Our home base in Negril was Xtabi. Rooms with an ocean view are a little more pricey so we got a cute cottage near the pool with a garden view for $77. They also have a bar and restaurant with several lobster preparations and Jamaican favorites like jerked chicken. For breakfast we tried the national dish of ackee and salt fish. Ackee is a fruit that tastes and resembles scrambled eggs when its cooked!
The area of the cliffs is situated over lava caves and tunnels that make for great snorkeling and cliff jumping. Restaurants and hotels are perched on top with epic sunset views.
Travel Tip: bring a snorkel and mask to save money on rentals. If you’re a decent swimmer you can skip the fins. We found the water at the cliffs to be calm in the morning and easy to float.
Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach is a long white sand beach with calm, clean aquamarine water. The southern first three miles are full of bars, restaurants and small beach front hotels and the rest becomes larger all inclusive resorts.
Negril is an hour and a half from the airport. Taxis will cost $70-$100 depending on your bargaining skills and the drivers aren’t shy to hint that tipping is appreciated. Most of their vehicles are pretty ramshackle.
Travel Tip: change money into Jamaican dollars (called ‘Jays’) at cambios for a better exchange rate. Most places accept American USD but their conversion rate won’t be as favorable.
Lounging in a sun chair by the pool at Zimbali I hear chickens clucking, an old rasta man named Fiyah and a child named Mark Lion singing ‘itsy bitsy spider’, and multitudes of tropical birds calling and flitting among the palm trees. Punctuating this lively symphony is the sound of a blender as the chef turns some handpicked, home grown organic fruit into an easily consumed superfood.
As my pasty white skin drinks in the Jamaican sun I reminisce on the amazing cooking show and dinner we enjoyed last night. Zimbali is rated the top restaurant in Jamaica, but it’s so much more than a place to eat. This is an enriching environment of wholesome organic food, grown on-site, with intention.
Tour the Farm
You can take a tour around the farm and see the mangos, breadfruit, coconuts, Noni, akee (the national fruit of Jamaica), bananas, and guava that will appear on your plate or in your cup. Chickens and roosters are scratching the ground below towering fig trees. A beautiful path leads to a natural bamboo grove called The Cathedral.
Watch the Cooking Show
During the cooking show Alicia (co-owner and chef) describes the healing properties of each ingredient as she prepares a five course meal in front of you. ‘Good food makes good feelings’, and the love put into the harvest and creation of your meal will definitely put you in a good mood.
The food is fantastic, the family vibe created by long shared tables guarantees closeness, and the humor of Alicia the chef and her co-chef Dixie make the night memorable.
We enjoyed the cooking show and our quiet retreat on the farm. Soaking in the pool and finding our way to the bamboo ‘cathedral’ was magical.
Zimbali was an immersion into local Jamaican life with the highlight on clean healthy organic homegrown foods. We instantly felt like part of the family, and the amazing meals made us feel like we’d been on a delicious culinary adventure. We even got to see Jamaica’s National bird, a beautiful hummingbird with a long split tail called The Doctor Bird!
Happy New Year 2022! It’s winter in Idaho so we are heading to warmer climates for a five week trip that will bring us to tropical sandy beaches, rough lava shores with meandering marine iguanas and high Andean altitudes. Hot and cold, sandals and hiking shoes. Here’s what I’m bringing in order 2 Travel Light!
The Whole Enchilada: What am I bringing?
For our Jamaica portion of the trip we’ll be staying at a couple retreats and then an all inclusive resort. Hot sun, sandy beach and pool side attire.
2x bathing suits
flip flops (and a plastic bag to keep sand in control)
reef safe 50 spf sun lotion
sarong to use as a towel/suit cover up/dress
bathing suit cover up
The Galapagos Islands and Mainland Ecuador
We’ll be spending 2 weeks island hopping the Galapagos. In addition to reef safe sun lotion, swimsuits, t-shirts and shorts we’ll need some expedition specific items.
quick dry Pack Towl (pictured in the gear image above)
For our Ecuador mainland adventure we’ll need warm clothes as we head to mountain tops and cloud forests.
travel zip-off pants
long underwear top and bottoms
water shoes (for the Galapagos)
close toed Merrell hiking shoes
zip up hoodie
Most of these items are things I bring on EVERY trip, regardless of where we’re going. Sometimes I also carry a universal plug adaptor but we won’t need it on this trip. And of course the face-masks are a must have since 2020!
toiletry bag: deodorant, hair ties, contact lenses and case, brush, DIVA cup, eyelash curler, ear plugs, toothbrush and tooth paste
camera (don’t forget your chargers and USB cords for electronics!) and bag to carry it with it’s charging cord
first aid bag: pepto bismol, imodium, ibuprofen, benadryl, band aids
quart bag of liquids: conditioner, shampoo, sun lotion, contact lens solution, hair gel
splitter for Kindle (so Ian and I can watch a movie on the plane) ear buds and bag to hold them all
reading glasses and sun glasses
quick dry Pack Towel
We’re all packed and ready to go. Follow us to see our next fun adventures in new lands!