CS's Negril Trip Report

Old Jun 8th, 2007, 04:26 PM
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CS's Negril Trip Report

Our last trip to Negril (or anywhere) was in November of 2005 for 10 days, just my wife and me. We returned this past Saturday from a completely different “vacation” to Negril. We have an 11 year old girl (N), 3 year old boy (B) and twin 10 month old girls (H&H) and we took everyone. This vacation was also part of my 40th birthday I recently celebrated. Our plans had originally taken us to Silver Sands on the north shore, but Negril’s draw is just too strong for us to ignore and we ended up changing plans several months ago. I contacted Coco La Palm and they had a room that worked perfectly for our needs. A big “thanks” to the staff of this gem of a resort! They were so accommodating to our many needs, including the use of their high chairs whenever we needed them. The staff is a big reason why we have been back to Coco La Palm 5 times in as many years.

The days leading up to our departure were filled with excitement, reggae music and a lot of work. “Big ups” to my wife who had the daunting responsibility of packing for the kids. We had to check in 6 bags and 2 car seats! We were prepared with baby food, diapers, wipes, swim diapers, insect repellent, tanning lotions (everything from SPF 4 to SPF 55), etc! Finally the day arrives and we were off to the airport to catch a red-eye to Houston connecting to MBJ. This is H&H’s first time on an airplane. They had their “ups & downs” on all our flights to and from JA. We had decided to save some money and hold them in our laps, which was probably a mistake….but we are $1,000 richer today! All in all, it went okay and B, for a 3 year old, was really a trooper during the 12 hours of travel. We arrived in MBJ on 5/19 on time. I miss the old airport where you walk out onto the tarmac in the open air. That blast of tropical heat and humidity was always something I looked forward to. The new additions to the airport have certainly made it more practical and comfortable, however. For some reason we (none of the passengers) were not given immigration forms on our flight. As we proceeded towards immigration, we were stopped and asked if we had our forms. Nobody had them except for the passengers of a flight arriving at the same time. The immigration form needs to be filled out for each person, not one per family as the Customs form is required for. This meant that we had to obtain (they ran out) and fill out 6 forms, front and back, on the floor, as B is screaming for the bathroom. Luckily, my wife had packed a pull-up for him as he just recently was potty trained and she changed him into that as a bathroom was nowhere in sight. Poor little B. We had purchased baby backpacks called Ergo Carriers to transport H&H during this trip. They worked beautifully and we used them a lot! We recommend these very highly for those who are looking for a comfortable, easy to pack, child carrier. So, I am trying to fill these damn forms out with H on my back screaming because she is horizontal to the floor on my back….it is hot....and I am sweating profusely. It is a small miracle they could read my writing….I was livid with Continental Airlines!

Well, we got through that and proceeded to the immigration line when a very nice Jamaican lady recognized our “load” and escorted us right to the front! Yah Mon! We could have hugged her! Things were definitely looking up and we proceeded down to Customs where all of our bags were waiting for us. We snagged us a Porter, well, he snagged us and we were off to Customs which was a breeze! We proceeded towards the departure terminal where the tour desks are located and took the right that takes you outside to the “ground transportation” area. One of my favorite moments (now that they took the tarmac exiting away) is walking out the door and into the Jamaican air for that first time! The sights, the smells….we have finally arrived!!! More to come…..
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Old Jun 8th, 2007, 06:45 PM
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CS, what a wonderful begining to your trip report! I look forward to reading it in full as you have time to post. I hope your first full family trip to Jamaica was everything you dreamed it would be, and that in reality it was even better.

ej
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Old Jun 8th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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thanks ej! I'll be posting some photo links with my next post. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in the baby carriers I referred to in my first post, here is the website you can purchase them from: http://www.ergobabycarrier.com/
I hope Fodor's is okay with this.
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Old Jun 8th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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as a bathroom was nowhere in sight.

Oh that's a shame that she had to put pull ups on him. There are bathrooms right in the immigration lounge. They're in the back, behind where you line up.

This trip sounds like an action packed adventure!

Looking forward to reading the rest of your report!
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Old Jun 8th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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JAGIRL: They would not let us up the stairs to even start our approach to Immigration from the terminal. We even asked the gentlemen in charge of the "gate" checking for filled out forms.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 04:39 AM
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Thank you CS. It sounds like a rough start but the rest I hope is all Irie.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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It only took a few seconds before the smiling face of Errol Cox was spotted and we were reunited once again! Errol has been our driver since I took my wife to Negril for our honeymoon in 2002. He is dependable, courteous and has a beautiful bus to haul our family and luggage from MBJ to Negril. Anyone who is interested in his transportation/tour services can find him at errolflynntours.com. I highly recommend him!

So we loaded up his bus, installed our two car seats and we were off, but not before we got our hands on our first beef patty from the new food stand outside the airport. It wasn’t long after that I reached into the cooler for my first Red Stripe….one of many consumed during the next two weeks! http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

The new road to Negril has been completed for about 5 years now. What once was a pothole filled, winding and bumpy 2 ½ hour trip can now be done in a smooth hour and 20. The old road had charm, no question about it and it gave Negril a bit more exclusiveness due to fact it was just more remote than it is now. But the new road is a major improvement and has to have given Negril a big boost in tourism dollars. Anyway, I love the trip to Negril getting reacquainted with Jamaica’s beautiful landscape. By the time we are halfway, everyone is asleep except for J and I. If anyone is wondering, the trip to Negril is a 3 Red Stripe trip! http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

We made it to Negril and checked in to our hotel, Coco La Palm. This is our 6th stay at Coco La Palm in the past 5 years. It is a perfect hotel for us with just enough amenities, but still maintains that small hotel charm. It is located on, in my opinion, the nicest stretch of beach Negril has to offer. The staff is top notch and they all remember us from year to year. The accommodations they provided us, both in room and service, during this most recent trip, was far beyond our expectations. For us, there is absolutely no other option in Negril. Keep in mind that most beach hotels in Negril are very basic. No marble vanities or granite countertops here. With that in mind, Coco La Palm’s rooms are amongst the nicest on the beach. Our room was assigned months ago and it fit our needs perfectly as it was a large, groundfloor, beachfront unit (within baby monitor range) and had a separate BR from the main living area. The room also had another BR that was open to the main living area. The best part was the huge tiled patio with a table and umbrella where we spent a lot of time! This room worked out so perfectly for us, that we booked it for next May, same two weeks.

After checking in and getting settled, I was off to the Hi-Lo for some provisions including Red Stripe & rum…..
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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I forgot to add in my previous post that it rained HARD until we were about halfway to Negril from the airport. I was shocked to have heard of the flooding rains much of Jamaica had received during some of our stay when we got back home to Seattle. Negril had the most beautiful weather we had ever had during our two weeks there. A perfect mix of clouds and sun with only one night of heavy rain. It was very hot between 1-3 PM. We had several days of all day sun.

I found the Hi-Lo to be about as well stocked as I had ever seen it. For those who would like to save some money on snacks, pop, water, beer and rum, the Hi-Lo is your best option in Negril. Later in the trip we needed to replenish the diapers and baby wipes and they were well stocked in all sizes. A little higher than what you would pay in the States, but not a whole lot. Six packs of Red Stripe were about $350J ($5.50US) and a liter of Appleton Gold was about $650J ($10US). For those of you who like to cook at home with some unique spices, there is a brand of Jamaican spices called Island Spice who make a seasoning or rub for every type of meat. An 8oz container is $120J ($1.75US). I brought home 6 different kinds as I love to grill and cook at home.

The remainder of our trip was very typical of many of our trips to Negril. We woke up to this on most mornings http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
We had coffee and rum cream on the beach at around 8:30AM every morning. We would get banana bread, fruits and fresh squeezed OJ from the fruit stand up the beach a short ways. http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
Ms Rose and Millicent are two of the sweetest ladies! The OJ is the best ever tasted!

Some mornings we opted for breakfast at Firefly (Shawn is wonderful!) http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
and once we trekked down to Alfred’s for breakfast. We highly recommend either, but if you are in a hurry, Alfred’s would be a better choice.

We would put the girls down for their nap at around 9-9:30 as we were all up at 6 AM most mornings. That would give us some downtime to relax on the beach (in monitor range, of course) and soak in the warm Jamaican sunshine! At about 11 or so, the girls would wake and we would spend some time with them on the beach and in the water. H thought this was pretty cool http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
The other H preferred it here http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU initially, but finally warmed to the water with Daddy’s help. More to come....
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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CS, thanks for posting those pics--your kids are the cutest ever!

My husband's daughter and her large family are interested in taking a beach vacation, but with 5 (!) kids, they don't have a lot of money to spare. Would you mind sharing the prices of the banana bread, OJ, and other inexpensive meals you have? And any other tips for keeping food/drink expenses under budget? How expensive are the beef patties and other foods that beach vendors sell?

Also, is there a single room at CocoLaPalm that would work for a family of 7, or would they have to get adjoining rooms? Let me put it this way--do you think you could have squeezed one more person into the room your family had?

I look forward to reading more, seeing more photos, and for any specifics you might have for a large family looking for a beach vacation. Their kids range in age from 3-16 and they definitely would like to do a Caribbean vacation before the oldest graduates from high school IF they can afford it.

thanks!
ej
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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thanks, ej! I think they are pretty cute, too! As far as Coco La Palm is concerned, they do have some suites on the Coco Inn side of the resort, but I am not a big fan of that side. They have some great off-season deals where rooms are $60/night, but those are selected by the hotel. So two room next to one another would be a great option for travel in May/June or Sept/Oct. Our room would be best for 4-5 as there was a futon as well as the two beds with the two cribs they provided. I forgot to post this great pic of my wife on our way back from the fruit stand http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

OJ was $250J ($4) a bottle and banana bread was $50J ($.75) per slice. I'll have more info on lunches and dinners shortly.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Most days, around 12:30 PM, Norman, the Patty Mon, would work his way up the beach to us. He and his brother have a little bakery business and we have known him for years. We swear by his homemade veggie patties, filled with callaloo, corn, onions and other Jamaican delights! He makes these by hand by using his cocoa bread as the “pastry” instead of the usual flaky pastries that comprise the beef patties that are a Jamaican food staple. We love both, however! Prices for the patties on the beach from Norman are $60J ($1US) apiece. This is Norman and his “patty cart” http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
There is another gentleman that goes by Neville that also sells patties on the beach. His are good, as well….but I found him “extorting” some other guest at Coco by selling his to them for $100J apiece. His price to us was $65J ($1US) per patty and when we knew Norman had the day off, he was our patty source. This is B’s first beef patty…one of many. http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
B could be heard by everyone on the beach once he spotted Norman as he would yell “Patty Man!!, Patty Man!!”. Priceless memories.

Of course afternoons consisted of several of these http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
It doesn’t taste quite as good at home as it does on the beach! Red Stripes are $100J ($1.50) on the beach at the For Real Bar right next to Coco. When our cooler was empty, that was the place! http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

There is also a small grocery located in the Chippewa Village across from Idle Awhile that had beer, water, soda, juice, liquor and other things. Their prices were quite a bit higher than Hi-Lo, of course, but there is no taxi fare involved. A round trip fare to the Hi-Lo was $300J ($5US), by the way.

We took the kids down to Rondel Village (Irie Vibes) for lunch one day where this picture was taken…the whole crew except for Hannah who is on my back. http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

We transported the babies up and down the beach and through airports in the carries shown in this picture. They were worth every penny and continue to pay dividends at home! http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
I’ll finish things up later this evening. I hope this isn’t boring you all!
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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What a great trip report and photos. Such cute kids!

Hmmm, will have to put Negril on the list of places to go someday. I like your style of vacation, really getting to know the wonderful people of the island by patronizing their local business. That's what traveling is about in our opinion. Looking forward to the next chapter of your report.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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I love the way you post and add pictures. Glad to see you had a great family vacation. I went to Negril in 2002 for one day. I can't wait to go back and relax on the Seven Mile Beach.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 09:51 PM
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>>>They would not let us up the stairs to even start our approach to Immigration from the terminal.<<<

Freaks. I wonder if they thought you were gonna sneak into the island steal all the bottles of red stripe beers and then sneak back out?

I love the report so far CS and especially the pics. What a beautiful family you have there.

You're definitely not boring us at all. I live in Jamaica and yet never get tired of reading and seeing pictures about it

BTW, I see your 3 year old boy, "B", got the Ting fever
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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Thank you CS for that TR and those great pics. The other day a Jamaican gal I work with had just returned and gave me a jar of jerk seasonings. Actually no matter what you just can't capture true jerk flavor unless you are there I think. I hope to return one day.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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I'm loving it all--please keep it coming!

is the Coco Inn part across the street from the beach? Is it only the location you don't care for, or does it go deeper than that?

Thanks for posting prices in both US & J dollars, by the way. That conversion is harder for me to do in my head than, say, the EC to US conversion.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 09:25 AM
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mymoosie: Thanks...Negril fits our style to a "T". Beautiful beach with the Caribbean waters, amazing people, spicy cuisine and that element that you are really away from things without the preposterous costs of other places in the Caribbean.
jw: nice to hear from you again....I hope your travels will soon take you back to Negril!
ej: the Coco Inn is on the beach side of the road. There are no Coco La Palm accommodations across the road. The Coco Inn is the annexed hotel that used to be called Silver Seas. They have made some significant improvements and there are several beachfront rooms that we would consider if my wife and I were traveling alone. The rooms I'd stay away from are of their "standard" variety located near the road. Norman Manley Blvd is a busy road. The grounds encompassing Coco La Palm are very beautiful and maintained perfectly.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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JAGIRL: Yes, my son caught Ting fever! He is still asking for it!
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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Because of the “kid” factor, J & I were limited to dining options that were very close to our room. We normally fed the children off the kid’s menu at Coco or I ran and got them a pizza from Chances up the beach. Chances has been a favorite of ours for a long time. They have great pizza with a homemade chewy crust. We love the Jerk Chicken pizza! It is a great place to eat in or carry out. They sometimes don’t have take out boxes, but will give us the pan covered with foil with a promise to bring it back in the morning. Only in Negril! Depending on the toppings and size, prices range from $650J-$950J ($10-15US). The Jamaican Olympic bobsled is part of the “décor” here. http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
J & I had dinner at Coco twice. We find the prices off the dinner menu a bit on the high side at Coco La Palm for average dinners at best. But the convenience for us was a plus. We also had dinner at Idle Awhile (Chill Awhile) twice. Their menu is very good with good prices and in monitor range of our room! As I mentioned earlier, our room had a great patio with a table, 5 chairs and an umbrella, so we utilized this almost every night. I had Bobo from Best in the West Jerk Hut, across the street from Coco, grill us up a special order of jerk chicken on three different nights. He has some of the best jerk chicken in all of Negril. http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...138AcMWTdi5ctU
I found the quality of his chicken to be better than ever this trip! His prices range from $350J ($4.75 US) for ¼ chicken to $600J ($9.75 US) for ½ chicken. We loved dining on our patio with some cold Red Stripes to wash down the spicy jerk chicken!

Did I mention we loved the drinks at For Real? Maureen is one of the sweetest ladies we know in Negril!
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

The two Fridays were there we had the sister of our maid, Marie, baby sit of us. Marie is an incredibly sweet lady and an awesome maid tending to our many unique needs. Her sister, Sandra, was equally great with our children and we recommend her services without reservation. On both occasions J & I had dinner at Country Country’s beachfront restaurant called Country Peppa. This restaurant has been a favorite of ours over the years and we call it the hidden gem on the beach. Their menu changes daily with only 4-5 main entrée selections nightly. You can be guaranteed that it is fresh! The last Friday of our vacation, the night before we left, I had my best dinner ever in Negril. It was a smoked pork loin grilled over pimento wood with a side of angel hair pasta and Jamaican veggies. Simply outstanding! A great way to finish off our vacation! http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/4...108AcMWTdi5ctU

I’ll finish this up later this afternoon….I promise.
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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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CS,

What a wonderful trip report ! Thanks for making us all a part of this special journey.

I thought about your family many times and just knew that it would be the positive experience you planned...airport excluded of course ;-)

You and EJ are now *hooked* on longer visits to the places you love. It does make a difference in the relaxation factor, Red Stripes can only do so much ;-)

I often surf the internet searching for Jamaican products. Tiverton will attest to this as he is usually my guide. While watching Food Network today, I came across a source for patties that might interest you and the young ones. The owner is from Jamaica and makes everything by hand, and ships from her Miami home.

www.soniaspatties.com

And hooray for booking for next year !

Take care...

Marion

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