Culloden Cove, West Moreland
It’s October here, and still scorching in Kingston. Hard to believe it’s autumn back in Ireland; most of us expats here are dying for some fresh air! To get away from the smothering city heat and relentless mosquitos, we got a gang together to rent a villa near Treasure Beach; a beautiful spot called Culloden Cove. And what a treat it was…
I picked up my husband (H) at 2.45pm from his office in New Kingston (the latest you can leave before Friday gridlock traffic brings the city to a fumey, sun-glazed halt). We snuck out just in time, our baby snoozing happily in the back. Of all the drives we’ve done so far, this is by far the easiest, with a long stretch of highway to Mandeville followed by fairly straight good roads, until the stunning descent to the coast. I drove, with H trying valiantly to write work emails on his Blackberry. Hard with me cheerfully swinging our jeep round corners though!
We followed our host’s excellent instructions, and found the villa just as the sun was setting, Culloden Cove is a 4 bedroomed villa, shady and private from the road, which spills into the most stunning garden filled with tropical flowers. This slopes down to an infinity pool overlooking the sea. Tucked behind it nearer the road, is a two bedroomed cottage, and the little house of the gardener who keeps an eye on the place. We’d rented the whole place as a party of 8 adults, 3 kids and 1 baby, and when we arrived a candlelit table had been set on the porch for supper.
The villa comes with two lovely ladies to look aftter you, who cook (and shop!) to order, keep the place beautifully clean, and were more than happy to mind the baby to give me the odd break. We ate royally; full breakfasts everyday with plates of fresh fruit, and on the 3 nights for dinner, we had coconut steamed fish with pumpkin rice, grilled jerk pork and chicken, and baked fish. Having fresh fish is a big treat here. While you’d think it’d be easy to get hold of in Kingston, the supermarkets stock hardly any, and I haven’t yet braved the roadside sellers with their freezer boxes at traffic lights, which seems to be how it’s done! All looks a bit dodge in the 35 degree heat…
After a wild Friday night of drinking like teenagers, we spent Saturday enjoying the villa with it’s private pool, shady hammocks and perfect little beach. On Sunday, we drove to Treasure Beach, about 45 minutes away, and Captain Dennis took us on a sunny boat trip out to see schools of dolphins before turning inland up Black River Great Morass into thick mangroves to spot a few crocodiles. With our baby looking exactly snack-size for these monsters, they seemed very close, but apparently Jamaican crocodiles are a ‘friendly’ sort and don’t cause to much trouble.
On the way back round the coast, our children conked out under towels from the beating sunshine and outboard drone, we stopped at Pelican Bar. This tiny ramshackle bar is a hut on stilts is built on a sandbar about 1km out to sea and must be one of Jamaica’s best spots for a Red Stripe.
In the dappled shade inside, rasta fisherman enjoyed a fast, furious, friendly game of dominoes over a few splifs. We left them to it, and took our beers into the waist deep, sparkling water revelling in how lucky were all are to be out here. Here’s to the husbands for all their hard work! While the late nights and frazzled heads are a high price to pay, the pay offs are pretty amazing.
This was our first trip to St. Elizabeth / West Moreland, (Culloden Cove is just over the border) and I hope it will be the first of many return visits. The countryside here is gorgeous, rolling green fields with happy cows grazing (The Pepper Dairy is on the way), winding country lanes, pretty colourful little houses and serene sandy coves. And, more than any place we’ve been so far, there is an air of laid back friendliness, with an easy mix of locals and tourists. None of the hassle and aggression of hot spots like Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, or the high rises of big resorts. This is the first place where I’ve felt safe enough to take the baby out in his stroller for a walk on my own, I only didn’t because it’s still far too hot! Roll on ‘winter’, we can’t wait for the days to get down to the twenties!
We’ll be back…