Seven days at the Coco La Palm Hotel on Seven Mile Beach. Possible day and evening activities include: Renting motorcycles and exploring the island, Margaritaville, Pajama Party or Toga Night at Hedonism II, snorkeling, Rick's Cafe, Pirates Cave, lounging on the beach, drinking, relaxing, and generally having fun!
Cosmo's Seafood Restaurant & Bar, Jamaica
Tel: 876 957 4330
Cosmo's is what you wish for when you're planning a lazy, barefoot, practically naked day on the beach—a place where you can sit beneath the palms to eat conch chowder and fresh snapper, without having to cover up or even dry yourself off. The beer is icy, but order your drinks long before your throat is parched; the service operates on "island time."
Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.
Jerk Stands in Jamaica
Jamaica's unique gift to the culinary world is jerk, a spicy seasoning and cooking technique that's used for chicken, pork, and fish. The cooking process is simple (over a fire of pimento wood in a pit or an oil drum) and very slow (up to four hours), and the secret is the marinade. Every pit master has his or her own secret blend of spices, but the basis of all jerk cooking is the Scotch bonnet chile, which is among the hottest of peppers. Jerk dishes are usually served with cornmeal fritters known as "festival," along with roasted breadfruit.
Jerk stands first cropped up on the eastern coast at Boston Bay Beach, where Mickey's Jerk Centre, the very first, still remains—just take the coastal highway eight miles east from Port Antonio and stop when you smell spicy clouds of smoke billowing from the roadside grill. Now you'll find jerk stands all over the island. A few of the most popular are the Pork Pit on Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay, Scotchies (which many consider the best on the island) just east of Montego Bay near the Half Moon resort, and the Village Jerk Centre on DaCosta Drive in Ocho Rios. Whatever the location, the sign of an authentic jerk stand is thick wood smoke filtering into the air, a thatched roof, and locals loafing around playing dominoes and drinking Red Stripe beer.
Tel: 876 957 4005
The elaborate decor at this sprawling nightspot includes potted plants, painted animals on the walls, and even a few live ones (there's a resident caged snake and also a fish pond). Steady crowds of locals and visitors flow between the two floors, where there are pool tables, a sports bar with a stage for live bands, a chill-out martini lounge, and a thumping disco with DJ-spun beats and a packed dance floor. The partying is serious here, and sometimes goes until five or six in the morning.
See + Do
Diving + Snorkeling in Jamaica
There are dive sites around the entire Jamaican coast, but some of the best underwater gardens of black coral, rope sponges, coral gorgonians, and the thousands of fish that live among them are near the resorts on the northern and western coasts. The waters of Montego Bay are a protected marine park where you'll find good visibility and exciting walls, as well as the ominously named Widowmaker's Cave, a tunnel that starts at about 47 feet and extends to a depth of 80 feet. One curiosity of diving in Jamaica is the number of airplane wreck dives, usually small twin-engine planes associated with daredevil after-dark runs carrying dubious cargo. One of these dives near Runaway Bay makes no bones about it: It's called the Ganja Plane Dive. Check in with Dive Seaworld or Negril Scuba Center about dive and snorkeling trips.
See + Do
Beaches in Jamaica
In Jamaica, all beaches are public (some charge a small entry fee), but a world of difference separates the facilities at a luxury resort and a beach frequented by locals. A stretch of sand like Hellshire Beach near Kingston is less an oasis for relaxation than a full-blown carnival, full of booming music, laughing children, and the odors of jerk chicken and pork cooking on the grill. But that's not to say it's not appealing.
One of the most famous beaches on the island is Seven Mile Beach in Negril, where you can eat, drink, shop, and hop a kayak or a WaveRunner almost anywhere between Bloody Bay and Negril Lighthouse. A runner-up is the lovely, calm cove of Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay—a family playground with all the necessary amenities (water sports, showers, a food court). Farther along the north coast at Oracabessa, James Bond Beach is the place to sample a two-rum Moonraker punch or join a Jet Ski safari along the coast.
Around Port Antonio on the island's northern coast, the best spot for sunning and tanning is Frenchman's Cove, pictured, which was the jet-set resort in the '60s and is once more open to the public. Boston Bay Beach on the east coast has a typically windward, slightly unkempt beach, with lots of local color but few facilities—apart from the famed jerk-food stands, picnic tables, and a carefree, castaway air. Port Antonio's Winifred Beach is largely maintained by the Rastafarians who proffer corn porridge and other vegetarian dishes there (you'll also find restrooms and plenty of shade). The most idyllic place for a dip is the deep Blue Lagoon which swirls with cool water from a nearby mineral stream. The lagoon is tucked in a verdant cove that's accessible only by boat, although most of the area's hotels, including Geejam, can arrange for transport.
Alfred's Ocean Palace, Jamaica
Tel: 876 957 4669
Negril's best live-music spot hosts bands every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday night on a beachside outdoor stage. Very much a locals' hangout, it's also a place where guests from nearby hotels come for beers and lively dancing on the sand.
See + Do
Negril is the world capital of "liming"—that delightful Caribbean art of lazing around beneath the palms sipping cool beer, munching jerk pork, talking the talk, maybe even having a smoke. The '60s-style laid-back, stoned-out ambience still hangs in the air here, especially along the coral shoreline of West End. These days, though, the Rasta-and-reggae exuberance is counterbalanced by gentrified attractions unthinkable a few decades back, like all-inclusive family resorts and championship golf at the Negril Hills Golf Club.