Negril

Destination Location

Negril
Hotel reviews summary
4.5

Our guest rating from 2 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.

Famous for its stunning beach, fresh seafood, and vibrant nightlife, Negril is draws visitors of all ages from around the world to enjoy its many splendors. Whether you are hear to scuba dive its azure reefs, or claim a seaside lounger with pina colada in hand for the duration of your stay, there is something for everyone in this town on the Caribbean Sea. 

Seven Mile Beach

While the beach is actually closer to five miles in length, locals and tourists alike insist on its ‘seven mile’ status, perhaps because it is the longest strip of continuous sand in Jamaica. Seven Mile Beach has been heralded the world over as one of the most pristine beaches; it is constantly included in travel magazines as one of the ten best beaches to visit. The Seven Mile Beach area is home to Negril’s most famous resorts and hotels, as well as a stellar collection of eateries and bars. Of course, the main draw to this particular area is the beach itself. Visitors can lounge on towels surrounded by butterscotch-colored sand, commune with aquatic life on a snorkeling adventure, or cruise across the Caribbean’s turquoise waters on jet skis and other chartered vessels.

West End

The West End neighborhood of Negril is located to the southwest of the town’s center. This area of town boasts laid back family-run accommodations that draw people who want to disconnect from their lives and sink away into relaxation. Many restaurants, bars and nightclubs are within walking distance of West End’s hotels, while the famous Negril Cliffs can be viewed by walking along the area’s main road, West End Road. Another major West End attraction is the Negril Lighthouse, which warns boats of the area’s sheer cliffs and draws crowds wanting to admire its beautiful architecture.

While many come to Negril to wash away the stress of their daily lives by catching some rays from a seaside lounger on Seven Mile Beach, others flock to the area for its numerous water sports, attractions, and adventure activities. From diving in Long Bay to hiking through the jungle to Dunn’s River Falls, there is plenty to entertain in this island paradise.


Sports

The area’s only golf course, Negril Hills Golf Club, is -- as the name suggests -- located in the hills above Negril. The 18-hole course fuses natural beauty with meticulously curated holes that are sure to both challenge and delight. Lush tropical vegetations lines the green course, which is dotted here and there with beautiful water features. Visitors will also find a club house, tennis courts, and a pro shop on site where they can buy anything they may have forgotten.


Outdoor Activities

Negril is a popular destination with scuba enthusiasts hoping to explore the depths of the cerulean Caribbean Sea. Dive sites like Shark Reef, Deep Plane, and King Fish Point allow divers to get up close and personal with the aquatic inhabitants the drift just below the surface. Keep an eye out for nurse sharks, barracuda, turtles, and territorial triggerfish. There are a number of dive shops offering fun dives, dive training courses, and gear rental in Negril, including Negril Adventure Divers and Scubacaribe.


The rocky shores of Negril also make for an excellent spot to snorkel. Rent gear from your hotel, or stop by an outfit like Scubacaribe to pick up your very own mask, snorkel and fins. Some of the best snorkeling is located roughly 30 minutes away from Negril in the reef area off of Lady Hamilton. If you’d like to explore lesser known reef areas, higher a guide through a tour company like Juju Tours.


For those who prefer to stay on land, why not take a ride through the jungle on horseback. Reggae Horseback Riding is a tour company that will set you up with a gentle horse and take you out on a day you aren’t likely to forget. Explore Negril’s lush vegetation before riding out onto the beach and through the shallow waves of the Caribbean. The tour company employs a photographer so your exciting day will be captured for you to share with envious friends back at home.


Historical Sites

One of the Negril’s main attractions is the Negril Lighthouse. This structure was built in 1894 and has been in operation ever since. It is a perfect example of one of the old concrete lighthouses in the world. In 1985, the light in the lighthouse, which rotates every two seconds, was given an update; it now runs on solar electricity.


Nightlife

For those who love the night, there is plenty to see and do when the sun sets on Negril. The area, which has become a hotspot for college kids during the spring break season, boasts a select of nightclubs and venues that host musicians and DJs. Wherever you go, you are certain to hear some reggae beats bumping from the speakers. Many of the best clubs are located on the beach, but be sure not to walk alone on the beach at night, as there has been some theft reported. The Jungle is Negril’s most famous dance club, though others have sprouted up alongside it, including Drifter’s Bar and Boat Bar.

Negril’s cuisine is a delicious fusion of fresh seafood, Jamaican spices and international flare. While there are several fine dining establishments in the area, most visitors opt for Negril’s casual beachside spots that serve up a variety of African, Spanish, East Indian and British dishes.


Seven Mile Beach

For an authentic treat that locals love, head to Niah’s Patties. These delicious patties most closely resemble empanadas that are filled with Jamaican-spiced meats and veggies. You can grab a prepared-to-order patty from this charming shack on the beach and enjoy your treat under a palm tree. For fresh seafood, head to Fireman’s Lobster Pit. Specializing in the freshest lobster and crab in Negril, this spot serves up their seafood topped with a homemade garlic and ginger butter that perfectly compliments the lightness of the shellfish. If you’re in the mood for a drink, sip a cold Red Stripe, Jamaica’s favorite beer, just steps from the warm Caribbean Sea at Tony’s Hut, an open-air bar on Seven Mile Beach that is the ultimate chill spot. For a livelier setting, head to Alfred’s Ocean Palace, where live bands and DJs entertain as guests sip on delicious Jamaican rum cocktails.


West End

Ivan’s Bar and Restaurant is known as one of the best restaurants in Negril from which to watch the sunset. While this restaurant serves superb seafood, the major draw is the restaurant’s location: from atop Negril’s cliffs, watch as the sun paints the sky in warm hues. Other famous eateries include Murphy’s and Rockhouse Restaurant, the latter of which is one of Negril’s finest restaurants. Rockhouse focuses on locally-sourced island cuisine made with ingredients grown in their own garden. Indulge in their divine menu while gazing out over the azure waters of the Caribbean. For authentic jerk chicken, head to 3 Dives Restaurant & Cliff Bar, a casual spot for some divinely prepared jerk-spiced delicacies.

Negril

Country: Jamaica

City By the Numbers  


Population: 6,900

Elevation: 68 meters / 222 feet

Average January Temperature: 25°C / 76°F

Average July Temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 and 120 volts, AC

Time Zone: GMT-5

Country Dialing Code: 1 876

Area Code: none

Currency: The Jamaican Dollar

Did You Know?

The name Negril is a shortened form of the word “negrillo” which the Spanish named the land in 1494. There are two thoughts regarding this name. Either it refers to the many small black eels found in the reefs off the coast of Negril, or it refers to the black cliffs that can be found just south of the town.

Orientation


Negril is located on the western tip of Jamaica along the Caribbean Sea.

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.

While Negril did not get transformed into a resort town until the second half of the 20th-Century, the area has been populated since long before the high-end resorts arrived. The Arawak Indians lived in Jamaica for centuries and it is believed that there was a small community that lived in Negril. This community lived somewhat apart from the rest of the Arawak nation thanks to an extensive marshland that separates Negril and the surrounding areas from the rest of Jamaica.


With the coming of Christopher Columbus, the Arawaks came face to face with the Spanish, along with diseases carried across the seas to the “New World”. Columbus claimed Jamaica for the Spanish crown in 1494 and named the island St. Lago. While the Arawaks fought to maintain control of their land, their population was eventually decimated and many Arawak women were married off to Spanish men. While no large Arawak community exists in Negril today, many of the people who live in the area are descended from Arawak families.


The Spanish maintained control over Negril and the rest of Jamaica until British troops seized the land in the name of the Crown in 1655. With the British came their slaves, who were brought to the country to work on sugar plantations when most of the Arawak communities had been killed off. After a century of slave uprisings, slavery was finally abolished and emancipation was enacted in 1833. Shortly after, Jamaica became a British colony with its own system of government.


Negril remained relatively unknown until the 1950s, when a road was built to connect Negril’s small fishing village to the rest of Jamaica. Before the road was built, visitors to Negril Bay had been forced to wade through the water in order to get to the land from the ferries that brought them to the area. With the construction of the road, the community living in Negril began to grow exponentially, especially in the 1960’s when hippies or “flower children” flocked to this area. Resorts began cropping up along Negril’s famous and pristine beach, including the famous Yacht Club by Mary’s Bay, which was the first resort to officially open in the area.


Today, Negril is known for its world-class dining, nightlife, beaches and casual vibe, even earning the moniker “the Capital of Casual”. The area boasts an astonishing variety of accommodations, including less expensive family-run hotels on the southern end of the beach and all-inclusive resorts on the northern end. Foreigners looking to escape their chilly countries flock to the area, as do some of Jamaica’s wealthiest families.

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.

When traveling to Negril, Jamaica, you'll fly into Montego Bay Sangster International Airport.

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.

Taxis in Jamaica are either metered or flat rate.

Departing from:

^Total 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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