CS - Negril Trip Report

Old Nov 25th, 2005, 09:14 PM
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CS - Negril Trip Report

My first trip to Jamaica was in 1985 with my parents. My first trip to Negril was in 1987, as a 20 year old college sophomore, for a 2 week Christmas vacation. I have been returning to Negril ever since that 1987 trip. As a known "Negrilaholic" on this board, I most likely am biased on all things pertaining to Negril. My wife's first trip to Negril was in 2002 for our honeymoon. It is hard for me to convince her to go anywhere else when it comes time to plan (which I am always working on) the next trip to the Caribbean. She has been bitten by "Negrilitis" even more so than I, it appears. We make a great pair!

This was my 10th trip to Negril and my wife's 4th. We had temporarily put our Caribbean trip plans on hold this year as we had recently closed on a new house and have a lot of other things that we felt needed priority. As the summer went on and things were going well with our building and loan process, we decided to put the plans back in place and take our annual trip to Negril. We are ever so glad about that decision!

We have most recently traveled to Negril in the months of June and July, this was our first trip in November. The weather, for the most part, was perfect! We did experience some more wave action than normal earlier in the trip due to TD #27 (later named Gamma) and the last full day of our trip a cold front went through to stir things up quite a bit. On Wednesday, the 23rd, Negril beach was a wild and surreal scene with waves worthy for surfing and the stirred up ocean turning the color of the usual Caribbean blue, to Mississippi River brown. I took some photos of this “phenomenon”, but they hardly due it justice. It rained one afternoon early in our trip. It was one of those tropical downpours that lasts for about an hour or so that reminds you that things are green on the island for a reason. We had another one of those in the morning of our last full day. Other than that, highs were in the mid 80’s and lows were in the high 70’s.

We stayed, for the 4th straight trip, at Coco La Palm in a Junior Suite of the beachfront type. We cannot say enough about this place! The staff is great, with very little turnover, and they have evolved into an extension of our family. They remember us by name and go so far out of their way to make our stay comfortable, that each stay becomes unforgettable. The rooms are nice, as well. Some of the rooms are better than others, of course. But after a year or so of much hurricane activity, including Ivan, the resort, as well as most of Negril, appeared as it normally does. The resort has just enough amenities to satisfy our relatively minimal demands. There are two pools, two restaurants and a beach location that is amongst the best on Negril Beach. They have watersports including snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, diving and fishing that can all be booked out of their front desk area. My wife and I are, however, not much of the touring, activity seeking type and spend all of days lounging on the beach with a book and Red Stripes in tow. We both lead very busy lives and the respite from the everyday hassle is one we find priceless. There is no place I have ever been that gives you that “so far away” feeling than Negril does. From the thatched hut beach bars and restaurants that line the beach to the tranquil Caribbean sea that lies feet away from your beach chair to the Jamaican hospitality that is evident almost everywhere….Negril is THE place for relaxation.

We arrived in MoBay on Monday the 14th and were picked up by our usual driver, Errol Cox of Errol Flynn Tours. He has been our driver since 2002 and he comes with the highest of recommendation from my wife and I. Errol is a true gentlemen, professional and entrepreneur with a great fleet of vans and a larger bus. He is also extremely reliable and fair in cost. Let me know if you need his contact information, I’d be glad to pass it on to you!

The drive to Negril from MBJ is about an hour and 15 minutes or so, which is half the time it used to take prior to the new highway constructed and finally finished in 2002. The old road was a potholed billy-goat path. The new highway has definitely had its impact on the number of visitors who can comfortably make it to Negril. However, most of the impact has resulted in more additions to the already numerous all-inclusive resorts on the northern part of Negril, most notably the Bloody Bay area. The AI resort definitely has its place in most island resort options, but you won’t find us any of them in Negril Part of the Negril experience is to get out and about, experience new foods (i.e. ackee and saltfish), restaurants, bars and to get to know the culture and people of this great island.

We woke up most mornings around 8 AM, found ourselves on the beach by 8:30 and in search of our morning fresh squeezed orange juice and freshly baked banana bread shortly thereafter. That search led us up the beach a ways to one of the fruit ladies with a stand in front of Chances restaurant. The OJ is unsweetened, natural and delicious! It is 250J (about $4USD) for a liter bottle (she’ll ask for you to return the bottle upon finishing). The exchange rate was $63.10J to $1USD. That is the highest it has been in some time. The USD is accepted everywhere, however. But, we always go into town and exchange whatever we feel we are going to spend for the week into the local Jamaican currency. I feel this is much favorable when dealing with the beach vendors, and purchasing food and refreshments from some of the smaller local places. Most of our lunches consisted of beef and veggie patties from Indian (a/k/a Norman) who pushes a bicycle up and down the beach (once each way each day expect for Sunday) and has a cardboard box full of good tings! A pattie costs about $50J (90 cents) and a couple of those are a great lunch option. They are a staple in the Jamaican diet. Other lunches we had were jerk chicken from Best in the West (across the street from Coco La Palm) and jerk pork from Dean “the jerk guy” on the beach. Look for him with a white apron on and carrying an aluminum box like a ballgame vendor in the front of him. His pork is to die for! Look out, though….pretty spicy stuff!

Some of our favorite restaurants this trip included most of the same ones in trips past. We love Gino’s Italiano (Mariposa) for authentic Italian dining with your toes in the sand and the stars above your head. We also had two great dinners at Country Peppa (Country Country) and at Norma’s (Sea Splash). Our favorite pizza on the beach is at Chances. It would be my favorite pizza at home here in Seattle, too!

I don’t have a lot more to say other than security is tougher than ever coming home. We were asked to present passports on 3 different occasions in the MBJ airport. Our liquor allotment was questioned in Atlanta when we went through Customs, as we had 4 liters of liquor and the Customs agent was adamant about the fact we were only allowed one liter each. Well, when I argued with him that he was correct, with the exception that traveling from a Caribbean island, if one of the bottles is a locally produced liquor, you are entitled a second liter, he copped a big attitude, looked at his badge like I was crazy for arguing with him, and handed me a bill to pay a cashier $16 in additional duty. Instead of arguing with him over $16, I went and tried to pay this additional gov’t duty. While I was away, my wife read him the riot act…told him we travel to Jamaica every year (we know the laws), told him that I had lived in the islands for several years (we know the laws) and to tape up our liquor box he had cut open so that it was as it was before his inspection. Well….his supervisor must have caught wind of the heated exchange and figured out that there may be a problem with what was being communicated to us and tracked me down at the Cashier window, told me to come on back and that he’d take care of all this. He was quite impressed with my knowledge of the Customs regulations as they concern bringing back liquor from the Caribbean. On that note I told him when we travel from the USVI, we’ll bring back up to 6 liters each (as long as 5 of them are USVI product). Anyway….it has been the one and only time I have ever been “hassled” going through US Customs. It was my first time going through them in Atlanta, however.

Many people dislike Jamaica for being “hassled” by beach vendors to buy their wares and other products. Well, in our 10 or so days of travel, we were hassled more from a guy who is paid out of our tax dollars. Incompetent, on a power trip, a complete jerk and an idiot, without question. Welcome home.

That all being said, as it was a balmy 45 degrees today with steady rain, I can look back at our Negril trip with tears in my eyes….it was good….as it always is. But as the song goes, “Back to life, back to reality”. Of course the “reality” is that I am already planning our next trip to Negril.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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CaribbeanSoul I have been waiting for your trip report and you didn't disappoint!!

Could you please post Errol's contact information. I have not yet arranged round trip transfer from the airport to Coco La Palm on the 26th.

At Thanksgiving, our family of 10 talked about tours we might like to take while in Negril. Do you know anything about Mayfield Falls?

Thanks for giving us a great read. Owa
 
Old Nov 26th, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Thank you for the trip report. I really enjoyed reading it. My husband and I have the Rockhouse in mind for our 7th wedding anniversary next year. I did not know about the new highway so it's helpul to know the drive from Montego Bay is not as long as it used to be. Thanks again.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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Thanks for a great report and the many smiles you provided while reading it !

Time now, to be in *Santa mode* and enjoy the holidays with your wife and son He's at the age to really enjoy the magic of the season....enjoy !!

Marion

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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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Thanks for the great trip report, Brett. Sounds like y'all had another wonderful time in Negril. One of these days I'll get there myself.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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Thanks for the great report Brett..I have been looking for it!Maybe my next trip will be to Negril!

Christie
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 06:15 AM
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owa: email Errol at [email protected]. He is usually quick to respond and everything can be set up with him via email. He has many tours available, with Mayfield Falls definitely one of them. He has a new, air conditioned bus that will seat at least 20 that would be perfect for your excursion. Let him know that Brett and Julie from Seattle referred him to you.

Christie: I warn you in advance that Negrilitis is a condition only cured, temporarily, by repeated trips to Negril. Proceed with caution.

Thanks for all the repsonses to my trip report....I appreciate them all.

Have a great trip Marion! A month in Jamaica sounds....well....about perfect.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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Excellent trip report. Very easy to read yet informative. Definitely makes one want go to Jamaica since it seems that few islands elicit such strong feelings from regulars like yourself.
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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Brett, I e-mailed Errol using the address you gave me, but it came back undelivered. I even tried "net" at the end instead of "com". That came back also. I tried searching for a web site, but nothing. Thanks, Owa
 
Old Nov 26th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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owa: I verified the email address and it is exactly as I have it in the above post. Make sure you have it spelled correctly. I recently used it, so I know it works fine. He does not have a website. Copy and past the following in your email and you should be all set: [email protected]
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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Thanks CS. I tried it again just now. Maybe there is a problem on his end. I'll keep trying. Owa
 
Old Nov 27th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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owa: my email to Errol went through just fine. I wasn't sure if you had succeeded or not.
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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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CS, It must be my server that is the problem. My husband used his work computer to send a message yesterday. Have not heard back yet.

Thanks for your effort and concern. I hope we connect with him. Owa
 
Old Nov 27th, 2005, 12:24 PM
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owa,
We also had Errol do our transfer from MOB to Negril when we went. It did take him a day or two to respond. He sends a confirmation with very specific directions where to meet him and was standing at the exit holding up a sign when we cleared customs. Ice cold Red Stripes in the cooler too.
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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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CS, What did Errol charge per person? I have had quite a variety of quotes. My youngest grandson (11) is the only one that is not considered the same as an adult.

I'll let you know when I hear. We leave for Vieques on Tuesday so I'm hoping I'll hear before then. We are suppose to get 10+ inches of snow starting tonight and into tomorrow here in South Dakota. Very strong winds also. Owa
 
Old Nov 27th, 2005, 08:09 PM
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So, CaribbeanSoul - I have to ask how was your vacation without your son?

I hope you had a wonderful time and I bet he did too! How did your wife manage leaving him?

I'm think I could be classed as a horrible parent since I my personal view is that as long as when we went away for a weekend without them we left them with Grandparents they really didn't need us - Grandparents spoil them!!

We had so many weekends alone since our children have good Grandparents.

Perhaps that's why we've been married for 23 years
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 04:35 AM
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owa: Errol charges around $75 each way for up to 3 people. I believe each additional person is $20 or $25. There may be less expensive options, but not a whole lot. You may be able to cut a deal with him, as well, as up have a large group. The largest group we have ever had was just my wife and I with our little boy last year.

ayla: The trip was fine without the little one....my wife faired well, and yes, he was with his grandparents for a good chunk of the trip. We were ready to get back home, however, after a week or so. More so than usual due to the fact we were missing him quite a bit! Our next trip to Negril will involve him....it is a great place and a great beach for kids!
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 10:14 PM
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CaribbeanSoul,

It must have been hard to be apart from him for so long - I could only leave them for a long weekend, but we did lots of them.

Now my babies are 23, 22 and 16 - only 2 of them still live at home and we are 41 and 42 with light at the end of the tunnel and the hope of Grandchildren

We valued our parents input so much and we'll ensure that we give our children the time and space to remember that even though you have children, being a partner is as important as being a parent.
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