The Cliffs and Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Aquamarine water for snorkel enthusiasts on the cliffs of Negril.

The Cliffs

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!

Our cute little cottage at Xtabi.
Breakfast of callaloo (Jamaican spinach), bread knots and ackee with salt fish.

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.

There are lots of lava caves under the cliffs of Negril.
Rick’s Cafe is a popular bar on the cliffs with live music and great people watching.
Cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe. Ian is mid-air!

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.

Snorkel spot in front of Xtabi.
Ganja is almost like a house plant here.

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.

Seven Mile Beach
Playing bar games at one of the many beach side bars.

Getting There

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.

Thank you Negril for a great time!

Zimbali Culinary Retreat, Jamaica

Take a journey to the roots of Jamaican food culture.

First, Relax

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.

Lounging at the pool at Zimbali.

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.

The colorful walkway into Zimbali.
Bananas and coconuts growing together on the farm.

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.

A cute little lizard seen on the farm.

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.

Excited for the cooking show!

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.

Stuffed peppers and cucumber with beet and red wine relish.

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.

Inside the island of Jamaica, there is a bamboo cathedral waiting for you.

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!

Thank you Zimbali for an amazing experience!

Packing Light for Jamaica, The Galapagos Islands and Mainland Ecuador

My Gregory “Jade 38” carry on bag all packed!

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?

Clothes and shoes for the entire trip. Travel Tip: Roll your clothes to save room!
Gear, Toiletries and Extras


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.

My Jamaican specific clothing and gear.
  • 2x t-shirts
  • 2x bathing suits
  • flip flops (and a plastic bag to keep sand in control)
  • reef safe 50 spf sun lotion
  • sun glasses
  • sun hat
  • shorts
  • sarong to use as a towel/suit cover up/dress
  • bathing suit cover up
  • sun dress

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.

Ian is bringing a day bag with these items.
Ecuador specific clothing.

Ecuador Mainland

For our Ecuador mainland adventure we’ll need warm clothes as we head to mountain tops and cloud forests.

  • rain jacket
  • down jacket
  • travel zip-off pants
  • long underwear top and bottoms
  • water shoes (for the Galapagos)
  • close toed Merrell hiking shoes
  • zip up hoodie

Gear Breakdown

Gear, Toiletries and Extras

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!

  • tiny purse
  • toiletry bag: deodorant, hair ties, contact lenses and case, brush, DIVA cup, eyelash curler, ear plugs, toothbrush and tooth paste
  • sun hat
  • Kindle
  • 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
  • face masks

We’re all packed and ready to go. Follow us to see our next fun adventures in new lands!