Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica
Take A Leap of faith at the Rick’s Cafe
The world renowned Rick’s Cafe is the adventurist’s greatest delight. Cliff diving, live entertainment, scrumptious food and drinks; and all topped off with a breath-taking view. This is exactly what you need to make the perfect recipe for a day out on the town.
Located on the western side of the island in Negril, Jamaica; this long time favourite has been a local and tourist hot spot since its inception in April 1974. Rivaling Jamaica’s other world famous travel destination, the 7-Mile Beach; this stony oasis began when Richard ”Rick” Hershman bought this cliff-side one-and-a half acre property and began his quest to open the first public bar and restaurant on the West End of Negril.
The lure and popularity of Rick’s Cafe has since exploded into a phenomenon where persons from far and wide come to test their courage, resolve and sometimes their senses to dive from one of the numerous diving sites. With the highest cliff being estimated to be approximately 35 feet!!! So for all you risk takers out there. I salute you soldier. Hoo Ha!!!
A little while back my boyfriend and I made the trip to Negril for a vacation weekend. And on the top of our list of things to do was cliff jumping from the infamous Rick’s Cafe. The journey from Kingston to Negril is a 4-hour long journey that sees you travelling from the eastern part of the island to the western part. We started our journey via the North to South highway; choosing to take the North coast rather than taking the route via the south coast which is also an option.
How to get there:
As mentioned before we began our journey via the North to South Highway (Edward Seaga Highway) and then traveled through the parishes of St. Ann, St. James, Trelawny, Hanover then finally the parish of Westmoreland. The route is a pretty straightforward one to be honest and it’s hard to get lost. Plus with the invention of google maps, you have an eye in the sky helping to direct you.
After making the 1-hour drive on the highway, you take the first exit from the round-a-bout and take the route via St.Ann’s Bay to Runaway Bay and beyond. This trans-parish route will see you taking 1-hour to arrive in Trelawny; another hour for St. James. Note that while in St. James you don’t go into the city of Montego Bay, instead stay on the outskirts of the city and continue towards Hanover and then finally Negril, Westmoreland. Trust me, it truly is a straight route.
If you happen to not drive and take the Knutsford Express, then it may take you a little longer to arrive when you factor in the different destination stops. The first time I travelled to Negril on my own accord, I took the Knutsford Express and it was a pretty smooth ride. For all you novices out there, if you don’t have someone picking you up then it’s usually cheaper to exit the Knutsford and take a route taxi to your destination. Although, if you’re worried about safety then you can stick to the chartered taxis that are available on the Knutsford’s grounds. When I took the Knutsford, the on-site taxi was charging us $15 USD to drive us 10 minutes to our villa. Whereas, the route taxi charged us $700 JMD. for the same and the price was only more because of our luggage.
Once you enter Negril; it’s about a 15 to 20 minute drive from the Negril square to Rick’s Cafe.
History of Rick’s Cafe:
The story of Rick’s Cafe began in the year 1974. Prior to this, the cliff side property was owned by a local doctor and son of the first Governor-General of the newly independent Jamaica, Sir Kenneth Blackburne. pause for a second. Who remembers Jamaica’s self-produced soap opera from back in the day? Royal Palm Estate with the Blackburn family. And then the series later became known as the Blackburns. I wonder if there’s any relation…….. Hmmmm………..
Okay, back to regular programming. At the time, the coastal fishing village of Negril was scant of establishments for social and recreational pleasure. Although, already well-known for its pearl of the West, The Seven Miles Beach, there was little else there for the masses. So when Richard “Rick” Hershman bought the property in 1974, he set out to open Negril’s first public bar and restaurant in the area that possessed such a magnificent view of the sunset.
The resilient property has since survived the destructive nature of 2 hurricanes; Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Fortunately, the property has re-opened to be a bigger and better than it previously was.
What to do:
As mentioned before, the Rick's Cafe sits on top of the cliffs at West End in Negril. Therefore, it is popularly known for having an unmatched view of Jamaica’s beautiful sunset. Some even say the best time to venture there is closer to the end of the day.
At a height of approximately, 35 feet, the main attraction of Rick’s Cafe is performing the daredevil-like dive off its highest diving point. There’s also the added excitement of watching the local divers perform daring stunts for the audience.
When we arrived at Rick’s Cafe at around 2 pm, everything was already in full swing. And by 5 pm we truly experienced the full glory and vibes of the place. There were people just hanging around the cliffs and jumping. While the local cliff jumpers entertained tourists for a small fee to watch them jump and perform acrobatics. There was even a boat load of tourists from a neighbouring hotel who came by to try their own hand at cliff diving.
The is also a bar and cafe on property that caters to all your food and drink desires. The restaurant at Rick’s Cafe offers an extensive menu to accommodate any taste, including steak, pasta, seafood and chicken. And the bar offers a plethora of beer and mixed drinks, including the popular drink, ‘sex with Rick’. Often times visitors take a stop by the bar to get some liquid courage before finally testing their reserve and cliff jumping.
I must admit though when it came my time to jump I chickened out. Despite getting offers from different visitors to jump with me. Parents were leaving their kids to offer. The kids were leaving their parents to offer. I even incited a small cheering squad encouraging me to jump. And you know what….. my punk ass just couldn’t do it. Instead I went to the lowest possible ledge and did a baby walk into the sea. I mean hey I touched the water.
So, If you’re a little less daring, don’t worry because there are many diving levels to accommodate your comfort level. Parents can jump, children too, grandparents if you dare. It’s a great adventure for the whole family.
And if not even liquid courage and a cheering squad of onlookers cannot convince you to jump from even the lowest clip, never fear, just sit back and enjoy the breath-taking sunset as you are lulled and serenaded by the cool sounds of the live band. And my oh my is the sunset beautiful. A stunning view of the shades of oranges and browns splashed across the sky.
Over the years, Rick's Cafe has received numerous awards celebrating the spectacular location it continues to be. Awards include the “Best Caribbean Live Reggae Bar” and the “Best Caribbean Sunset” by Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine. And it’s no wonder. The eclectic yet masterful mix of daredevil diving from local divers, the feeling of exhilaration when you take your first leap, the delicious libations and the sultry sound of the live band all on the background of a beautiful, awe-inspiring sunset; contribute to an experience that is unrivaled by none.
So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to go on your Rick’s Cafe adventure yet?
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