Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#156430 - 08/20/03 12:56 PM hey bobber...need a comparison...
mikell Offline
just discovered this chat area...as a new boardie who is researching a trip to AC this coming winter...

read a post which mentioned that you've been to negril and i would like to read how you would compare it to AC/San Pedro...

we loved negril last winter...but we're looking at AC as a place that might compare favourably...small, laid back, friendly...but better snorkeling...

we're not big resort type people...negril had a small town feel where you get to know people easily and feel relaxed all the time...i get the feeling that san pedro is much the same...

just wondering if we'll find the same vibe...how would you compare it?

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#156431 - 08/20/03 01:41 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
Bobber Offline
Probably tough to compare. We were in Negril in 91, during the Gulf War. The significance here is that the place was relatively deserted. We never had to put up with crowds at the restaurants, and the cab drivers would actually fight over the fares. They would take us to an eating establishment and wait outside for a couple of hours to catch us on the way out. If some other cabbie tried to grab us, they would exchange harsh words and once even came to blows.
From friends I have learned that the place has built up quite a bit in the last 10 years. Our decision not to go back was driven by some unrest at that time toward tourists by negative elements, we didn't really feel safe, and it had a real commercial feel to it in spite of the atmosphere. We also don't like to take taxis everywhere, or eat at the same places every night to avoid a cab ride. We enjoyed it, as we do all island vacations, but we were still searching for someplace with a little more. All the following places we went to (St. John, Bonaire, St Maarten, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and a few others) all offered something different, but also seemed to be missing something else. We decided to try Ambergris Caye, as we had previously done some research because my son always wanted to go there. Naturally, the first time we went, he didn't go (and hasn't yet. He's going with us in Feb.) From the first day on AC, it was apparent that this place was "different". The people were friendly, it was fairly small so we didn't need a car, the beer was drinkable and the food was very good and inexpensive. The feel of the place, and the laid back atmosphere is totally different than anything we'd seen anywhere else. You can do as much as you want, or as little. The people are friendly, the dogs and kids are friendly, nobody puts any presssure on you to spend money (but they do give you plenty of opportunities). The resort grounds are beautiful with plenty of palms and flowers.
As far as comparing, If you liked the "atmosphere" of Jamaica, I think you will love AC. The beaches are not comparable, so if you are predominantly beach people you might be disappointed, the diving is probably better if you want to take a boat ride, and snorkeling off the beach is not real great. A little boat ride can easily fix that. The dive operators we used in Negril were not very safety conscious, and the equipment was not well kept up. We found in Jamaica that their "No Problem, Mon" actually means "it's not me problem, mon, it's yours". If you dive or make tours (on AC), it's
not just as another tourist, you make friends with the operators and they look out for you. If you see them later in the week in town, they will say hi and chat. I think you're going to like AC. It's not for everyone, but since you have to make a little effort to get there, you're not plagued by the casual tourists, everyone else there made the same effort to get there. Follow the suggestions here on the board for places to eat and things to do and see. You may have noticed everyone has a favorite place to stay or to eat or a favorite dive operator. That's because most of them are very very good at what they do.
Enough rambling. If you liked Negril, I think you will like AC.
_________________________
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#156432 - 08/20/03 01:50 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
Bobber Offline
One other thing. This website is rich in stories and pictures. Check them out. Notice how even the sober folks are relaxed and happy. Go through some of the articles in the San Pedro newspaper on some of the local people. These are not just articles, they are real folks that you could run into at breakfast. You can get a great feel for the place through this website.
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Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#156433 - 08/20/03 01:57 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
mikell Offline
thanks so much for the detailed info...

our experience in negril was much more positve than yours...much of what you said about AC held true for us in negril...the friendliness of the business people we met included...

we are not beach people...stayed on the cliffs and went snorkeling right off them in front of our villa...that was incredible but only fair snorkeling areas...a boat trip to the reef was better...

we walked most places...found lots of great dining within a few minutes of our resort...but the cab rides to the beach area were hair raising! and yes...the constant pestering for rides was too much...but we got used to it...as we did the vendors trying to sell you stuff...it was never REALLY obnoxious...

i didn't find it too commercial...but san pedro sounds like what negril must have been 20 years ago...and i have the feeling we are really going to like it...we don't need a lot of attractions or ammenities ....just warmth and relaxation...

glad to have found this board and will keep reading for many suggestions...

:)mikell

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#156434 - 08/20/03 02:03 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
kippe Offline
No comparison! Have spent a lot of time in Negril, started going there in the Seventies, and to other parts of Jamaica as well, but I somehow always felt like a stranger. Went to San Pedro for the first time a couple of years ago and cried when I had to leave! Never cried when I left Negril.

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#156435 - 08/20/03 02:21 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
Bobber Offline
We had stayed at a place called Rondell Villas, maybe a mile or so outside of "town". We could walk the beautiful beach into town, but it was a hike. We did snorkel off the cliffs, and it was gorgeous, but not an everyday thing. We rented motorcycles and went off the beaten path. That was an experience (cows being herded up city streets, large estates with no road access and armed gaurds, kids that liked to throw rocks). I picked up my passion for warm water lobster at Rick's (blackened lobster with some raw sugar in the butter). We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The people we dealt with were friendly, but in more of a commercial way. We were kind of leary of the common working man, as we had been warned to avoid the everyday folk (and watch our backs at night). That didn't make for total relaxation.
We did snorkel the reef, and it was pretty, but the boat crew was inexperienced and we had some tourists that had a hard time floating in even salt water.
If San Pedro had a seven-mile beach (how many of those are around?) and easier access, it would probably turn into another Cancun.
We spent last Feb in Puerto Rico, on Culebra. Beautiful beaches, good snorkeling if you wanted to hike or boat, but very little else. Food was limited but good. It pointed out that there was a big difference between being relaxed and being bored. That was boring, AC is relaxing. Which is why we are going back.
One further point, the beaches on AC are not comparable to a seven mile beach, but are not bad either.
I think Kippe summed it up very well.
_________________________
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#156436 - 08/20/03 02:57 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
Bobber Offline
Just thinking about it Kippe. You're right. All of the places we've been, when the time came to go we were ready. And needed a week or so to rest up afterward. For those subject to it, the place gets in your mind and your body. Feels like home as soon as you get there, hate to leave, and withdrawal symptoms afterward. Feels more like you belong there, not just a short time outsider.
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Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#156437 - 08/20/03 05:20 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
evening Offline
Mikell-

No comparison! I've been going to Negril regularly since 1982 - and made my first (and most likely last) trip to AC this past April. I liked AC and loved Belize (I will definitely go back) but I guess the big difference is the hard drinking crowd in AC (just do a search for the word "Beliken" here and you'll see - no judgements here - my parents live on an tiny island and drink 10x the amount they used to) - compared to the laid back alternative wink you typically find in Negril! I will get flamed for this, but based on the comments from the majority of people on this board - but I am sure Negril attracts a more liberal type of crowd!

Then there's the chance to see Ziggy Marley or Wyclef Jean playing in a small neighborhood bar!

And the curried lobster at Erica's...

As one who regularly stays at older hotels on the cliffs, I can tell you the hotels/condo rentals in AC tend to be a lot newer (quieter air condition units) and less musty. But, nothing in AC can compare with Rock House's or Xtabi's cliffside cottages for location!

Toplessness/nudity is frowned upon in Belize (as it is in most of Jamaica, except Negril).

You definitely encounter fewer "hustlers" in AC, but will meet little boys selling bracelets for their father/sister/grandfather's brain tumor operation (it's fun to compare the stories with friends staying in different hotels). Some one just posted a message about constantly being offered drugs in AC, but no locals offered them to me in a week.

Hope this helps-
Eva

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#156438 - 08/20/03 06:17 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
dogmatic prevaricator Offline
Nice post, evening. I always go to Negril for Jamacian sojourns, and my eyes got red just reading your post.
_________________________
If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.

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#156439 - 08/20/03 06:27 PM Re: hey bobber...need a comparison...
Bobber Offline
"Hard drinking crowd"?, Oh please!

To each his own, I guess. No nude sunbathing? so what, most of the nudity I've seen elsewhere was perpetrated by folks who should be prohibited by law from ever being uncovered (exception, St. Martin). I was approached for drugs once on AC (in 3 trips), just said I was not interested and that was it. The bus to Negril had more joints than a spider, and everyone was hustling.
Evening, you are definitely the liberal. I seem to remember back in the early 80's Negril was basically a hippy/druggy hangout before it became a tourist hot spot.

But, to each his own.
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Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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