The Markets of Negril, Jamaica

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World markets hold an intense fascination for me. One of the first things I set out to explore when I arrive in a new city is the local market. Many times there is one central market that houses everything from produce to meat to handicrafts. But the markets of Negril, Jamaica, were separate.

markets of Negril

This lovely lady at the Negril produce market gave me a quick education on the tropical fruits of Jamaica. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

I arranged for Allen, my local guide, to drive me into the downtown area of Negril and show me where each of the markets was located. (You may remember Allen as my escort to the Bob Marley 70th Birthday Bash.) Luckily, the distance between them was easily walkable so Allen dropped me off at an ATM to restock my coffers and then I was off for a few hours of exploration on my own.

The Produce Market in Negril, Jamaica

My first stop was the produce market. It was much smaller than I had imagined it would be, only having four stalls. And from what I could tell, they all pretty much sold the same things … tropical fruits, yams, beans and callaloo. (If you ask a Jamaican about callaloo, they’re likely to tell you it is “Jamaican spinach.” But I found the taste and texture to be more like collard greens.)

markets of Negril

Callaloo is a leafy green Caribbean vegetable often referred to as “Jamaican spinach.” Image credit: Cherri Megasko

As I watched a few customers come and go it appeared as though they each had their favorite vendor. I stopped at the first one I came across and quickly chatted up the proprietor. She was a beautiful, gracious woman more than happy to give me a crash course in the tropical fruits of Jamaica.

markets of Negril

At the produce market in Negril, I bought a sweetsop, soursop, custard apple and Jamaican apple to sample later in the day. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

I walked away with four interesting specimens to sample later: soursop, sweetsop, custard apple and Jamaican apple. My newfound friend washed and cut up one extra Jamaican apple and insisted I take it with me to eat while I walked. So with Jamaican fruit in tow, I headed off to the craft market.

The Craft Market in Negril, Jamaica

I wish I could say that the craft market in Negril was different than all the other craft markets I have visited in developing nations. But for the most part … it was the same. I was struck, however, by a couple of woodcarvers who did actually appear to make the things they sold. Their craftsmanship was impressive but their prices were beyond what I had in mind for the few souvenirs I had come to buy.

markets of Negril

This colorful vendor at the craft market in Negril said his name was “Best Man” … because he is the best man. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

The market was composed of dozens of stalls housed inside a labyrinth of ramshackle buildings. Each one had a proprietor competing for my business, making me promise to “come see me next.” It was depressingly slow the day I was there, making it even more difficult to ignore their bids. One woman even followed me around her store fanning me as I pretended to browse.
I bought more than I needed and paid more than I should have. But I left feeling good about the experience and the hospitality of the Jamaican people.

The Fish Market in Negril, Jamaica

Like the produce market, the fish market in Negril was much smaller than I had imagined. I found it to be quite interesting, though. Smalltime local fishermen were the suppliers as opposed to large fishing vessels. The market was located right on the water, and as the fishermen came in with their catch, they would spill them out onto one of only a few concrete surfaces. The fish would be sorted, weighed and sold, and customers would then wait in their vehicles (or on their scooters) while workers cleaned and scaled their purchases for a small fee.

markets of Negril

Local fishermen sell their catches at the fish market in Negril, Jamaica. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

The entire market area was no more than about 30 feet long. The only fish I saw were small, and it appeared they were being sold just about as quickly as they were coming in. Allen put in a request for an octopus for me when we stopped by earlier, but in two days’ time, one was not caught.

markets of Negril

One of my best bites in Jamaica was a crayfish fritter I bought at the fish market in Negril for 50 cents. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

Interestingly enough, one of my best bites of this trip was from the fish market. A worker was selling homemade crayfish fritters for about 50 cents apiece, and they were absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend them, as well as a visit to each of these markets of Negril. It’s a great way to get a feel for the true culture of the people and hopefully spread a little love along the way.

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37 thoughts on “The Markets of Negril, Jamaica

  1. Robin Masshole Mommy

    that sounds like a very unique, yet really fun shopping experience. It’s definitely something you can only experience while you’re there.

  2. Kathy

    I have always wanted to go to Jamaica. I thought it would be a great experience. Markets are a wonderful place for produce. My husband works at markets over the summer, so we get a lot of great produce.

  3. Freya

    I love visiting fresh food markets. There always colorful and you learn so much about a place and the people when you visit places where the locals buy their food

  4. Camesha

    I have to get to Jamaica! My dad loves it there. It would be awesome to sample some of the local produce. Lots of things I’m not familiar with.

    P.S. Love the explanation behind “Best Man” lol

  5. Bonnie @ wemake7

    I have always been fascinated with Markets like that too but have never seen them in person. Have got to put that on my list to do in my lifetime.

  6. Rebecca Swenor

    I have always wanted to go to Jamaica since I can remember. Maybe some day I will be able to visit there and get one or two Crayfish Critters. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Esti

    I was in Negril a couple of years ago and I totally regret not having the time to spend at the local market. The experience you had is so important and can really give over the real feel of the place. Just have to say, how cool is that you went to Bob Marley’s 70th Bday Bash???

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Definitely! I can’t promise the gal with the fritters will still be at the fish market, but it’s definitely worth a try … they were awesome!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      There wasn’t anything I tried that I didn’t like. Sampling new foods from different cultures is one of my favorite things to do while traveling.

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