Negril, Jamaica

In western Jamaica, hotels and restaurants line the waterfront; fortunately building codes limit structures to the height of a palm-tree and prevent the beach from feeling overdeveloped.
By: Wil Klass

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Photo by: Angelo Cavalli

Angelo Cavalli

Negril, Jamaica is home to miles of pristine sand beaches, crystal clear waters and dramatic rugged cliffs; a stunning combination of landscapes that cannot be found anywhere else on the island. The locals have dubbed this city the "Capital of Casual" for its informal island vibe.

Getting There
Nearest major international airport: Montego Bay.

Ground transportation
If you are stay in an "all-inclusive" resort, you will probably have access to a courtesy van from the airport. Otherwise, it is easy making your own way from Montego Bay -- the lobby of the airport hosts two companies operating minibuses to Negril. The minibus departures are frequent and correspond to flight arrivals. But if you absolutely can't wait to start your tan, taxis await just outside the airport to wisk you to Negril.

The weather is remarkably consistent year-round - highs in the mid-80s, lows in the low-70s F. During the summer, the beach is less-crowded and hotel rates are twenty to forty percent lower than in the winter. The October hurricane season in the Caribbean typically has a minimal effect on Jamaica.

Negril has a huge assortment of accommodations, ranging from "all-inclusive" resorts costing several-hundred dollars a day, to guarded campgrounds where you can pitch a tent under the stars. The pros and cons of the multitude of lodging options are a major topic of conversation among Negril tourists, many of whom continue the discussion virtually at the Internet Negril Message Board.

It is good to have the names of a few hotels in mind, but you don't need to make a decision before arriving in Jamaica. Even during the busy winter season there are plenty of empty rooms to choose from. The tourist office in the arrivals lobby of the Montego Bay airport (before you go through customs) can suggest accommodations and can make a reservation for you.

For a typical Jamaican breakfast try fried ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a fruit transplanted from West Africa. Saltfish is, well, a salty fish. The combination tastes better than it sounds.

Travel Tips
If you are staying at one of the expansive "all inclusives" at the northern end of Negril, you will find it very easy to stay within the pampered confines of your resort. Jamaican culture is friendly and interesting - you will be rewarded if you venture out to meet local residents.

If you are staying at one of Negril's other beachfront hotels, be aware that you will be facing a constant stream of sun bathers (during the day) and reggae parties (at night). For more secluted quarters consider staying at "West End," the inappropriately named area immediately south of Negril beach. The West End is famous for its excellent snorkeling and for its hotels which hug the cliff sides. The Negril beach is only a 5 minute taxi ride from here.

While you are there
Consider making a quick trip to Cuba. Several companies in Negril offer two day tours that include air transportation and one night hotel.

To fake that you've been there
Rave about the excellent reggae parties at the De Buss bar.

Linking for a better vacation
Beingee's Negril Jamaica Today lists current events happening in Negril, gives details on some of the accommodations options, and hosts a lively forum.

The Jamaica Tourist Board site is most useful for its accommodations search engine. You can also request brochures online.

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