Beach Bum Vacation

click here for information on Passports Transportation Security Administration

Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of State Travel Website

Beach Bum Cares

Weather Information

Weather Underground

Caribbean Weather

Helpful Articles

Question: Do I need a passport to travel to Mexico?

With new travel requirements coming into effect, many people are confused about whether or not they need a passport to travel to Mexico. The requirements are being phased in gradually and at present, they differ depending on the mode of transportation used to enter and exit the country.


Travel by air
The US Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires travelers entering or re-entering the United States by air to present a passport. Even though the Mexican government does not require a passport for US citizens visiting Mexico as tourists, they'll need to present one to go back to the United States by air.

Travel by land or sea
Currently, US citizens entering and leaving Mexico by land or sea must present either a passport OR a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. As of June 1, 2009 those traveling by land or sea will be required to present a passport or other WHTI compliant ID such as a passport card.

A passport is the best form of ID It's a good idea to get a passport if you're planning to travel to Mexico, whether or not it is an official requirement. A passport is the best form of international identification and having one may help you avoid hassles.

Jamaica: One love, many options Show Details...

ISLAND OUTPOST : Press Room : Press Releases
Jamaica: One love, many options
GETAWAY | Isle offers plenty of excitement -- or none at all, if that's what you prefer
March 9, 2008

I walked toward the dancing tiki torches, where a young waitress stood guard beside a single table covered with a colorful array of hibiscus flowers and Jamaican food. The ocean crashed against the rocky beach with the clarity of a Bose sound system.

It was an island scene lifted straight out of an episode of "The Bachelorette" (minus, sadly, the bachelors).

I was at Goldeneye, the 18-acre former estate of author Ian Fleming of James Bond fame. Fleming lived on the island while penning 14 of his 007 novels.

Located in Oracabessa, about 20 minutes from Ocho Rios, it was this view that prompted Fleming, when visiting Jamaica as a British intelligence officer, to buy land and one day retire here. And from this vantage point, it was easy to see why.

The third largest patch of land in the Caribbean, Jamaica has enough geographic and cultural diversity to rival most island chains. Whether you're looking for thrilling cliff dives or laid-back island life, it's all here. You just need to know which part of the island to visit.

Halfway between Port Antonio and Montego Bay and back-dropped by the St. Ann Mountains, Ocho Rios is a hilly northeastern oasis teeming with botanical gardens and enough waterfalls and rivers to sate a mermaid.

Time in Ocho Rios is best spent outdoors, whether it's climbing up Dunn's River Falls, checking out 500 species of ferns at Fern Gully or smooching dolphins at Dolphin's Cove.

"Ocho Rios is our favorite spot in all of Jamaica," said Robert Whorrall, who operates Beach Bum Vacation. "This is the garden area of Jamaica, with the largest collection of outdoor attractions. It's a bit of a drive, but it's worth it."

The good news for Ocho Rios fans is that the main highway has been widened and repaved -- and that means a former 2 1/2-hour drive from MoBay is now just more than an hour.

Caves and cliffs aplenty

Over on the island's west coast, 50 miles from Kingston, Negril's beautiful Seven Mile beach and hippie escapist vibe once lured the bohemian set.

Today, there are two main areas, the East End's Seven Mile beach, the island's longest continuous stretch of fluffy sand, and the West End, where resorts are precariously perched beside a 35-foot drop.

Both areas are jam-packed with lodging options. All-inclusive resorts reign on the beach, among them Sandals Negril, Grand Lido and Swept Away. Boutique-style hotels dominate the West End. Despite the buildup, Negril still feels artsy and freewheeling. It lays claim to the only officially sanctioned nude beach in all of Jamaica, not to mention Hedonsim resorts, where being naked is practically required.

And with a pumping nightlife scene, from hotel clubs to random bonfire gatherings on the beach, there's enough late-night action to occupy the most inexhaustible party animal.

My idea of fun tends not to involve rum-filled water gun "shots," so I opted for the West End. (FYI, when a Jamaican holding a plastic pistol tells you to "just close yor eyes mahn and ohpen yor mouth," you'd better not be in AA.)

With sheer cliffs plunging toward the turquoise sea, these West End resorts are not accessible the way others are on the beach. In other words, no one is scaling the 35-foot cliffs to wander past your secret sunbathing spot.

Given the sheer vertical drop, a favorite pastime in Negril is cliff jumping -- not just at the famed bar Rick's but at hotels, too. (For a more down-to-earth feel and higher leap than you'll find at Rick's, continue down the road to Pirate's Bar.)

I checked into the Caves, a boutique hotel that is, along with Goldeneye, part of the Island Outpost resort collection. It boasts countless plunge-points along its winding property, with one hovering right over a small cave pool. It's like a thrilling consolation prize for being away from the sand.

As its name would suggest, the resort has several Batmanesque caves. I rose early one morning to take advantage of the calm seas and descended one of the nearly vertical staircases to the sea. Snorkeling toward one of the caves, I sliced right through a massive school of silvery guard fish. When I arrived at the cave and lifted my head out of the water, red bats screeched above me.

That night I returned to cave dwelling -- only this time I was in a cavern reserved for private dinners. Instead of bats, there were hundreds of candles and bougainvillaea lay scattered about like grains of sand.

Hidden treasure

Driving about three hours south from Negril through twisting and often unmarked roads, I landed at Treasure Beach, a gorgeous stretch of fishing villages along Jamaica's southern coast. Considered Jamaica's "bread basket" because of the bounty of fruits and vegetables generated here, this is old Jamaica, where you wake up to the sound of fishermen singing.

The closest shopping and restaurant area is Black River some 30 minutes away. You don't come here for evening action -- other than fish leaping in the early moonlight. You come here to chill in a hammock and experience what the rest of Jamaica felt like once upon a time.

I arrived at Jake's resort, a meandering collection of private suites and rooms with a funky, artsy vibe. Three oceanfront Octopussy suites each have outdoor bathroom walls made of an amalgam of seashells and glass bottles and roof decks with daybeds that look custom made for romantic interludes.

As we glided along the Black River, snowy egrets darted between red mangroves and crocs sunned themselves.

After a peaceful half hour, Ted asked if I liked crab. Before long we pulled up to a ramshackle hut called Sister Lou's. A trail of crabs was literally crawling from the water onto her front yard, marching to their death. I'm glad they did, because this was some of the tastiest garlic- and butter-drenched shellfish I've ever eaten.

On the way back we stopped at the Pelican Bar, a wooden hut surrounded by ocean -- the perfect spot to sip a Red Stripe and feast on more fresh seafood. But you have to plan ahead, ordering your meal in advance through the hotel front desk or your boat captain.

Even though Treasure Beach has the pace of a long, satisfying yawn, there are signs of development: not too long ago Jake's opened Calabash Bay, a pair of villas five minutes away from the main resort. Even the intimate Goldeneye is about to morph into a full-fledged resort with 40 villas, 32 beachfront suites and a new spa.

As I watched the sunset from the rooftop of my Octopussy suite, I thought about how my adventure began in Fleming's home. Now, it was ending in a suite not only named after one of his novels, but situated on a part of the island that seemed to capture the essence of the Jamaica that once inspired Fleming to park his pen.

Who knows? Maybe one day I will too.

Nicole Alper is a Philadelphia-based free-lance writer.

Jamaica, three ways

Ocho Rios

Located on a cove on Jamaica's northern coastline, Ocho Rios has lots of large resorts close to outdoor adventure.

BEST BEACH: It doesn't get more private than the slice of sand at Goldeneye with its own sound system built into the rock and a tub carved into the cliff where Fleming taught his son to swim.

GET WILD: Don't let Steve Irwin's freak accident keep you from visiting one of the island's great new attractions, Stingray City on James Bond Beach, where you can swim with these usually harmless and cuddly creatures.

MEMORABLE MEAL: Head to Harmony House's Toscanini for delicious Italian Jamaican fusion set on a garden veranda.


Known as the most laid back city in Jamaica. Come here if you prefer resort casual to buttoned up.

BEST BEACH: Any section of the famed Seven Mile Beach.

GET WILD: At Mayfield Falls, a relatively undiscovered version of Dunn's River, you'll pass underwater caves before returning along a cow-filled pasture.

MEMORABLE MEAL: A five-course dinner in one of the Caves' two caverns costs $300 a couple.

Treasure Beach

Jamaica's "bread basket" is chock full of nature's bounty and has an easygoing feel. Come here to hang with locals.

BEST BEACH: Not known for its beaches, Frenchman's is a nice slice of sand next to Jake's resort.

GET WILD: Take a bird-watching trip in the Rio Grande with Grand Valley Tours or ride a tractor-drawn jitney to the YS Falls, where you can play Tarzan on a rope swing.

MEMORABLE MEAL: If it's a full moon, have someone at Jake's arrange for a fresh-caught seafood dinner at Pelican Bar.