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In Jamaican, sand, the sun and the sea means "Negril".
Negril beach, located on the western side of Jamaica, is the longest continuous stretch of white sand in Jamaica. The Seven Miles of beach backed up by sea grapes and coconut palms is also one of the Caribbean's best beaches.
Geographically remote Negril lay undiscovered and sparsely populated until the late 1960s when wealthy hippies found it to be an ideal place to escape from the stresses of society and chill-out next to calm, crystal blue waters. Along with them, Negril developed a reputation for hedonism, marijuana smoking and nude bathing. During the 1990s however large resorts began to develop mega-hotels and Negril became somewhat mainstream.
Despite the development, Negril with its crystal clear waters and 7 miles of sand is still one of Jamaica's true gems. It remains the place for those who want to both chill out on a beautiful beach and indulge in some extra-curricular activities. Next to Kingston, Negril is the best place in Jamaica for live reggae and for divers, Negril's reef protected waters offer some of Jamaica's best swimming and snorkeling. For beach lovers, the soft sand and calm waters, with the occasional interruption from a peddler, make for a relaxing and sometimes interesting day.
The weather here is remarkably consistent year-round with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the low-70s. Activities in Negril mainly consist of long, peaceful strolls on powdery white sand, swimming and snorkeling in aqua-blue water, and clothing-optional sunbathing.
The resort area of Negril stretches for 15 miles from Bloody Bay to the north (called that because whales were slaughtered there a century ago) to Negril Point Lighthouse. By law, no building in Negril can be taller than the tallest palm tree. The result is that one gets the impression that the place remains fairly undeveloped.
In reality, Negril beach is lined with many hotels, inns, cottages and restaurants. A side note to those who visited during the 60s - do not return lest your heart be broken. For those who haven't visited, you will love Negril.
The West End of Negril is home to many little restaurants and smaller hotels. No two of the hotels in the area are alike. Accommodations run the gamut from tents and hammocks to suites complete with waterbeds, private jacuzzis and room service. When walking the beach, there is something magical as each of the resorts, cottages and small hotels look different yet, in their own way, appealing.
The west end of Negril is home to the "cliffs". This is the place where reggae throbs all night. It is also the place for incredible views of the sun setting into the ocean. Do not visit Negril without going to Rick's Café, named after Casablanca and decorated with all sorts of Casablanca memorabilia. At Nick's you can jump or dive off a volcanic rock cliff into a small cove or simply have a drink and watch some of the most incredible sunsets.
Although there's little sightseeing available, most visitors are just happy to relax and soak in Negril's atmosphere. The only building of any historical value is Negril Lighthouse, located at the westerly tip of Jamaica. Built in 1894, it offers a chance to climb some 100 steps for a view of Negril Point, the bay, and the sea inlet.
While the pristine beauty that originally attracted Negril's first visitors is gone, there is still magic in Negril. Chances are, while here, your main concern wont be whether Negril has been overdeveloped but it will be making it to your chosen spot along Negril's Seven Mile Beach. At some point though, you will leave the beach, perhaps after strolling along the water front and stopping for fresh fish cooked on a barbeque pit, served at tables overlooking the calm Negril waters. Once off the beach, visit Booby Key (or Cay), a tiny islet off the Negril coast. It was featured in the Walt Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. There is decent arts and crafts shopping in the area.
In the evening, Negril is a place where dressing for dinner means wearing a T-shirt over your bathing suit. The infinite variety of Negril's restaurants, eateries and bars has to be experienced to be believed. For lunch, do it on the beach at an oil drum barbecue cooking the local favorite Jerk chicken.
The only 2 words you need to use here are "No Problem! It is what they say in Jamaica, and Negril is the ultimate no-problem vacation.
Things To Do
Commercial flights and charters come in at Montego Bay. Charters will have a tour rep around who'll put you in a minivan for the hour and a half drive to Negril. If you came on your own, you may need a rented car or a cab. The road from Montego Bay to Negril is notorious for the reckless driving. You will not forget the ride.
The peak tourist season runs from mid-December to mid-April, with Christmas and Easter the busiest weeks. During this period the resort areas of the island are flooded with foreign tourists and hotel prices are highest. You can save wads of money (40% or more at some hotels) by visiting during the less-crowded low season that lasts from May to November