For years I carried the shameful realisation that I was one of a handful of Jamaicans who had never been to Negril, Westmoreland.
As a child from a parish with none of the traditional swimming beaches, I was constantly bombarded with stories of trips to the beach by childhood friends and schoolmates. When asked to write essays about ‘a day at the beach’, inevitably, several students would write about Negril, as it was one of the most accessible beach areas from Manchester. Oh how I longed to go to this mythical place, yet even into adulthood, even with a car of my own, even with ATI/Dream Weekend, I still hadn’t made the trip.
Forward to 2016 and I finally said “enough! Just go.” I spent the Friday night at my brother’s house in Montego Bay and we set off from there the next morning. The route took us through Lucea, Hanover, then on to Negril.
We first visited the West End…I wanted to see the Negril Lighthouse up close and personal. Unfortunately, there was a locked gate and I had to be talked out of jumping the fence. I settled for pictures on the gate.
We then tried to figure out where might be the westernmost point, that’s when we wandered into a place filled with hammocks hanging close to the bases of several trees, in a property with lush, green lawn. The place, Whoopees, was the perfect setting for a book, beer and daydreams.
We had planned to do the traditional sunset watch at Rick’s Cafe, but after seeing this place decided we had to return there for the sunset. For one, it was so peaceful, with none of the crowd we later saw leaving Rick’s Cafe after the sun set.
Anyhow, there was time to spare until the sunset. We decided to enjoy the second thing Negril is known for, apart from its sunsets…the 7 miles of white sand beach…well, a section of it.
Since many of the beaches are now attached to resorts, we chose to go to the Urban Development Corporation-operated Long Bay Beach Park. The entry fee was low, I think less than J$300 for adults and there are changing rooms, trees for shade, benches and tables for stashing your bags, and a huge beach area. Best of all, the beach wasn’t crowded and the grounds well-kept.
The calm waters were perfect for a non-swimmer like me.
Before, I knew it, it was time to rush back to Whoopees to catch the sunset. I got a cold Red Stripe Beer at the bar and settled at the edge of a cliff to watch the sun bid goodbye, with a flourish, transforming the place into a dreamland.
Undoubtedly, I’ll be back to Negril soon. Hopefully, I’ll be a good swimmer and able to go cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe.