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On Jamaica's west coast, just an hour's drive from the airport in Montego Bay is Negril. Known as a laid-back city with a reputation of being chilled out, travelers to Negril will find many opportunities for fun and relaxation complete with luscious ocean views.
Negril has the island of Jamaica's longest stretch of powdery white beach, appropriately named Seven Mile Beach. It is consistently rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world. The north end of the beach is where most of the all-inclusive resorts are and the south end has smaller boutique hotels that are commonly family-run. Seven Mile Beach gives travelers many diverse accommodation choices.
Travelers looking for exciting nightlife will be perfectly happy in Negril. The epicenter of nightly entertainment is Norman Manley Boulevard. Nightclubs, live music, dancing and restaurants abound on the street and surely should not be missed. It’s easy to find live music any night of the week, from live reggae on the beach to jazz and blues on a hotel patio.
Valid passport needed for entry
Jamaican Standard English (primary spoken language is Jamaican Patois)
Jamaican dollar (American dollars are widely accepted and easy to convert)
Negril, on Jamaica's west coast, has morphed from a sparsely populated fishing village to the island's most popular fun-in-the-sun city. The laid-back vibe harkens back to the hippie era of the 1970s, and today Negril maintains its reputation as the most chilled-out corner of Jamaica.
The 50-mi/80-km drive southwest from Montego Bay to Negril takes about an hour along the renovated A1 Highway. The road snakes past emerald-green pastures and charming fishing villages that are nestled into coves and bounded by mangroves. Boasting the island's longest stretch of powdery white beach, Negril also lays claim to some of the finest chefs in the Caribbean, lively nightlife, spectacular underwater life and a do-as-you-dare attitude.
The famed Seven Mile Beach is home to an array of hotels and resorts, and farther down, the rocky bluffs overlooking the sea provide grandstand seats to awesome sunsets.
Sights—The Negril Point Lighthouse at West End; Mayfield Falls.
Memorable Meals—Jamaican-infused international cuisine at Norma's on the Beach; an authentic local meal at Chill Awhile; a lovely open-air dining experience at Kuyaba Restaurant.
Late Night—The bars and clubs along Norman Manley Boulevard; the drummers and dancers at Sea Star Inn.
Walks—Meandering down the beautiful, aptly named Seven Mile Beach.
Especially for Kids—Kool Runnings Water Park.
Negril lies in the parish of Westmoreland, at the western tip of Jamaica. The town runs from the lighthouse in West End to Bloody Bay in Hanover. At the West End, there are caves and cliffs unlike anything found elsewhere in Jamaica.
The distinctive coral reef off the coast of Negril is a protected area, and the large swamp called the Great Morass is one of the island's natural treasures.
In the center of town are the shopping plazas and craft markets. The town consists of one main road, Norman Manley Boulevard, that meanders along the coastline past hotel properties. A handful of small properties stud the dramatic cliffs east of the lighthouse.
The Spanish named the bay in Negril "Punta Negrilla," referring to the ink-black conger eels that used to live in the rivers. Pirates once favored Negril's two bays for the safe shelter they offered.
Negril was but a dot on Jamaica's west coast in 1702 when British admiral John Benbow regrouped his squadron there after a disastrous run-in with the French. A little more than 100 years later, in 1814, 50 warships sailed from Negril to fight the Americans in the Battle of New Orleans.
Before it became such a popular destination (especially for spring-breakers), Negril was a quaint, laid-back village. Hippies popularized the town after discovering it in the 1960s, and development has continued ever since. Those who first traveled to Negril often stayed with locals in their homes.
Then, in the 1970s, significant road work was done between Montego Bay and Negril, which made access easier for tourists and locals alike. Although this helped the local economy, the increasing numbers of tourists and their impact created the need for environmental agencies, including the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society.
Negril has come a long way in its development since those early days. Upscale, all-inclusive resorts ring the northern beaches before giving way to more modest hotels and quaint guest houses, along with an array of restaurants and bars that cater to tourists' needs.
Negril has the lowest rainfall and driest climate in Jamaica.
Calico Jack is Negril's most celebrated pirate. Named for his penchant for calico underwear, this amorous buccaneer was captured in 1720 along with his two pirate mistresses after dallying a bit too long on the beach.
Negril boasts the Caribbean's only Ice Cream and Chocolate Festival, held on Easter Sunday and Monday.
Booby Cay was used during the filming of the Walt Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and for some scenes in the James Bond film Thunderball. The cay once housed a colony of booby birds, hence its name.
Robert Parkinson, who discovered the disease named after him, is buried at The Whitehall Estate.
Negril leads Jamaica in protecting the environment. The National Environment and Planning Agency helped create the Royal Palm Preserve and helps ensure that Seven Mile Beach remains in a natural state.
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