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mistybleu Montego Bay - A travel report by Amanda
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Montego Bay,  Jamaica - flag Jamaica -  Saint James
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mistybleu's travel reports

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For an ire holiday there is no better place to visit than Jamaica. The perfect Caribbean retreat, with quite diverse activities. Jamaica or JA as it is affectionately called is the largest of the English speaking Caribbean islands.


Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls
It’s located south of Cuba and is approximately 10,991 sq km with a population of over 2m. The capital city is Kingston (and was once described as a ‘tough city’ by Ian Fleming who made his home on the island, back in the 1970s and things haven’t changed much).

Things to know be before you go:

Currency: the official currency is Jamaican Dollar (JMB); however unofficially USD can be used. The rate varies but a fair estimate is £1=JMD$50. Credit cards (especially in the tourist areas) are accepted in more places than 10 years ago.

Climate: they have two rainy seasons a year, between May - June and then September to November which is incidentally Hurricane season. However the last time one hit was in 1988. Outside of that the average temperature is around 32C and evenings dropping to 22C approx.

Communications: internet access is widespread especially in tourist areas.

Driving: they drive on the left (the same as the UK) and the national speed limit is 50mph, however inevitable they drive much faster.

Electricity: The same as in the US 110v/50 cycles.

Films to watch are Cool runnings (if you’re a bloke) and How Stella Got her Groove Back (if you're a gal).

National Dish: Ackee and salt fish (salted cod); the ackee when cooked has the consistency of scrambled eggs, and is really tasty.

Official Language - English (mixed with patois).
Time difference - 4 hours GMT

Helpful websites:
www.visitjamaica.com
www.airjamaica.com

Favourite spots:
Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Climbing Dunn's River Falls
Dunn's River Falls is a fantastic place to spend the day. Firstly spend time walking through the craft market and picking up souvenirs, then get the plastic sandals for climbing the fall, as you make your way down. Spend the morning on the beach; enjoy swimming and just chilling. Have a spot of lunch and then take on climbing the falls. It's so much fun having the water cascading through every stride.

The waterfalls are located in Ocho Rios, about an hour's drive from Mo' bay; they are about 600 feet and empties into the Caribbean Sea on the beach front. There are guides who take you up the falls by forming a human chain, as it’s the safest way, to avoid the moss and jagged rocks. The only disadvantage is it is time consuming waiting for the people at the beginning of the chain. I preferred to do it with a smaller group and then take some time to enjoy one of the many natural pools.

Costs: US$10
Tel: 876-974-2857
www.dunnsriverja.com

What's really great:
Craft Market
Craft Market
I liked the people; warm, friendly, loud, kind of bold yet carefree. The pace is slow and everything is 'no problem man', none of the rushing around like in London.

I also liked the music, the many clubs and dancehall with the rhythmic sounds of reggae and calypso music bellowed out, nothing makes you think about the Caribbean than the music.

This type of holiday can be as wild or a tame as you would like. I liked the diversity, the green of the mountains, like passing through Fern Gully; one of the few places that has such a wide variety of ferns, over 500 different species. It stretches for 4 mile along the road in what used to be a river bed. Or stopping by the roadside and getting an ice cold 'jelly', ie fresh coconut water with the soft pulp inside. Or heading to one of many rivers to relax on a bamboo raft, or even just soaking up the sun on one of the many pristine beaches. Jamaica touches your soul!

Sights:
Rose Hall
Rose Hall
The main sight is Dunn's River Falls, highlighted above.

In Negril there is Rick's Cafe, after chilling out you can jump from the ledge and swim back to shore; you have to have some b---s to do it though.

Then going bamboo rafting down one of many rivers on the island. Especially the Rio Grande.

Visiting the Blue Mountains coffee plantation. Or participate on one of the organise tours where you're taken to the top of the Blue Mountains and then cycle down.

Visit an old market and buy some fresh fruit, you get to meet the friendly locals and enjoy a bit of everyday life.

Tour one of the old plantations, like Rose Hall - this one has a resident ghost.

Travel down to Dolphin Cove and swim with the dolphins or try tree top swing and explore the foliage high above the ground.

Finally, the wonderful beaches like Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. However many of the beaches for the locals are really good, but there is cost to enter.


Accommodations:
Local burglar proofing
Local burglar proofing
I was lucky enough to stay with friends, as I organised an exchange programme.

A lot expats who return 'home' are able to build their retirement homes (to the envy of the locals) but provides wonderful host homes. Most houses have burglar proofing on them. It is so popular on the island now, that many of them have pretty designs that compliment the houses. The sad thing is that this is essential for living out there. And most expats wouldn't reside in a house that didn't have it. It has become just as important as the bricks, cement and glass windows.

At the other end, there are some lovely hotels on the island. A lot of them offering 'all inclusive' deals, whereby showing a 'dashing fluorescent' wrist band all drinks (including alcohol) and food is free. They have great evening entertainment including limbo dancing, floor shows etc, and there is little need to leave the complex, however you should - the island is great!

Hangouts:
The opening of Reggae SumFest
The opening of Reggae SumFest
Jamaicans love to party and of course the music of choice is Reggae; it's so indicative of Jamaica. During the summer there is always some sort of street party happening. The latest one is Reggae SumFest.

It lasts for about a week during July or August and it's really a music extravagance, which sometimes includes international artist.

Early afternoon they start setting up, putting up the speakers, making the stage, erecting stalls etc. Before the fun begins the hard work has to be completed. We listened to music and watched as the local radio station interviewed some of the partygoer’s right on Mo Bay.

Restaurants:
Runaway Bay
Runaway Bay
After a cycle in the Blue Mountains we took a drive back to Mo' Bay and ended up stopping for a snack. High in the hills at a highway intersection were many stalls selling all sorts of food. We opted for Jerk chicken and pork. Well, to say 'finger licking good' is an underestimation. It was fabulous full of the rich spices flame grilled.

There are various ways of making the Jerk seasoning here's one:

3 tbsp (tablespoons) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp (teaspoons) freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp habanera chilli powder or cayenne pepper

All should be blended together then rubbed into the meat and left for at least an hour to marinate; or you can just buy a jar of Jerk seasoning. It really gives meat a wonderful flavour when cooked over a barbeque.

Other recommendations:
Mo Bay Airport
Mo Bay Airport
There is really so much to do including:

Spending the evening on a beach, watching the sunset and then staying for an electrical storm, as the night sky glows with flashes of lightning with no rain.

One of the most recognised Jamaican is Bob Marley and there is no better place to feel the soothing vibes of his music then in some bar, sipping on a Red Strip beer, better still try the Bob Marley Experience. If you're in Kingston then you have to visit the Bob Marley Museum which is located in his old recording studio. Also in Ocho Rios there is the Mausoleum, his birth and resting place. It's interesting to see his humble beginnings.

The tourist airport is in Montego Bay, but regional flights end up in Kingston, the Capital. I swear if I didn't know better some parts are like being in NY. Unfortunately not like Greenwich Village or Battery Park, but more like uptown Brooklyn where you wouldn't get caught after dark. However Kingston is definitely worth a visit.

Published on Wednesday July 26th, 2006


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Mon, Mar 05 2007 - 03:44 AM rating by vbx000

This is a great report! I am planning a trip to Jamaica in May. I think we are staying in Nigrel, I have a feeling its more my style than Mo-Bay and you better believe I am jumping from Rick's Cafe! What is the best way to explore the island? Did you use the bus system? Or rent a car? Is it easy to see all the areas: Mobay, Nigril, Ochos? Did you go to Port Antonia or Runaway Bay? Anyway, great report!

Thu, Feb 01 2007 - 01:23 AM rating by eirekay

Amanda, this is a terrific report! I don't know how I missed it ealier - great recipe!

Wed, Aug 09 2006 - 06:43 AM rating by gloriajames

Great report Amanda and thanks for the seasoning recipe! Must try that some day!

Sat, Jul 29 2006 - 12:21 PM rating by st.vincent

Interesting report and great information

Fri, Jul 28 2006 - 05:14 AM rating by downundergal

Making us all hungry both for travel and delicious food now I see. Good one and a good read.
Cheers,Kerrie

Thu, Jul 27 2006 - 01:59 PM rating by davidx

Up to your normal standard - i.e. excellent. I can't wait to try jerk dressing.

Thu, Jul 27 2006 - 06:40 AM rating by rangutan

An excellent report filled to the brim with both important facts and a lot of personal experiences and views.

Thu, Jul 27 2006 - 06:26 AM rating by marianne

Amanda,
This was a good read and made me remenber a holiday (only one week) I spent in Negril. Many tourists but still a pleasant place to escape the European winter.
Marianne

Thu, Jul 27 2006 - 12:23 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report nice pictures ,i wish it win rom
ravi

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