There are islands that draw the attention of the rich and famous, islands that are secluded and promise peace and solitude, and then there are islands that offer pristine white beaches, ultimate turquoise waters, smiling faces, reggae music and a state of mind that is Caribbean through and through. This is Jamaica, mon. Jamaica is an island that pulses with life, buzzes with energy, and promises — and delivers – tropical beauty that is unparalleled. This one island moves from aqua waters to white sands, lush jungles and foliage, stunning waterfalls, rivers for rafting, mountains, Blue Mountain coffee plantations and a culture and cuisine that is outstanding.
While many may have an imaginary image of Jamaica that conjures a loud reggae culture, Rasta men (a Jamaican religious group who venerate the late Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie) and poverty, the appealing aspects of this island far outweigh any negatives. This West Indies island is rich with fine hotels, wonderful diving waters, semitropical rainforests, savory food and great things to do for those who want to keep busy or those who want to enjoy the tropics. But, at the arid western-most tip of the island lies Negril – where one can get away from the heady experience and find a different way of life. In the 1960s this sunny-shored area was popular or its nude bathing, ganja (marijuana) smoking and hippies-hangouts. However, during the early 1990s, it became the luxury resort prime target area – because of its prime beaches.
In Negril, the sunsets paint a picture every night that is a unique masterpiece of colors that the worlds’ most revered painters would envy. Here, coral reefs are ablaze with fish and that even the novice snorkeler can glimpse images of on a sort trip. Here, too, lies the Bloody Bay– so named for its pirate history. In fact, in the 17th century, the notorious privateer, Henry Morgan, presided over Jamaica’s Port Royal – known s the “wickedest city on earth.” At any rate, a great battle was fought centuries ago, between two pirates on this bay – it was a bloody fight – hence the name of the bay. However, these are the most beautiful waters of the island. Here lies some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Jamaica. Indeed, this is the island of water sports and beaches. Here are a few tips for visiting Negril:
Must Do: Rick’s Café. The best way to do this is take the Sunset snorkeling cruise and the stop at Rick’s Café. While they do offer drinks and food there – one doesn’t go to eat – one goes to cliff jump. The cliffs here are amazing – and one can jump into clear deep blue seas from heights as low as 10 feet, to 25, 40 feet and – yes 150 feet – though it seems only the locals are brave enough to dare that height. The sunsets from Rick’s Café are also amazingly beautiful.
Great Stay: Riu Palace Tropical Bay
Negril, families can elect to stay at a host of all-inclusive hotels (a best bet, since there are not a lot of area restaurants). One of the most beautiful picks, however, lies right on Bloody Bay and is a serene top-notch hotel with a lot to offer: the Riu Palace Tropical Bay. The resort attracts an international clientele and is geared more for adults than families with small children. The sister resort, Riu Negril – a 15-minute walk up the beach – is more-geared for families with small children and has a children’s clubhouse, but this one has the nicer beach. Families can stay here and use the facilities there if they choose. Families with teenagers should opt to stay at Riu Tropical Bay, with a stunning Mediterranean décor, open-air lobby, gardens and two pools (one with a swim-up bar) for those who – for some reason – don’t want to go into the stunning Caribbean Sea??!!
Rooms have Mediterranean décor, with mahogany furniture and yellow-sun drenched painted walls. The buffet dining is a delightful surprise, with several different themed nights, including a Jamaican night, and a Mexican night at the buffet. Additionally, there are four fine-dining ala carte restaurants. But, if you’re there for rest and relaxation – nothing beats getting up early – taking a quiet walk on this very long pristine beach, soaking up the sun, floating in the Caribbean – and shedding the stress of business life. Leave the cell phones in the room safe, grab a dirty banana, and soak up the spirit that is Jamaica.