I feel I need to make something clear from the start. If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort environment where you are waited on, hand and foot by live-in servants, and you want to avoid having to interact with any local people, then this is not the place for you. However, if you'd like an extremely relaxing vacation with a ground level perspective on culture and local people, this just might be perfect.
My partner and I typically travel backpacker-style: Hostels, cheap rooms, beach cabinas, etc. I provide this info only as a point of reference. We travel in the third world and our expectations are set accordingly.
This year we wanted something a little less strenuous and decided on a shorter stay in one spot where we could hunker down and just be lazy, directionless sun worshippers. We were looking for a vacation spot based on prices for a private house or apt. rental. Location was not as important for us as our 3 main criteriae: value, proximity to the beach, and lack of tourist hype. We found Jamaica Jewel and the extra bonus of making some new friends.
Barry G. and Cher are fine hosts. They'll pick you up @ the airport for a fee. (I did the math on this and it comes out to be just a little more than a taxi, but after a long day of flying, etc., the ease of having someone waiting for you amid the throngs of ride-hawkers at the gate is difficult to put a price tag on.) They'll cook any meal you'd like them to, or you can do all your own cooking in the kitchen of your apartment. Prices for meals work out to 8-10$ US and the cooking is great. A real taste of authentic local cuisine. They get their meat, seafood and poultry from local folks. Because they are a part of the community, they can get better products at a better price than you or I as visitors might.
The lush grounds are nicely maintained. The yard dogs are super-friendly and seem to instantly understand who is a welcome guest and who belongs on the other side of the gate. We stayed in the upper apartment and spent hours on the back porch reading, writing and watching the multitude of hummingbirds vie for dominance among the blossoming trees. Barry G will give you a tour of his garden if you show an interest.
The beach is a 3 or 4 minute walk along some dirt trails and was nearly empty every day we were there. The waves are gentle, so no boarding or bodysurfing, but there are masks and snorkels (a little dilapidated...bring your own if you have them) and opportunities to spy on cool marine life without even having to charter a trip out to the reef.
BarryG or Cher goes into the small town of Duncan nearly every morning and you can place an order for a case of beer or what have you or hop a ride and do your own shopping. They'll help steer you in all the right directions regarding the best produce vendors and local products.
We enjoyed interacting with our hosts and did not find their familiarity an intrusion as some have mentioned in their reviews. They are very friendly and accommodating people and if you absolutely wish to not be disturbed, I'm sure no one would take offense at that request. Or you can make some new friends and learn a lot about a place and its culture.
The barter system is alive and well in Jamaica. There is a sense of you wash my back and I'll wash yours in dealings with locals. This may seem off putting at first when asked if you have a cold beer or some other item, but if you make your needs known, you will be provided for in return. Those on a short stay may miss out on the reciprocation if they don't take advantage of it, which may leave one feeling as though they've been taken. Go ahead...be generous and then ask a favor in return. It works.
Duncans Bay and Duncans are what they are. There's not much going on, so don't expect a non-stop carnival or National Geographic-like scenes of wizened fishermen repairing their nets on the beach. It's just a small community in a tropical paradise.
We had a great time staying here and would stay again if we ever returned to the area.
Book the top floor if it's available.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.