In the cab from the Montego Bay airport, my traveling group passed countless all-inclusive resorts and high-end hotels. We knew that many of the people in those complexes would only leave their resorts from time to time, looking for trinkets to bring back as souvenirs or places like Rick’s Cafe to investigate. We zipped past the countless pools, swim up bars, massage tables, all-inclusive buffets, and sleek marble floors housed inside the resorts dotting the beaches of Negril.
We weren’t going to one of the many polished-playhouses along the beach. We were going to the most western point of Jamaica, where the cliffs jut out over the ocean, the slapping of dominos can be heard on weather-beaten tables, and the locals can be seen hanging their wash on the line to dry. We were going to Daddy Coo’s Yaad.
From the moment Jody, Oliver, and Zika (the dog of the house) greeted us at the front gate, we knew this would become home-away-from-home for the week. Zika’s bark can be a bit intimidating at first, a good trait in a watchdog, but once she sees that you are welcomed by Daddy Coo, she becomes the sweetest little soul. If you love dogs, she will gladly welcome you with tail wags and kisses. We were extra spoiled because Zika just had an adorable litter of puppies before we arrived.
If you aren’t a huge fan of dogs, no worries. She will only sit close to your patio if you invite her to. Because we immediately fell in love with her, we invited her to keep watch over our space while we were inside.
The house itself was sparkling clean when we arrived. It had everything you might need for an extended stay. We were comfortable the entire time with stocked cupboards, wireless internet connection, and a great shower.
The inside was lovely, but our favorite spot was outside. Whether we sat up on the patio, laughing and playing cards into the evening, or sat down in the grass to get a better view of the occasional hummingbird zipping by, we instantly felt at home in the space.
The location of Daddy Coo’s is a good one. It is far from the tourist traps and traffic jams that can come from staying in the city center. It is also surrounded by some of the best food I have had on the island. Next door, you can find a little bakery that sells Jamaican patties filled with callaloo (a local green), ackee (a local fruit), or saltfish. It’s called Out of Town Pastries, but the locals just call it Pastry. Right across the street, you can find Just Natural– a vegetarian restaurant with a twist. The food is delicious, the owners friendly and welcoming. And the decor? Eclectic is the word that comes to mind.
Though the surrounding restaurants are great, there is nothing like a home-cooked meal. Oliver and Jody were kind enough to invite us to join them for a traditional Jamaican dinner. They gathered breadfruit from the trees, heated them over an open fire, and served them alongside a pan filled with onions and scotch bonnet peppers. Not only was it delicious, but it was pretty epic watching the cooking process.
Our favorite morning meal consisted of local eggs, callaloo, blue mountain coffee, and a variety of just-picked fruit.
Each morning we would wake to the sounds of roosters crowing, goats bellowing, hummingbird’s chirping and mellow reggae music playing. We would watch as Daddy Coo, a Rastafarian named after the peaceful coo of a morning dove, carried his basket of plants to the front gate where he would await his ride. He spends his day giving tours, pointing out local plants and herbs, and introducing tourists to the concept of plants as medicine.
Another benefit of Daddy Coo’s Yaad is that it is located just next door to Barney’s Flower and Hummingbird Garden. We didn’t pay admission, though we heard it was nice, as we saw plenty of hummingbird’s zip in and out of the yard across our stay. We enjoyed watching them zoom from the tiny house next door back over to our side of the gate.
Mornings may be most relaxing, but on every Friday night, Hylton Road comes alive. Expect to hear reggae playing, dominoes slapping, and locals shouting out as they pontificate, flirt and squabble into the night. It is all in good fun, even if it gets a bit loud. Don’t fret about the noise. It is perfectly safe to join the party and add your own noise to the mix. The people are kind and welcoming. An older gentleman, holding up his bike, replied, “Yah mon,” when asked for a photograph. When he rode on down the road, he turned and said, “One Love,” a salutation used by many on the island.
Oliver and Jody were delightful hosts. Not only did they invite us to dinner, but they also brought us to one of their favorite (free) swimming spots. We enjoyed it so much, we went every day and almost always had it to ourselves. It was located just a short stroll down the road from our Airbnb, a stroll filled with smiling faces, the smell of food sizzling on the grill, and the friendly ‘beep beep’ of passing cars.
We booked Daddy Coo’s Yaad because we just couldn’t beat the price. We didn’t expect all that was packed into that price: kind hosts, sweet pups, excellent eateries, and a feeling of relaxation one only gets when feeling truly at home.