Negril

Hotel reviews summary
5.0

Our guest rating from 4 reviews

Overview

Negril is known as one of the most laid-back places in Jamaica, especially when compared to the larger north-coast towns of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio to the east.

Endless stretches of white sand beach and flower-fringed rocky coves hug the windswept coastal highway. About an hour's drive from the airport in Montego Bay, the former hippie enclave retains its same charm as when travellers discovered it 50 years ago. 

Before the first road was built from Montego Bay to Negril in the early 1960s, the region was an isolated fishing village. Once the roadway was built, Negril opened to visitors, who were captivated by its sweeping 11-km-long beach and stunning black cliffs along its western edge.

In Negril, craft shacks and bars mix with upscale resorts, quirky inns and boutique hotels perched atop dramatic rocky outcrops. Unlike the more serene, family-centred activity areas near the beach, the places on the cliffs are a little older, more upscale and sophisticated.

The same relaxed hippie culture that existed five decades ago lures many carefree travellers back to Negril for return visits. The pace is relaxed and despite the passing decades, Negril's free-spirited vibe remains largely unchanged. Most locals are particularly respectful and interested in engaging with visitors who have children, even if just to braid hair or sell beaded jewelry.

Off the beach, tour operators offer many engaging adventures around the city. You can go on horseback rides, dune buggy adventures or ATV tours through local villages. There's also zipline canopy tours over the jungle and boat trips up the Great Morass swamp.

Negril is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • nightlife
  • shopping and dining

Events of interest:

Reggae Marathon

The Reggae Marathon, held in December, is Jamaica’s premier international marathon event. Marathoners, both experienced and beginner, converge in Negril, Jamaica’s capital of casual, for a fun event characterized by good vibes and lots of reggae music. Enthusiastic supporters come out along the out-and-back, internationally certified course to support participants. At each mile, hard-working volunteers offer uniquely packaged water and hydration drinks, and the pulsating reggae music keeps participants in an “irie” spirit. All in all, Reggae Marathon is uniquely Jamaican with an international appeal.

Bob Marley celebrations

The first week of February features activities throughout the island to celebrate the life and achievements of music legend Bob Marley. Activities in Jamaica usually include a service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and ceremonial laying of plaques at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.

Airport served by: MBJ

Destination basics

Negril enjoys average temperatures between 27 C and 30 C, and its wide bay is fortunately tempered by cooling breezes. From June to September, late afternoon or evening thunderstorms may affect one town for 30 minutes but completely skip the next.

Be sure to travel with a rain hat and be careful out on the water when kayaking or participating in other water sports – calm breezes can quickly turn into strong winds here.

When travelling to higher elevations such as Mayfield Falls or other parts of Cockpit Country, you'll come across cooler temperatures. Pack a couple of lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants to wear in air-conditioned restaurants and to protect against biting insects. And don't forget to bring your bug repellent along, even to the beach, as the sand flies can be troublesome.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Negril

Jamaica has a long history of foreign rule. First, the Spanish occupied the island, with Christopher Columbus discovering Jamaica and its native Arawak population. Then, it became a centre for pirates and bootleg traders. The British also occupied the area until the 19th century. In 1962, Jamaica gained independence.

The many hardships the people of Negril have endured has created a culture of resilience, patience and good humour. Locals are sometimes cautious of strangers, but if you take the time to say hello and ask them about themselves, you'll be swapping stories in no time. In Negril, there are many great opportunities to learn more about local culture, so take the time to talk to locals.

Music is also a big part of Negril's cultural make-up. Reggae legend Bob Marley became an international superstar singing about the people of Jamaica. He encouraged the world in his song One Love to “get together and feel all right.”

Today, most of the music venues can be found along the west cliffs, including the world-famous Rick's Cafe. It attracts the biggest crowds in early evening. A live reggae band plays tunes by Marley and others as the sun sets. The cafe is popular for its local “acrobats” who perform elaborate high dives for tips – plunging over 10 metres from wooden platforms erected in trees high above cliff faces.

Religion is another important aspect of Jamaican life, with more than 90 per cent of residents practising Christianity. About one per cent of Jamaicans are said to practice Rasta – more of a lifestyle than a religion – made famous by Bob Marley and other reggae artists like Peter Tosh and Ziggy Marley.

When you visit Negril, it's the people, foods and sights you encounter that will create your most lasting memories, long after your last pina colada.

The U.S. dollar and credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shops and almost all other attractions in major cities where tourists visit. If you're planning to leave the tourist areas and visit local shops on the outskirts of town or in the rural areas, you'll need Jamaican dollars. Most Jamaican ATMs accept international bank cards and dispense funds in Jamaican dollars. Exchange rates can vary daily so it's best to shop around for the best rate before converting your cash.

Beaches are Negril's main attraction but the coastal highway is also quite scenic, lined with cattle and goat farms, orchards and hidden bays.

Cockpit Country towers over the entire stretch of coast from Montego Bay to Negril. More than 300 plant varieties such as ferns, shrubs and trees dominate the rolling inland areas. There are also plenty of palms, orange groves and fruit trees of every possible variety (including pineapple, coconut, mango and avocado).

Just inland from town is the Negril River, winding through crocodile swamps and protected wetlands. If you'd like to explore the river, tours can be booked through licensed local operators.

Offshore, you'll find Negril Marine Park. Here, snorkelling and deep-water diving are particularly good along the abundant coral reefs. There are also some good snorkelling areas closer to shore, especially off the cliffs near the Rockhouse Hotel, Rick's Cafe and the Negril Lighthouse.

Negril spans the beaches at the east end of the island, home to most of the big-name resorts such as Sandals, Hedonism II and Riu. The resident population of Negril is around 3,000 but the community itself is very spread out. There is one main road running west to the city's small downtown. Rent a bicycle or hire a guide to see the town properly.

After crossing the Negril River bridge, you'll circle the roundabout at Time Square Mall. This small strip mall is a convenient place to stop for cold drinks and snacks or to use the ATM machine. The road then curves right and makes a sharp left at the sea. It continues along a stretch of West End Road (also known as One Love Road) to the section of town on the cliffs.

Taxis in Jamaica are either metered or flat rate. Rates are charged by the car, not by the number of passengers. Check with your driver prior to the start of your trip for rates and details. To arrange taxi services, most hotels and resorts have assigned Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) or Jamaican Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) drivers who carry photo ID and display a JTB or JUTA sticker on their front windshield. Tipping your driver is recommended – about 10 to 15 per cent is customary. Travellers should be aware that trips taken between midnight and 5 a.m. run on a standard tipping rate of 25 per cent on top of the metered fee.

Roundtrip transfers between the airport and your hotel can also be purchased in advance by contacting WestJet Vacations at least three days prior to your departure. Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and bicycles can also be rented for the day or for the week from most resort locations.

Car rentals are also available in Jamaica, but not recommended. Driving here is on the left hand side of the road and you must be at least 23 years old (and have a valid credit) to rent.

Check with your Jamaica Tours Limited representative or your hotel concierge for further information on transportation.

Arrival

When traveling to Negril, Jamaica, you'll fly into Montego Bay Sangster International Airport. During your flight, you will receive a double-sided Jamaican Immigration/Customs form (one per person including infants). The customs section of the form only needs to be filled out per family. Please note that this section must be complete in order to be stamped by immigration officials upon arrival.

After a brief stop at baggage claim, you'll show the stamped portion of your form to a customs officer. When you depart, you will need to present this form once again to outgoing immigration. So, be sure not lose this portion of the form – screening at outgoing immigration will be much lengthier in the event you do. And, don't forget to sign your form before returning it.

Guests should also be aware that a transfer or return flight ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required upon entry into Jamaica. So make sure to have your return WestJet ticket accessible in your carry-on when you arrive.

If you have purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, look for a Jamaican Tours Limited representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign after you exit the customs area. Then, simply identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest. Welcome to Jamaica mon!

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the check-in counters in the departure area of the Montego Bay Sangster International Airport. An airport tax of J$1,000 is charged upon departure but when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in your ticket price.

If you have some time to spare before your flight, the Montego Bay airport has all the shopping conveniences of an international airport, including duty free shopping. There are also many places to grab a bite to eat, as well as business, play and lounge areas to pass the time before your departure.

Vaccination

Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in Jamaica, the Jamaican government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to show proof of vaccination. It is also always recommended that you stay up-to-date on standard vaccines. Check with your local clinic for more information.

Jamaica uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

There's a local saying that life never stops in Negril and nowhere is this more true than on the public Seven Mile Beach just east of downtown. Here, a collection of beach bars, villas, tiny rooms for rent and long-established accommodations like Negril Treehouse Resort and the Firefly Beach Cottages bring the same visitors back year after year.

The food in Jamaica includes local specialties like fresh coconut water, spicy jerk chicken and pork roasted over branches from the pimento tree. The foods taste and smell of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices.

Expect to see various food vendors with their distinctive black, soot-stained smoker drums along the main road, particularly around dinnertime. A filling meal of chicken with bread and rice costs only C$5 for two people. Add an extra 75 cents and you can get a cold Jamaican Red Stripe beer.

In Negril, there are also many locally made rums and liquors, due to the island's extensive sugar cane crop. Jamaican rum comes in dark, light and everything in between. Try them straight up or in mixed cocktails. Appleton Estate is a favourite and the nation's biggest export.

If you're looking for adventures in Negril, there are many activities outside the town proper. Take a boat tour of the Great Morass swampland, running inland from the South Negril River. Or go horseback riding or out on an ATV tour of Sandy Bay.

If you're looking for something a bit more laid-back, take an interpretive nature walk, or visit a crocodile lake at Rhodes Hall Plantation. Explore nearby caves, snorkel off the beach and dine at Bay View Restaurant with a wonderful view overlooking the sea and plantation.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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