Cave Tour in Little Bay Jamaica

December 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

Little Bay Jamaica is home to a giant rat bat cave that for some reason is under the radar of just about every tour company I know of in the area.  I knew of the cave from reading about it on the internet and because the place I was staying at offered tours so it was on my list of places to explore in Little Bay (20 minutes outside of Negril).

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I was lucky enough to run into Douglas Walters a yam farmer that maintains the trail to the cave since his farm is all around it.  After talking to him and his grandson for a short time, I talked them into giving me a tour.  From the main road/school area we walked maybe 5-10 minutes until we reached the cave.  Once at the cave, Mr Walters grandson gave me a tour of the inside and I must say for such a young man he gave an excellent tour! I was amazed by how big the cave is, you could park a small plane in there!   I would go on and on with details but sharing too much of the tour will ruin some of it for you.

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After leaving the cave we climbed to the top of the cave to see the two openings above the cave that look down into the cave.  The climb might be a little tough for some but the views from the top of the cave are great.  Also, while I was there I got a tour of Mr Walters yam farm and learned some history about the cave, farming in Jamaica and all sorts of things that made the tour excellent.

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While the cave might not be a big enough reason to spend the travel money for a 30-60 minute bat cave tour, Little Bay has so much more to offer and can make a great day trip or vacation spot.  Along with the bat cave, Little Bay Jamaica offers:

1.  The remains of Bob Marley’s summer home.

2.  Bob Marley’s mineral spring where you can swim and chill out.

Note-  For the Bob Marley tours I recommend “Boot” as a tour guide, his contact info is on this site or leave a message for it.

3.  The “Blue Hole” soon to be resort but currently offers a fresh mineral spring swimming pool, a natural mineral water swimming hole, bar/grill and much much more…I’ll do my review of them soon.

4.  A fisherman’s beach were you can meet local fishermen, take a water tour, snorkel dive around the reefs and so much more.

5.  The local “raceway” is just a few minutes up the road.

6.  Great food, great local people, no tourist hassle like in other places and I could go on and on…..

But, I’ll add a few more, great lodging/hotels, horse back riding in the ocean or along trails/roads and farmer Debbie’s farm (review soon come).

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Contact info for the rat bat cave tour in Little Bay:  Douglas Walters 876-582-0617

Contact info for the Bob Marley tour in Little Bay:  “Boot”  876-416-2292

Contact info for great lodging and my review of the lodging:  Coral Cottage Little Bay Review

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Pictures of Flowers in Jamaica

May 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

A few pictures of flowers taken in the gardens at the Jamaica Jewel guest house in Duncan’s Bay.

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Percy’s Riverside Retreat

April 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

Percy’s Riverside Retreat which is located just a few miles away from Negril Jamaica is a hidden gem for those looking for a great place to enjoy Jamaica. A lone person all the way to a crowd of 100′s are welcome and even if several groups want to go, there is always a hammock or private place to get away.

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Percy’s has a fully stocked bar and can cook full meals so long as you give them some notice so they can provision for your visit.  Percy is also a licensed JUTA driver and networks with other drivers so he can arranged for you to be picked up almost anywhere on the island so you can enjoy his retreat.

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If you are into nature, be sure to bring a camera and plenty of memory cards!  While it’s not quite the Royal Palm Reserve (now closed), you would be hard pressed not to find some beautiful images.

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If you like kicking back with a nice cold drink listening to stories, be sure to ask about the airplane motor and prop…the story will have you on the edge of your seat!

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For those who are rightfully concerned about off the beaten path places having bathrooms, Percy’s has them and they have toilet paper!

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Contact info:

Percy’s Riverside Retreat

876-379-0831

Renting a Car in Jamaica, my Experience

February 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours, Rental Cars and Scooters in Jamaica

In September of 2010 I decided that instead of dealing with charter taxis in Jamaica I would rent my own car.  Having a great deal of experience driving in Jamaica…4 miles in a van and maybe 300 miles on a scooter/motor bike I knew I was ready!  But…. I know how the roads are in rural locations so I knew in my heart I didn’t want a car but rather a SUV or Hummer!

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Shopping for a rental car: Shopping for a rental car over the internet is a challenge to say the least.  All of the cheap cars are mini sub compacts that hold maybe a small cat with limited luggage and their ground clearance will not allow me to combat the pot holes.  I really wanted a tank or at least a Hummer but neither were available….it’s a manly thing to have a big ride in case you didn’t know.  So my search was limited to a SUV (how humbling).  To make matters worse all of the SUV’s on the island are girly SUV’s!  After spending a few weeks looking around at the local and international rental places I decided for about the same money I would  go for the safe route and book with a company that I knew from the states (US.

Pick up and Delivery of my Rental Car: After sailing through the Jamaican customs and immigrations, I hit a giant roadblock picking up my rental SUV.  It was like time was running at a snails pace!  The normal 5 minute stuff lasted 40 minutes and when we got to additional drivers time just stood still.  I wanted to add a local friend of mine who just flew into Mobay a week ago and stopped by the rental place to provide his license.  At the time the rental clerk said everything was okay and they didn’t take a copy of his license.  When I showed up, not having a copy of the license was some sort of federal crime.  After another hour of pure fuckery I decided that I would be the only person driving and left to pick up my rental.

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Inspecting a Rental Car: In the pouring rain I had to follow my rental guy around my SUV at 100 mph agreeing that everything was perfect.  To his dislike, I slowed him down and took several pictures of scratches and such and forced him to mark on his card that every surface of the SUV had defects.  At first he was a little pissy but as I was taking more and more pictures he knew his opinion was not going to get me to sign out the car. In the end, I had a rental card that showed that every surface had defects without any details as to what the exact defects were.

Driving in Jamaica: Leaving the airport I hit one of the only round abouts on the island.  Being from Massachusetts, I’m an expert at them but seeing as how I’m driving on the other side of the road, my mind locked up.   I was only a few yards away from the circle when I knew I had to go left(east) and my mind was saying to go right but I knew I had to go left…..confused!  After maybe a minute I figured the whole thing out and overcame that mountain of a challenge.  A few miles down the road I was able to stop at my favorite gas station (overpriced convenience store) and at my favorite north coast Cambio.  I have to add that as a tourist getting out of a rental car a few miles from the airport, I smell like money to the dozen or so people hanging out in front of the cambio.  While walking inside, I knew in my mind that I left $5000 or so of camera equipment in the car along with cash and that I would be walking out with $100,000 or so in Jamaican money.  Needless to say, when I got out it was time to get the fuc out of dodge!

Over the next 60 miles I learned a few hundred times that my turn signal and my windshield wipers were on “the wrong side” compared to how they are at home.  Actually, over the next several days I proved to myself time and time again that I kept getting the controls confused….damn those English folks for making Jamaicans drive on the wrong side of the road and messing up where their controls are(kidding)!  Since I knew that I was driving on the north coast highway and it was the best highway on the island, I settled in and got use to driving.  Several times other drivers alerted me to radar traps and random police stops, after experiencing them before (machine guns and such) I kept my speed nice and slow and my mind on the wheel instead of on gin-n-juice or ganja.

After 90 minutes or so, I reached Ochi, the armpit of Jamaica when it comes to tourist and being harassed.  As much as I hate the town, it was only fitting that it rained like I have never seen it before.  The streets looked like rivers and random rocks and streams of sand made some streets a danger unless you drove a vehicle with very good ground clearance.  I drove around for 30 minutes or so to kill some time before I had to drop of wedding photographs that I took almost a year before to some friends of mine that got married over in Negril.   It was sort of a sucky meeting…..here’s your complete wedding on 3 DVD’s…we are getting soaked….have a good day.

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20 minutes later I was heading up to where my friends live in the hills above Runaway bay.  Finally roads that I knew like the back of my hand……or so I thought.  I got lost twice before I gave up and hired a local to show me  the way.  It cost me a $3.00US tip for a local to drive with me for 20 minutes and then he had  to walk back on his own even after my offer to drive him back.  My feeble attempt of being proud of my navigation skills died when my hosts claimed that locals called them several times to let them know about my route through the hills.  <–Locals like to forewarn people that foreign people are roaming about looking for them!

The next day my local friend and a couple of tag alongs loaded up and we were heading to Red Light, a town about 15 miles north of Kingston.  Looking at my new (and expensive map) I knew it should only take a few hours.  But….the maps show straight lines instead of all the hairpin turns!  It seemed like hours before we finally turned up into the mountains and from there it was turn after turn at 20-30 miles per hour.  It’s hard to describe how stressful the driving was with cliffs on one side and the other side of my SUV rubbing up against trees and such. Several times I offered my childhood friend (now  local) to drive but he kept reminding me that he was not on my rental insurance.  I think the real reason for him not driving is that I have over the years commented on how degrading the act of driving is.  “Nah, you drive, it’s so degrading for me to drive”….ah my word comes back to bite me!  After a couple of hours and several stop to provision for our stay in the Blue Mountains my friend’s (the navigator) and my memory of the mountains began to have a conflict.  I kept saying over and over the towns that we should past through and the towns that we were passing through were different.  Finally after reaching Kingston (never in our plans) I figured out that my navigator had a title that he did not deserve!  After several calls to our “resort” (Rafjam) and several somewhat heated debates we headed back into the mountains on another road.

Driving up into the Blue Mountains was a driving experience that is beyond description.  On one side you have a cliff that has a 1000 foot drop off and on the other side you have a mountain.  The road is just a series of 180 turns so 5 miles = 10,000 miles and the whole trip seems like a life of stress.  After getting lost several times and with thoughts of throwing my navigator over a cliff we reached our resort area.  The directions were turn right at “Redlight” until we reach the resort.  As soon as we made the first turn we knew it was a donkey trail at best.  Thank god I got the SUV because the the road was something out of a bad movie!  At one point a huge rock made a canopy above the rental SUV and the insurance thingy was ringing in my head.  It was a real relief that our resort owner drove us around the mountains in my SUV so I could enjoy a few days without stress….even though my insurance would not cover him.

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Driving south and out of the Blue Mountains was a more enjoyable experience!   I strapped a video camera on the front of the SUV to capture the sites, the sounds and the constant honking of the horns at every blind corner.  I would post the video but some ass clown stole my video camera…..$100 camera but I would pay 3 times that for just the SD card with my video.  Looking back, I’m glad that my cheap camera was stolen and not one of the other two I had with me or some of my lenses that cost more than my trip.

Once reaching Kingston, I knew I had to get out of town and to the west coast as soon as possible.  The heavy smoggy air and the traffic reminded me of bad places back at home.  For an hour we were stuck in traffic that lead up to a roadblock that the military set up.  Sitting in this type of traffic while it’s like an oven in the car forced me to turn on the AC and for several reasons using an AC in Jamaica is just wrong.  Like me expand on this thought, with the AC on and the windows up you can not hear what is going on outside of your car, you condition your body to 60 degree temps and every time you leave the car your body goes into a mild type of shock, you burn more gas and gas is expensive in Jamaica!  At one point a random guy started to wash my windshield and in my best Patois I yelled at him that we don’t want it washed and that I don’t have any money with me to give him a tip.  Over and over I stressed that he should back off but my message fell on deaf ears until it was time to pay up….those deaf ears washed my window for free since supporting a forced service sends the wrong message.

Looking at a map and comparing it to the north coast, the drive from Kingston to Negril should take a little under 3 hours…..wrong…wrong…wrong!  The drive takes about twice that time at a safe pace with a few stops.  The first half of our drive up to Mandeville was a pleasure even though the lack of roadsigns and the lack of skills on the part of my navigator caused a few detours and miles of backtracking when we missed turns.  Once passing through Mandeville, we got hit with a rain storm that flooded all of the roads.  In parts the two lane roads turned into one lane roads and it other parts you could not see the roads.  At this point I was really happy that our girly SUV had a good ground clearance so we did not hydroplane!

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Once we reached SAV the need for a car with high ground clearance was over.  The roads from SAV back to the north coast are in excellent shape during the day.  At night the lack of white and yellow lines on the roads combined with the lack of lights on the roads and the sun bleaching the roads makes driving a really awful experience for me.

A few tips for driving in Jamaica:

1.  Keep your gas tank at least half full since gas stations are not on every corner like at home.

2.  Tire or as they call them Tyre damage can and will happen because of the pot holes.  Be sure to inspect your tires, rims and your spare tire before you pay for a rental.

3.  The people in the center of a round about have the right of way unlike at home.

4.  Make sure your rental car has proof of an inspection, you have your license with you and you have bribe money if you wish to pay off the police instead of paying for a ticket.  Generally a $5-$10 ($500-$1000 Jamaican dollars) bribe is fine  but if you pull out a wad of money the fine will be more.  Hint, keep $500J in one location and $1000j in another location.

5.  Don’t transport ganja or other drugs!  It doesn’t matter if it’s a single joint/spliff or a giant bag, the police will ruin your day or at least your budget if they search your car and find drugs.  If you smoke just buy a bag/spliff when you stop for a break.  There is not a single place on the island where you can’t get a spliff….scream ” I need a spliff” and watch how many people will help you with your needs…..so don’t take a risk with a spliff in your car.

6.  Roadblocks, have your ID and paperwork ready and keep your hands where the fine people with machine guns can see them.  If you drive around the island you will be stopped 1-10 times (a luck and karma thing) at these horrible and stressful roadblocks.

7.  Drive slow on rural roads since the school kids have to walk on them to get to school, the random cows, broken down cars, dogs and such also share the same road with you.  One thing to note, goats for some reason are smarter than all of god’s other creations and they seldom get run over…everything else stains the pavement red so keep it slow so you don’t ruin your trip by running over a kid walking to school.

8.  Lock up your stuff in the trunk and keep anything worth stealing out of site!  Lock up your stuff in the trunk and keep anything worth stealing out of site!  Should I repeat it a third time?

9.  Park your rental car in secure locations.  With a rental car you are sort of marked as a rich tourist with money.  Keep this in mind whenever you leave your car.  In some rare cases this might require hiring someone to watch over your car but after a little while you will get a feel for the whole concept.

10.  There always has to be a number ten!  #10……just f’ing enjoy your trip, enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and culture.  Renting a car gives you the freedom to go where you want any time you want to go there, by renting a car you paid for this freedom so enjoy it!  Load up a few cold beverages, a good map, a clear head and explore the island!

I would like to thank the 100′s of Monday night quarterbacks on tripadvisor and N.com who have never rented a car and warn people about renting them….not sure why I want to thank them but maybe they inspired me to write about my experiences?  Also a special thanks to Ohliz for sharing her car rental experience on several Jamaica sites and providing her views on the topic.

Clive’s Transport Services

February 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

A review of Clive’s Transport Services in Jamaica:

After a couple of years of having friends or random taxi drivers bringing me from the airport to my lodging, I decided to give Clive’s Transportation a try. After reading several reviews on the popular Jamaican forums I could not find one negative post or opinion about Clive’s. At first I thought that something must be wrong since everyone complains about Jamaican taxi drivers, but I was wrong as the service was perfect!

Booking With Clive’s: I emailed Clive about his rates to Negril and since I was coming in late at night if he could pickup or make some stops for supplies that I needed for my stay. Within a few hours I got a response, confirmed prices and my round trip from MBJ to Negril was booked! Since I’m too cheap to pick up the phone and call Jamaica at close to $2.00 a minute (cell phone) I was thrilled with the on-line/e-mail booking of my trip.

Promptness of Pickup: After speeding through Jamaican Customs and Immigrations in just a few minutes I was worried that the driver would assume it would take an hour like my past trips. As soon as I walked out into the warm inviting Jamaican air, Clive (the owner) was waiting for me with a sign and a big smile. Since I was Clive’s only pickup for the trip we were on our way within seconds.

Condition of Ride: Like many other professional Jamaican transport services, Clive’s van was in perfect working order and looked like it just got out of the detail shop, everything was as clean as the day he bought the van. The seats and cabin didn’t have any stains and they didn’t have any musky or smokey smells. In my opinion, the condition of a ride is a true reflection of how the driver or owner treats his business and his clients.

Driver Safety: After my past experiences with drivers that were trying out for NASCAR or some sort of a race, I was relieved that Clive drove at a nice safe speed from Mobay to Negril. Not seeing my life pass before my eyes was enjoyable more than I can describe unless you have witnessed the same. Never once did I witness excessive speeds, passing on blind corners or any of the other things that bother tourists in Jamaica!

Driver Knowledge: Clive knows his route, knows the island and knows how to size up a tourist to get a feel of how much of a talking tour they want. If you want a “welcome to Jamaica, over there is such and such and over there is…” Clive’s can provide it. If you want simple chit chat without the tour Clive will cater to that as well without you ever feeling uncomfortable. Assuming that we have all had taxi drivers that spoke way too much or never said a word, you will love how Clive and his team will know and cater to what you expect on your transport or tour.

Driver’s Personality: I thought both Clive (trip from Mobay to negril) and his driver on the way back to have a nice warm friendly personality. While I’m not proud of staying up drinking overproof rum until 2 hours before my return to Mobay, I was happy that my return driver woke me up and got me to the airport in time for my flight. Looking bad almost a year, I was having a great time and figured that I could drink myself silly until my pickup at 5 in the morning. Seeing as how I had been celebrating my last day since 9AM, and walking several miles on my last day I guess it was a pipe dream! Clive’s driver tried everything from honking his horn, knocking on my door to calling me on my cell phone. Normally a driver would say fuc* it and drive off but he stayed in focus and continued until I woke up! It was almost comical when I was picked up and he said(smelling the odors coming off of me) “so you enjoyed some rum?”….after some incoherent words from my mouth, he added “what time did you stop drinking rum?”….from my response he knew it was a snore fest all the way to Mobay and he would have to wake me up and kick me out of his van.   After his great service, his tip exceeding the taxi rate!

Overall Impression of the Whole Experience: On a 1-10, I will give Clive’s a 10. I can’t think of a single thing that would give him a lower rating. While I would expect a “10″ from an owner operator, his return driver delivered his high level of service as well. As a side note, my experiences are on par with his reviews all over the internet, Clive’s Transport delivers excellent service every time!

Contact info:

Clive’s Cell Phone # 876-869-7571

Clive’s website: Clive’s Jamaica Transport <—Click There!

Bob Marley’s House In Little Bay Jamaica

August 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Jamaica Tours

While many people have toured Bob Marley’s homes in Kingston and Nine Mile few can claim seeing his vacation home in Little Bay Jamaica. If you act now you might be able to see the home in it’s somewhat original state (hurricane damaged) before it is completely rebuilt in the next year or two. If you search around enough on the internet you can figure out when it was built, how Bob and his crewed lived in Negril while it was built and stories about his time in the Little Bay area. It’s no secret that some of the best ganja in the world is grown within a mile of Little Bay, was that Bob Marley’s attraction to the area or was it the beautiful scenery in the area? <– Once you go you will know!

Bob Marley's house in little bay

Getting to Little Bay: Good luck, I rented a scooter and got completely lost. I ended up down the road at Salmon Point thinking it was Little Bay and while it was only less than 1/2 mile away (give or take) by water it took me 30 minutes to find it on land. If you end up in Salmon Point have O’Neil Furguson (876-293-9275) escort you over to Little Bay and save yourself the stress of figuring out how to get there on your own. If you do go there on your own turn your music off and keep your windows open on the back roads since the mining trucks will sound their horns to let you know they are coming and require the entire road. I would really suggest a taxi and since Little Bay is only a few miles outside of Negril.

Cost: Free…….well sort of free. Once you arrive in Little Bay and pass the fisherman’s beach you will see a little bar on the waterfront. At this bar you will find “Boot” the tour guide who will show you Bob Marley’s house and mineral bath for just a tip. I would strongly suggest calling Boot before you go to make sure that he is going to be there or so he can have someone waiting for you. Boot’s contact info is: 876-416-2292. Be kind and give him $10 or $20 for your group since his income is limited to giving these tours.

Boot at Bob Marley's house

What to bring: A camera, a bathing suit if you want to chill out in Bob Marley’s private mineral bath and about 30 minutes of your time.

Hint: Plan some extra time to explore Orange Hill once you are done in Little Bay. In my opinion God/Jah created this area of the island as his masterpiece.

wood carvings at Bob Marley's house in little bay

A slide show of some of my pictures of the Bob Marley tour in Little Bay. If you like the music please support the artist who also sells wood carvings on the beach 50 yards north of Rooms on the Beach. His name is Jah Earllocks and his contact number is 876-349-8834.

If you want to stay in Little Bay and explore other great places like Bob Marley’s summer home check out the Coral Cottage <– a link to my review or contact them directly on their site Coral Cottage In my opinion, they offer luxury lodging, cheap prices and they are located in a great community that is surrounded by great places to explore!

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