Having made three trips to Jamaica all-inclusives, we were in the mood to see something beyond the all-inclusives, so we decided to check out Firefly and Catcha Falling Star in Negril. We spent three nights in Firefly, then three in Catcha during the first week of July. Firefly is a bit run down, but Catcha Falling Star (a different review) is exceptionally nice.
We chose the Cozy Cottage on the Sand at Firefly. Firefly is at just about the exact middle of the Long Bay beach and the location is very good (other than the neighbors). It’s a great base to walk from. We’ve been to Negril before, but never wanted to walk through the great length of four large all-inclusives to get to the main beach, so this was new to us. It is a couple hundred feet from Margaritaville, which is also convenient. The beach is small, but very clean and sandy. It slopes off nicely and is deep enough to swim in. You can see the bottom all of the way out.
The location is very nice, but, unfortunately, Firefly feels much like a place that was once great, but has fallen into neglect. The room was cozy for sure. I would use the term “tiny”, but we rather expected that. We didn’t expect that the bathroom would require you to step into the shower in order to close the door. None of the doors had normal door hardware (like knobs), just sliding bolts and a deadlock on the front door. The bed was really a single bed and the sheets were very rough. The air conditioner did work pretty well though. We had a lot of trouble with mosquitoes and ants getting into the room and I was pretty eaten up while there. Next time I’ll remember to bring lots of Off. For some reason they built the cottage so it faces away from the beach and is on the other side of the bar. A veranda on the side does let you sit and watch the beach, but the ironwork surrounding it makes you feel a bit like you’re in jail.
The grounds reflected that “once great” feeling. They were nice, but did not seem well tended. I doubt there was a gardener on duty. There was only one other couple at Firefly while we were there and I get the impression they had been mostly empty. If you want to use the hot tub you have to request it in advance so they can turn it on.
The single biggest complaint about Firefly was the free morning coffee they advertise. It was awful instant coffee and canned milk. In Jamaica that’s just not acceptable and saving the pennies involved was really stupid. You could ask for brewed coffee, but it was “extra”, which is ridiculous. There is a bar, which was open sporadically. They advertise as a “pancake house”. I tried and watched them prepare instant Betty Crocker pancakes and Aunt Jemima syrup. Not exactly what I expected. They people were friendly enough, but you didn’t get the feeling they really cared. The office could not change money, which made tips difficult.
The Firefly site advertises a trip to Booby Cay. We asked about that and got two stories: first that the boat captain was on vacation, then that they don’t go to the island anymore. We then found Captain Moses on the beach who does the island thing. He took us and another couple out for $40 each and provided beer and cooked dinner on the island with fish they speared on the way out. I’m not sure how many laws were violated (we ate under the “private property, do not land” sign and there’s signs on the beach banning spear fishing and fishing on the reef), but it was a really nice evening. Be sure to tip and bring bug spray if you want to walk into the island trail. Unfortunately, it was a bit littered and there were several feral cats. One of the cats managed to steal the largest fish they caught and run off with it, which was cute.
We ate at Margariteville the first night. It’s not nearly as large as I expected, but the food was good. We also ate dinner at Irie on the Beach which had good seafood pasta. The best find was Selina’s across the road. They serve a great traditional Jamaican breakfast and Selina is so much like the hippy tradition often associated with Negril. She had a bird, cat, and dog and was often speaking to the bird. She was literally reading a book on Herbalism while we were there.
A major problem with Firefly, and the beach in general, is the late night music. The first night we were unable to sleep due to very loud music. After 1am we gave up and decided to walk to it. It was coming from Bourbon Beach and they should turn their speakers toward the road or the sea, because they were very loud. And, once you got there you could not see anything, since it had a big screen around it and was charging admission from the road side. There’s an acoustic phenomena that channels the bass from Bourbon Beach right into the Firefly cabin. It actually got quieter as we walked to it, then louder again. They played till 2am two nights we were there. The other night there was a band next door, but they were fun, if a bit distorted. They also had fire dancing, which was very cool and fun. We had deserts and drinks there that night. The night beach walk was pretty cool, since we saw some blue glowing sea creature on the beach which was really neat.
The biggest problem with Negril is the constant barrage of people trying to sell you boat trips, Jet Ski rentals, stuff, and, of course, ganja. Right next door to Firefly is a squatting place for half a dozen of them and you had to deal with them every time you go outside. We really got tired of it. We did rent the Jet Ski, which was fun and seemed to make one of them happy and leave us alone. Also, you can smell ganja just about all of the time. We’re not into that, but we are tolerant and it didn’t bother us, but the salespeople really did annoy us.
Would we go back to Firefly? No way. Between the neighbors, the run-down feel of the place, the tiny room, and allowing half the insects in Jamaica to traipse through, I think we can find a nicer place on the beach.
- Also Known As:
- Firefly Beach Cottages Hotel Negril
- Firefly Beach Cottages Hotel
- Firefly Beach Hotel
- Firefly Beach Resort
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Top class suites, penthouses and studios in the best part of Negril Beach. The gardens are beautiful year round. Our wonderful guests are beach lovers who also enjoy the ambiance, the serenity, the casual yet efficient feeling, the weekly beach party and the beachfront rooms which are surprisingly rare on Negril beach. ALL units have kitchens and verandas. Gym, WiFi and Jacuzzi are here. All our romantic rooms have kitchens or kitchenettes allowing greater choice of dining and drinks than mere hotel rooms. Our beach bar/cafe, with Maxine in charge, is well-known for the luscious pancakes and other breakfast items and day-long snacks along with the coldest beer served with the warmest smiles to our guests and other visitors on the beach.Our guests come from many countries, at times they are from as many as nine countries represented at our free weekly beach parties. What they return for is the casual, friendly atmosphere, no-one knows whether you're rich or poor, no-one wears a Rolex, and you go to the beachfront in your bikini or swimsuit - no need for any other cover unless you wish.We have watchmen and security cameras at night just to make sure you're OK.There are many cafes, restaurants and bars within easy walking distance on the beach and all water-sports are close by. Reggae concerts (Bourbon Beach, Roots Bamboo) are 10 to 15 minutes walk away on the beach and Kool Runnings Water Park is 2 miles away across the road.Shopping for gifts and souvenirs is available at Time Square one mile away and supermarkets are 2 miles away, in town. Also each year our team wins in the Negril Marathon/half/10k early December. This year in the full Marathon we had the 2nd overall and the first in the over 80 age group (Roy Thomas from Kingston who runs the Marathon here every year). We also had other section winners. Join our team in '13. ... more less
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