N is for Negril


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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.

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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.

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..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.

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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.

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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:

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You can’t beat this…

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…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.

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J is for Jump!


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Rick’s Cafe and Bar is a pretty famous attraction in Negril. They’ve been around since 1974,  when I suspect that they were once truly a local, kicked-back kind of place.  Now it is a large affair with a big bar/restaurant, a swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tables, and cabanas for rent. There’s a retail store with “Thanks for Making it Rick’s” t-shirts and various paraphernalia for sale. It’s really quite the slick operation.

Its attraction is the beautiful cliff-side location with sweeping big-sky views out to the wide, blue Caribbean. 35 feet below its cliff top locale, the rocks form a deep, protective pool that has become a favourite place for cliff jumpers. Catamarans leave daily from nearby tourist resorts with onboard bars and pulsing music,  arriving at Rick’s before sundown.   Everyone can watch the divers and the brave can try it themselves. Its a big party with live music, drinks and a spectacular sunset.   However, we have never seen it, as we are not fans of crowds and loud music, but when we discovered that they opened at 12pm for lunch, we decided to go take a look. It was very hot and quiet, but its easy to hang out in the large, shaded bar area with a red stripe and watch.  A small group of lunch time guests paced below us, as they worked on steeling their nerves for the jump.

Some got to the edge of the higher jump and make the leap before they’ve had too much time to think about it.  Others stared down at the water for endless minutes before they turned back and decided to take the safer jump from the lower platform. With an audience casually sitting around watching you fight your fears, it takes some nerve either way.  I took plenty of photos and enjoyed watching the show.

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This guy was the staff superstar diver.  With lots of trapeze artist panache, he greeted his audience and announced his dive…

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Everyone watched and waited.

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And off he went on his first jump.

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For a $20 tip, he also jumps for this high rickedy chair on a poll.  It adds about another 12-20 ft.  Yikes!

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…and then a second jump to show everyone who’s boss…

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…and then the jumpers had their go.

The first time we went, I have to admit it was an entertaining visit and and we have since taken friends and family on subsequent trips. I can imagine its lots of fun if you are young and love a party scene.  However, I did wonder about the safety of having alcohol and cliff jumping going on in the same place.   I know there have been quite a few serious incidents in recent years. Yes, there are signs warning that cliff jumping is dangerous, warning that divers do so at their own risk, and absolving Rick’s of any responsibility. However, I can’t imagine that signs like that would hold water in US courts.   Although they say there are trained life guards and security people watching, there aren’t many safety rails and I can’t imagine that every drunk who is suddenly emboldened to do something crazy will be spotted in time.   As the mother of a young adult of similar age, its all a bit scary really.