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The two year old makes this tricky to be honest. Will he be coming along with you on all activities? Or is this a thing where husband might do some activities on his own? That would affect what activities you can participate in.
> here in comparison to the adventure opportunities in other areas of the island
In what other areas of the island? My experience is outside of Portland, this parish is the best option for adventure opportunities. The attractions in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are very touristy, and not ones I would recommend to a nature enthusiast.
>So he’s a bit paranoid about access to medical care
If he’s paranoid about access to medical care, then the best options for a stay will be Kingston and Montego Bay. Two spots I would not really recommend for someone who’s looking for nature/wildlife. If he runs a quick search for hospitals and clinics in St. Elizabeth, he’ll see that there are quite a few options. If I were you and friend, I would do some research on which of these options are the best for maternal care and call to ask questions about what you can expect/need to know if you/friend need to be admitted for emergency care. Worst case scenario is they can’t handle a complicated emergency and you have to head to Kingston (\~3hr drive), in which case there are few options - UWI Hospital, Nuttall, Andrews, Victoria Jubilee… I’m assuming you and friend won’t be in your final trimester? Honestly I’d be a little paranoid myself if that were the case.
>We were planning on hiring a driver to and from the airport as I read the roads aren’t the greatest.
Hiring a driver isn’t so much about the roads (St. Elizabeth roads aren’t that bad) as it is about convenience, reliability and safe driving (in that order of importance). Taxis aren’t readily available in that area.
Biggest recommendation would be YS Falls. Pelican Bar is really nice but I’m not sure how that would work with a 2-year old since you’ll be stuck at the bar unless a boat comes round. Check Airbnb Experiences for other activity options that won’t show up on a Google search.
Accommodation options: Kudehya and Katamah
Portland is absolutely beautiful but indeed, a little more difficult to navigate and much less to do than St. Elizabeth.
>We certainly don’t have to be together for all activities.
If that’s the case, I would go with St. Elizabeth. YS Falls (go early \~10am, you might end up staying longer than you planned), Appleton Rum Tour, Pelican Bar, Black River Boat Tour, Breadnut Valley Estate, Lovers Leap
>What about Negril?
I personally think Negril is a tourist trap. Just the harrassment from guys selling stuff on the beach alone, is an instant turn off for me. And I’m not a tourist so I don’t get approached nearly as often.
West End is beautiful, and that’s where I usually stay but that is the cliff side. You won’t be able to get into the water with your son over there. And there really isn’t much to do in Negril outside of the beach.
Your husband might want to keep an eye on this page just in case they have an activity in the area you decide to stay: https://www.facebook.com/zeetrails
>What about Negril?
I went there with my brother about 6 months before COVID kicked off.
If you aren’t booking in a gated community, you will not go more than a few minutes between every seller approaching you on the beach to flip you something.
You’ll say no. He’ll try again. You’ll say no. He’ll try again. You won’t be worried because you went to several other countries where people don’t seemingly take no for an answer. Say it a few more times, they’ll get the message, no worries. Twenty ‘no’s later, he is getting angry with you. Then he curses you out, walks away.
You lean back, put your earbuds back in or pick up that book again, clearly signalling that you aren’t really trying to talk with anyone. 84 seconds later, you’ll have someone block out your sun while holding another set of items that you have no interest in buying. He’ll tell you that you’ll need it. You’ll say no. He’ll say yes. You’ll say no. He’ll say yes. You’ll say no. He’ll get angry and leave, but only after he too curses you out. How dare you not buy his items?!?
You’ll mutter under breath, but figure it’s fine - how many can there be. You’ll get through the next couple of pages of your book. Aaand then… do you see where this is going?
As soon as we moved from the open beach hotel to an airbnb in a gated community with a private strip of the beach, it was a great trip.
PS! Also, if you get a good driver, get their contact details and ask when you can call/text them for pickups. We encountered a few drivers that would quote us one price before we got into the car, then suddenly start renegotiating midways to the destination and get angry when you don’t want to budge on a deal.
Oh I have a feeling I will feel the same about Treasure Beach. I will share your input and hope hubby considers. When you spent time in TB yourself, did you have a car ? Or was it easy enough to hire a driver /do tours to get to the nearby tourist activities. I do hope to stay relatively close to the main part of town so we could do a bit of waking to eat and go to beach bars etc. Like you said, the island is relatively small, so In an emergency you could be to better medical care in a few hours.
I am aware of the cliffs on the West End, but did find some reasonable hotels with shuttle to the beach which could be helpful. West End also seems more affordable than the main part of Negril.
Thank you for your input it’s much appreciated.
I didn’t have a car - I planned to walk, bike, and hire a car if needed, but in the end my sister and I made some friends pretty quickly and they ended up driving us to various things. That said, I plan to have a driver at least a few days next time I go.
Others have commented with great details and thoughts already, so I’ll just mention a couple ideas from my own travels.
TB is far enough out there that there’s not a whole lot of traffic, but it means you can take a nice easy walk through the community. There’s a women’s center in town that sells crafts, and look for the Fisherman’s Bar and Grill for a good round of dominoes.
Are you bringing a car seat? Some cars for hire might have one, but some might not. I’d be sure to confirm ahead with a driver if it’s something you want to have for your 2 year old and you don’t bring one. I have a great driver and tour guide recommendation, happy to DM you.
Highly recommend in the West End, Tingalayas Resort. There’s a small swimming pool filled by the tide sp you can still take a dip even being on the cliffs. It was super quiet while we were there a few years ago, not touristy.
Another spot to consider is Bluefields. It’s near Negril and an hour from MoBay. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time there. Good mix of quiet but close enough to things that you can get to many different types of outdoors activities within a hour, like caves, rivers, gardens, cannabis farms, etc.There are also local community tours offered like snorkeling in the bay, hiking, organic farm tour, Peter Tosh resting place, etc.
I always encourage travellers to bring some school supplies to donate to a local school or to any of the guides or people you meet while there.
Much appreciated. Great idea about school supplies. Definitely bringing a car seat as we have one of those cheap lightweight travel one - saves all the worry at no cost. Bluefields looks like a great spot too that we’re now considering.
Great! If you have questions about Bluefields (lodging options, etc.) happy to share what I know. If you decide Bluefields will be your homebase, I would love to get you connected with my favorite tour operator who can take care of everything for you - lodging, tours, transportation to/from the airport, meals, etc. Feel free to DM me!
The posters here pretty much gave you your answers. For adventures, Treasure beach and Portland are pretty similar. The adventure spots maybe be just a little more compressed in Treasure beach. In terms of low intensity activities, there are iconic food spots like Jack Sprat, Smurfs Cafe for breakfast and Jakes. You can also try YS falls. There are sections there that does not require climbing. If you are driving, the road near YS falls is a spot locals stop for peppered shrimp. You could also drive to the lighthouse near treasure beach for an awesome sunset view (may not be as epic this time of year but its still good). There are bicycle tours and while Pelican bar may not be high energy, that boat ride is bumpy, so I wouldn’t recommend for a pregnant woman.
I have photos of the area you can check out on my Instagram @876izzy
Spent a few days in TB a few years ago. Its a sleepy place compared to other tourist areas. Nearest town in Junction, and I had no problem getting route taxis to and from. Beautiful countryside. In terms of medical facilities, there is Black River Hospital in St Elizabeth’s capital, and Mandeville Hospital a bit further away in Manchester.