Negril, Jamaica: Where white sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, warm water and sunny skies are the norm, Red Stripe is ice cold and always on tap, the best rum in the world dances on your tongue daily, and where “No Problem, Mon!” is an essential phrase of the vernacular. A trip to Negril promises that you’ll be enjoying some intense R&R – reggae tunes always jammin’. Inhale breath-taking scenery all around you by day, and experience some exceptional partying by night.
Negril is a great part of Jamaica to visit, and the overall experience I had in Negril was well worth the 1.5 hour drive from Montego Bay down unfinished, bumpy dirt roads. At the end of the line lies the best resort that I’ve ever been to. Her name? Riu.
This all-inclusive resort’s above average staff were waiting to get me anything and everything I could ask for the second I arrived. Riu Negril does not skimp on the little things. There was a “hello” every time I walked by, a smile for no apparent reason, and every staff member exudes positive energy and enthusiasm. I spent a considerable amount of time at the swim-up bar, where every liquor, beer and wine you could imagine is waiting for you to drink it. I probably invented at least 24 drinks that week, none that I can actually duplicate here in the states. There is just something about fresh fruit and the warm tropical breeze that makes any cocktail better. I also spent several days on the beach, where Paul more than graciously served me rum out of a coconut promptly at 5pm every day (SO good!).
Having never been to Jamaica before, I was thrilled to not only be on an awesome Caribbean vacation, but to also be surrounded by some amazing locals who taught me a lot about Jamaican life, the culture and what it means to be “Irie”. Aside from enjoying all that Riu had to offer me, like great restaurants and evening entertainment seven nights a week, the surrounding area also had me falling in love with Jamaica.
I certainly wasn’t shy about choosing multiple day trips during my stay in Negril, and you shouldn’t be either. If you’re staying for more than 5 days, you’ll have plenty of time to hang out on the beach and be belly up at the pool bar – believe me. I took advantage of the trips that were offered, like the crocodile cruise down the YS River, (included rope jumps and waterfall adventures that blew my mind!), a snorkeling trip right off the hotel’s coast, and a chill, sunset-filled, beer-infused evening at Rick’s Cafe (world famous, in case you didn’t know.)
My favorite day trip – and by far the best “bang for your buck” – was the YS River. Not only did I get to witness nature at its best (mangroves all around me, crocodiles – real ones – beneath me), but I also got to hike up and walk across the tops of waterfalls, jump from rope swings and do tons of swimming in the middle of the jungle. I was also lucky enough to make a pit stop along the side of the road to experience some of the best Jamaican Jerk Chicken I’ve ever had. The fact that it was being sold straight out of a street cart was a little worrisome, but my guide assured me he does it all the time. I wasn’t going to let that opportunity pass me up, and to this day, my mouth still waters thinking about that Jerk Chicken — it was the best street food I’ve ever had!
Ready to party? Several of my nights in Negril were unforgettable, but there was one night in particular that I’ll remember forever. It started with the Rick’s Cafe sunset cruise. The weather couldn’t have been better, and being out on the water enjoying an ice cold Red Stripe was more than I could have asked for. When we docked back at Rick’s cafe we were welcomed with live reggae music. I can still remember them playing “From a Little Cottage in Negril” as we made our way up the steep steps to the bar. I also took my chances with the cliff dive, from the “lower” perch, and I almost had a heart attack watching the locals jump from the highest perch: a tree branch so far up in the air that it was hard to see from the deck. We finished off the evening with an incredible sunset and a cruise back to the hotel. After having this experience, I can confidently say that the scenery in Jamaica is truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Do not miss this trip!
Jamaica was awesome and I look forward to returning to Negril sometime in the future. Visit Jamaica. The people, the sights, the activities, the parties, the rum – you will leave changed. For the better.
All photos by Kate Erickson.