Travel

 Negril, Jamaica: The “trip” you need to take

Microdosing psilocybin, plus three other ways to relax and unwind by the crystal-clear waters of western Jamaica

  • Dec 05, 2023
  • 1,427 words
  • 6 minutes
The Cliff Hotel in Negril embodies warm Jamaican hospitality with amazing coastal views.
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In Jamaica, everything is amplified: the food is spicier, the music is louder, the colours are more vibrant… At least, they are when you’ve ingested psychedelics.

The ocean-blue yoga mat cushioning my body against the wooden floor at Rockhouse Hotel & Spa in Negril feels softer than the yoga mats I am used to. My body is completely relaxed as layered sounds of singing bowls, various drums, and guitar resonate through the light-filled studio in the hotel’s newly-opened farmhouse. A light breeze wafts a stray leaf through the window, and I feel it dance across my chest before settling beside my hand. I want to brush it away as its sharp corner pokes into my hand, but I don’t want to move any part of my body. We have just entered our second wave of guided breathwork, and I feel like I’m melting into the earth. I don’t know if it’s because the shrooms are kicking in or I am just deep in meditation, but either way, I am perfectly content.

Situated on the Caribbean Sea, Negril is known for its turquoise waters and must-see cliffs.
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This is the psilocybin sound bath experience at Rockhouse, a two-hour wellness journey that combines the healing powers of plant medicine with meditation, breathwork and sound therapy to help guests achieve maximum relaxation. The ritual begins with a small piece of locally-made Patoo Chocolate containing a microdose of psilocybin, popularly known as magic mushrooms. The chocolate disguises the potent earthy taste of the raw product, and the dose is carefully calibrated to induce feelings of mild euphoria and heightened sensory awareness while still allowing participants to function normally. 

Sativa Booker Mohamed, our meditation guru, guides us through a 30-minute energy session consisting of light stretches, breathwork and setting an intention for the practice. We are then invited to lie in Shavasana, a restorative yoga pose that involves simply lying on your back, palms facing up. I close my eyes and let the music being created by sound bath specialist Jeremy The Alchemist pull me deeper into a relaxed state. For the remaining hour and a half, Sativa drifts through the room, performing gentle touches on each participant’s scalp. Towards the end of the ritual, she gently brings us back to awareness by inviting us to start moving our fingers and toes. I roll onto my right side and slowly make my way up to a seated position, keeping my eyes closed as per Sativa’s instructions. It takes a moment for everyone to do the same, but once we are all sitting upright, we open our eyes and make our way to the centre of the room. We form a circle, connect hands and end the ritual with gratitude and a collective “Namaste.” The blissful sensation of peace lingers for a couple of hours, but it’s hard to tell if it’s the psilocybin making me feel relaxed or just the fact that I am in a tropical paradise.

Patoo chocolate is available in a 4g bar made out of 100 per cent cacao, organically sourced from Jamaica.
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The psilocybin sound bath experience incorporates the healing powers of plant medicine with meditation, breathwork and sound therapy.
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Jamaica’s shroom boom 

While the production, sale and possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin is illegal in Canada, the United States, Europe and other parts of the world, the Jamaican government has never outlawed the hallucinogenic fungus. In fact, Jamaica now has at least four psilocybin-focused resorts where travellers can experience magic mushrooms in a safe and controlled environment, and the trend is only growing.

Various cultures have used magic mushrooms in sacred rituals for thousands of years, but scientists are only recently coming to appreciate psilocybin’s versatility in treating and alleviating a range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer. The practice of microdosing — ingesting less than 0.5 grams of magic mushrooms at a time — has been shown in limited studies to lower levels of anxiety and depression while contributing to long-lasting improvements in mental health.

Of course, if you’re wary of experimenting with psychedelics, you don’t have to eat the chocolate to participate in the sound bath ritual. And there are plenty of other ways to find rest and relaxation in Jamaica’s westernmost town. Here are three to consider.

Open all year round, The Cliff Hotel features 22 luxury oceanfront suites and four private villas to choose from.
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Other ways to relax and unwind in Jamaica

The self-proclaimed capital of casual, Negril is famous for its iconic Seven Mile Beach, with its fully walkable waterfront, white sand and crystal clear waters. From sunsets that will make you scramble for your camera to fresh-caught seafood prepared with the mouth-watering flavours of the island, Negril has something for everyone to love.

Experience total body calm at The Cliff

From the balcony of my hotel room, I have a clear view of the grounds at The Cliff Hotel. The expansive pool winds around palm trees, ping-pong tables and outdoor bars while lounge chairs draped with beach towels beckon invitingly to passing guests. Beyond lies the ocean, where guests can either paddle in a saltwater pool or jump right into the surf from platforms of varying heights. I have already gone for a morning swim, taking full advantage of the complimentary snorkelling equipment to explore the sights below the surface. As I gently swing in the outdoor hammock on my balcony, I hear a knock at the door: breakfast has arrived. I sip on my Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and try to identify the tropical fruits plated in front of me. Most of them I have had before, but the slightly slimy yet tasty sweetsop had me stumped.

The outdoor yoga studio at The Cliff provides guests with the perfect place to relax by the sea.
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The Cliff Hotel features several pools, including a saltwater pool right by the ocean for guests to relax in without having to enter occasionally rough waters.
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After breakfast, I make my way through the property to the KiYara Spa, where a bright white yoga pavilion sits atop the scenic Negril Cliffs – the perfect place to focus on reconnecting my mind, body and soul in a one-hour yoga class. Breathing in the smells of the salty ocean air, I reach my hands towards the sky, then let everything go as I bend into a forward fold. For the remainder of the class, we are reminded to forget about our everyday troubles and instead focus on the present. The gentle flow involves poses like warrior II, triangle, tree pose, and of course, Shavasana to end the practice. The class leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.

The Jamaican breakfast at Just Natural includes ackee and saltfish, callaloo (Jamaican spinach), tropical fruits, homemade jam and dumplings.
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Try the local delicacies

  • For breakfast: Located a short distance from The Cliff is Just Natural, a locally-owned veggie and seafood restaurant, where the staff welcome you with a hearty “Wah gwaan,” which in Jamaican Patois means “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” (You might respond with “Irie,” meaning alright and fine.) The walls are decorated with old license plates, newspaper clippings promoting the restaurant, which was opened in 1998, and other memorabilia. Behind the kitchen is an expansive garden where sisters Christine and Theresa grow foods like ackee (a popular Jamaican fruit), mangoes, and many medicinal plants. With an interest in trying local dishes, I opt for the Jamaican breakfast and am treated to a full plate of ackee and saltfish, callaloo (Jamaican spinach), tropical fruits, homemade jam and a dumpling.
  • For dinner: The Caribbean rum punch is strong, the sun has set, and the live music at Jaybird’s Restaurant and Bar is making me want to get up and dance. But before I get the chance, the first course of the restaurant’s farm-to-table dinner arrives: pumpkin soup with zucchini chips. All of the ingredients used at Jaybird’s are grown on the property, which is situated right off Seven Mile Beach. I sample jerk shrimp and chicken skewers with a seven-layered salad and pineapple vinaigrette, guacamole and mango salsa with breadfruit chips, stuffed sweet peppers with steamed fish, and to finish it off, carrot cake with homemade coconut ice cream — washed down with rum punch, of course.
A "light bite" at Jaybird's: guacamole, mango salsa and chips made of breadfruit from the property's garden.
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An hors d'oeuvres at Jaybird's: jerk shrimp and chicken skewers with seven layered salad and a pineapple vinaigrette.
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Feel the rush of rolling water

Wearing a two-piece swimsuit to a waterfall wasn’t the best idea, I think as I battle the strong current at Benta River Falls, reaching for a guide with one hand while holding onto my top with the other. Located about a 45-minute drive from Negril, this hidden gem boasts seven waterfalls, a blue lagoon, and endless ways to play. I clamber up the falls, jump from a high ledge into the lagoon, slather myself in exfoliating mud and catch sight of the long tail of a black-billed streamertail hummingbird as it flits through the trees above. I even duck into a small cave behind one of the falls; thankfully, my swimsuit top stays put.

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