Hookah Negril Trip NotesPublished Apr 5, 2003
I was asked by a couple of folks on the hookah mailing list to compile some hints, tips, whatever for our April trip to Negril with Hookah so here it is. Suggestions, critiques, comments, additional questions, you're-dead-wrong-liz notes etc, e-mail me. This is NOT comprehensive, I'm sure I missed a lot. Some people will give you different advice and opinions and they'd be as right or more right than me. So take all this with a grain of salt please. ekoostik hookah, Acoustic Productions, Sunsplash Tours - none of these had anything to do with this, this is absolutely my own, completely unofficial thing. So don't blame them :)Intro Info
Negril is on the west coast of Jamaica. There is basically one road that runs north-south - Norman Manley Blvd runs along the entire beach (aka the "beach road"). South of the beach is the town of Negril. There is a roundabout that connects the beach road to the road to Savannah la Mar (which is to the east of Negril) and the cliff road (aka the west end road, lighthouse road) which continues south along the water as the beach turns to cliffs. The beach road has the beach on one side and the Negril Morass (morass basically means "wetlands") on the other with mountains behind the morass. The Morass is not developed and there are no roads I know into it from the beach road. Off the west end just past town there is a road up to the area known as Red Ground, where many locals live and hotels are few. Off the west end road further up there are a couple of "lanes" - short roads that dead end in the hills, some with restaurants or hotels on them (those of you staying at Villa la Cage are on such a lane). The west end road has many hotels and restaurants and shops both on the water side and the land side.
Jamaica is in the eastern time zone but does not do daylight savings time. So from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October (that's when we'll be there), Jamaica is an hour behind us here in Ohio.
Jamaica's official currency is the Jamaican dollar which is currently trading at about JA$47 to US$1 (or put another way each JA dollar is worth about 2 cents US). It is not uncommon for places to accept US$, especially places that are geared to tourists. Places that are geared to tourists generally cost more than places that are geared to locals. Be aware that if you choose to use US$, the exchange rate you get is up to the shop/restaurant/bar and probably won't be as good as the rate you'd get if you changed to JA$ at a cambio or bank. I find personally that using US$ can raise the prices of things too. For all of these reasons, I suggest you plan to use JA$ during the trip, though US$ will get you by for the first day or two. Bring small bills - no one has change - not taxis, craft stalls, even bars and restaurants often have trouble changing larger bills.
You can change your money at the airport (worst rate of all), at a bank (good rate but long lines), at a hotel (not good rate) or at a cambio (bank rate and usually no line). Cambios are located along the beach road, in town (there's one at the Hi-Lo supermarket), and along the west end (cliff) road. Often they are just small board buildings with a person behind glass. Save your receipt, if you need to change your money back you'll need it. You may get an offer to change money on the street. Don't, scams are common.
Finally, for peace of mind, bring most of your $ in the form of traveler's checks. If lost or stolen, they will be replaced. We like American Express. Your exchange rate will be 1 or 2 JA$ lower but I find it's worth it.
There are ATMs in town, usually they work but don't count on that always being the case. They offer amounts in and dispense JA$ only and there is a fee.
Credit cards may be used at many tourist hotels and restaurants but the good cheap places rarely accept them. Small craft stalls and jerk chicken huts almost never do. If you plan on using a credit card for meals and such, you'll almost certainly pay more and be limited to the larger hotel-based restaurants. If you've never used your card out of the country before, call your issuer and let them know you plan to - in some cases the card has to be "unlocked" for use out of the US. It's possible to get a cash advance on a credit card but you have to go to the bank and that can take awhile. In an emergency, Western Union is the fastest way to get money.
There's a really nifty cheat sheet you can print out before we go that lists the rates on a nice card that you can cut and carry in your wallet. Don't forget to get the reverse one also so you can convert back and forth. http://www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet - "cash rate" is the one you want, select US as your "home" currency and Jamaican dollar as your "destination" currency.
How much to bring?
This is a common question and one that really depends on your lifestyle and plans. Rather than give you an amount, let me tell you what some things cost so you can plan accordingly.
Some places on the beach and cliffs offer red stripe beer for $50J. These places include Irie Vibes cybercafe next to Alfred's on the beach, Irie Village bar at Rondel Village on the beach. I'm sure there are others. 3 Dives on the cliffs charges $70J for one. Some places, notably the live music spots, charge up to $150J. Frozen "foofoo" drinks are usually around $150-200J. Beers other than red stripe, including red stripe light, are often a lot more than red stripe - be warned. Often there are drink specials and 2-for-1 deals, look around for those.
You can buy beer and rum at the store and keep it in your room, that's the cheapest way to do it. At Daley's on the west end, 6 pack red stripes 210ja, 6 pack Heineken 270ja (there ya go frosty), red stripe lite 220ja, RUM: Appleton 320 per bottle, white overproof rum 320 per bottle, the more you buy the less you pay.
A sit-down breakfast or lunch, lots of food, will run you anywhere from $3-10. As a rule restaurants in town or ACROSS from the beach or cliffs cost less than the places on the water.
Patties (flaky pastry with meat or veggies inside) run about $30J apiece. One with some fruit is a nice cheap lunch.
Dinner prices really vary, just like at home. You can get 1/4 jerk chicken with coco bread for around $150J or you can get a full lobster dinner with appetizers and all for $800J - or more. Cheaper meals are usually veggies/rice/beans, fish, chicken, with lobster and shrimp costing the most. Most places post their menu and prices outside so you can check prices before you go in. If not, just ask for a menu.
What's expensive in Negril are motorized watersports. Parasailing will run you about $30US for a trip up and down the bay, jetskiing is about $30US per half hour. You can rent a scooter for about $20US per day. Motorcycles cost more depending on the size of their engines with a 550 being the most $, about $40 US a day. If you plan to rent for a week you can knock those prices down a little.
There are a couple of supermarkets in Negril, the "tourist" one is the Hi-Lo and is the most expensive but the most like stores here in the US (also takes credit cards which is pretty unusual). ValueMaster is also in town and caters more to locals and as such is a bit cheaper. There are a couple of smaller markets on the cliff road and beach road as well. Some things are MUCH more expensive in Jamaica - brand-name processed snacks like Pringles, some meats, imported canned goods, nuts. If you need peanut butter and jelly, brand-name snacks, stuff like that, bring them with you.
On the other hand, local fruits and juices are much cheaper than home, especially if you purchase them from stalls on the street.
A snorkeling trip on a glass bottom boat for an hour or two should run about $10 per person. Entry to YS Falls or Mayfield Falls is about $11 per person. Getting there with a guide who waits for you and brings you back can run about $15-20 an hour, or a flat $60US, or maybe $80 for a van...ot more...the more people you have the cheaper things like that can be.
Don't forget tips. Your maid(s), the bus driver to/from the airport, taxi drivers who are kind, waiters, bartenders - all rely on tips as part of their income. Hotel cleaning staff should get at least 10% of the room bill. Restaurants sometimes add a service charge, check your bill and tip accordingly.
Having said all that, on our last trip we spent $160 a day on absolutely everything except hotel and airfare - that was for 4 people (2 of them were kids), meals, drinks, day tours, boat trips, extracurriculars, parasailed once, jetskiied once, paid for private taxi to and from the airport, etc. We never looked at a menu price, drank and ate as much as we liked. If your budget is really tight of course you can buy food at the market and/or bring sandwich makings from home, get your beer at the store and bring a cooler, etc.Salespeople
Lots of salespeople in Negril, everything from patties on the beach from a bicycle to drugs to aloe massages to glass bottom boat rides to anything else some enterprising entrepreneur thinks a tourist might want. I rather like the service offered by some beach salespeople - coconuts, fruit, lobsters...sometimes you can skip going to the store, so much comes to you!
Many hotel employees, taxi drivers, guys you pass on the beach etc., will offer to get you ANYTHING or try to sell you everything. Some can be very persistent and occasionally their tactics can be hard to handle which can make people feel kind of uncomfortable. If you are not interested just say no - a smile and a "respect" doesn't hurt either. Don't get angry or defensive -- they are just trying to make a living and this is how they do it. Deal with them respectfully and they will USUALLY do the same with you. "Catch me tomorrow", "I don't have money on me" are not good ploys, you will more often than not be remembered - you just made a promise so be ready to keep it the next day! Very occasionally you get a jerk, "why are you walking by? are you racist?" stuff like that, in that case I walk and ignore.
If you are interested, pretty much everything is negotiable. The price you are given by a craft vendor or seller of other goods should be considered a starting point. Everyone bargains there, it's a cultural thing. Love it or hate it....if you don't feel like bargaining just pay what they ask.
By the way, the word "higgler" is used for anyone who sells things that they didn't grow or make. Higglers are an important part of the JA economy, the middlemen, as it were, between farmers (or other makers of goods) and consumers. They typically go to farmer very early in the AM, buy a lot of fruits and veggies, then carry them to where the people are but the farms aren't. The term is also used for craft salespeople and such on the beach and road. "Hustler" is different, there's a negative connotation, the idea of a rip-off there.Crime and Safety
Most Jamaicans you will meet are good people working hard to make a living. Minimum wage is about US$30 a week. You'll notice the cost of food, etc is about the same as the US so you get an idea of just how hard it is to make ends meet there.
However, Negril is a tourist town and like tourist towns everywhere, it attracts a certain criminal element that's looking to take advantage of your inexperience, newness, unfamiliarity, etc. It is not a good idea to go off alone with a stranger to make a deal or for any reason. Also not a good idea to take a "tour" on a scooter, in a taxi, etc with a stranger. If you have fancy jewelry, leave it at home. Just like when you travel anywhere, don't leave your purse hanging on your chair, don't put your wallet in your back pocket, don't leave valuables unattended, lock your room when you're not there, if there's a safe use it, bring most of your $ in traveler's checks. When under the influence of alcohol or whatever, use caution. Stumbling around town drunk at 4AM is not cool or smart. In other words, this is a real place it's not a theme park, as much as it may seem like one at times. Don't leave your common sense at home. Oddly enough, for so many tourists being told to "stay in the tourist areas for safety", away form the tourist areas you will encounter far less hassle and crime!
One of the biggest dangers in Jamaica is the SUN. It is MUCH stronger than at home and if you get a burn, that can really ruin your trip. Sun poisoning comes on fast and then you're stuck - no boating, no beach walking, no nothing. So bring strong sunblock and use it often. Also, drink plenty of water , especially when you are in the sun and/or drinking alcohol - heatstroke is pretty common. There is no need to buy bottled water, Jamaican water is very safe and actually very tasty. Do pick up at least one bottle of "Cool Runnings" water though, just because the label is so cool, I always bring one home :)Drugs
Though you might not think this when you see Jamaicans smoking casually in bars and on the beach, ganja is illegal in Jamaica and you can, and tourists do, go to jail. Jamaican jail is not a tour you want to take. However, ganja is sold everywhere and for significantly less $ than in the US.
Mushrooms, on the other hand, are legal. Tedd's One Stop is in town and sells mushroom teas and foods, he is highly (heh heh) recommended.
Other drugs are around too, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, pills of various kinds. Pretty much all of those are illegal and frankly, you're getting into territory there that can be dangerous as it's hard to tell exactly what's in a pill or a drop by looking and drug dealers don't have to worry much about repeat business in a tourist town setting.
Uniformed and undercover cops are all over, especially on the beach. Roadblocks to check for drugs are not uncommon - most Jamaicans do not travel with anything.
Don't even think about bringing anything illegal home with you. US Customs loves to bust people who are stupid enough to do that (if the Jamaicans don't catch you first - your bags will be searched in Jamaica at the airport when we leave, more than once usually). Further, make sure there's no residue or little bits of anything illegal in your pockets or bags when you pack to leave.Getting Around
Most people in Negril get places by taxi or walking. Of course you can walk the beach to get from place to place. You can also walk along the beach road. You can walk through town and on the cliff road too though there is often no or little shoulder - no sidewalks anywhere, so be careful and remember to look both ways - the OTHER way first - when crossing.
Taxis cruise up and down both roads all the time. There are two basic types of taxis available. Route taxis are used primarily by locals. They are shared (4 in back and 2 incl. driver, sometimes 3 in front). You hail these as they pass (look for Jamaicans waiting for one, that would be a likely pickup spot). Fares are set at daytime $30J from anywhere on the beach road to anywhere else on the beach road or town ($50J at night), from town or the cliffs to anywhere else on the cliffs is the same. So going from beach to cliffs by day would be $60J, at night $100J - per person.
Most tourists use "charters", the term for having a taxi all to yourself as is the norm in the US. These cost more. To get an idea of that HIGHLY NEGOTIABLE fare, figure the route taxi fare times 5 (the number of passengers in a route taxi) for the whole car. Some charters will ask for a lot more, some will accept less. You can bargain or you can pay the higher fare or you can wait for another and bargain with that one - there are a lot of taxis in Negril. Official ones with proper insurance for passengers have red plates. You can take others but be aware that they are pretty much just a guy who owns a car making some $. In any case, SETTLE THE PRICE BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAB and have exact change.
Renting mopeds or scooters is a nice way to get around town and also to get out of Negril and see the countryside. However, if you are not VERY comfortable handling one, this is not the place to try it out. Driving is on the left and road conditions are very poor. Potholes bigger than cars are all over, not to mention there are goats, dogs and cows crossing and even walking in the road. Jamaican drivers are among the most aggressive I've seen. Jah B's on the beach road across from Roots Bamboo is the place to rent, highly recommended, never heard a bad thing, and Jah B is my friend Lydie's (from 3 Dives) uncle. I'd avoid the place closest to Rondel Village on the beach road, we had many problems with that place last time. Always check out the bike before you rent, note any damage, and go fill it up with gas ASAP, most places just give you enough to get to a gas station :)
Two online friends of mine, both comfortable on scooters, had accidents in JA this year - one of them had to end his vacation early to get medical attention, the other died in Jamaica. So if you do rent, be careful, don't drink and drive, go slow, let cars pass you, don't get into a road rage altercation with anyone, it's not worth it.
Helmets are the law and roadblocks to check for them are not uncommon.
Bicycles are available for rent at lower rates, about $10 per day. There are also mountain bike tours in the hills behind Negril. Cars and 4 wheel drive vehicles are available also but the required deposit is very high - like $1000US.Bugs and Stuff
There are bugs in Negril. It's the tropics so in addition to the bugs and critters we know from home, there are some exotic ones as well.
Beach people will find the #1 annoyance there are sand fleas. These guys hide in the sand until sunset, or after a rain, and then rise up for dinner (you) - they're tiny, almost impossible to see, so you won't know what happened until it's too late. Don't be on the beach at sunset or after a rain or if you are, wear plenty of repellent, esp on your ankles and legs, or long pants and socks. Also make sure you wash off your feet before going into your room, and get the sand off your bag, etc - sandfleas can hide in there and you don't want them in your room.
Mosquitoes show up at sunset and after too but not only on the beach. They like standing water, vegetation of any kind and are most fierce in the hour or two after sunset. Again, use repellent and/or long pants. Frankly I find the skeeters are a lot worse at, say, Nelson's Ledges, than they are in Jamaica.
During the day neither are really a problem unless you are in the bush or morass (swamp). Most hotels have screens, if yours doesn't you can buy mosquito coils in the supermarket.
Other critters to look out for include sea urchins (you really don't want to step on one), and "40 legs" which are stinging centipede-looking things. I've only seen one in 8 trips but they're there. Jellyfish are around here and there, look before you jump. Rays are common in the shallow water along the beach, the water is crystal clear just look where you step. "Sea lice", I'm told really baby jellyfish, can get stuck between your swimsuit and your body and irritate your skin. Rinse saltwater off periodically and rinse your suit well to deal with that.
Jamaica is pretty much snake-free, except for the very rare and harmless yellow boas in the hills. You may if you're lucky see a mongoose, they were brought to JA to control sugar cane rats hundreds of years ago and have done quite well there. They're usually blamed for the no-snake situation, but a friend of mine that lives in the hills says he has never seen a mongoose with one, only seen them dead along the road, hit by cars. Often you will see small lizards in your room or at outdoor restaurants. They're harmless. Jamaicans think of them kind of like we think of roaches - they don't like them and often kill them, but I don't mind them at all.
I'm unaware of any shark attacks in Negril. If you scuba dive you might see nurse sharks and supposedly there are some hammerheads but all those fish are really too big to come in past the reef to shore and wouldn't be found in the shallower snorkeling areas or the beach. Some coral is dangerous so don't touch it (also this can kill the coral). I've seen barracuda but if you leave them alone, they leave you alone.Phones & Internet
It is highly unusual to have a phone in your hotel room in Negril, esp at the budget places we are staying. Public phones are not that common and usually only accept phone cards, not change. Your cell phone will probably not work there either, though I believe one or two companies do, ask your cell company if you're considering bringing one.
If anyone has good strong walkie-talkies, these are a great way to communicate when out and about. For calling locally (calling other hotels or restaurants for free pickup, etc.) buy a phone card and use that. There are phone cards that work internationally too, I've heard something like $10US for 12 minutes to the US. Calling the US collect is VERY expensive for the person you call - I made a 15 minute phone call to my mom to check on our kids and that cost her almost $60US. My friend JT uses Tiano's "net to phone" service for $1US per minute. Tiano's is across the street from Alfred's.
It's also unusual for a hotel to have internet service. However, there are a LOT of cybercafes in Negril and e-mailing is the best way to reach people inexpensively. The cybercafes I know personally include:
Easy Rock Cafe (on the west end road just past town, across from Tigress Lane). Wins the cozy award in my opinion, it's easy to chill there for hours, right on the water, the food is great and there's not just one computer, I think there are five. See Sue the owner or Zola the manager.
MiYard Music Bar. (pretty much across the street from Easy Rock) This place is very popular, especially late at night when other places close (it's open 24/7). Many locals as well as tourists go here, it's a comfortable place. Also great food. Delroy is the man here.
Irie Vibes (next to Alfred's Ocean Palace on the beach). This is the beach place to go - also has $50J red stripes. Lappy is the owner, really nice guy, again good food and a nice place to chill.
Negril Yacht Club (same area as MiYard and Easy Rock, just past going up the west end rd) Great place for live music, good food and one of my favorite bars. Also my friends Rasta John and Blondie live here. There's one computer in the office, ask for Rasta John or Chuck.Cheap Eats
Sadly, our trip occurs right in the middle of the "no lobster" season in Negril. The little guys have to make more little guys, and have a chance to grow up, or there won't be any lobster anymore. So lobster is off-limits for our trip. Lobster wasn't all that cheap anyway...
This is a list of places that I know, or friends know, are inexpensive, good places to eat. Most serve Jamaican foods - chicken, fish, veggies, rice and peas (beans), occasionally pork or goat. There's not too much beef around and in Negril a lot of places don't serve pork.
Since so many will, I know, be on a tight budget, I asked for some cheap good restaurant suggestions from friends. My picks:
3 Dives - best food, best people, best sunset, best everything and very reasonable prices. Something for everyone, vegans, jerk chicken lovers, lobster lovers....on the cliffs next to Xtabi. Eating is outdoor on interesting picnic tables. Be there or be square at sunset :)
The Boat Bar - on the beach next to Rondel Village. Great food, people and prices, esp for right on the beach.
Jus Natural (breakfast - dinner is kinda spendy but very good): on the cliff road across from the water side, near Xtabi.
MiYard: Great food 24/7 including some Jamaican fast food (breadsticks and bammy and tuna and stuff)
Brian: Pink Shop on Ella Drive (PeeWee lane) for Coco Bread and Cheese, 30J! Great lunch.
From jess: The Inn Ting on the beach side of Ossies (Miss Lena's) Cheap and tasty 3-4 dollars. Dinner: Miss Madge's - road side across from Ossies Jerk stand , she is a awesome cook, Jamaican Tropicana, Chicken Ja Style, Lobster, shrimp , etc
Lindy: There is always the HiLo to reduce costs.I like the idea of a really great big Ja style breakfast-lunch then a little beach vendor afternoon snack,like Porky's yummy jerk pork and onions in a piece of foil,and a little coco bread if Porky has any left in his metal box on the back of his bicycle by the time he gets to my part of the beach.I would supplement this with some beach vendor pineapple,bought on my early walk on the beach.Then if I am feeling frugal I might just order a Ting with ice in my plastic cup,add a little of that Hi-Lo rum.Dinner is easy,great,full course dinners at a LOT of places for under $10.
RA: Chicken Lavish first and foremost!! Not only inexpensive but FAST! (On the west end road past town, near Tigress Lane) and Mr. Slice for sure! Pizza is ready to eat! Chicken Lavish is directly across from Easy Rock Cafe. Just a couple doors down from Mi Yard on the same side. Mr. Slice West End location is at the corner of the main rd. and West Land Mountain Rd. , just down from MX3 same side. Not sure of the exact location of their beach rd. spot. I think it's across the street from Bar B Barn.
kat:add to your patty list -- Errol's Sunset Cafe -- right on beach between Mariner's/Negril Beach Club and Traveller's. They only have veggie and chicken, but they're made to order, and are great -- $80J ($2.00 US). Wish we had checked Errol's out sooner in our trip -- don't remember specifics but pretty broad menu and very reasonable prices. There's also a patty stand on the beach near Ossie's, and nestled in next to Lena's Inn Ting. They're pre-made and in a heating unit similar to 3C's, but are very good to grab on the run. You can also get a great whole pizza (13" ?) for about $11.00 at Irie Vibes.
The Negril Yoga Center has a vegetarian restaurant.
Yvonne: Cheap Bite (at Travellers on the beach) and Sweet Spice (in town near the gas station, on Sheffiled Rd.).
LizMD: Fun Holiday's $6.50 fish dinner, Barry's behind Mom's place on the beach road
CBB: "Zarro's" in the Vendors Plaza - $140 for fried chicken with rice and peas with some dumplings or maybe coleslaw. It's a filling lunch. Charges everyone the same price. Nice guy who has not the foggiest idea what the internet is. :-) In vendor's plaza (the first cinder block building on the West End road).
Carol: In Little London (15 mins east of Negril) there is Winnies Kingfish Kitchen on the road to Sav, great food and desserts. On the right side of the road, there is a small sign.
Fattie's restaurant...Located across the street from Traveller's, next to the Medical clinic. No menu, you get what she's cooking that day. True, authentic Jamaican cuisine. You may be the only tourist there.
Tom: A very reasonable and accommodating place to eat is Reefside Restaurant.....right across from Daley's Whloesale west -end .Oners name is Jennifer found her to be great!
Conny: Check out Bella Donna's Restaurant (Summerset Road, West-End) Especially on Wednesday's she has a 10 dish buffet with only jamaican food and LIFE REGGAE MUSIC on stage. Atmosphere is great, price is 500 J (approx. 11 US $) All you can eat, incl. free Rumpunch after dinner! But I'm sure, if you come with a group, you can bargain on that price. She is very reasonable.
Zarro's: a little spot in that series of shops called "a fi wi plaza" (on west end past roundabout, just before hi lo area). I am not completely sure on the spelling, but this guy is a great cook... small little window/storefront on the other side from the art gallery... the best fried dumplings i have ever tasted (and i've tasted way too many), excellent ital stew, rice and peas, great fried chicken too - and INEXPENSIVE.... jamaican style all the way. check him out, you won't be disappointed.Things to Do
Snorkel - free off the cliffs (buy a beer or something if you are at a hotel or restaurant you aren't staying at), about $10-15 per person for a glass bottom boat to the reef. The boats have gear, Xtabi on the cliffs will rent, or bring your own. You can charter your own glass-bottom boat for a trip to the reef, a deserted beach, the cliffs - anywhere really. We like Patrick, he uses the Captain Kirk boat. Really kind guy.
Scuba - Mariners Beach and Mariners Inn have dive shops. There are others, I have not dived in Negril myself.
Parasail - check with Vernon's at Fun Holiday
Catamaran cruise (aka booze cruise or sunset cruise) - Sunsplash is offering one to our group, details on arrival in Negril supposedly.
Waterfalls - YS Falls is about 2 hours away, Mayfield maybe an hour. Mayfield is less crowded and has a nice mellow vibe, requires some hiking both in the water and alongside. Restaurant/bar on premises. YS is a little more developed and includes a jitney ride from the parking area to the falls area, good place to picnic.
Horseback Riding - can be arranged in Negril but takes palce in the hills or on a bay 3 bays over from Negril
Getaways - Plenty. Little Bay, Lost Beach, Bluefields Bay, Whitehouse, all of these are within an hour of Negril and are nice places to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle for a little bit. Further afield is Treasure beach, Alligator Pond and the whole south coast. Snorkel with manatees, take a boat ride...definitely need all day for these.What to BringThis is my packing list. Might help you think of stuff for yourself.
- kids toys/clothes for teen mom daycare center (bring to first hookah show)
- water toys (rafts, floats, whatever)
- snorkel/fins/mask (if you are staying on the cliffs especially)
- cooler (good to pack stuff in and to have to truck to the beach or on day or boat trips, collapsible ones are especially good)
- swim suits (duh)
- bug spray (whatever brand you like but bring plenty)
- suntan lotion (I bring a sunscreen, like 30, and a lighter one for later in the week when I'm tan)
- camera, video camera, film, tapes, batteries, etc.
- money (especailly 1's and 5's for tipping and small purchases)
- passport or govt-issued birth certificate and driver's license
- plane tickets, vouchers, etc.
- traveler's checks (for peace of mind, they are easy to change and use)
- one long sleeve shirt and one pair of long pants
- water shoes (esp if you plan to go to waterfalls, Tevas work well too)
- books or whatever you like to read
- anti-itch and first aid medicine
- tylenol, aspirin etc.
- ATM card and/or credit card for emergencies or whatever
- beach towels (most hotels don't provide them)
- snacks from home if you need them
- schwaheelees...cds as gifts
Clothes-wise, I find I wear a swimsuit most of the time, maybe throw shorts on over that and a t-shirt. At night, I might wear long pants or long sleeves, for bugs or if it gets chilly. If you want to horseback ride you'll want long pants. No need for anything dressy at all, unless you feel like it.Some advice from another boardie
I would definitely suggest a couple of OTC meds to take, one being Immodium (just in case the jerk or other new foods bother someone's stomach), the other is Benadryl. If anyone gets a jellyfish sting this can be a Godsend!! One of our good friends who snorkels all the time got into a group of the little ones on the day they were returning home and she had an allergic reaction to it. It was really bad. She still had to go into town (we stay in the cliffs) to get a shot, but the Benadryl really saved her from getting any worse before she got the shot. Another thing that could help some ladies out in case the dreaded period hits unexpectedly are tampons. You can get them in the stores, but there are not a large selection nor are they available everywhere. It seems a lot of the Jamaican ladies use pads and if you're wanting to do a lot of playing in the water, well....you know. I have helped out a lot of guests at the hotels we've stayed at because I always have lots of extras to help them out just in case. Tylenol/aspirin/whatever is good to have also.
Another thing to keep in mind are where the medical clinics are. There's one on the beach road and there's a doctor's office in the plaza I think where Value Master is.Other resources