Hi everybody – just returned from our first trip to Jamaica!! It was fabulous. I’ll try to make this report concise and factual for other new people like me – I don’t think the old pros like jtgogo1 need my help! We stayed at Negril Beach Club Condos and were very happy with our accommodations. We (Dave and I) traveled with his daughters aged 18 and 21. As they are still a little timid we did not even consider an AI -I wanted them in the mix so we stayed “in the mix”. Very happy with this choice. I tried to get some grip on hotel locations during the week. One advantage to Beach Club Condos (and the very lovely Beach House Villas 2 doors down) was super easy walking access to the village for groceries, etc. This is not to say that places further up the road were too far – but I very much enjoyed our location. The beach at Beach Club Condos was very nice and wide and open. The pool was very clean with a nice large deck. The hotel made efforts to appear like a resort which we very much appreciated – there was a reggae dance lesson one afternoon that was very sweet (as usual Dave was the life of the party wiggling around). On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the Beach Club a 12 for cleanliness; which really made us feel comfortable. Also to my surprise we had a coffee machine, blender and toaster in our 2-bedroom/full-kitchen unit. I don’t know if all units are so well equipped – apparently each is a privately owned condo. The hotel was not what I would call fancy – although I think the report in Lonely Planet is outdated – the grounds were very well kept and landscaped very nicely – there were employees everywhere constantly cleaning. Enuff already – we recommend this place! FOOD – our plan was to eat breakfast and lunch in and eat out EVERY night – this is a MUST. The food in Jamaica is awesome – after Mexico last year the kids were skeptical but our first dinner at 3 Dives won them over. We had lobster, kingfish, jerk chicken, calliloo and rice & peas. The callilou was our first and was the best at 3 Dives. We did not make it to sunset. I mentioned to Lydie that we were hoping to meet up with Sienna – he was not overly impressed to meet us but I think later he seemed very pleased that we enjoyed our meal so much. I had been advised on the board that the food could generally take a long time in Jamaica as nothing is prepared ahead – so we were not surprised to wait. When we arrived a girl was cutting up the ingredients which I later determined were scallion-types for the callilou. Everyone must eat at 3 Dives- in retrospect a trip to Negril would not be right without this. A fellow played a rickety guitar and sang the entire 2 1/2 hours of dinner with 2 short breaks for recorded music. He sang continuously from song to song – his repertoire including “How much is that doggie in the window.” My only recommendation would be to serve Appleton – I don’t like beer (or soda!). I think I was paying around 2$US for rum and water – even 130J total for a Red Stripe and an Appleton at the little bar on the beach squeezed between Beach Club Condos and Beach House Villas (these were 2 nice and friendly guys).
We also ate very well at Sweet Spice and Pickled Parrot. A place we stumbled upon – Irie (not Irie Vibes – a few doors up from there) was fantastic – curried snapper for me. Also the Boat Bar – excellent lobster cut in cubes – very, very good. Our only disappointing meal was dinner at Bar-B-Barn. We also had breakfast there – very good. One day we walked from the lighthouse down the hill to check out and choose a dive spot and ended up eating lobster at Pickled Parrot. At 6.95US per lb. (all sizes available) it was actually about the cheapest we found and very excellent. We ended up there twice as we had a rainy evening and it does have a very large roof. Lobster is pretty much 800J everywhere and well worth it – also it was slightly different in preparation everywhere which was fun. One day – also due to the threat of rain we had snacks at Margueritaville also chosen for it’s large roof – it was nicer and less commercial than I expected – thank god. Our waitress had a broken leg so she sat behind the bar and whistled for our food! We were hoping to go to Just Natural but didn’t make it. We did have drinks at Easy Rock on a stormy night which was very exciting as the waves practically broke into the bar – the bartender was very nice – very nice vibe – also several computers available but I did not pay attention. Enjoyed drinks at Errol’s bar next to Beach Club – nice beach sunset spot – nice menu – wanted to try it!
We tended to eat early (sunset) and our food tended to come out quick – perhaps because we were early?
The patty man came along the beach every afternoon – 50J – no one higgled – although the best patty I had was at the stand on the beach just at the (south?) end of Swept Away – 30J. If you are a newbie, budget bucks for food. The 4 of us very consistently spent about $65 US per dinner. Also most everywhere the tip was included – we did not “over tip” on the 10% included – my fear is the more we are willing to pay the more the prices will go up.
MONEY – Definitely bring the 100 US one dollar bills that everyone recommends. If I had a 200J taxi ride I tipped $1 US. Our hotel had a safe so we brought a good bit of cash with traveler’s checks as backups. We exchanged about $75 US at the airport to cover dinner for the 4 of us upon arrival to Negril. Rate at the airport was 42J, 46.5 at the cambio in Negril and 45 at the bank. We tried to pay as much in J as possible for the kids to practice, but also I’m certain you get better prices in J. The craft market goods were exclusively in US. I had an assortment of US bills and ended up exchanging much of it into $5’s and more $1’s at the bank. They were able to break my large US bills – bring small bills – use the cambio – the hotel office rate was 45J.
CLOTHING – bathing suit, t-shirt, sweatshirt, sneakers and sandals.
I will refrain from tiring you further at this time – I’ll do one more later about our activities, transport and shopping. Again – thanks to all for my pages of notes that made our trip so fun and easy. Part 2 – soon come!! – j