Adventure to Jamaica |

Adventure to Jamaica

Cassie Pence

“No worries” is a catch phrase that can do wonders for your state of mind. In Jamaica, it’s more than just buzz words thrown out around tourists – “no worries” is the country’s philosophy for living.Local Justin Cox has adapted the slogan to his travel business, Island Adventures, which he developed around his love for Jamaica. Cox offers a worry-free vacation to the island for an affordable price. Like hooking up with a High Country local who can ski you directly to the powder stashes on the mountain, Cox uses his experience visiting Jamaica to guide his clients to secret beaches and waterfalls, fish sanctuaries and safe off-the-beaten-path eateries that the usual all-inclusive type traveler would never get to enjoy.In 1999, Cox, like most young adults reaching the end of their college career, was in a rut, confused about what he wanted to do in life. Some friends were going to Negril, Jamaica, so on a whim, he threw everything he owned into one bag and hopped on a plane to meet them on the island for a little vacation therapy.

“It was the first time I had ever left the country. And it was something about the way the ocean air hit me when I stepped off that plane. It changed the way I lead my life,” said Cox.He returned to school, but Jamaica burned in his mind. The memories of sun and salty air were too strong for Cox to contain, so he withdrew from school to regroup and got a job selling Jamaica vacations for a travel company. His pay was to visit Jamaica for free. In the course of his reward trips, Cox learned everything he could about the island. It’s when Cox invited six friends to Negril and showed them a successful, authentic island vacation that he realized he could earn a living sharing his love of Jamaica with other people. “My friends had the best time. Traveling to Jamaica many times, I had already been ripped off, gone to the wrong places and done all the touristy things. So when they arrived, I knew the ropes, I knew the locals and could show them the right places to go. They really believed in me,” said Cox.

It was about this time he stumbled upon Villa Mora, a 25-year-old Jamaican family estate that, until Cox got involved, hosted mostly European travelers. Located across the way from Negril’s 7 mile stretch of beach, the estate’s friendly family-style service and garden of fresh banana, mango and coconut palms captured his heart and became yet another piece of Jamaica he was compelled to share.”The Cummings family waits on you hand and foot. And the food they make you, whether it’s Aunt Pam’s fresh baked loaves of Jamaican banana bread or Grandma Edna’s homemade Sour Sop juice, is incredible,” said Cox.”Justin fell in love with Villa Mora, and we fell in love with him and adopted him as our ‘JA-merican’ son. He began to expose us to people in the U.S. and other countries. He formed Island Adventures so he could share Villa Mora, along with his personal experiences in Jamaica, with others,” wrote Monica Cummings, owner of Villa Mora, in an e-mail from the estate.Everything is taken care of when you book a trip with Island Adventures. Cox secures flights and transportation from the airport to Villa Mora, and his seven day, seven night all-inclusive package includes air fare, lodging, breakfast each morning cooked to order at Villa Mora and three dinners per week prepared and served under the stars in the estate’s outdoor dining pavilion. Having only three meals at Villa Mora allows guests to venture else where and experience more of the Jamaican cuisine, said Cox.

“The whole vacation was great. Justin took care of everything and we just hopped on a plane. There were no hassles,” said Peter Simonik, who owns Vail Garage and recently returned from a Jamaica trip booked with Island Adventures. He plans to return again this year. “When you stay at Villa Mora you are not at a hotel, you are at home. Monica and her mother cook good local food, but my wife is less adventurous, so they cooked her American food,” added Simonik.Cox talks with his clients about what they like to do and then plans activities accordingly. In the past he’s taken guests on an exploration of the Black River, a mangrove sanctuary teaming with colorful birds and crocodiles, or to the Mayfield Falls, which are mineral springs. He’ll take you into the Blue Mountains to see fields of ganja, Jamaican for marijuana.

“Everyone on the beach knows Justin as ‘sour sop boy,’ a nickname we at Villa Mora gave him when he fell in love with one of our special Jamaican concoctions. Justin makes sure everyone experiences are as fun as all his have been. He will take you on a bike tour or snorkeling on one of the locals’ beaches,” said Cummings.”I feel like my purpose is to educate people about Jamaica,” said Cox.The seven night all-inclusive packages start at $950 per person. For more information about Island Adventures, log on to the Web site at or call 376-3935.

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or, Colorado

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