blue cave we are moved into the penthouse. Wowee! We have 2 floors and a huge room to ourselves. After unpacking we decide to check out the famous 7-mile beach. We have a taxi drop us off at the HiLo to exchange some money (so far everything has been priced in $JA) We walk up and down the beach happy to be here and pleasantly surprised that very few people are bothering us (just a few people asking us to buy ganga). We walk through Wistling Birda and really like the property?very jungle-like. We want to eat a candlelight dinner at Kuyuba but are so hungry that we decide to eat right away (about 4:30, lol). We order strawberry and mango daiquiris and curried conch?and then more daiquiris. Everything tastes great and we are really enjoying ourselves. Finally, back to Blue Cave where we relax until later and then decide to buy more red stripes at the small convenience store across the road and another late night snack of jerk chicken. All in all, a great first day.
_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 08:33 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

Slept in a bit the next morning (8 or so, lol); the breeze off the ocean is phenomenal and we decide there is no better place to wake up. After our morning coffee we do some more snorkelling and this time we see jelly-fish (unfortunately one stings me and we have to cut our time short). We don?t do much today which suits us just fine. We walk to the hi-lo and stop on the way there and back for patties?they are so good and so cheap! We have a nap and walk to Jus Natural for dinner, which we loved. It?s a garden/jungle setting and the food and service is great!

The next day (our last day in Negril) we?re up early again and decide to spend the day on the beach. After our coffee we catch a taxi to ?Selina?s? for some delicious banana pancakes and fruit smoothies before beginning our long walk. This time we walk a lot farther and eventually come to a spot that is pretty much deserted. We put our bags on the sand and play in the ocean for a while. Some point along the way we enter the all-inclusive zone and a guard asks us where we?re going. It?s ok for us to keep walking so we walk all the way to Hedonism 2. It felt different once we entered the AI?s-- quieter and not quite as fun. We missed the action back on the other side of the beach?the music, the little fruit stands and lively restaurants. On the way back we stop for a massage (2 for $20!?though the woman was definitely not a massage therapist). We swam in the same deserted stretch on the way back and stopped at a little hut for pina-colodas (can?t remember the name) and it begins to rain for a while. After the sky clears we taxi it back to our beloved patty stand on the cliffs and walk back to the castle where we snorkel again for the last time?this time we see 4 stingrays! We also bought a carving of the sun and moon that we had been eyeing for the last few days from a very nice man named Elvis just outside of Blue Cave. We walk to a jerk stand (the one with the bats) for dinner and check out Ixtabi on the way, which looks nice. After dinner (our worst one yet, lol) we walk to Rockhouse for drinks (it looked really nice here too). We gave some coins to a man trying to sell a carving and he is really upset by the small donation (like the man we met the first day). Another man approaches us selling shells and we only had enough money for a taxi back to blue cave at this point, so we tell him no and give him $50J. The man REFUSES the money, because he is insulted by the amount. I am shocked that someone would do this, isn?t this a 3rd word country? Too bad this happens on our last night, but it makes it easier for us to move on tomorrow.


_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 09:15 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome back holly! Enjoying the report so far and looking forward to hearing the rest.....
liza is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 11:25 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

The next day we enjoyed our last cup of coffee on the cliffs and were a little sad to leave the castle, but excited at the same time. Carolyn picked us up at 8am and we liked her immediately. She is so nice and knows so much about Jamaica. We went to the Black River first and enjoyed our boat ride (we were the only boat at the time), and seeing the crocodiles. Next, onto YS falls. It was a bit more crowded here but the falls were beautiful; we have never seen anything like it. We swung from a rope into one of the pools and swam under the falls. It was really nice. Finally, onto Appleton?s. Carolyn took us the long way there so that we could drive though bamboo avenue, which was really pretty. The drive there was beautiful, lots of rolling hills (it?s on the outskirts of cockpit country). It was about 2:30 or so when we went on the tour (just us and another couple) and we really enjoyed it. Afterwards, our tour guide left us in a tasting room with about 30 different rums and told us to have fun. We almost sampled all of them!
The drive to Jakes was breathtaking?charming little villages nestled in mountainous hills. We arrived just after sunset and were so happy to be there. The atmosphere was great, there were little huts scattered around a restaurant, a pool, bar, and a small private beach. There was music playing and the grounds were lit with tiki lights. We were staying in the smallest room, not directly on the ocean (Jakes is a little pricey) called the Blue Room. We loved everything about it accept for the lighting (it was so dim we could hardly see at night) and we only had cold to luk-warm water because it was solar heated. We ate dinner at Jack Sprats that night (really good pizza) and began to settle in to our new home for the next 4 nights?
_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 01:34 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So did you swim in the river? Were you on a pontoon boat or a little boat?
liza is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 04:49 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, we didn't swim in the river (we weren't brave enough yet). We took a pontoon boat, though I thought of asking Carolyn for a fishing boat. We didn't know what to aspect with the crocodiles at the time though, so we were quite happy to be in a bigger boat, lol.

The next morning we went for a stroll down the road and were pleasantly surprised at how relaxed we felt. No one bothered us, there was barely any traffic, and we felt very safe. We stopped at ?south jamming? for breakfast and then headed to the beach, which was dotted with fishing boats and quite pretty really. We walked the beach and one person approached us to show us his carvings; unlike the people we met in Negril he took ?no thanks? for an answer and was nice about it. A couple of dogs befriended us and followed us down the beach, which was very cute. We walked the road leading the other way from Jakes and checked out Mar Blue (nice but totally different from jakes) and Sunset Resort (also nice). Back at Jakes we decide to take a dip in the ocean. The undertow can get pretty bad here, but we really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun being swept in and out by the waves. Next, we decided to enjoy the rum punch we had bought at Appleton?s and chill out on the lounge chairs with our books. Surprisingly, a late afternoon shower passed by and chased us inside our blue room.
We had made reservations that night to eat dinner at Jake?s romantic table (right by the ocean) but the rain had left everything soaked and they only opened the canopied dining room up top. Oh well, we didn?t really care and enjoy one of our best meals of the trip (coconut cream fish, pumpkin soup, red bean soup, mashed potatoes and banana flambé for dessert). When we went to pay our bill though they told us that it was on the house because they wanted to do something special for our honeymoon. We thought this was very kind.


_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 04:59 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Super so far Holly ! Love the details , Continue ! Continue ! Faith
willem is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 05:56 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,981
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hey Faith I told ya it was cool! Yeh mon, irie, cool runnings, no problem! LOL! Just remember those catchword phrases and you'll fit right in. Cheers, Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 07:30 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 140
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report. Keep it coming. I'm looking forward to the part of your trip that covers the eastern part of the island. So, you raft the Rio Grande River, huh? Isn't it just grand? I raft that river every trip to the island.
andreaac is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 07:49 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The next day was very relaxing. We ate, lounged, read, swam, drank, and then relaxed some more. The day after was pretty much the same accept that we walked to a near by convenience store to purchase some granola bars and water for our approaching hike. That night there was a wedding reception at Jakes and everyone looked so beautiful. Unfortunately it began raining after all their tables were set outside and they had to move indoors. It continued to poor until we went to bed.

Carolyn picked us up the next morning at 8am and we began another fascinating day. I?m having trouble remembering the exact order we did things but we stopped at Little Ochi just to see what all the fuss was about (we had heard so much about this place?people even talked about it in Port Antonio). Little Ochi is a restaurant that serves fresh seafood. It?s right on a beach that is lined with fishing boats. Because we arrived fairly early though, there wasn?t too much action, and no seafood to eat yet. We had also heard a lot about the Milk River Bath (the hot springs are supposed to be the most radioactive in the world and cure many ailments) so Carolyn stopped here for us to experience it and we were very disappointed. Everything seemed run down and dirty and we only spent 5 minutes in our bath instead of the 15-20 that you?re allowed.
The highlight of our day, and definitely one of our favourites the entire trip, was swimming with a manatee. Carolyn took us to a little river (I think it was part of alligator pond) and we tipped a man $20US to take us out in a small boat where he paddled us around until he spotted one of the three manatees living there (Carolyn explained that the manatees had been placed here for protection with the hopes that they would reproduce; unfortunately they ended up all being female). We carefully slid into the water with our snorkels on and swam along side the huge, magnificent creature. It was a wonderful experience. Afterwards we learned that crocodiles live in the same river further down the other way, lol.
_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 09:28 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We are getting hungry now so Carolyn stops along they way for a quick snack of Bulla (like a big round cake) before lunch in New Kingston. It is Sunday today and all along the way we see woman wearing beautiful outfits and gorgeous hats?I?ve never seen anything like this and can?t stop looking. We also found that most things close on Sundays and the only place we could find open in new Kingston was a bakery where we tried delicious bread pudding and plantain tarts, and Wendy?s, lol. Soon we are driving up the mountains and we find our selves speechless it?s so beautiful. We keep ooing and awing and the beauty just keeps intensifying. Eventually we come to Mavis Bank?a small town in the mountains, where we leave our van (across from the police station). Soon a land rover picks us up for the duration of the drive and we stand in the open back, holding onto the frame for support. This part is wonderful. The sky is a clear blue, the sun is bright and warm and friendly people wave to us along the way?we are amazed at how many people live way up in the mountains (later we learn that most of them work in the coffee industry). As we wind up the steep roads we pass wondering donkey?s, cows and chickens, we see shacks made of ceresin tin, and speakers pilled high belting out Bob Marley. We also feel the air getting thinner and cooler as we near Whitfield Hall?an old coffee plantation back in 1776 that is now a hostel where people stay to climb the peak. Tall eucalyptus trees surround the property and everything is so green and lush. Inside there is a fireplace and beautiful hardwood floors, I can?t help thinking that I?m in a cottage back in Canada. Carolyn offers to take us on a mini hike to see a hidden waterfall before dinner and we gladly accept. It is a beautiful walk (about 2 miles each way) and when we return Lynette has prepared us a feast of fried chicken, rice and peas, boiled cabbage, and yams. Another couple is staying there from Germany (they have been driving themselves around the island for the last 3 weeks or so) and we sit by the fire with them and talk until about 8 pm, when everyone says goodnight (we have to rise at 2am to make it to the peak for sunrise).


_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 10:37 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We rise at 2am to strong winds and heavy rain! I can?t believe it, the sky was so clear only hours earlier. By 2:30 the rain has stopped so we decide to chance it and venture out. We bundle up, as it is very cold and head outside; we can see the moon and stars. Soon it starts to drizzle though and we put our rain ponchos on. It?s so dark and at times we wonder just how close we are from the edge of the mountains. By the time we reach the rangers station it is raining heavier. We keep trekking and it keeps raining. Carolyn tells us that this is the second time in 26 climbs that it has rained so hard. By now our feet are soaked through and we?re beginning to shiver. Finally we reach a point were the path is washed out (or rather, there is only a path of water). We make the hard decision of turning back just a couple of miles from the peak. We will not be able to see anything anyways. Back down we meet a few other brave souls. One couple asks us if we saw the sun rise and this makes us laugh. My husband starts signing, ?I want to be a poncho man? and we are laughing and having a fun time despite the weather. It is around 7am when we get back to Whitefield and we light a fire to warm us and dry our clothes. There is no hot water so a shower is out of the question. Luckily there are very nice people working at Whitefield and they boil water for us to soak our feet in and we sip hot coffee to take away the chill. Lynette comes back around 9am and soon we are feasting again on saltfish, callalou, boiled cabbage, toast, plantain?s, and boiled green bananas. Yum!
Back in the land rover (this time with the canvas covering us) we begin our drive down the mountain. The sky is clear again and we are enjoying our bumpy ride. All of a sudden a young man jumps on the back of the land rover as we pass through the town. My husband says hi to him but I am alarmed and knock on the window to get the driver?s attention. Both him and Carolyn laugh at me, as this is quite a common thing. We talk to the man holding on and he lets me take his picture. After a while another man jumps on (he looks about our age) named Kevin. He is so friendly and soon climbs in the back with us and we talk for about 20 minutes or so. He invites us to a party in Kingston that night but we explain that we are on our way to Port Antonio.
After we settled back into Carolyn?s van at Mavis Bank we continued our decent down the mountain?. then back up the other side. We were headed to the Old Tavern Estate. I ask Carolyn if we could stop at Strawberry Hill on the way, as I am very curious to see it and it is no problem. What a beautiful place to stay; we decide to come back for our 25th anniversary and continue on our way. We are so high up again (the peak is about 7400 feet, and I am sure we must be approaching this height here). The clouds move in and we can?t see anything. We are speeding around the corners and I am so nervous that we are going to drive off the mountain. When we reach the coffee estate I am happy to be inside and Dorothy is so nice. She pours us the best coffee I have ever tasted and explains how they make it. We sample all the beans and buy a pound to take home. We have decided to save it for special occasions because we could never afford to order it! The drive down was much nicer. The sky cleared again and we were on the lushest side of the mountain. It was even more breathtaking then yesterday. Everything was green but you couldn?t even distinguish what was a tree because they were dripping with mosses and ferns. Waterfalls cascaded down everywhere I turned and again I was speechless.
A quick stop at the bottom of the mountains for bread pudding and ting and we?re off to Port Antonio.
_holly_25_ is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Larry , I am relaxing , finally !! Holly is doing a great job, and like a great writer , keeping us dangling till the end !! Once again thanx everyone ; waiting for the rest Holly .... Faith
willem is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2004, 11:03 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 83
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The drive to Rio Visa is beautiful?coconut and banana trees everywhere. It?s also very lush and hilly. At this point we are too tired to visit Summerset Falls; all we want to do is have a hot shower and take a nap. When we arrive at our new home for the remainder of the trip, we realize that we have saved the best for last. Henry and Sharon greet us as if we are family and Sharon blends us a drink made from the fruit off her property and asks what we would like for dinner (our stay here included breakfast and dinner daily). We may choose whatever we like and finally settle on lobster. When we see our villa (the honeymoon one) we are so excited. Beautiful hardwood floors, a king size bed, fresh flowers, and French doors opening onto our own veranda, and the view?oh my god. Rolling hills, the Blue Mountains beyond, and the Rio Grand flowing bellow. We take well-deserved hot showers (our first since Negril) and relax before a romantic candlelit dinner in our villa. For those of you who haven?t heard about Sharon?s cooking, let me tell you how amazing it is. When choosing to stay at Rio Vista I had read an article in a gourmet magazine (I think it was called Savour) about her cooking, and it was true. The lobster was delicious, the salad, vegetables, everything. We even enjoyed a bottle of wine on the house. We were brought rum ice cream for dessert and a basket of fresh fruit. Happily we decide that we can get used to being spoiled?.
_holly_25_ is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO