Made my annual pilgrimage back down to Negril, Jamaica in May. Decided a few years back I would travel yearly to Jamaica to enjoy the sun, rum and reggae. I’ve missed a year here and there but have been consistent getting my Jamaica passport stamp.
The Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) created the ‘Once you go, you know’ slogan in 2003 to generate tourism interest and get more people to visit the island. I always thought about the slogan because I wanted to ‘know’ what Jamaica was about but thought it was beyond my price point. A simple check on Expedia highlighted how affordable a trip to Jamaica can be—prices vary based on brand names (Sandals, Beaches, Palladium) to more economic options (Samsara, Legends, Rock House). You can spend as much or little as you want based on resort brand, location and all-inclusive food/drink options.
My preferred resort is Samsara which is situated on the west end of the island. The unique feature for Samsara is the resort is located on a cliff. The cliffs provide unique experiences for guest to ‘cliff dive’ while enjoying the water. I don’t cliff dive but use the access to put my snorkel gear to good use. I spend about 3 hours daily exploring underwater caves, following fish and watching Jamaican spear fishermen catch barracuda.
Samsara is close to other west end resorts, so I have made a point to visit some of them while on the island. This allows me to experience additional waterfront views, menu options and drink specials. My favorite lunch spot on the island is the Rock House. The Rock House has an expanded menu with a lot of traditional Jamaican food options. Steamed snapper, peas and rice and callaloo is my go-to meal ‘every’ time I’m there. Callaloo has a look and feel of collard greens but I will warn you, the Scotch bonnet peppers are smoking hot. I spend more time pulling them out, but they do add flavor to the dish.
I got a bit adventurous and decided to stop at a new spot on this trip. I pass the Kool Vybes Bar and Jerk Centre every time I’m in Negril but never stopped. Just assumed everything on the menu would be smothered in Jamaican jerk sauce but they provide the option to have the sauce on the side. The food at the Jerk Centre was great and may be the best food bargain in Negril. I will ensure to make it back to the Jerk Centre—recommend getting the jerk sauce on the side if you’re not into spicy food—Jamaicans like food with a kick!
Samsara has a sister resort (Legends) on Seven Mile beach. Guests have full privileges at both resorts which provides additional options while in Negril. I can spend time snorkeling off the cliffs at Samsara and then trade for beach activities to include jet skis, catamaran excursions, shopping and dining. This 2 for 1 resort option is a ‘hidden’ gem to enhance the overall enjoyment while in Negril.
My go to spots to listen to live reggae in Negril are Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach. I always ask the locals for places to visit and they all agree Alfred’s Ocean Place and Bourbon Beach are the best places to hear live music and catch the Irie vibe. I’ve never been disappointed with the music or the vibes while at either place. Both locations are right on 7 Mile beach so you can kick back with a cold drink, listen to the bands and hear waves crashing at the same time. Very enjoyable experience!
A new place I added to the rotation this trip was Roots Bamboo Beach resort. Large stage with an impressive sound system with live reggae on Monday and Wednesday nights. Roots Bamboo Beach is extremely close to Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach—went back and forth between venues when a band had to take a break.
Negril’s uniqueness with cliff and beach access keeps people like me coming back year after year. It’s always great to meet someone from Europe or Canada and hear they are on their eight trip to Negril—most are like me and stay at the same place every time. They are in the ‘know’ about Negril.
So, now you know—Negril is my happy spot and I plan to visit as often as possible. Already looking forward to my next trip down.
What is your happy spot to visit? When’s the last time you were there?