What to Include in Your All Inclusive Jamaica, Negril Vacation

The island of Jamaica is many things, but none of them are understated. Jamaica seduces like a peacock in a barnyard full of hens. In its long and turbulent history, Jamaica has seduced everyone from Christopher Columbus and the Spaniard and British colonists to Errol Flynn. Ian Fleming, who gave the world James Bond, lived on Jamaica’s North Shore. Noel Coward, something of a peacock himself, had a mansion on a hill overlooking Port Maria.

Jamaica is dominated by a range of rugged hills and mountains which include Blue Mountain Peak, rising over 7400 feet above sea level. Jamaica has a remarkable 120 rivers, all of which begin in those mountins before emptying along Jamaica’s coasts. For all the glory of the Jamaican mountains, its primary tourist attractions remain its beaches, with the towns of Port Antonio, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios qualifying as genuine hotbeds of tourism.

The most stunning of all Jamaica’s beaches, however, is at the western coast town of Negril. The sun on the white sands of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach sparkles against the deep blue of the ocean like sun sparkling on newly-fallen snow against a deep blue winter sky. But there the comparison between Seven Mile Beach and a northern winter must end, because on its coldest days Jamaica’s waterfront temperatures seldom fall below the 70s.

While the overwhelming majority of tourists visiting Negril and Seven Mile Beach are there to soak up the sun and cool off through a variety of water sports like scuba diving, sailing, and waterskiing, Negril does have other attractions. The enormous wetlands surrounding Negril are home to the 300-acre Royal Palm Reserve. By strolling along the boardwalk which passes through the reserve, you will be able to view a wide number of bird species, including ospreys, Jamaican woodpeckers, egrets, and the endangered black parakeet.

The birds, however, are vastly outnumbered by the mosquitoes, so come prepared with lots of bug repellent. Take the time to visit the Reserve’s nature museum at Cotton Tree Lake, and if you work up an appetite treat yourself to lunch on authentic Jamaican cuisine at the lakeside restaurant.

Negril can be your jumping off point to the Jamaican interior when you would like a break from the beach scene. If your favorite way to see the world is from the back of a horse, head 3 miles north of Negril to the Rhodes Hall Plantation, where you will be matched with a mount suitable for your riding ability. The two-hour horseback tour will travel well up into the hills, passing through groves of banana and coconut trees, and stopping to view crocodiles. The plantation also offers opportunities for fishing and scuba diving.

Recover from your day of outdoor activity by treating yourself to some of Negril’s legendary nightlife. Into reggae? Try Alfred’s on Norman Manley Boulevard, where you won’t have to worry about a cover charge on Saturdays, Monday’s, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

No vacation is complete without lots of shopping. Negril obliges with the newly-opened Times Sqare Mall, where you can browse through several duty-free shops and stop for a drink at the Courtyard CafĂ©. You’ll find a terrific selection of designer watches and jewelry, perfume, cigarettes, liquor, as well as the world-famous Blue Mountain coffee. Pick up a box of authentic Cuban cigars at Cigar World.

Where should you stay during your visit to Negril? If you want to pull out all the stops, stay where the VIPs do: at The Caves. You’ll pay for the privilege, and you’ll have to take a 12-minute cab ride to get to the beach, but you’ll have all the atmosphere and elegance you could possibly desire.

The Caves’ five thatched-roof cottages are situated on 2 acres at the top of cliffs within walking distance of Negril’s lighthouse and Jamaica’s westernmost point, with sea breezes replacing air-conditioning and no television unless you request one. Your stay at The Caves, however, will be all-inclusive with the cost of your lodging including both gourmet meals and drinks from the bar.

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