Trip Reports

Backpacking the Beaches of Negril While Broke – Part Three

Part Three
For $5 more than Traveller’s, you can actually stay in a castle while falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the caves below. At the Blue Cave Castle, snorkeling in and around these caves are free. The tower rooms are the best deal, with double beds, interesting art on the walls, and private bathrooms. If the view from your window inspires you, walk out onto the shared balcony to smell the fresh salty breeze, or go downstairs to mingle with long-time returning guests while drinking free Blue Mountain coffee in the courtyard. This medieval hotel offers budget travelers instant romance and a perfect honeymoon setting for a couple, or a semi-secluded backdrop for a solo traveler seeking solitude.

For a late brunch after your dive off the cliffs at the castle, walk down the West End Road to Errol’s Royal Kitchen. Although vegetarian cooking may not sound too appealing for the carnivorous, having two ackee (scrambled egg-like fruit) sandwiches for $1 (or a more hearty combination plate of whatever Errol has prepared for $2) is a great way to fill up while eating healthy. No fish or meat is offered at Royal Kitchen, but the tasty, natural, freshly made juices (ginger, beetroot, pineapple, and whatever else is in season) along with the meals will have you returning to the Royal Kitchen.

Take a taxi back to the beach road, where a billboard with a giant Buddha will lure you into the Rondel Village. The gift shop in front is pricey, but offers art, jewelry, and exotic scarves from local artists, as well as from countries like Tibet, India and Morocco. Right next door to the gift shop is the restaurant which offers little more than not-so-good pizza. But go anyway, if not for the food, then for the creative way this place is decorated. Huge mosquito net canopies hide comfortable couches covered with pillows, practically forcing you to lie back and relax while sipping fun drinks like daiquiris, margaritas, and pina coladas. The sexy shadow dancing shows on Saturday nights add to the allure of this spot.

The Health Spot downtown is a better bet for dinner, but only if you get there before 5:30 p.m. The vegetarian selection here is wider than Royal Kitchen, with the menu changing daily. The fresh juices of strawberry, cherry, mango and other fruits ($2-$3) are always offered, even in off-season. The desserts are made with no sugar or white flour. Carrot cake is a favorite. If you just want a snack, the whole-wheat patties of ackee, tofu, bean, or veggie meat are only a bit more ($1 to $1.50) than the chicken patties at Juicy Patty’s next door, but larger and healthier. Health nuts will find herbs, vitamins and bush baths here – depending on what’s in stock.

West End Bar has free outdoor movies you can watch while sitting next to the water’s edge (West End Road). Since many of the movies showing are bootlegs (pirate DVD copies just barely out on the streets of New York), you’ll probably get to see the latest flicks while having dinner, snacks, or just drinks at this cliffside bar. It’s obvious the owner of this spot put a lot of money into this newly renovated bar after being hit hard – as many area businesses were – by hurricane Ivan. Trees covered in white Christmas lights, palm tree leaves, and bamboo give a tropical, fun feel to this newly re-opened spot.

Going Home
Refuse to charter a taxi for $20 to the airport. Instead, grab your backpack and catch a taxi from the bus park to Montego Bay for about $3. Saving that much money might help to ease the pain of leaving paradise. Besides, you can add it to your next vacation fund for your return visit. At these prices, you can easily afford it.

About the author

April Hope