Revised from original November 2014 article and posted again in October 2017.
I have been coming to Jamaica for 39 years but it has been 33 years since I last visited Negril. Ah, Negril, why did I wait so long? I am sitting on the spectacular seven mile beach with Bloody Bay just off to my right by less than a half mile, as I was writing this (in 2014).
I am at the all inclusive Sandals Negril resort. Does working get any better than this? As I write, a server is bringing me my drink from the bar which is only steps away. The dive boat and snorkeling boat go out four times daily to the azure waters of Negril.
The restaurants include a Japanese Teppanyaki, Italian, and Seafood restaurants. The food was quite good, and the service is up to the usual standards of Jamaica. Tourism is the number one business on this former British colony, and the Jamaicans keep us coming back with their friendly attitude.
What I like about all inclusives like Sandals is the complete lack of needing to fork over my money or credit card every moment.. Yes even the booze is free unless you want an expensive wine.
The specialty restaurants are not extra charge like they are on many cruise ships these days. That means no big surprise when you get your bill at the end of your vacation.
This adults only resort caters to the wedding and honeymoon crowd. There were several weddings on the beach while we were there. You can have a romantic dinner for two or massage for two right on the beach. And the top rooms come with your own butler service. The couples ranged in age fro the 20s to the 70s while we were there.
There are three Sandals on Jamaica. Negril, Montego Bay and just outside Ocho Rios. There are exchange privileges at the other resorts.
The owner, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, wanted to bring the Sandals experience to the families of kids, and hence Beaches was born. We visited Beaches Negril one of the days while we were here. Families with kids of any age will find there is plenty of fun at Beaches The Sandals residents have the privileges at any of the Beaches or Sandals properties on Jamaica if they so choose.
While Sandals is a great all-inclusive place to stay while in Jamaica, don’t spend all of your time there. Get out and see this wonderful Caribbean country. Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and it is incredibly diverse. Negril is located on the western part of the island of Jamaica. Its about an hours drive from Montego Bay. Negril is home to the famous Rick’s Cafe, which is one of the best places to watch the sunset while drinking the local beer, Red Stripe. We chose to take a party catamaran trip over to Rick’s from Sandals, and swam in from the sailboat. Of course, you can take a taxi if you prefer to stay dry. There is a cliff here, and visitors take turns diving off the cliff into the Caribbean sea below. For the insanely adventurists, you can climb a pole and dive from an even greater height. Here is what that looks like … Diving at Ricks.
There is so much to do in Jamaica, you’ll have difficulty making that decision. My personal recommendations are: Rainforest Zip line at Mystic Mountain, The Blue Hole and Secret Falls, Rafting on the Martha Brae river, climbing Dunns River Falls, golfing at one of the 12 championship courses, beach activities, shopping in the craft markets and horseback riding.
Sandals continues to grow the number of resorts it has and the travelers it serves due to their unrelenting focus on delivering a great, upscale experience. They presently have 16 Sandals, and 3 Beaches properties located among seven Caribbean Islands. Under Adam Stewart, CEO and son of founder Butch Stewart, the company is the largest employer in the Caribbean with over 13,000 employees. For those who want an upscale all inclusive beach resort in the Caribbean, we heartily recommend any of the Sandal’s properties. Some even have OVER WATER accommodations! Those sell out early, so keep that in mind when booking.
Getting There: Connecting flights from MSP to Montego Bay, Jamaica are offered by Delta, Sun Country, United, Air Canada, and American. You can arrange for transport to the resort from the airport in advance. Best time to travel to Negril is December through May.
You may want to avoid the June to November time period when you could encounter a hurricane or tropical storm, but at that time you can get a great bargain on your vacation. Getting there from Minneapolis is easy. There are non stops from MSP and connecting flights via Atlanta, Miami and others to Montego Bay. Traveling from Montego Bay to Negril will take about 75 minutes by van. Although Kingston also has an international airport, but not recommended for travel to Montego Bay or Negril. There is a new tollway that opened recently and now traveling to Ocho Rios from Kingston is only 30 minutes longer than Montego Bay to Ocho Rios, making that airport an option for some. Tired of searching all the reviews and web sites to find your perfect vacation? Let the experts at Schilling travel help you. Call 612-332-1100, check out www.schillingtravel.com or email us at inquiry @ schillingtravel.com.