Wonders of the West
Hi folks! It’s been a while, but a few months ago I decided to high tail it out of NYC and move to Jamaica indefinitely. I know, I know. Abrupt AF, but life has a way of letting us know when we’ve had enough and need to switch it up. After toiling around with a few different destinations in my head, I landed on Jamaica for obvious reasons: family (especially living rent-free with family), good food, nature, and slower living, which I’d been desperately chasing for some time now.
I arrived on July 10th and hit the ground running. So I’m hitting pause to share some of my favorite things to do in the parish of Westmoreland, where my family is from.
As its name might suggest, Westmoreland is the westernmost parish of Jamaica. Its capital is Savanna-la-Mar, where most business and industry take place. However, most people might know this parish for its tourist destination, Negril, which is famous for its 7-mile beach and nightlife.
1) West End: I love spending time in this small area of Negril. While the main town of Negril is known for the beaches, West End is ideal for the low-key vibes of viewing the beach from some amazing cliffs and sunset watching. One of the most popular destinations in West End is the world renowned Rick’s Cafe restaurant/lounge, which has live music in the evening. But if you’re a serious foodie, you’d be remiss not to dine at 3 Dives Restaurant. The food might take a while to come out, but you’ll have a killer view and mouth watering food to look forward to. A little wait won’t hurt! I’m slightly sad to share this other gem with you, but if you travel further up, there’s a Rasta man that runs a small thatch-roofed drinking spot called Sunset Bar. From here, you have some awesome views of the tide and his friendly, adorable dogs running about. Don’t be afraid to play a game of Dominos with the owner and his patrons. All are welcome :)
2) Canaan Mountain: A mountain might not be what you envision for your island vacation, but let me tell you why Canaan Mountain is one of the newest hot spots when in Westmoreland. Canaan Mountain is now home to the #1 restaurant in Westmoreland, as listed on TripAdvisor.com. After a 15-minute slow and bumpy trek from Little London Square, you’ll be welcomed by a large satellite dish looking structure bearing the beautiful face of a Rasta woman holding a bird. This emblem is the logo of Zimbali Retreat, which is a cluster of rustic cottages owned by Mark Swainbank and his wife, Alecia (the woman depicted in the logo). The real draw to Zimbali Retreat is being away from the heavily visited tourist attractions and fully surrendering yourself to an off-the-beaten-path experience of organic farm-to-table meals, while being engulfed by farm life, a natural spring, and perfectly strung hammocks. Just book a room now while you’re at it...
3) Little Bay: Truly don’t know where to start with Little Bay because this small fishing town has grown to become one of my FAVORITE places to spend QT in Jamaica. Little Bay is located southeast of Negril by way of a narrow side road that will lead you to its isolated beaches and the newly created Jamwest Adventure Park. Part of Little Bay’s magic is the warmth of the Rastas and other Jamaicans who are happy to engage you in conversation about their community and way of life. Though a quiet area, the people of Little Bay aren’t hesitant to plug up the auxiliary cord and bump some Rockers music while preparing the catch of the day. When I’m in the mood for some water activities, one of my go-tos is the Blue Hole Mineral Spring, where you can be a daredevil, jumping from 22 ft or you can take the ladder down to the 35 ft deep waters. The Blue Hole is a great hangout spot because not only can you get a mineral bath scrub from the attentive staff, there’s also a pool, bar/grill, and volleyball court if you want to switch it up. I always have a blast with the people at Blue Hole because they know how to have an awesome time. If you’re up for a more intimate vibe, there’s a ‘bathing hole’ (as the Jamaicans call it) not too far from the beaches. It’s a tiny, hidden cave about 8-10 feet deep with ocean blue water and two openings. I think you can get a clear picture of why Little Bay is such a dope place! Do yourself the favor and go see just how serendipitous it is :)