Our staff yogi, assistant online editor Mary Beth LaRue, ditched her HTML duties and D.C.’s cold weather for a week of downward dog at the Negril Yoga Centre on the west coast of Jamaica. And has she ever got tips (and pictures—click the links!) for you:
Stay cheaply Our accommodations at the yoga center were modest, but it didn’t matter, because we were across the street from a beautiful stretch of white sand beach, reggae joints, and jerk chicken stands. All-inclusive resorts offer a lot for one price, but they also leave you little incentive to leave the premises, a must if you are in Negril.
Make small talk Americans are much more reserved than Jamaicans, but something about the warm sun and miles of beach will relax you enough to talk to just about anyone. Whether I was learning to cliff-jump from a local named Andrew, figuring out what the best tropical drink concoction would be, or just trying to find an ATM, I felt embraced by the Jamaican people. Ask questions and for advice; most locals would much rather see you smiling than with your head buried in a guidebook.
Listen to live music There is so much music on the beach, you can literally step out of your door and just follow the sound. Check out The Jungle or Alfred’s Ocean Palace for live performances any night of the week.
Try ackee I’ve always been a lover of plantains and papaya, but on this trip I developed a passion for ackee, a Jamaican fruit that looks like scrambled eggs when cooked. Pair it with a glass of beet juice, and you can make up in advance for those fruity cocktails you’ll enjoy on the beach.”
Swim in a waterfall My yogi tribe took off for a day-trip to YS Falls, nestled in the hills on the southern coast of Jamaica. Complete with a zipline, very cold swimming areas, a gift shop, and a restaurant, the place was welcoming to tourists without being hokey. And, though I loved swimming under the waterfall (or at least trying to—the water pressure was pretty hard to swim into), I really enjoyed the snapshots of Jamaican culture during my drive from western Negril to southern Jamaica. Not in Negril? Check out Dunn’s River Falls or Somerset Falls.
Try yoga—Of course I’m going to say that, but if you’re not into yoga already or aren’t interested in trying, at least connect with your surroundings in a physical way, whether by snorkeling over a coral reef, jumping off of a cliff, or going for a walk along the beach.
Relax—Though my flight home was due to leave at 12:30 p.m., the taxi didn’t arrive at the yoga center (an hour and a half from the airport) until 9:30. ‘Am I going to be late?’ I asked, panicked. ‘Ah, relax,’ said Patrick, ‘You Americans move so fast.’ I tried to, but as we continued to stop and pick up more passengers, I was getting nervous. At 11:45 we pulled into Montego Bay‘s airport, and I rushed to the ticket counter. ‘Am I going to miss my flight?’ I asked the man at the counter. Once again, I was told to relax. ‘No, mon,’ he said, smiling. He was right. I made it through Immigration and to the gate with ten minutes to spare. What was the worst that could’ve happened? Another day in Jamaica?
Want more? Check out “Insider’s Jamaica” from the March 2005 issue of National Geographic Traveler.
- Nat Geo Expeditions