N is for Negril


Point Village, Negril

Next month we are heading back to Negril for our sixth and final visit.  The small resort town has checked all the right boxes for us, more so than anywhere else on the island. Old school fans of Negril say that it has grown beyond recognition and that its former laid back, hippie style has been replaced with large, modern resorts that suck all the charm out of the place.   Although I never knew it in the old days, I can see evidence of both Negrils.    Hippie Negril is still there in West End with cute little cook shops, tourists shacks and bakeries selling hash brownies.  It is looking a little run down now, and the cars roar past on the sidewalk-less road, making it hard to stop and look around.  But there are some pretty nice cliff-top hotels too, where we’ve considered staying.  The new Negril, situated on a long stretch of its famous beach, has expensive, high-end resorts with butler service, tropical cabanas, lounge chairs and destination wedding facilities.     But for us the attraction has been neither.

The Negril we discovered was a resort village with 200+ small,  individually-owned units on the north end of seven mile beach, just past the luxury resorts.  The development is private and over twenty years old, and clearly had maintenance issues going on.  We liked it immediately, even though it was a little frayed around the edges.  But in the last year the management association has really worked to fix up the swimming pool, paint were its needed, and tear down the old buildings.  It just a short time, it has smartened it up quite a bit.


A flash back to the old Point Village when we first arrived. As always, I had to have a wander around the old and abandoned. This is all gone now.


..as have these.  There were some terrific paintings of local scenes.  I was actually there when they tore them down and am kicking myself that I didn’t ask if I could keep one.

Point Village has three, small sandy beaches that are clean and quiet.  There are no vendors to bug you.  The water is pretty and the swimming is easy.  We like the coastline very much.


The quiet and pretty beach at point village has lounge chairs, shade and clean water for swimming. I can drag a chair under a tree in read in peace.



Walking around the well maintained  grounds with plenty of flowers and trees.  Depending on the time of year, you might be able to pick some mangos too…

The units there are also priced reasonably.  For about $125/night you can find a 1-bedroom or studio unit.  They all have small kitchens were we can reheat food we have brought from Kingston and not spend a fortune eating out three times a day.  As they are individually owned, they vary a great deal in quality.  We’ve been a few times to the same one now, which has become a favourite with its sliding glass doors, shaded balcony, and views straight out to sea.  Opposite is Booby Island, where we watch the little boats chugging back and forth with a handful of tourists on a visit.  Most special of all is the spectacular sunsets every evening, right from our balcony:

Negril sunset

You can’t beat this…

Negril sunset

…except maybe with this!

A short walk away is the beginning of seven mile beach.  Getting there involves walking through the nudist resort of Hedonism II, where everyone is letting it all hang out — most literally, I’m afraid!  You get used to it though, and we just head through with sunglasses and a purpose, and you end up at the north end of Sandals resort and the beginning of miles of sandy walking.  Unusually, Negril doesn’t allow the hotels to section off the beach to non-residents, so its possible to walk the entire length if you wish.  This is an enormous bonus.  Most large resorts take the best beaches and then stop public access.  I’m so glad that the Negril township had the good sense to realize that open access to the long expanse of their beautiful beach is an important reason why people come.

Once through the nudists of Hedonism,  the resort of world of Sandals appears….

.. and the diversions of cocktails, beach chairs, music and people watching are a short walk away.  But when you get tired of all that, you can leave it behind.

Then its nice to walk back in time to capture the evening sunset from your balcony or watch the crabs on their evening walkabout down by the rock pool. I know many think we live a glamorous life because we access to places like this, but this is not everyday life.  The more challenges present where you live, the more you need to get away once in a while.  I wish it was closer, as its a four hour drive each way,  but  I’m so glad we found this place and could continue to visit regularly during our stay in Jamaica. This is probably the place that I will miss the most.


Discovering Treasure Beach

DSCF8215 One of the best things about discovering a new country are the many road trips that it takes to find your favourite places.  This involves kissing a few location frogs along the way, but its part of the excitement of adopting a new place.  Fresh off the boat, there’s so much you don’t know, so you just have to pick a place and go and give it a try.

We picked Treasure Beach, an area on the South West coast of Jamaica, about 2-3 hours drive west from Kingston.  We were told it had a low key vibe, unlike the north coast party towns, and was a better choice for people like us who like a simpler less commercial atmosphere.

The drive turned out to be the biggest part of the adventure. Our GPS got very confused when we drove on new, unchartered roads. “Michelle” freaked out a bit and found us an alternative way down to the coast and we listened to her. Big mistake! She took us on increasingly smaller roads until we arrived on the smallest, overgrown, underpaved, pot-hole encrusted back road ever…which stretched on for 30 kilometers with no turn offs. A flat tire or car problem of some description would have been a disaster with no one and nothing to assist for a very long stretch. Fortunately, nothing bad did happen, but lesson learned. Michelle only knows the destination and nothing of the conditions she’s taking us through.  We arrived at our hotel a little later than planned as the detour added at least one hour to the trip.

Treasure Beach turned out to be as laid back as described – possible more so. I’m not sure if it was because it was off season (although many rooms were already booked when I tried to find a hotel) or whether its always like that…but there were few people around and not a lot going on. There were vendors looking for a sale, but they weren’t obnoxious and we mostly had the beach and restaurants to ourselves.

We ate at Frenchman’s Reef restaurant both nights. Very laid back, ok food, and it clearly had a regular local clientele. The most compelling thing about it was there were no less than 30 signs saying “No ganja smoking”: on the walls, on little stands on the tables, on the doors, pasted to the pillars and painted in three foot high letters on the outside wall…in three different places. Yet the air was thick with it. Either they couldn’t read or were too stoned to care! I really wanted to take a picture of four guys leaned up against the big “no ganja smoking” wall, who were dragging on a joint without a care in the world. However, I didn’t have the nerve!

Instead I took a few pictures of the beach and hotel to give a feel for the place.  Here’s a little glimpse of the area:


Thought for the day from the wall of the excellent nearby Smurf Cafe.  Covered in painted smurfs and somewhere I would never have ordinarily stopped had I not got a tip from a local, Smurfs serves wonderful breakfasts and fantastic home roasted coffee.  Their poem resonated quite a bit with me that day too.  And, yes, the ganja guys were hanging out there too.


Beautiful sea view from Treasure Beach.  It would be a long drift out to Panama from here.


Sand filled swimming shorts that puffed and deflated with each wave!



Our small hotel, Katamah


Our au natural bathroom complete with shower tree.  The place was appealing rustic but needed a few more finishing touches to be truly comfortable.  It was hard to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night and even harder to keep sand out of the bed.


The communal kitchen at Katamah.  Lots of character and no lack of pots, pan and spices.

It was a decent first trip out. I’d like to go back to Treasure Beach and stay at somewhere a little fancier. Not fancy, but perhaps a little more comfortable. Maybe somewhere with that shaded veranda that I always covet?