Jenny’s is a small and unpretentious-looking café on the West End Road, about a mile from town. Chris had read in the Rough Guide that as well as the usual café offerings (coffee, cold drinks, light meals), Jenny also sold ganja cakes, and he determined to try one. So after a sandwich lunch here one day, he asked for a cake to take away. It cost US$10 and looked much like a brownie. I’d assumed that this would be a relatively “safe” way to try the infamous local product – make the tourists pay over the odds for what is basically a cake with a few bits of herb in it. How wrong could I be!
Having enjoyed most of the cake with his afternoon coffee (I ate just a couple of mouthfuls) Chris was unable to go out that evening because the effects lasted around seven hours. His best efforts at describing the sensation included “everything seemed shifted” and all his senses were heightened.
Despite the disconcerting sensations, he was glad he’d had the experience. I however was not too pleased at missing our planned evening out and going without dinner – especially when I read the guide-book for myself and spotted the advice he had missed: “Jamaican ganja packs a mightier punch than anything you’ve probably experienced before, so don’t plan on doing much if you decide to partake.”
As part of this warning I should also point out that despite the casual acceptance of this ganja culture by many locals (and tourists), it is illegal in Jamaica, although there are indications that it may be legalised in the future. So if like Chris you decide you’d like to sample it, do so with discretion - and time it so that it doesn’t interfere with any other plans you may have for the day!
the main problem in negril is the drug traffic. if you are not interested in drugs, just say "no, thanks". ganja (marihuana) and cocaine are offered on the beach. but these are illegal drugs in jamaica, and penalties are severe. refrain from smoking ganja on the beach, because undercover narcotic police patrol the beach.
although negril is one of the safest destinations in jamaica, thefts are not uncommon. you should take care on the beach, especially in public areas. some of the more upscale hotels have security guards who will take care of your belongings. if you are staying in a cheap property, leave your money and documents in a safe box and never open the door to strangers. at night take a private taxi, and avoid walking on the road.
i was told one of the main problems in negril was the harassment. i expected to be harassed all the time, but this is not what i found. only from time to time a local seller tried to sell me his goods. a "no, thank you" was always enough to get rid of them. people in jamaica are very nice, and local sellers are not an exception. police jeeps patrol the beach 24 hours a day taking care of tourists. i visited several beaches in jamaica, and this is one of the safest ones i found.
I noticed a few people sitting on the wall at Ricks Cafe. Is this the Danger part? A little? If you see how much the people drink here you can see why they have an ambulance leave at least once a night here from people falling and hitting the rocks from diving off the cliffs here.
Some months are more so than others, but sometimes the water at the cliffs' edge can be pretty rough. Getting into the water is no big deal---you just dive in, but most cliffside resorts have metal ladders that you use to get out and back on land, and when the water is rough, it can be hard to time your exit with the waves. You don't want to smash up against the ladder! Those days, I suggest taking a cab down to the beach or just laze around on the cliffs. Some resorts, such as Xtabi, have easier access to the ocean with low lying platforms close to the waters edge where it is easier to get out, so check them out as well---no-one minds if you swim there---just get a beer or coke while you are there.
I recommend finding out what color tags are the approved by Jamaica tags for cab drivers. I am sorry that I can not recall what color they are. If you go with a non approved driver you are running the risk of being taken somewhere you do not want to go and being expected to pay a hefty sum for it. Also, make sure you have setteled upon a cab fee BEFORE you get in the cab.
Most resorts in this area say that they are all-inclusive- you pay one price, usually a steep one, and then pay nothing the rest of the trip. Not quite. Aside from tipping those whose transport you from the airport to the resort (its supposed to be complimentary but drivers and porters stick their hands out and ask for $$), the resort also offers tours for an extra price and activities such as diving and boat rides offered by the resort are also available for- you guessed it- an additional charge. And last, but not least, there is a departure fee which must be paid at the airport. Its nice to know this before embarking on vacation- which we did not.
Like most of the downtowns in Jamaica it isn't a very save place. Many 'rude boyz' will aproach you tring to sell you something, from earings to ganja, anything could be ofered in Negril.
Don't go alone, specially at night and it's better not to stop to talk to them if you aren't really interested.
If you have to talk to them look them to the eyes and don't show that you are afraid or you are lost.
A man from the car rental came to the hotel after we had been waiting for him for an hour or so. I can't understand that filling one form could take such a long time! First he wrote that our rental would begin at 6.00 p.m. that evening and refused to understand when we said that we wanted it to begin at 9.00 a.m. next morning. Finally he changed it to begin at 9.00 on the following morning and end at 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday. We asked if it was ok that we'd return the car at 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday not at 9.00 a.m. and he said that it was ok. We asked twice and both times he said that it was ok. We signed and had to pay the deposit of USD 1100. By mistake he gave us all parts of the credit card form, so if we had crakced the car they wouldn't have got a penny from us!
On Tuesday we hadn't been too long in our room, when the phone rang. It was from the car rental. It was an angry woman who shouted at Vesa that we should have returned the car at 9.00 a.m. and that we should now pay them USD 60 extra. Vesa said that we wouldn't do anything the kind, because we had asked twice if it was really ok that we could keep the car until 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday and the man said it was ok. The lady said that the man denies saying anything like that. She admitted that they had made a mistake, but still she said that we had to pay more! My sister's partner said that we wouldn't. She said that they'd come with a policeman and Vesa said that it was ok. She hang up. About half an hour later she phoned again and said that the man had admitted that he indeed had promised us the car until 6.00 that afternoon and said that they'd come and fetch the car! No apologies or anything. We were happy anyway, because we knew that we were correct.
There thousands of mosquitoes in Negril, specially when it gets dark. Use shocks, long sleve T-shirts, long pant and insect repelent at nights if you don't want to suffer!! Belive me, I had more 50 mosquito bits at the same time! It was horrible, specially in the morning when I use to wake up!!
At the airport on the way home, we ran into a guy that was actually kidnapped. He had a friend arrange a ride from the airport, only to find out that the driver "owed" somebody. He was taken into the mountains, robbed of $500+, and most of his belongings. They told him he would meet Bob Marley before the end of the week! He had been hiding for 10 days when we met him and was still SCARED TO DEATH that he wouldnt get out of the country. Does the phrase "third world country" come to mind? Be very very careful.
I would advise you not to drink the water as a percaution. It might not agree with your digestive tract. Also this is an all-inclusive resort but bottled water is not included. You can buy them in the gift shop for aruond $2/liter. We took a collapsible cooler and put some in there when we went to the beach.
Jamaica is a poor country which depends largely on tourism. For this reason, many locals frequent the resort areas and attempt to get money from tourists. Many offer to braid your hair or sell local crafts, which is fine, but others will offer to sell drugs to tourists.
be careful, even within the resort area. My girlfriend and I selected a resort because we were two single women travelling alone and felt we would be safer that way. However, many resorts are open to locals in the evening, which were were not told beforehand. This lead to problems for us as we were followed back to our room. If you're a woman traveling alone or with a girlfriend, make sure to ask about the resorts policies and security
We spent a week in Negril. We chose that to get away from the gringo of Montego. Stayed in a quiet breakfast-paid resort, offseason, last week in April. The locals are relentless, but each encounter can be ended with a reprimand from the male in the travelers' group. They don't seem to take 'no' from females very well. I, (the male) traveled with three attractive women, one 40, two late teens, and they of course attracted a lot of attention, but not more than when we travel in even Portland or Denver.
We had a 'driver' assigned to us for the week, and asked about the incessant car horns, which we are very un-used to, coming from rural Oregon. He honked at parked cars, walkers that he thought might step into the road at an unwise time, or just going around a sharp corner. The 'cab drivers' did get annoying, but after about three days we simply learned to ignore them.
I kept careful (but not hovering) track of the females, and found that they often enjoyed talking to Jamaicans, who ubiquitously think of themselves as irresistable male examples. But my girls had a code word they said when they got uncomfortable, at which point I intervened, and was never ever challenged. I never felt threatened, and am satisfied that the locals can be handled with firm speech. When that fails, simply flip them off and stop listening, exactly as you might do to a rude person stateside. Worked for us literally dozens of times. Don't let the few locals spoil the wonderful place for you.
We tried to stay away from the white tourist places, and went down the dark streets. They seem scary, and if they were in Portland or Denver or Boston, I would not feel comfortable even with armed escort. But I think it's just because they are so poor, and we only see that in US in the ghettos where it really IS unsafe for whitefolk.
We think the vendors in Jamaica are much less of a hassle than those of Cozumel, Los Cabos, southern/central Chile, or Fiji (at least on Viti Levu, not the rest of Fiji). All the locals at each seem to think Gringos have money (relatively speaking, even poor gringo travelers are wealthy) and will part with it if they are troubled enough. JUST WALK AWAY and you'll be just fine.
I don't think my three women would find life so easy if not accompanied by a capable male, tho and would recommend against women traveling, even in a group.
My boyfriend and I stayed at the beach club condos in Negril. We were the only interracial couple there and were harassed repeatedly. Locals would try to pressure us into buying things all sorts of things, and when we refused, they tried to intimidate us. Some followed us back to the hotel area. Many others were being harassed, but it seems that we were particularly targeted. It's like they expected my boyfriend to be rich because he was white, and expected me to persuade him into buying all their unsolicited, illegal things. We were both deeply saddened since Negril is beautiful and is considered to have top rated beaches.