I may have mentioned I rented a scooter for a few days. I enjoy riding a scooter in Jamaica. I did it in Treasure Beach last year, have done it in Negril most every time I’ve been there. Those are probably the only two towns in Jamaica that have scooter rentals, actually. I’ve never seen them anywhere else.
For the past few trips I’ve rented from Tyke’s Bikes located on the cliff road at Seastar Lane, next to the Wise Choice supermarket, just a bit before Rick’s if coming from town. I have dealt with Denton there since 2004 or so and he is always super helpful and gives me a nice deal for renting for multiple days. The scooters there are also all really nice and clean, never had any mechanical issues, and they are 125s, not little 50s, so you can actually pass a car or get up steep hills. They also rent dirt bikes and, I believe, bicycles. Denton gives me his cell number so if I have an issue he will come…but as I said, nice bikes, no problems. This time my scooter even had an almost full tank of gas which is kind of unusual in my rental experience. It sucks to have to go to the gas station first thing.
My friend Nene happened to take a video of me riding down to the beach one day as they followed in a taxi. As you can see, if you stay to your side, go with the traffic flow, always look out for cars/bikes/people pulling out, potholes, and honk at all the blind curves, it’s not particularly difficult.
I mainly use a scooter to ride away from town, into the country. I can and will use it to go places in Negril but there is a lot of traffic and it takes a fair bit of concentration for me to make sure I am being as safe as possible. As with a rental car, I never, ever have a drink if I am riding, and I put the bike away when it gets dark. The hospital closest to Negril is not one I’d like to depend on if I have a bad crash. I have known many people in Jamaica who have had minor crashes and wound up with road rash or even broken bones. One of our group was hit by a taxi on his motorcycle in the US and had just completed a many-months recovery from that, so I was perhaps more mindful than ever of the potential danger.
I do love to ride though, so I balance caution with risk and do it as safely as I can.
The beach road, aka Norman Manley Blvd is wide and fast and I did
take that out a couple of times, thinking to head to Half Moon Beach,
but every time I got past Negril heading east it started to rain. As
riding on a scooter in the rain, especially at high speed, isn’t really
all that fun, I generally turned around and headed for shelter.
one of these occasions I took shelter at Margaritaville. It was quite
crowded with tourists who, honestly, looked pretty annoyed that it was
raining. The vibe there is just not for me…so many day trippers who
view their visit there as their only “beach experience” outside their
resort. Big buses parked in the lot waiting for their three hour
excursion for lunch and beach time to finish. I got out of there as
soon as the rain let up.
Way back in January 2000 Paula suggested a motorcycle route to me and ever since, I make an effort to ride it, or a variation of it. The loop is normally one of these below. I don’t particularly like riding on the A2 as it’s narrow and fast, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I do the west end and hills part and turn around. Once or twice I’ve taken that road on the bottom right down to Little Bay or Brighton.
I did part of this several times. I like the route so much I wanted to share it with my friend Nene so she hopped on for a ride with me one day. I can take a passenger on the scooter but would really rather not in the town part, just can’t react as quickly as I might need to, to other cars and such. But out here, I’m fine with it.
Heading out from Tyke’s there is little traffic past Rick’s and even that disappears almost entirely by the time I reach Out of Town Pastry. Which, by the way, has excellent ackee loaf, callaloo loaf and patties. You have to get there early in the day though, they run out.
The next part of the road is potholed so requires caution and slow speed, that is the one that includes Tingalaya and Moondance Cliffs.
But after that there is a beautiful stretch that is smooth and open without any potholes. It’s just a huge field with the sea on one side and a high limestone cliff on the other. Sometimes there are cows, or goats. I never see people and very rarely another vehicle. On that stretch I will open up and go fast (well as fast as a 125 goes anyway). I smile now just thinking about the wind in my face on that part of the road.
This photo is from a different year but is that part of the road.
|That’s the limestone cliff.|
After that the climb up to “Westcliff” begins. The road narrows and there are switchbacks, but again few cars. It’s a residential area and sometimes if I stop I can see the sea behind me as I go up.
After Westcliff we move into Retirement and Orange Hill. These are Negril bedroom communities for some people, certainly, but they have their own vibe, their own things going on. People are friendly…I always get a lot of waves and hail ups when I ride back there.
Eventually we reach one of my favorite stops: Jamaica Jurassic Park. We came across it in 2000 and turned around to check it out back then…you just don’t expect to see giant pterodactyls and flowers just past rum bars and shops and homes. I met the owner, Danny, back then, and have since brought many people on rides with me to visit.
This is Danny. He is a talented artist who works in metal. The giant animals, flowers, people, and recently other things like Arthurian sword-in-stone are all his work. He also makes fancy gates for many hotels in Negril, and regular old burglar bars and grills. He is always busy when I stop by, yet he always makes time to come out and say hi and show me and my guests around, and to catch up on mutual friends and goings on.
There’s a bar and a gift shop. The shop has grown since I was last there
to include fancy furniture and many items I wish I could fit into a
suitcase. There are also candle holders and wine holders and other
items. If I don’t buy something, I get at least a Ting at the bar and
make a donation – there is no charge to come in and look around.
On the way back we scatter a herd of goats.
Riding around the country is always a high point of my trips. If they might be for you too, check out Tyke’s. Tyke’s Photos and Contact Info
Continue reading this series:
Yachts in Kingston