Jamaica- Negril

Early in the year, my parents and I decided that we were long overdue for a trip to Jamaica. My last visit was about five years ago, right before I started high school, and my dad’s last visit had been even earlier. We wanted to catch up with our relatives and meet some new ones (for me, at least). And to be honest, none of us could ever turn down a trip to the beach, especially when the water looks like this….

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But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My dad flew out a few days before my mom and I so he could spend some time his mom (Mama). Mom and I flew in early on a Saturday morning to find Dad waiting for us with a bag of mangos. It was about a two hour drive from the airport to our hotel, Tensing Pen, right on the cliffs in Negril. Initially when my mom booked this hotel, she was a little bit skeptical, but we didn’t have many options since we were booking for Independence Week. Every ounce of hesitation went away as soon as we got out of our car and walked into our new home for the next few days.

tensing pen

(I don’t own this picture, got it from the hotel’s website. All rights reserved)

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We left our bags in the car, made our way to the lobby and got checked in.

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“Oh, the villa is not quite ready,” the nice lady said as she handed my mom the keys. “But you’re more than welcome to relax at the bar while you wait. Follow me.” As we walked down the stone path she called down to the bartender, “We’ve got three!”

I was too busy getting snap-happy to notice the bartender whipping up three drinks for us. But this place was too pretty to miss.

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The King at his throne.

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Finally we sat at the bar and I got to taste what is probably the greatest non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever had.

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I don’t know the whole recipe, but I know it has peach, pineapple, strawberry, lime, and maybe some mango. I never got around to recreating it, but I feel like it just wouldn’t be the same. There’s just something about having a delicious drink in paradise that makes it a completely unique experience. Icy mango and warm sea salt breezes are so good for the soul….

Sorry, got a bit carried away! Moral of the story: it was delicious and I had about five more before we left Negril.

We chatted and ate with the bartender until our villa/cottage was finally ready. We walked along the stone path, picking fresh ackee and guinep (or “Spanish Lime” as I recently discovered) from the trees over our heads. Our villa was tucked away not far from the cliffs and had an open living room and an absolutely gorgeous view.

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We quickly changed and headed down to the beach for a few hours of frolicking and floating in the water. Unfortunately my phone was dead, so I couldn’t take any pictures. If it makes you feel any better, we didn’t do anything too exciting afterwards. It started raining while we were at the beach, so we found a jerk shop near our hotel and got some jerk chicken and festival to go. We stuffed ourselves at the hotel and eventually crashed on the couches with the sounds of the waves and crickets in the backgrounds.

I woke up the next morning with about a dozen mosquito bites and a thirst for adventure. My parents had gone out earlier to find a restaurant in the woods that supposedly had great, authentic Jamaican breakfast (they later confirmed it to be true), so I was on my own for breakfast. Thankfully, Tensing Pen does a pretty good continental. I put on a bikini, shorts and a tank top and headed back to the bar.

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That, plus bacon and eggs, makes for a very happy Ashley! Afterwards I took a short nap in a hammock and wandered around the resort some more.

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The resort has this really cool bridge and I contemplated jumping off, but I chickened out.

I too like to live dangerously (sometimes)

A post shared by Ashley Graham (the Journalist) (@ashleygrahamtv) on

Eventually my parents came back and found me by the pool. Just as we were discussing our plans for the day, a glass-bottomed boat sailed up to the cove below. The captain offered to take us around the caves and coral reefs. I love caves, coral reefs, and being on boats, and thankfully it didn’t take much to convince my parents to go. We trekked down the cliff to the boat.

The pictures of the coral didn’t come out so well, I’m afraid, but hopefully you’ll like some of these instead!

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^Arguably my favorite picture from the entire trip 🙂

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^This, however, is a close second

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It was such a fun ride, and I was sad when it ended. My dad knew just what I needed as a pick me up: more jerk chicken and another trip to the beach! I only managed to stay still for this one picture before I ran into the water to soak for the next few hours.

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Finally, we got hungry again and went off in search of another lunch. My parents decided to stop for jelly coconuts and mangos and ran into someone who was more than happy to point us to a restaurant with fresh, delicious lobster. My mom and I perked up at the sound of lobster, as I’d never had it and my mom loved it. We drove up and put our orders in and waited……and waited…..and waited some more……and bought some roasted peanuts and took selfies….

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….and waited some more….until FINALLY, our food was ready! I was slightly hangry (hungry+angry), but one bite of lobster took all of that away.

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I think that lobster deserves a closeup, don’t you?

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It tasted every bit as good as it looked. We went back to the hotel and did the one thing we could do after such a big, delicious meal: we napped. Well, I read part of a book, but mostly napped. Dinnertime came around and we headed out for more jerk chicken and ice cream before falling asleep in our cozy, mosquito-netted beds. Another night in paradise!

We checked out the next day, but not without saying some heartfelt goodbyes to the amazing staff and relaxing in the cliffside hammocks again. Breakfast was another local one.

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(Ackee, greens, and breadfruit with a side of plantains, if you’re curious.)

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We headed out for Ocho Rios right after breakfast.

But more on that later! 😉

-Ash

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