In the dead of Canadian winter, I travelled to sunny, sandy Negril, Jamaica. I enjoyed the jerk spices, got extremely sun-burned and swam in the salty ocean. It was impossible not to relax. There was a plethora of activities to choose from (snorkelling, parasailing, hiking), but my favourite one was pulling my chair into the shade to read my book to the sounds of reggae music and ocean waves.
I stayed at Sandy Haven Resort on Seven Mile Beach, which is less than two hours away from Montego Bay depending on traffic. The car ride there gives you a glimpse of what life is like for locals living along the highway. Homes and shops painted vibrant colours are nestled along the road and, further up in the mountains, goats run free, eating grass or lying in the shade. (The driver said they make a delicious curry dish.)
Sandy Haven is right on the beach and I basically didn’t wear shoes for the 5 days I was there. The sand is soft—not a rock in sight—and the ocean is crystal clear. The food was great and I filled up on jerk snapper or chicken with a side of rice and beans. There were some tropical fruits I’d never seen before, like neesberry, a kind of cross between a fig and an apricot.
After some delicious dinners at Sandy Haven, I traded the beautiful beach view for an ocean view in a town called Lucea, about 30 minutes from Negril. In Lucea, a local friend made a BBQ of lobster, fish and chicken at his house. From the rooftop, we jammed out to the band’s music and enjoyed some Red Stripe Beer.
Overall, Negril is a place that forced me to relax and forget about the winter waiting for me back at home. The beach, the food and the friendly people are what really made the trip. And the sunsets were okay, too.