Couples Negril, Jamaica - Part 2

Couples is an all inclusive resort, so you don't have to worry about how much any particular activity is going to cost you - you've already paid for it! One of the things you can do is snorkeling. There are trips on several days - check in advance at the water sports area. You need to sign up for the trip, but they weren't full when we were there. The trips go to several different areas around the resort, all of them via a boat. This photo was taken at the Middle Reef, using a disposable Fuji camera. They DO NOT sell the underwater cameras there - BRING ONE FROM HOME. You can find them all over the place - I got mine in NYC, but they shouldn't be hard to find near you. The day was a bit overcast, so the colors aren't as bright as they could be. Right after I used the last exposure in the camera I came across the cannon on the bottom, that looked to be from the early 1800's or before. Oh well - the fish are more colorful. Negril Middle Reef
Dive Boat Another included activity is SCUBA diving. If you aren't certified they have a few hour long resort course that will let you dive to 30 feet. That's all included, and you don't need any equipment. You MUST HAVE an insurance card, however, so don't forget that! If you are already certified (as I am) they have more ambitious dives. Since it had been a few years (cough - 18 - cough) since I had been diving, they asked me to do a checkout in the pool first. We then went on a dive to 60 feet or so. This photo was taken on the way out in the dive boat. Small group, as you can see. One other guest, and the guys from the water sports area. The dive was no problem, or at least it wasn't after I got my ears to cooperate. They didn't want to equalize at first, so I was stuck at about 20 feet for a few minutes. Once they went I was able to drop to the bottom. Lots to see, but the camera I had wouldn't live that deep, so no photos. King Crabs (BIG King Crabs), Moray Eels, misc. fish and some turtles. And lots of coral. I knew from diving in the Philippines - the coral is nice to look at, but sharper than you can imagine. Some of it was fire coral, which you really don't want to touch. If you want to dive and are certified you'll need both your 'C' card AND an insurance card. Don't forget them - they're pretty firm about it!
Want to see the coral but don't want to get wet? The resort has two glass bottom boats also. These are used for both the snorkeling trips as well as the "scenic" boat rides. We didn't get a chance to go on the glass bottom boat ride, but other guests told us that they went to different areas and you were able to observe some fish and coral. I'd suggest going for the snorkeling - it's easy, free, and they'll show you how if you don't already know. Glass Bottom Boat
Sea Kayak Boat Not all of the boats have motors. We went out in one of these too - a sea kayak. Well, I suppose it's a sea version, but we managed to tip ours in a none too large swell. At least we waited to tip it until we were almost back to shore! It's easy enough to get out a ways in one of these, but you of course have to paddle both out and back. They also have one of those paddle boat things, that you pedal with your feet. It looks cool, and goes impressively slow!
Paddling is a bit more work than I was normally interested in, but they've got some other options too. The staff will gladly show you how to sail both the Hobie Cats and the Sunfish sailboats that they have. I preferred the Hobie Cat - it's amazingly easy to sail, about impossible to tip with the normal wind in the bay, and clips right along. The sunfish is a bit harder to sail, and makes leeway like a pig! You can also windsurf, but the wind wasn't great for that most days we were there. It also looked like a bit more work than I was up for, so I passed on that. This guy was making it look easy enough, but then again so did the people water skiing. That's included too - and I have to say I don't remember it being quite that much work! Perhaps it has something to do with weighing just slightly more than I did when I was 25? Sail Boats
Parasailing There are two water sports that are NOT included. They aren't provided by the resort, but you can do them if you'd like. This is a shot of some people parasailing. There were a couple of boats cruising up and down the beach, and it was about $50 to go up on a parasail. We considered it but didn't actually do it. The other water sport that isn't included are jet skis. There are some guys buzzing around on those, and you can rent them to play on if you'd like. They are NOT included, and the people renting them didn't make much effort to point that out.
If all of that sounds like too much work, there is always this option. Grab one of the chair cushions, put on LOTS of sun block, and head out to float in the ocean. Since Couples is in the bay there aren't many waves to speak of - you can just lay back, float and work on that tan. Or sunburn, as the case may be. Floating
On the beach And if that floating things sounds like a bit of work, there is always the beach. Grab a chair, get a drink (it's included, remember), and just relax the day away. No snow, no hassles, no problem mon!
The beach, and the sand under the water, is for the most part soft white sand. If you look long enough you can find some shells, but mostly smaller ones in the sand. The island certainly has large shells in it's waters, judging from the profusion of conch shells we saw in the town, but you don't have to worry about stepping on them when you're on the beach. This is a shot of Martha in the water, just relaxing and enjoying herself. Martha in the Surf
Negril Sunset Cruise Another activity is the sunset cruise. This leaves the water sports area about 4PM, and there is often a waiting list for it. You DO need to sign up for it in advance. You can usually sign up the day before, and probably the morning of. It's a popular event, so I'd suggest signing up early. The cruise is on a catamaran, but don't let the sails fool you. Although they do hoist them, for at least half of our trip they weren't doing anything but looking nice. That's OK - the bar is included, and has a very good rum punch!
We'd gotten a little sun at this point, as you can see. You can also see my almost obligatory tropical theme shirt, and my rum punch. The day we went on the cruise was just a bit gray, so it's not as pretty behind us as it could have been. Negril Sunset Cruise
Pickled Parrot The sunset cruise goes up along the seven mile beach to an area with cliffs and this bar - the pickled parrot. You can swim in the water (it's about 25 feet deep) and if you're daring enough, jump off of the cliffs. We passed on the cliff thing.
Not everyone passed on the cliff. You had to sign a waiver to go on the cruise. The waiver basically said that if you're stupid enough to jump from a 40 foot cliff you deserve what you get. About a dozen or so people jumped, and seemed to have a good time doing it. I've done far stupider things (from higher up, too!), so I didn't feel the need. The next day a girl hit rather wrong when she jumped, and ended up black and blue over a good part of her body. That can't make for a fun vacation! Negril Cliff
Boat Limbo On the way back from the cliffs there was a limbo contest on the boat. I know just how low I can go, and it ain't that far! It was fun to watch, however, and the guy that won got lucky. All of the people in front of him couldn't get under the bar, so since he was the last one standing he won. I wouldn't have gotten under the bar either, but that didn't matter. Nobody really cared, since we were all just having fun.
Of course one of the points of a sunset cruise is the actual sunset. Since the boat gets back to the resort about 6 or so, and sunset is actually at 6:30 or so - well, you get the idea. That being said, the sun was still pretty far down on the way back. This shot shows it peeking out from behind the low clouds on the horizon. Negril Sunset
Negril Sunset Deck You don't need to go on the boat to see the sunset. This very nice deck at the resort has these great swinging chairs that you can sit in to watch the sunset over the pool and beach.
Several people got married while we were there, which is a pretty good idea when you look at the money that some people are dropping on weddings. The resort will do weddings ranging from the simple to ones complete with a band. Since our room looked out over the wedding gazebo area we were able to watch some of them. It was a bit rainy the day I took this photo, and you can see the haze in the air. Wedding Band
Vows We renewed our vows while we were there. Naomi Little of the resort took care of everything, including taking photos for us. The staff did a great job with Martha's hair, even picking some flowers for a head band. The vows renewal, the cake, champagne and flowers were all no charge! The hair do was extra, but worth the money for the great job they did.
There are all kinds of activities to do at Couples, and even being there for a week we didn't get to them all. That's partly because I had a fondness for activities like this, that involved palm trees and the ocean. There was also tennis courts, exercise equipment, and a small games room with a pool table and the like. Who goes for that - it's the beach I'm there for! Beach Palm
Negril Shopping There are a few off site outings. We went on the shopping trip into town, and there is a trip to Rick's Cafe that is also available Those trips are included, but there are other more ambitious trips that you can take if you want to pay for them. The shopping trip stops at three places. The first is a sort of outlet village, with jewelry and other such things. DO NOT buy any clothing here - it WILL be cheaper at the next place. The next stop is here - a bunch of shops with mostly clothes, wood carvings, paintings and the like. We stayed together, which is probably a pretty good idea. The people are anxious for you to come look at their stuff, but will politely leave you alone if you politely tell them no thanks. As always, the price you pay doesn't have to be what they ask. The third stop is a mall, or at least you can call it that if you're kind. The restrooms are attended (and cost roughly 25 cents) and none to clean. There is a grocery store and some other places, but by this point we just wanted to go back to the resort for, as one girl put it, something frozen, fruity and alcoholic. If you do go on the shopping trip don't bother to get Jamaican money - everywhere is more than happy to take US dollars.
The last night we were there was a Monday night. That happens to be the night of the big beach party. They had a huge buffet of food (all of the restaurants are closed that night), with entertainment on the beach afterwards. This photo is of part of the buffet as they were setting it up. Buffet Table
Ice Sculpture The drinks weren't the only place that ice could be found. Many nights they had ice sculptures like this one in the dining area. This sculpture was at the Monday night buffet. It's surprising how long ice sculptures will last even with the temperatures in the 80's.
Another view of just part of the buffet for the beach party. If you go hungry it's your own fault. There was always plenty of food at all of the meals, with a wide selection of things to pick from. The beach grill was open almost all the time between meals if you just wanted something quick, like a hamburger or some jerk chicken. To make the meals complete, there were more different types of deserts to choose from then you could possibly try! Buffet
Beach Limbo The beach party wasn't done with dinner. After dinner there was a fire walking demonstration on the beach, and then a limbo contest. As you can tell from the photo, most people were content to watch. I know I was!
Our last evening on the beach. We were there in May, and although the days were beautiful the week we were there, it can be a bit rainy. It usually clouded over by the end of the day (as you can see in this photo), but we got lucky with beautiful mornings and afternoons. The clouds you see here stuck around - it rained for about a week straight after we left. So did the sunburns you see here - they stuck around a bit too. Beach Photo

We had a great time at Couples Negril. Krista Laga ( of Liberty Travel in Saratoga Springs, NY (518 587-1600) did a great job of taking care of all of the arrangements ahead of time. The resort staff were great, the food was excellent, and it was as relaxing as you could possibly ask for. We've already started the Jamaica jar, saving up for the next trip!

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