FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PLACES YOU’VE SEEN IN #DOWNDIROAD EPISODE 4, PLEASE CONTINUE READING THE BLOG POST BELOW. ADDITIONAL PICTURES & NEGRIL STORY INCLUDED.
If my memory serves me correctly, I’ve only ever stayed in Negril once in my life…and that was probably in 2001. I was an eighth grader; my class went on a trip where we stayed over at a small hotel owned by one of my classmate’s parents. I lost my favourite green shirt on Seven Mile Beach. I was so mad!
Fast forward to 2017. I’m no longer a preteen, but I’m still pretty unfamiliar with the area. That changed this past weekend when the crew and I spent two days and one night in Negril, one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist cities. Being employed in the hospitality industry gives me a keen interest in cities like Negril. It’s an interesting contrast between the business hotels in Kingston and the all-inclusives on the North & South coasts. As a local visiting a tourist town, it goes from one extreme to the next. I was awestruck when I saw the beaches and the beautiful sunset, and then there was shock and awe at the ridiculous prices of food! Thankfully however, being the resourceful young man that I am, I found a remedy for that.
Here’s a step by step breakdown of our weekend adventure.
ACT I – The Drive
The drive from Kingston to Westmoreland is long! Super duper long! On most of my out of town adventures I’m always the designated D. Coupled with the long drive, there were several stops that we had to make. We stopped for breakfast. We stopped for coconut water. I got a flat tire on Spur Tree Hill so we had to stop and replace it with the spare. We stopped to re-check the tire a few times. We stopped for more coconut water.
What should have been a 4 hour drive turned into almost 6! A few more hours and we could have made a trip to England, mate! I felt like I was driving a bus and my imaginary friends kept shouting YO, DRIVA BUS STOP!
ACT II – Yard Beach House
We stayed at a hotel called Yard Beach House (recently rebranded from SeaSplash Negril). It was four of us on this adventure and in doing my research I figured it would be better we booked a shared space, so at the hotel we reserved a one bedroom suite. As a Jamaican you know I had to bawl it down (ask for a discount), so we got the space for a pretty reasonable price. Yard Beach House is a small property on the Norman Manley Boulevard (adjacent to the popular Seven Mile Beach), and for the price we paid for the suite, I’d say it all worked out for us. The room was fairly up to date with cable TV & WiFI, they had their own private swimming pool, and staying there gave us access to the awesome Seven Mile Beach. The only thing missing was the fact that breakfast wasn’t included in the package.
ACT III – Blue Hole Mineral Spring
Our first stop was at the Blue Hole Mineral Spring in Brighton, which was maybe a 20 minute drive from our hotel in Negril. Not to be confused with the popular Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, this Blue Hole has a twist. Blue Hole Mineral Spring is in an underground cave, which you can only access by jumping in, or by climbing down an iron ladder. The distance between the entrance and the water is roughly 24 feet, and the water itself is about 35 feet deep from the surface to the bottom. There are also a few stone ledges where you can sit towards the sides of the cave. As with majority of these springs, the water is said to have healing powers and many minerals. If you can swim I’d definitely recommend you take the leap of faith at least once.
Diving into the Blue Hole Mineral Spring was a really dope experience and I had to do it for the culture and jump in a few times! [Quick side note; If you’re afraid of heights I’d advise that you sit this one out. There is also a swimming pool and bar on property]
ACT IV – Rockhouse
I’ve seen this place so many times online that I made it a priority to see it live and direct. It was a choice between Rockhouse or Rick’s Cafe and I think for the occasion, we made the better choice. Located on the West End of Negril, the architectural structure and design of the Rockhouse property is one to be marveled. There a few entities owned and operated by the Rockhouse chain, and they are all connected along the West End strip. You can enter any of them and make your way down the line towards the next. On property, the entities include Pushcart Restaurant & Rum Bar, Rockhouse Restaurant, their pool Grill & Bar, as well as the Rockhouse Hotel itself.
We didn’t dine, but we did have drinks by the hotel bar. It really was my intention to go cliff diving, but based on the fact that I wear contact lenses, I didn’t want to chance swimming without goggles in the sea water. We left just as the sun was setting and let me tell you, the Negril sunset is said to be one of if not the best in Jamaica. Seeing it in person definitely made me a believer and gave me some lifelong memories.
ACT V – Sea View Sports Bar & Grill
After a long day of driving and activities, we were hungry. I was not messing with the tourist prices so we decided to ask around for any local cook shops that sold “box lunch”. For my non-Jamaican readers, “box lunch” as the name suggests, is a popular meal option for us Jamaicans that is packaged in a take out food box, typically styrofoam. It’s one of our favourite fast food items; a whole to-go meal that you can purchase in different sized boxes.
So said so done, a guy directed us to a box lunch shop that was “roun di corna & right side di big almond tree.” I don’t always trust Jamaicans when they tell me somewhere is “down di road“ 😉 or “roun’ di corna,” but this random guy was spot on! As soon as we turned the corner there was a line of people huddled around a small window. The gem we came to find was a popular staple in Negril for locals called Sea View Sports Bar & Grill.
Located on the corner of West End Road and leading around to Norman Manley Boulevard, Sea View as the name suggests has a beautiful view overlooking the sea. As a Jamaican, you just know that when you see a group of people standing in line by a hole in a wall, they are either there to buy food, or to buy a Cash Pot ticket. Sea View has a wide variety of food on the menu and in typical box food fashion, sizes were small, medium and large. I was shocked that the prices were cheaper than in Kingston. The food was top notch as well. Definitely in my list of “Top 10 box lunches” I’ve ever had.
We actually went back to Sea View for breakfast after we checked out of our hotel the next day. After that we headed to what we thought would be our final spot before heading home.
ACT VI – Kool Runnings Water Park
Kool Runnings Water Park was…. kool.
It’s great that Jamaica could get it’s own water park, but for the price we paid I was expecting more. General admission is about $33 USD or $4225 JMD. The park is split into two main sections. Section one is a water park with a few slides and a lazy river. Section two is the Adventure Park which can be accessed at an additional cost! This section supposedly has go-karting, paint-balling, and a few other attractions. We completed all the slides in about 30 minutes and to be honest there was not much else to do, so I advocated that we leave (perks of being the driver lol). Since we had a lot of time left, I checked my secret “Places of Interest” list, and I decided that we were going to stop in Manchester on our way back home.
We would go to a place I’ve always heard about and seen, but knew very little about. A place called Gut River.