Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their travels to the Caribbean. We had the privilege of speaking with Dana Carmel Bell about her trip to Jamaica. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.

Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to your most recent destination?

I was born and (primarily) raised in Los Angeles, and I still call this city home. When I’m not traveling, I’m busy curating discount deals for travelers through Time Card Express®, my signature discount travel card that saves travelers money on local tours and boutique hotels around the world.

I also blog about my travels at That Girl Carmel. In January, my husband and I returned from Jamaica where we celebrated the holidays with his family who lives there. It was my husband’s first trip home for the holidays since moving to the U.S. several years ago.

How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?

We spent two weeks in Jamaica during our most recent visit. We spent the first week in Negril catching up with friends and family, and during the second week of our trip, we rented a car and took a road trip around the island. I’d been on my husband’s case for awhile about the fact that I wanted to explore more of his island, so it was nice to finally make that dream a reality.

We spent a few nights in St. Elizabeth in a unique beach house in Treasure Beach followed by two nights in Kingston, two nights in Port Antonio, a night in Ocho Rios, and one night back in Negril. My husband did all the driving because people tend to drive crazy despite the mostly narrow, two-lane roads that circle most of the island.

We stopped frequently at roadside cook shops, and my husband would sometimes pull over and break off a few stalks of sugarcane from random cane fields for us to chew on.

We stopped frequently at roadside cook shops, and my husband would sometimes pull over and break off a few stalks of sugarcane from random cane fields for us to chew on.

Overall, during the drive, we talked and laughed a lot, and my husband caught up on cricket matches on the radio. In Treasure Beach, we spent the majority of our time lounging on a beach that we pretty much had to ourselves, and one day we cruised the Black River where huge crocodiles swam up to our boat.

In Kingston, we ventured over to Port Royal for an insightful tour of the community. While in Kingston, we also had a chance to check out a fascinating exhibit called “Exploration IV: Masculinities” at the National Gallery.

In Port Antonio – one of my favorite places in Jamaica – we revisited my beloved Frenchman’s Cove and the Blue Lagoon, and we checked out Errol Flynn Marina and Reach Falls for the first time.

What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?

The most memorable part of our trip was during our week in Negril before our road trip. My husband and I rented a scooter so we could get around easier. In addition to the fact that riding a scooter is just so liberating, there’s something about riding a scooter in a foreign place with the wind in your face that makes you feel so much more connected to your destination. Another memorable moment was counting down the final few minutes of 2015 on the balcony of our AirBnB rental in Treasure Beach.

The surf tends to be a bit rough on that side of the island, so the waves were crashing loudly, it was warm but slightly breezy, and with the exception of a few street lights, it was pitch black outside which made it easy to appreciate all the stars in the sky – more than I’ve ever seen in my life.

The whole setting just made me feel so peaceful about letting go of past failures and disappointments, and it made me feel so inspired and hopeful for the future. I don’t have any huge disappointments about our trip. However, when we got back to Negril, it was quite sad to see the fatal aftermath of a motorcycle accident. I’m always nervous for my Jamaican friends and family who ride motorcycles way too fast without wearing helmets.

Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

What do you wish you knew before you went?

Before going, I wish I had a better understanding of the terms of our car rental with the American-based rental car company we were initially going to use. When we went to pick up our car, we were surprised by the $1,000 security deposit since there was no language in our rental confirmation that a deposit would be required. So we ended up renting from a local rental car company at the recommendation of a friend.

There’s a guy who basically runs a rental car company out of his house. Although we had to pay cash for the rental, there was no security deposit required which worked better for us. I also checked with our travel insurer and they advised that as long as we had a written agreement, they’d cover us in the event of an accident. However, I still made sure to review the terms of the agreement with the rental car company with a fine-tooth comb.

Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!

During our first week in Negril, we actually rented a house through AirBnB in the neighboring parish of Hanover. The house is in a secure, gated community with modern amenities. We really enjoyed our stay there which only cost us about $350 for a week. And having our scooter made it easy for us to go back and forth between Negril. As far as restaurants in Negril, I love Sweet Spice and 3 Dives Restaurant & Cliff Bar for great jerk chicken.

Just be aware that Jamaican men are particularly charming (I should know – I married one!), so just be sure to limit your Red Stripe intake and don’t allow yourself to be easily wooed.

I also really love Tastee for their delicious patties; we ate a patty for breakfast nearly every morning. And last but not least, there’s a restaurant known to locals as “corner bar”. It’s in a brown building with yellow trim, and it sits on a corner that you’ll pass as you head to the cliffs; there’s always a line. They serve the best curry conch, fried chicken, and brown stew chicken. Trust me, you’ll thank me!

Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?

Just be aware that Jamaican men are particularly charming (I should know – I married one!), so just be sure to limit your Red Stripe intake and don’t allow yourself to be easily wooed.

Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

Related Reading

Have you traveled to Jamaice? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell photo credit: unsplash.com

About Real Deal

Real DealOn the Real Deal, women share the highlights and challenges from their recent trip–and what they wish they knew before going.

2 thoughts on “Jamaica Travel: A Conversation With Dana Carmel Bell

  1. Avatar
    April 11, 2016
    Reply

    What age eat recap! I am Jamaican and look forward to exploring more of the island. The food is always very good as well.

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