Category: General


A Moment to Remember

Ap24 Article 1

 

If you ask anyone about visiting Jamaica, they’ll tell you that “Jamaica nice”. This holds true whether the trip is for work or play, just ask US President Barack Obama! In fact, no visit to Jamaica is ever strictly work…being on the island makes play almost automatic.

A Moment to Remember

President Obama arrived on the island on April 8th and left on April 9th. In that time he (among other things) participated in bilateral talks, addressed university students and attended a wreath laying ceremony at the coveted National Heroes Park. Though off the agenda, he also stopped at the world-renowned Bob Marley museum.

While official business took center stage, the moment that will no doubt standout in many Jamaicans’ minds is the moment the sitting President of the United States of America said the words ” Greetings massive” at a town hall in which he addressed a gathering of enthusiastic students.

“Massive” essentially means “everyone”, “crowd”, “group” or “friends” depending on the context. The term is often used in phrases such as “Big-up all mi massive” (meaning “Shout out to all my friends”) or paired with the word “crew” (e.g. “Big-up all mi massive and crew”). His initial words would immediately be outdone by the words “Wha Gwaan Jamaica?” which basically translates to “What’s up Jamaica?”.

A Historic Visit

While he is not the first sitting US President to visit the island, President Obama’s visit is historic for a number of reasons. These include his:

• Legacy as the country’s first black president
• General goodwill efforts within the region (taking into consideration the purpose of is overall visit to the Caribbean)
• Recent position on Cuba

However, for many (mainly those born after 1982 or who were too young to remember the visit of President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan), this visit is more exciting for the mere experience of witnessing what will no doubt become a notable point in history.

Looking forward to Visit Number Two

Ap24 ArticleWhile it is not likely to happen while still a sitting head of state, like many who come once, President Obama seems set to visit to island again. That is simply the allure of Jamaica. If you don’t believe us, why not come and find out for yourself?


Jamaican Out Of Many One People

Vacations in Negril most often result in an experience that is second to none. For most visitors, this unmatched experience comes mainly through their daily interaction with the Jamaican people they meet while venturing outside their Negril hotels. Not only is the average Jamaica friendly and welcoming, there are several things Jamaicans collectively love that help to make them a fun and interesting people.

Mar11 ArticleFour (4) things the Average Jamaicans loves

  1. Stories

Jamaicans are often natural-born storytellers with a love for recounting experiences (theirs or those of others) in the most expressive ways. Additionally, they love hearing other people’s stories (experiences, about their country and travels etc.)

  1. Showing non-natives how to do things the “Jamaican way”

Jamaicans have a unique way of doing almost everything and many are quite clever. The pride that often comes from doing things the “Jamaican way” is one of the reasons they seize the opportunity to demonstrate or teach every time such an opportunity arises.

  1. Teaching Others about Our Culture

Much of the world knows about Bob Marley, Reggae and Dancehall music, Jamaica’s powerhouses in the sporting arena etc. However, there is much that is still unknown and those who take vacations in Negril, or visit anywhere in Jamaica for that matter, are likely to get a lesson or two. All-time favorites include craft-making, dances, speaking Patois (pronounced Pat-wa with a long “w” and short “a” sound), the island’s history (including sites), cuisine and daily slang.

  1. Finding the Joke in Something Serious

Jamaicans often say “sometimes yu affi tek bad tings mek joke” which literally translates to “sometimes you have to take bad things make joke”.In English this means “you have to find the fun, joke or laughter in bad experiences or serious matters”.

For this reason, Jamaicans may come across as laid back to those taking vacations in Negril. However, Jamaicans have simply found a way to derive laughter from circumstances that could otherwise break their spirits and this has become entrenched in their way of living over time.


A Quick Guide to Jamaican Easter Traditions

bunandcheeseThere are several Jamaican Easter practices, some of which are religious while others are not. Additionally, in true Jamaican fashion, specific foods form a part of the festivities. In fact, local Easter traditions are so varied that you could easily carve out your own Jamaican Easter experience.

Local Easter Traditions

Here is a (short) list of the most common practices today.

1. Eating Bun, Cheese, Fish and Bammy

Bun and (processed cheddar) cheese are eaten together in abundance during this time. It is said that Christian priests mimicked the bun eating associated with the pagan celebration of “Eastre” for the sake of new converts. The addition of the cheese is, however, still unexplained.

Eating fish as opposed to meat (especially on the designated holidays) is linked to Christian practices while the bammy (a cassava flatbread) is a Jamaican favorite for pairing with fish at any time of the year.

2. Attending Church

As with Christmas, many non-church goers make the effort to worship on one of the three important Easter-related holidays in Jamaica. These holidays are Ash Wednesday (February 18, also the first day of Lent), Good Friday (April 3) and Easter Monday (April 6). Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday are also important though not public holidays.

3. Carnival

While not participated in by all, carnival is a big annual event that many look forward to. The event is all about combining colorful, vibrant costumes and floats with people dancing in the streets to lively calypso and soca music. In fact, Easter festival is one of the older practices that seems the most resilient, being enjoyed by young and old alike.

4. Personal Sacrifices for Lent

Even non-religious persons may celebrate Lent by attempting to give up something they love for 40 days and 40 nights.

5. Egg Setting

While not practiced much by the younger crowd, the tradition of “egg setting” is an interesting custom. An egg white is dropped into a glass of water before morning on Good Friday. As the sun rises, the pattern or shape that the egg white creates in the water is considered to be a prediction of the future for the person who set the egg. For example, if the egg white seems to form the shape of a ship, that person will travel overseas in the coming year.


10 Ways to Save Money While Visiting Jamaica

012815 Saving_moneyChances are, you rely on great hotel deals to make your vacation possible. So why not use the same financial savvy you apply when searching for affordable Negril all-inclusive resorts to help you save money when you get here? All you have to do is follow these 10 tips.

  1. Limit the amount of money you travel with daily. If you are afraid of carrying cash, consider using a debit card instead of a credit card to stay on track.
  2. Where possible, pay for small purchases in Jamaican dollars (you may not get a good exchange rate from vendors if you pay in foreign currency).
  3. Use reputable cambios and banks instead of gas stations and other businesses for your foreign exchange transactions. The front desk at the hotel will also change money for you at a good rate.
  4. Consider using the general transportation system in your daily travels. Chartered taxis cost more than twice the fare of a “robot” (i.e. a regular route taxi). Ask a local person about the route taxis and how to use them.
  5. Put on some sunscreen and walk. Many of the places you are likely to go are within walking distance of your hotel. Negril has installed a lovely sidewalk that goes from Legends into town, making that stretch a much safer walk than before. The staff at the front desk will be able to tell you how far away or close your destination is.
  6. Take advantage of the free shuttle that runs between Samsara and Legends. You can ride from one to the other in the morning, then ride it back in the evening. Or if you’re in town after lunch, you can walk to Legends and have drinks at the bar until the shuttle comes from Samsara at its regular time.
  7. If you snack a lot, avoid buying from gas station mini marts as they are often overpriced. Better yet, buy some fresh local fruit for snacking! You’ll eat healthy and help a farmer stay in business.
  8. Many vendors are willing to strike a deal so ask about discounts when buying things, especially craft or branded merchandise.
  9. If you decide to purchase some souvenirs like coffee, hot sauce, jerk seasoning and t-shirts, get the coffee & sauces from the larger supermarket such as HiLo or Quality Traders rather than gift shops or duty free stores. For t-shirts there’s a Sun Island depot across from the Yacht Club (no yachts J) on the West End Road where they have great deals!
  10. Get frequently purchased items from a supermarket. For example, constantly buying water can be expensive. Instead, carry a reusable bottle and buy a one-gallon bottled water to refill it. In fact, some supermarkets will even fill your bottle for much less than the prepackaged water on the shelf. Tap water is also safe to drink in Negril, so fill up in your room and save even more.

Common sense is all you really need to save money while on vacation in Jamaica. Apply the same principles here as you do at home and you’ll be fine. Above all else, set a budget for how much you will spend on souvenirs, entertainment and food, then stick to it. Don’t let your money-management skills take a vacation too!


Enjoying the Waters of Jamaica

2611 W tim-scuba-1Jamaica is world renowned for many things including its share of the Caribbean ocean. In fact, Jamaica’s beaches are characterized by long stretches of glistening sand (whether white, grey or brown), vibrantly colored water that is as clear and pristine as can be and fresh ocean air that is sure to calm the nerves. This is why Negril vacations are never complete without as much fun and frolic in the water as possible.

Things to See on Your Next Visit to Negril

  • 7-Mile Beach

There are miles and miles of beaches to enjoy in Negril; among them is the 7-Mile Beach. Home to well over 25 resorts (including our beloved Legends!), it is a famous sandbar along our western coastline. It has over 6 km of pristine white sand and offers some of the best views of the Caribbean Sea at all hours of the day. 7-Mile beach has been among the Top 10 internationally-recommended beaches for years.

  • Marine Eco-system

Whether you go out on a glass bottom boat, team up with a local fisherman or explore on your own off the cliffs at Samsara, you simply have to take in some of Jamaica’s interesting marine life and their homes. Luckily, many of the glass bottom boat operators offer snorkeling on the reef, with all equipment provided. For around $25, you can hand-feed Sargent Major fish, hold a sea urchin in your hand and maybe even swim alongside a giant spotted sting ray or spot a nurse shark sleeping in a coral cave. For real! It’s all right there off 7-Mile Beach. Be sure to negotiate a price with the operator before jumping on board a boat.

  • Negril Sunsets

The waters of Jamaica transform into a color festival as the sun goes down and the sky never hesitates to join in the fun. The result is a breath-taking sunset day after day no matter where you view it from. Just pick a spot and watch as the sun disappears beyond the horizon in one of the most brilliant displays of color and shadows you will ever see! But don’t be late. The sun sets in approximately 15 minutes. Check a weather app on your phone to find out what time the sun will set, and show up about 10 minutes before then for peak beauty.

  • Underwater Caves

2611 W blue-crabs-coveThe main reason to learn how to scuba dive would have to be so you can visit the Throne Room off Negril’s coast. You enter this cave by descending to the top of the reef at 40 feet, swimming down the side of the reef, then down to the cave opening at a depth of about 65 feet. You swim in, and at the back wall you then ascend through an opening in the roof. Once you reach the top of the reef, you can turn around and see your air bubbles coming up through the coral of the reef. You’ll also see amazing sponges, eels, fish, lobsters, sting rays and more along the way. Gaining your Advanced Open Water Dive certification will also allow you to explore a couple of crashed airplanes and other underwater caves in the area. Marine Life Divers at Samsara is a PADI certified dive shop that can get you trained and take you to see these wonders.

  • Legendary Waterfalls

Excursions to YS Falls and Mayfield Falls can be easily arranged by the front desk at your Negril hotel. Both of these falls offer luxuriant foliage, mineral waters and lots of exercise. At either place you’ll be able to climb multiple small waterfalls and swim in the pools at their base. At YS Falls, you can also enjoy the horses and cows being raised on the estate, and fly above the falls on a zip line. For those who can’t make the climb, there is a lovely spring-fed pool for lounging around, that is calm and only 4 feet deep.  At Mayfield Falls, you’ll have your own personal Rasta guide through the falls, to keep you safe. You will need to pay him, but they provide such an excellent service that it’s totally worth it. You will definitely need water shoes for these attractions, and a waterproof camera!

Whether you seek out water activities or simply relax in a lounge chair, the fact is that you cannot come to Negril without enjoying the water. Bring a bathing suit and don’t be embarrassed by how you look in it. In Jamaica, anything goes and everything is Irie, so enjoy!


Top 5 Reasons To Visit Negril In The Fall

 

Legends-beach-girl Nu

There are many great reasons to travel to Negril between late October and early December. These include better prices, far less crowd, decent weather and a long list of weekly events not far from whichever Negril hotel you choose. There are also a few annual events that are sure to please.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Negril in the Fall

Better Prices 

The summer has passed and the winter crowd pouring in to escape the cold has not yet arrived. What this means is you will not have to worry about peak rates when planning your Negril vacation. The money you save will give you the chance to experience even more of what Negril has to offer once you get here.

Fewer People

Fall is not a peak period; as such, the area is less crowded on a whole. Therefore, the Negril hotel you choose is likely to be quieter and you are likely to have far more choices when booking your room. Escaping the peak crowd has many other advantages including the ability to truly enjoy everything around you.

Nice Weather

Jamaican weather is (almost) always nice. However, Fall is perfect for those who find the summer months too hot or the winter months too cold (which is a rarity!). So, come prepared to enjoy lots of outdoor events (especially on the beach)!

Array of Weekly Events

There are a wide range of nightly entertainment options for you to enjoy. Everything from Jazz & Blues nights at various inns to more Reggae parties than you can count.

Annual Events

Consider the following:

  1. October 20: National Heroes Day celebrations (there will be a number of events to mark this important day in the lives of Jamaicans everywhere. Speak with a representative at your Negril hotel to find the ones closest to you).
  1. November 14-22: Restaurant Week (this is a culinary showcase involving the whole island where visitors and natives alike get unbeatable deals and bundles to sample a wide range of cuisines and eateries).
  1. December 6: International Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k (this an internationally renowned marathon which forms part of a jam-packed day of reggae music, Jamaican food and lots of fun).

Bear these in mind as you book your Negril Hotel room and be sure to ask for some recommendations.


Tips for Navigating the Streets of Negril

After a few days of lounging around on the beach or the cliffs of Negril, you will probably feel the urge to explore the town. Depending on where you’re from, you may be in for a little bit of culture shock; here are some tips to make sure your adventures are fun and rewarding.

Transportation

The actual town of Negril is a short taxi ride from Samsara and a short walk from Legends. When engaging taxis, remember that the taxis with red license plates are insured to carry passengers and are therefore your best bet. The concierge at the hotel can call a taxi for you, but when you’re ready to head back to the hotel, use a taxi with a red plate and be sure to negotiate the price before you get in the car.

Handling Money

Most shops and taxi drivers in Negril will take United States money as well as Jamaican money. If you are American, you would be wise to bring lots of $5 bills and lots of $1 bills. Currently the going rate for a taxi ride from Negril to Samsara is $5. If you prefer to go local and use Jamaican currency, the front desk can exchange money for you and give you a good rate. There is also a currency exchange in Negril, and a bank with an ATM that will give you Jamaican money.

Tipping

Be mindful to tip at the same percentage you tip at home.  The Jamaican currency exchange might be in your favor, but you still need to tip at 15 to 20% for good service. To be blunt: a dollar is not a good tip to a Jamaican unless it was a $5 taxi ride, since 20% of five dollars is one dollar.

Walking Around Town

Once you’re actually in town, you’ll love the colorful buildings with lots of lovely flowering plants scattered everywhere. The people are friendly, and they will spot you as a tourist immediately, even if you don’t have a giant camera hanging around your neck.  Vendors will want to sell you a number of things, including marijuana (known locally as ganja). Just say no politely and keep moving. (If you do want to buy ganja, be aware that as of this writing, marijuana is still illegal in Jamaica, so decide for yourself if you want to break the law while on vacation.) You will see beggars, and you may want to give them a little money. If so, just do it in a polite way and keep moving.

The street outside the pharmacy in Negril. Notice the vendors on the street selling fresh produce and sugarcane. Also, see the red license plate on the maroon car: it is a licensed, insured taxi.

The street outside the pharmacy in Negril. Notice the vendors on the street selling fresh produce and sugarcane. Also, see the red license plate on the maroon car: it is a licensed, insured taxi.

In all things, be polite and respectful. The people of Negril make their living through tourism. If they don’t try to sell you something, then they’re not doing their jobs. Treat them as you would want to be treated if your livelihood depended on them visiting YOUR town. You are there to have fun and they are glad to help you with that, but it’s not free or cheap.

Things to See in Town

Negril has much to see and do. The craft market is a must-see, as we wrote about here. The pharmacy is very interesting. The pharmacists are very knowledgeable and can assist you if you’re not feeling well. The grocery store is fun to walk through (as well as a great place to buy Blue Mountain coffee to take home) and there are lots of various shops to browse through for souvenirs.  You will also see people selling fresh fruits and vegetables in their yards. Talking to them is a great way to learn about the vegetation of the island.  If you are lucky, you will find Benny’s Crab Shack, and get a home-cooked meal from him.

As you stroll around town, think about the ways the people of this island reduce, reuse and recycle. It’s pretty amazing. Try to also think about how the buildings you’re looking at might survive a hurricane. Jamaicans face hurricanes fairly regularly, and don’t have much wherewithal to prepare either. A person with a cement house is a rich person.

Conclusion

When you’ve flown all the way to Jamaica for your tropical vacation, it would be a shame to spend the entire time on the resort property. Get out and explore! Book some excursions to see sights, and feel free to walk into town and peruse the shops or eat some bammy bread. You’ll fall in love with Negril’s bright colors, relaxed atmosphere and engaging people.


3 Reasons Why You Will Love Jamaican Food

food-photoAs you plan your Negril vacation, do not forget to set aside some time to really immerse yourself into Jamaica’s rich cuisine. This may seem like a given since you will eat out of habit, but there is a difference between grabbing a bite and savoring all the island has to offer.  Treat it like an adventure; if it does not come to you then go seek it. We guarantee you will love it!

  1. It is very filling.

Once you see a bowl of Jamaican-style soup you will realize that our aim is to be full. Soup in Jamaica is truly a “one pot” meal with so much “food” (ground provisions such as yam, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) and meat that you will be amazed. Soup aside, our servings are usually quite “healthy” and our dishes are often filling even in small portions.

  1. There is something for everyone.

Whether your taste is sweet, spicy, savory, sour or even bitter, you will find something you love. In fact, there will be something for the whole family no matter the ages and differences in opinion. Plus, many dishes may be modified for vegetarians so do not be frightened by all the meat.

  1. It is as diverse and flavorful as the Jamaican People.

A culinary version of our national motto could easily be “Out of Many, One Cuisine”.  In fact, many of the dishes originating here on the island resulted from the creativity of our people in response to hardship, or the ethnic and cultural diversity present.

Popular dishes include:

  • Porridge (cornmeal, hominy corn, plantain and peanut are regular choices).
  • Ackee and saltfish (ackee may also be paired with sausages, ham, chicken and other meats).
  • Steamed cabbage and saltfish (or corned beed)
  • Fried dumplings with almost anything.
  • Roasted Breadfruit with almost anything.
  • Stewed peas (usually kidney beans, fresh as well as cured meats and spinners which are long, slender dumplings).
  • Escovitch fish and bammy (or festivals).
  • Jerk pork (or pretty much any jerk meat).

Your Negril hotel will have several of these available so do dive in! Also, try to explore other options while you are here. A representative at the hotel should be able to advise you further.


5 Things to Cross off your Bucket List While in Jamaica

800px-7milesbeach2Negril is a Jamaican town famous for its seven miles of breathtaking beaches and spectacular west end cliffs. As one of the island’s most unique and engaging towns, you will find the atmosphere less formal than nearby Montego Bay, and not as commercial as Ocho Rios. For this reason, a Negril vacation is the perfect blend of exciting activities and small-town charm. Below are some attractions and landmarks that are essential to your bucket list when visiting Negril:

1. Negril Cliffs

Situated on the town’s west end, the soaring, dramatic cliffs of Negril are some of the most impressive geological formations in the tropical world. Once used as a backdrop for “Thunderball,” a popular James Bond movie, the cliffs are even more spectacular and unforgettable in person than they are on film. Not to mention the best place to view the famed Negril sunset and mysterious green flash.

2. Swimming with the Dolphins

Swimming with the dolphins is one of the top 10 bucket list items. If it is on your list, reserve a day to visit Dolphin Cove. Located on 23 acres of oceanfront property, the Cove is one of Jamaica’s best-loved attractions. Here, you can interact with dolphins, stingray and even watch a highly entertaining show featuring sharks. Reservations can be made at http://negril.dolphincoveja.com/.

3. Riding Through the Rainforest

If you enjoy horseback riding or have always wanted to give it a try, consider indulging in one of Negril’s celebrated horseback tours. Excursions of this kind are hosted by local guides seven days a week. You can choose to ride on one of the island’s lovely beaches or opt for a tour of the rain forests, located further inland. Such an excursion is a one-of-a-kind experience and can be booked online at http://jcvtt.com/jamaica-tours/negril-tours/horseback-riding-tour-from-negril.

4. Negril Lighthouse

Built in the 1800s, the Negril Lighthouse offers a truly stunning view of the coast, as well as outstanding scenery from all other directions. You will feel your stress and anxiety melt away as you watch the incomparable landscape from atop the lighthouse and hear the ocean waves crashing against the shore. If you are a lighthouse fan, this landmark belongs on your must-see list.

5. Coral Reef

Right in front of Legends and along the 7 mile beach, you can find glass bottom boat operators who make daily trips out to the glorious coral reef, about a 20 minute boat ride usually departing around 10:30 each morning. They supply snorkel gear and life vests. The captain can guide you around the shallow reef to show you the best areas to find fantasy colored coral formations and fascinating sea life. This is a special experience not to be missed!

When planning your trip, remember to make reservations as soon as your dates are selected, as the best hotel will significantly enhance the quality of your getaway. Keep in mind that if you choose oceanfront accommodations, you can spend your vacation only steps from the Caribbean Sea. Regardless of the activities and attractions in which you choose to indulge while on your Negril vacation, you are guaranteed the memories of a lifetime when spending time in this beautiful and relaxing town.


The Best Locations for a Romantic Sunset in Jamaica

Negril SunsetIn the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be very difficult to find time for your special someone. Whether you have been together for many or a few years, your romantic holiday in Jamaica is all you will need to reignite the flame in your relationship.

When you think about Jamaica, you will undoubtedly think of the sparkling white sandy beaches and the lush tropical gardens, but there is something even more special on our island paradise, our sunsets.

The classical way to enjoy a sunset is that always special romantic dinner by the beach. A scrumptious meal peppered with the intoxicating perfume of the ocean and flavored by the kaleidoscope of colors in a fiery sky.

For an added thrill, why not take your romantic evening for two, upon the water. A breathtaking sunset enjoyed on the water is something not easily forgotten is sure to delight the senses. Sipping cocktails, while watching the sun slowly disappear over the horizon and becoming mesmerized by the play of light in the water is an experience rarely eclipsed by any other.

There is also something to be said about viewing a sunset from a cliff, the elevation can make you feel like you are almost one with the clouds that change colors to reflect the dazzling relaxing sun and the silvery moon. If you are lucky enough it may even be a full moon, affording you an even longer sunset by its light.

Despite all the fabulous locations and activities that you can arrange to enjoy a Jamaican sunset in all its glory, sometimes simply sitting on the balcony of your room is enough; or why not extend your day on the beach a little longer, the warm weather will certainly make this no hardship and what better way to end a day of sunbathing than to soak up every last ray while marveling at the sun’s majestic exit.

Whatever you decide, know that the hospitable hotel staff on your Negril vacation will be sure to arrange your perfect romantic sunset activity in the location of your choice.