By Carol Cain, on December 22, 2016

Winter escape to Negril, Jamaica

The first chill of winter has come swiftly and hard and I know many of you, like myself, are daydreaming of an escape to a warmer place.

For me it’s been the warm island of Jamaica.

Where we stayed

Our recent trip was our first and yet, it felt so lovely and familiar to my Dominican island. The people are quick to smile and once you open yourself up to them, they are happy to share with you all the places and things you must see and do during your visit.

We stayed in Beaches Negril, a warm, smaller resort (in comparison to the much larger and newer resort at Turks and Caicos), but still with a lot to offer guests and their families. I am always left so impressed with the culinary options and qualities at this all-inclusive resort. There are nine different restaurants to choose from, all included, and plenty of areas to lounge and grab a drink.

With all the activities for kids, my husband and I found plenty of time to enjoy as a couple.

I also really love that many of the water sports are included as well. It was on this trip that my sons got to snorkel for the very first time, and after falling in love with the experience, it was nice to be able to go again every day after without worrying that it would break the budget.

I found the double bedroom to be small for a family of four with two tween boys, so I would recommend upgrading to a larger suite if possible.

Off-resort fun

There are so many great things to do around Negril and we packed our schedule with as much fun as we could.

We jumped 30 feet into a cave called Blue Hole Mineral Springs—yes, even my kids—and felt ourselves come alive from the adrenaline of that experience!
Cooling off in the Blue Hole Mineral Springs

We traveled out to Sandy Bay to ride horses through an old coffee plantation  surrounded by the Blue Mountains and then cooling off with a ride in the ocean.

We enjoyed a generous Jamaica meal at the local Sweet Spice Restaurant (I recommend their oxtail), not from from the resort, and then headed over to Rick’s Cafe to watch the jump from an 80-foot-high cliff into the blue ocean waters.

We shopped and walked and took in the sun, and occasional rain, that filled our days.

What to know

There are a few things to note before your trip.

Most resorts have a shuttle to pick you up and drop you off at the airport. We flew into Montego Bay, which is about an hour and a half from Negril.

We initially considered renting a car to get around, however, hiring a driver for a few hours or the day is fairly inexpensive and less of a hassle in comparison. We hired a great driver who took us around over Negril and gave us a lot of the history as well. Your hotel should be able to facilitate that service for you.

Make sure you pack your water shoes, bug spray, and plenty of sunscreen, and always carry cash. American dollars work well throughout most tourists areas, so you don’t have to worry with exchanging money. Always tip your driver and guides as they greatly depend on your generosity.

Negril is more laid back and not as crowded or congested as Montego Bay. This is definitely a great place to visit if you want a vacation with a bit more of a slower pace, though there are many high-energy activities that you can sign up for.

Sunset at 7-mile beach
Sunset at 7-mile beach

Travel with a purpose

Guests staying at Beaches and Sandals resort have an opportunity to join in on the charitable efforts of the Sandals Foundation through their Reading Road Trip tour.

Guests will get to spend time with children at the primary and early childhood levels in schools around the communities which they are visiting. Guests are also encouraged to bring school material donations with them to donate to local children. For more information, visit the Sandals Foundation website.

The entire experience brought warmth to my soul and my body. The sun, the food, the people, the island… It’s no wonder they call it the Home of All Right.

Where do you like to go to escape the winter?