Jamaica Oct 2008

Submitted by Sheila Elder â€" Hutchinson office Oct 2008


Jamaica….”You must go, to know”!!    Jamaica has a new government and has gone through a number  of improvements over the last few years, and they have more projects in place to continue to improve the destination.  They've made improvements to the airport, adding more ticket counters so people don't have to stand in line so long, added shops, remodeled areas, and made it larger.   A new freeway to Ocho Rios is finished and is very nice (it goes along the outskirts of the towns  so it doesn't take as long as it used to, it's a much safer drive and the landscape is mountainous).  The water in Jamaica is good - you can be comfortable using water from the tap.

I thought the food in Jamaica was very good whether we were having a buffet or a gourmet meal.  One popular dish is bammi and fried fish â€" I really liked it (bammi is a type of bread served with fried fish, which can be one of many different types of fish).

The beaches in Negril stretch on for miles. 

The beaches in Ocho Rios are beautiful too, just not always as long as they are in Negril.  The landscape of Jamaica is mountainous and there are many tours offered throughout the different areas of Jamaica â€" something for everyone.  "The Cliffs” is an area of West Negril that is also great for scenery (the hotels in this area do not have beaches, they are built on the cliffs and may have ladders going down into the water or may have just a small man made beach area or will offer shuttles to a beach area down the road).

One thing to be aware of is the road conditions……the road from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios is now a nice freeway that does not take you through any of the small towns.  It's about 1 1/2 hours from Montego Bay airport.  The road to Negril though has not been upgraded yet, so you will still experience the winding, narrow roads that go through some small towns. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to Negril too due to the roads, even though Negril is closer to Montego Bay than Ocho Rios is.  NO WAY would I ever recommend getting a car or if you are wanting one, I would discourage you (they drive very erratic, on the opposite side of the road, many of the roads only appear to have room for single lane traffic but they somehow manage to squeeze by each other, they pass each other at times that passing doesn't look like a good idea, the roads aren't clearly marked, etc.).  I would also not recommend you WALK anywhere (in Negril for instance) simply because there are no sidewalks or shoulders on the roads and with the crazy way they drive there, it could be very dangerous.  It is always best to get a taxi through the hotel or even use a local taxi (typically less expensive).  Going into town at night for some nightlife can be an experience.  When you're leaving the club, there are many locals waiting to offer rides.  There was always security there also so it's best to ask them for help in getting a taxi if needed.

Each area is different and has its own special features.  Negril has beautiful beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. There are properties in the hotel zone that are right next to each other and within short driving distance to nightlife/shopping/restaurants â€" these properties have the great, long beaches.  West Negril has "The Cliffs” area which is very picturesque (Rick's Cafe is a hotspot for tourists/locals located on the cliffs where cliff divers perform or you can cliff dive yourself or just hang out and listen to a local reggae band.  The properties in this area do not have beaches and are typically very small, quaint hotels.  Montego Bay (or Mo Bay as locals call it) has the "hip strip” area (more of a local city feel to it â€" shopping/restaurants/nightlife.  Some properties are within close driving distance to this area or are right in the heart of it (Breezes Montego Bay, Royal Decameron, Sandals Inn, Toby's Resort) .  Some properties may also be close to the airport which may be a bad thing for some people if they are annoyed by the sound of the airplanes (Sandals Montego Bay is practically on the airport landing strip).  If you are only doing a short 4-5 day vacation, the Mo Bay area is a great area to put them in.  Ocho Rios has many attractions for those interested in tours, adventure, and great beaches.  If you plan to do lots of activities, it may be best to stay in this area so you aren't spending so much time on the road traveling between your  hotel and the location of the tour/attraction.  There are some decent hotel options right in Ocho Rios for those who want to be right in town, otherwise many options within a few miles of town for those who just want to be close.