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My third Jamaican trip but this time with my fiance that spanned Montego Bay and Negril with a tour of the Appleton Rum Factory.
Flew into Montego Bay on American Airlines on dec. 29, 2006 with my fiance. Customs was a breeze and make sure you go through the "Nothing to Declare" line (fastest). Unless you have transportation arranged, you can talk to the JUTA tours rep and they can arrange a taxi to your hotel. Montego Bay is a small city but full of life. Spend some time out of your resort and experience the town. Recommend the Hip Strip (Gloucestshire Road) and you will find Doctor's Cave Beach, Margaritaville, the Coral Casino, etc.
For restaurants, I recommend the Groovy Grouper on Doctor's Cave Beach on fridays as they have a seafood buffet for $20 US. The House Boat near the Sunset Beach Resort is fantastic (best restaurant in MoBay). A bit on the pricey side ($15-25 for entrees) but you have a wonderful view of the stars and twinkling lights of MoBay in the distance. Margaritaville is a fun restaurant during the day as you can take the water slide down into the ocean and jump on their water trampoline. Most items are under $10US and the drinks are good. Nighttime is fun as they have contests and dancing. There are plenty of locals to mingle with as well. A very nice martini bar is next to Margaritaville and is decorated in dark blue but i forgot the name. It is very classy inside and feature live jazz. Drinks are $10 or so.
At the south end of the hip strip are very colorful shacks called the Craft Market. Visit this area if you want to do any shopping for novelty items like wood carvings, jewelry, clothing, etc. The vendors are quite agressive and negotiating is their way. As a reference, we bought necklaces, bracelets, etc. for $5US and I bought some wood carved masks for $7.50 each. Everything is negotiable. Each store is virtually the same so if you don't get a good price at one, go to the next one. Just bring alot of small bills as they have problems with change.
Nice resort with a new water park. We were able to get in with day passes for $40 US because we were staying at the Bay Pointe apartments across the street (normally $60). Good food, nice beach, decent snorkeling from the beach. The water slides were a bit painful as you can feel every tube connection for some reason as you slide over them.
Small but beautiful beach. Located on the hip strip (Gloucester road). It costs $5 to get in, plus $5 for a beach chair, plus $5 for an umbrella. They have staff that brings you drinks on the beach and the Groovy Grouper is a nice restaurant especially on fridays for their friday seafood buffet on the beach for $20 US. This beach does get crowded but it is pretty.
Stayed at the Tree House Jan. 1-5, 2007 with my fiance. Had a wonderful holiday. Negril is a one hour drive away from Montego Bay.
I have to say that the hotel was nice as long as your expectations are not too high. Each tree house unit is 2 floors and has about 3-4 rooms per floor. The room is a good size as is the washrrom. The tub was a bit rusty but otherwise everything was fine. The resort is right on the beach and they boast a fantastic free buffet breakfast each morning from 8 am-11am complete with omelette station. The only problem i had with the rooms were that the walls were paper thin (ie. You can hear your neighbors at conversation volume). The windows are wooden blinds but they are obviously not sound proof (ie. you can hear every person that walks by and if they are sitting outside their room at their table or the swing, they may as well be in your room). We had a few issues with our neighbor coming home at 4am and turning on their tv and talking outside their room. Not completely their fault as sound travels thru our window but they should have been a little more quiet coming home at that hour.
The resort is situated just north of the midway point of the beach and about 100 feet away from Margaritaville. The Tree House has a nice bar/restaurant on the beach. We ate just light snacks and numerous drinks here. You have the option of putting all your tabs on your hotel tab which is nice. You can walk the length of the beach and visit all the other hotel bars/restaurants but it is just under 7 miles long. The pool and hot tub are outdoor and looked nice but we didn't go in. We never had any problems getting beach beds or a prime spot under the umbrella and we typically went to the beach around 10:30 am. There are several gift shops around and you'll be able to pick up things you might need although at a high price.
If you need a hair dryer, bring one from home as they only have 1 for the whole resort. My fiance pouted for days until they finally located one for her. There is a shortage of irons too. I suggest wearing wrinkle free if you plan on dressing up a bit.
At the southern end of the beach is the Negril craft market. As stated in Montego Bay, negotiate your prices. Jewelry can be had at $5 each, wood masks for $15-20, etc.
Restaurants recommended are the Rockhouse and Norma's. Rockhouse is beyond romantic with a view to die for. They offer free hotel pick up but no return service. Norma's is 2 properties away from the Tree House and was voted best restaurant in Negril a few years ago.
Took one excursion and that was to the Appleton Rum Factory Tour which was a 2 hour trip from negril. Entrance fee is $15 US but the taxi ride is expensive ($120 for 2 of us roundtrip). Nice tour of about an hour and half long, they give you a introductory drink before you start, watch a video, take the tour, sample some sugarcane, and taste all the rums they have. Fun, but far from Negril. Scenic drive though.
We toured the hotel as we waited for the restaurant and it is awfully nice. With a view to die for, the restaurant is equally beautiful to the hotel. I highly recommend the Old Synting (basically a stew with shrimp, snapper, and shellfish in a coconut broth in a coconut shell. She had shrimp on a papaya bed that was really yummy. If you're looking for a nice restaurant while in negril, you won't find one nicer than the rockhouse. Their service was top notch as was the food and view.
Reconstructed after hurricane damage in 2004, Rick's is better than ever. The native divers dive from trees some 60 feet up for tips. Beautiful sunset views, good drinks and good food. As famous at this locale is, don't miss it.