|Catch a Falling Star – Runaway Bay||Doug & Crystal ~ USA|
Debbie we always use your reviews to select a fine resort where ever we go in the Caribbean. This time was a bit different since we joined up with three other couples to visit Jamaica for our first time. We had both a good experience, and a bad on the same trip. But we were lucky enough to find this small twelve unit B&B on the West-end (Cliffs Area) of Negril.
My wife has always been nervous about visiting Jamaica even though we have traveled through out Mexico, Dominican Republic and other Caribbean Islands. She was fearful of the violence and leery of the locals. First off, she was impressed with the locals in Negril, very friendly, helpful and open. It seems that the issues that occur in Kingston are a bad rap for this great Island.
Catcha Falling Star is just two doors down from the famous Rick’s, sunset event location. But don’t let that worry you. The crowd at Rick’s builds from 5:30p-Sunset and then disappears, and all is quiet. In fact some nights it’s just down right fun to watch the party barges (usually 5-6) come in and mingle. Knowing that you get that same fantastic sunset right in front of your cottage.
The 12 units of "Catch a Falling" are arranged so that everyone has a great view. As everyone said, we got the chance to stay two nights in Sagittarius, it may be the best. Surf rolls in right below your front door. Its a little more rustic than the other, newer rooms. I would also give Libra a close second. I have to admit, that the constant wave motion and noise took the best of me one night and after a bought with too much Rum I awoke thinking our boat was going down and we needed to batten the hatches. But it is nice, clean and efficient. You are directly next door to the new bar and dinning, but we experienced no noise since it usually closed at 10:30P.
We then stayed in the newer two story building on the second floor in Aquarius (a two bedroom) when friends arrived. It was also great, although they complained about some road traffic and morning dogs barking at 6am. We heard a little, but didn’t bother use. The kitchen, bath and front veranda is great in Aquarius, you give up the bedroom view of the ocean, but it is defiantly a well designed, modern room. A couple nights it was nice to have A/C.
The service and grounds here are outstanding. Susan the manager and her staff have been running different locations up the West end and their reputation in the community is well known. Susan has teamed up with some of her best employees since Catch A Falling was hit by the last Hurricane to rebuild it into what I would call truly a five star B&B.
Bull, the Rasta gardener is friendly and works daily as they continue to plant and design a garden that is truly paradise. They just opened the new Ivan’s bar, the bar was built out of and around the remains of a signature tree that stood on the property. It is a beautiful addition for guests only, (as the full property (dinning and drinking is).
Kevin the bartender does great work of whipping up any drink you can think of and tell great stories. The food is fantastic, they have a very extensive dinner menu for guests only, and the prices and dinning experience on the cliffs was tremendous. Although we did venture out a number of times to experience other locals, one could stay right at Catch A Falling every night.
The dinning experience is a bit slow, expect a leisurely breakfast that takes an hour or two. They have 12 cottages ranging from 1-2 bedrooms, and as usual everyone wants to dine in the same window. We ate twice at our cottage deck or veranda, and the rest of the stay at Ivan’s. It’s nice to socialize and visit with others and watch the sea.
While here, you can walk up the road two doors to visit Ricks to say you’ve been there. Its free to get in, we were warned the drink prices were high, but not true. They are about same as everywhere in the area (except Margaritaville, which is downright expensive) At least at Rick’s you get to watch the Cliff divers and Reggae band for free.
By the way, Ricks is in the book of 1,000 things you must see (book) So go there, done that, bought the T-Shirt, cross it off.
A walk a little farther will get you up to the Negril Light house, a nice morning walk. And while I understand you can go up in the light when the keeper is around, he was not in the day we were there.
No beach at Falling Star, they are working on a new fresh water and a salt water plunge pool that will be right next to Ivan’s and Sagittarius. It will be small, but a welcome addition since jumping in off the cliffs into the cove can be a bit hairy when the seas get rolling. We were able to make use of the Cove on two days. Defiantly not a place for young kids to swim. Good snorkeling in the whole area, but most the days it was too rough. We were told to not miss a trip with Famous Vincent to snorkel, he picks you up right at Catch A Falling in his boat. But my wife came down with sinus infection and that was the end of snorkeling chance.
Food in the area is great, we eat at LTU, one resort up the road after Ricks. Great food, but a bit of a counter culture group the night we were there.
We also had a great meal at Hungry Lion, also a walk down the hill, but still close enough not to need a taxi. Great food, lots of vegetarian, but still enough things to please a meat lover like me.
Do not miss, Serious Chicken ! It’s a bit shorter walk down the hill than Hungry Lion. It’s a road side cafe with limited seats and a volume of diners. But pick a quieter night and head down. Best food ever, and Serious Chicken (the dish the place is named after is fantastic ) I was the only one in our group that ordered it because they were spice chickens. Turns out it wasn’t that spicy and it was great. Lost half my dinner, but everything else was great also. It still is expensive, even though it’s a road side, open air spot. I fact I don’t think we really found a bargain dinning anywhere. I also suggest 3 Dives, if you truly like spicy jerk, it was great. And Leroy’s jerk stand right across from Catch A falling is great also. No place to eat, so grab it to go and take it back to your veranda for some fine dinning.
Now my only two warnings about Negril, its a left over hippy culture. Many Americans still vacation to the area for one recreation. Smoking Pot and recreation drug use with the legal magic mushrooms they sell right in town. If you can’t live with the thought of someone lighting up a giant reefer after dinner in even some of the finer dinning establishments, don’t go. Its everywhere, at bars, in your resort, up and down the street. Everyone’s a vendor and can get you what you want, we just choose not to participate, but you must be willing to tolerate. Next is Margaritaville, now I’m a huge Buffett fan, but you can’t help but feeling a bit ripped off when Jimmy charges you $16 for two 16 oz Margarita’s, and $10 for 6 Conch fritters. Here’s a secret they won’t tell you until 11am. You can buy a drink glass that for $15 American allows you to drink Rum or Vodka drinks mixed with soda or fruit juice all day until 4pm. Hence that gravity storm I experienced on our 2nd night at Catch A Falling.
Also available, is a bucket of Carib beer (5 for $10) not a great brew compared too Red Stripe, but a Miller level product and drinkable so you don’t part with you last years wages to support Jimmy and his mass merchandising kingdom.
The other nice thing is the Margaritaville bus will pick you up right in front of Catch A falling Star, usually only twice a day 10am or 11am. And haul you down the hill and half way down 7 mile beach to Margaritaville for free. From there, buy a round and wander where ever you wish up and down the beach. There are plenty of places to stop, relax and get cheaper drinks. But don’t forget to be back to Margaritaville by 4pm sharp. The bus makes only one trip back up the West side, and if you miss it, your out 500-600 Jamaican to get a cab ride. Ounce again that Jamaican Rum Gravity Storm caught we ounce.
Also the on-site taxi and tour system that Susan at Catch A falling has set up with Wayne an Dandy is great. They pick you up at the Montego Bay airport and get you all the way to Negril for a good price. We also used them for a small trip to the main shopping area of Negril, and a trip into Mayfield Falls (much less touristy than other falls) and very nice. They are full of stories and willing to share a vast knowledge of the Island and Negril openly.
Can’t say enough about the Catch A Falling Star, It’s no wonder the folks at Caribbean Magazine and Travelocity both gave it it’s top honors last year. Can’t wait for the plunge pool, and keep up the good work Susan and the team. You’ve built a true, uncomercialized Island oasis.
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