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Thoughts on Jamaica?

Old Jul 30th, 2008, 11:51 AM
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Thoughts on Jamaica?

Hi! This is only my second post so I am new here!
Anyways, getting to the point...

We are for sure going to Jamaica in November. I am so excited because I have wanted to go to Jamaica for years.

We are going with 10 other people, my parents included. My mom, like me, can't wait till we go, but my dad is very, very apprehensive about the trip. I know it is a third world country, but it can't be *that* bad.

What are your thoughts? Have you felt unsafe in Jamaica? Talk to me about what you thought.

Thanks!
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Welcome to Fodors.
We loved it. You can take a look at my trip report. Get past my cranky hotel review - lack of sleep will do that ;-) and see the great excursions we did. If you have any additional questions let me know.

http://www.nbptravel.com/Jamaica.html
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 03:18 PM
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Jamica can be very daunting to people who have not traveled the Caribbean much. There are many people on this board who love Jamaica more than any other Island and can give you great advice on where to stay and things to do.

From my prespective, we have been to many Caribbean Islands and had not ventured to Jamaica due to all the questionalbe reviews. We finely took the plunge and decided to see for ourselves and went to Negril in November 2006. We absolutley loved it. Everything negative that we've ever read over the past years was totaly inaccurate to our experience. However, I can see how many would be disturbed with the overall living conditions of the locals, but we thought it was all part of the charm. Just be prepared and keep an open mind.

In comparison to other destionations we've been to, personally, we did not feel comfortable venturing off the hotel property on our own. There were very reliable taxi drivers offered by the hotel that was willing to take us anywhere we wanted and stay with us. We appreciated that. It was definatly a differnt expereince than we were used to, but we enjoyed it. We would love to go back someday and stay in Ocho Rios.

If your interested we have pictures at:
http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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Thanks for your opinions.

caribtraveler- Thank you for your wonderful review! I am looking forward to reading the rest of your reviews as well.

KVR- Thanks for your insight, it was helpful!
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 04:37 AM
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Hi Hannah!
I also LOVE Jamaica! We stayed in Negril also...I've been to Ocho Rios before, but Negril tops it in my book. The beach is amazing. We stayed out on the cliffs (we wanted to try something different). I LOVED BEING OUT ON THE CLIFFS!!! And you get to go to Rick's Cafe just by walking! We went there a few nights! It was great! We had to try the "booze cruise" which brings you to Rick's also. It's beautiful and so fun. And you cannot beat the sunsets out at Ricks! Enjoy!
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 08:49 AM
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I took my two daughters, age 24 and 17, to Negril in February and we had a wonderful time. We walked on the beach at all time of the day and evening to and from restaurants and entertainment and took several excursions and never felt "unsafe". The people selling crafts, etc. can be quite in-your-face but just say "no" and they will leave you alone. We found everyone very friendly and helpful. We stayed at Negril Gardens, a smaller AI resort and the onsite security was excellent.
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 09:09 AM
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Hi chgeeb - I loved your enthusiasm for Negril - we are torn between Negril and Montego Bay, but we might be somewhat restricted in our budget to stay in Negril. We are of the "older" generation (ages 58-63) and were wondering if the place you described on the cliffs would be a good fit for us. We like some water sports activity and excursions as opposed to sun bathing (although some is ok). We also have heard about Rick's, although not sure if it's more for the younger crowd. Any suggestions or comments would be truly appreciated - we're planning on Feb 8-Feb 15, 2009.

Thanks so much,
Sue Porter
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 09:13 AM
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I'm sorry - I didn't check my profile before sending my post - please use the following email if you would like to respond personally: [email protected]

Thank you,
Sue Porter
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 09:35 AM
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I've been to Jamaica twice and didnt much care for it...

First was to ocho rios to grand lido braco. The beach was not very good, but great resort and pool. Didn't go outside the resort. Hotel staff tried to sell us drugs.

Second trip to Couples Negril. The amount of drugs being offered constantly on the beach was a drag. We got off a catamaran from a cruise and had a guy on a boat offering us crack, pot, etc.

Of all the islands I've visited, this was the worst when it came to drug dealers on the beach, and for that reason, I would not return.

Just my 2 cents.

Peace, Greenie
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 10:08 AM
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I'm one of the Jamaicaphiles on the board, been almost 20 times, it is far and away my favorite Caribbean destination.

I have only stayed in a resort one of those trips (the first one) and have come to prefer to stay almost anywhere EXCEPT Montego bay, Ocho Rios and to a lesser extent because i have many friends there, Negril. All 3 are major tourist areas and so attract drug dealers and hustlers whereas equally lovely but quieter areas like treasure beach and Portland and St. Mary do not.

MoBay and Ocho Rios also have cruise ship ports, tall buildings and a city. Negril is a beach town with plenty of small hotels and restaurants and bars and nightlife - the one of the 3 where i would recommend NOT staying in an enclosed resort, but it is still a tourist town.

I've been with my husband, been with friends, been helping with a large music fest, been with family (including 2 kids). Never had a safety issue.

Is your group renting a villa or staying in a hotel/resort?

If you want to share we can suggest some outings for you, or tour guide/drivers that can safely and reliably show you how wonderful Jamaica can be
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Might I suggest that you look at some Jamaican blogs? You'll get a feel for the place.

Check out Mobay Daily Photo: http://mobaydp.blogspot.com/

and Bonita Jamaica : http://bonitajamaica.blogspot.com/

Jamaica has crime. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that everything is just peaches and heavenly cream here. Allegedly we have the third highest murder rate in the world. That said, it really is a beautiful country with some very nice people and some marvelous attractions.

If you're not dead set on Negril, I'd agree with ohliz and suggest Portland (fly into Kingston instead of Mobay). Treasure Beach can be a bit dull if you're looking for entertainment, but great if you're really looking for peace and quiet.
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 01:28 PM
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Is your group renting a villa or staying in a hotel/resort?

If you want to share we can suggest some outings for you, or tour guide/drivers that can safely and reliably show you how wonderful Jamaica can be
------------------

We are going to Ochos Rios --- can you recommend anywhere to eat?

OH and golf courses, my dad is a big golf nut...
any recs?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 09:48 AM
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Jamaica used to be great, now it's nuts. The locals are not as nice as everyone is saying. Some are though.
Negril is nice, but has turned into Girls Gone Wild. Ochi is cleaner, Mo Bay is a circus...very dirty.
Been to Jamaica several times, and in my opinion there are much nicer, cleaner and much friendlier / safer islands out there to vacation on.
great shopping though if you're into arts and crafts.
I agree with your Dad!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 07:28 PM
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"Girls Gone Wild"?? Where have I been going to for 20 years? Must be all that sweet Appleton rum putting me to sleep by 10 PM to the tree frogs chirping in the night.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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I agree with CaribbeanSoul...where have I been? I haven't noticed anything of the sort, EXCEPT for the "closed off parties" but that was ONLY the one time I went during college spring break season. But they were completely shut off to any outsiders. Not sure where that's coming from!
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:05 AM
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I can't say "Girls Gone Wild", but when we stayed at the RIU Tropical Bay, we did see lots of topless women at the beach and pool, men wearing thongs speedos and men and women in the ocean in acts of sexual display. It was a total turn off for us and I was suprised it being billed as a family friendly hotel. Of all the places we've been to that was the most nudity we've ever experienced, but it wouldn't deter us from going back.

As for the locals, we did not experience any that was over agressive, and found many to be quite friendly and helpful. To date, Puerta Valarta is the worst for over agressive, annoying vendors. We would not return there.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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"We are going to Ochos Rios --- can you recommend anywhere to eat?"

A few.

Spring Park - not fancy, but good food in a nice atmosphere.

BiBiBips - food good and mid-range prices, right over a beach (Mahogany Beach, I think it is) so lovely view and handy to the sand and the city both.

Evita's - not been myself but always hear great view and food, pricier.

The Ruins - mini-Dunns falls with tables around it and good food.

I highly suggest a day outside Ochi in the far quieter and less touristed St. mary...visit Noel Coward's home Firefly - amazing view from up there...see if you can eat a meal at his other home, Blue Harbor.

If you have an entire day, go all the way to Portland..so much to see and do there, too many beaches, Blue Lagoon, meals on the sides of mountains looking over the sea. Again, night and day feel from Ochi.

In Ochi you might check Shaw Park Gardens, Coyaba River Garden and Museum (alternative to the much more crowded Dunns, you can swim here as well), and any trip into the interior will be worth the ride for the scenery...
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Old Aug 5th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Ochie cleaner than Negril?

Negril "Girls Gone Wild"???

You might be right about Mobay though...most days it does feel like a circus!


I agree with ohliz about giong to Portland and St. Mary.

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Old Aug 9th, 2008, 09:06 PM
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I think it is a mistake to talk about an entire island in the same breath. Your experience will vary depending on what town you stay in, and within that, what type of a hotel or resort or house you rent.

Montego Bay, is not Kingston, is not Negril.

My experience is years ago, but I had two lovely trips to Negril. I'm a bit afraid to return only because I know things have been developed extensively since that time.

As far as it can't be *that* bad... I'd say it depends. It's possible it could be unsettling for your family, especially because your Dad is so apprehensive already. While I did not feel exactly "unsafe" I had a few experiences that were more "adventurous" than most people would have been comfortable with.
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Old Aug 10th, 2008, 06:35 AM
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My husband and I have been to Negril and Ocho Rios; both were wonderful. When we went to Ocho, we too went with a group of ten, and a couple of people were apprehensive about Jamaica. So, we stayed at an all-inclusive. That way, if people in our group chose not to go off the resort they did not have to.

We had a fabulous time - stayed at Couples - and we never felt unsafe.

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