The town of Negril lies at the Western end of the island and still retains its charm that first attracted tourists in the 1960s. Negril with a famous stretch of beach, mega resorts, small hotels and inns is much more laid-back than Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, but also offers plenty of alluring natural attractions, both inland and along the coast. Negril Beach, also called Seven-Mile beach, is the area's main draw, and is considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
The name Negril is a shortened version of Negrillo (Spanish: Little black one), as it was originally named by the Spanish in 1494. Although Negril has a long history, it did not become well-known until the second half of the twentieth century when infrastructure in the area was developed.
Negril's development as a resort location began during the late 1950s. Access to the area proved difficult though as ferries droped off passengers in Negril Bay, forcing them to wade to shore. Most vacationers would rent rooms inside the homes of Jamaican families or would pitch tents in their yards. The first hotel in Negril was the Yacht Club by Mary's Bay on the West End.
When the road between Montego Bay and Negril was improved in the early 1970s, it helped to increase Negril's status as a new resort location. In anticipation of growth, a small airport, the Negril Aerodrome, was built in 1976, alongside several small hotels mostly catering to the North American winter tourists. Europeans also came to Negril, and several hotels were built to cater directly to those guests.
Geography and Ecology
The western coastline contains the island's finest beaches, stretching for more than 6 km (3.7 mi) along a sandbar at Negril. It is sometimes known among tourists as the "7-Mile Beach" although it is only slightly more than 4 mi (6.4 km) in length.
In 1990, the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society was formed as a non-profit, non-governmental organization to address ongoing degradation of the coral reef ecosystem. The Negril Marine Park was officially declared on 4 March 1998 covering a total area of approximately 160 km2 (62 sq. mi) and extending from the Davis Cove River in the Parish of Hanover to St. John's Point in Westmoreland.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are especially good in the protected reef areas.
For years, Negril's beach was rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world by several travel magazines. The beach's length is significant — the two bays (Bloody Bay to the north, and Long Bay to the south) comprise the Seven Mile Beach. The beach is actually a little less than 7 miles in length, with Bloody Bay being around 2 miles, and Long Bay being just under 5 miles. Bloody Bay is home to the large, all-inclusive resorts, and Long Bay has all-inclusives and smaller, family-run hotels.
South of downtown Negril is West End Road, known as the West End, which is lined with resorts that offer more privacy. These areas have access to waters used for snorkelling and diving, with jumping points reaching more than 40 feet (12 m) high.
A new highway from Montego Bay and an improved infrastructure has brought more tourists. As a result, more hotels and tour operators continue to develop new attractions and excursions in Negril. Since the 1980s, it has also become a popular location for U.S. college students to visit during spring break, or just a regular vacation in Jamaica.
Things to Do
Basking on the Negril Beach is the main attraction in Negril. Other fun things to do include exploring the coral reefs, soaking in therapeutic mineral springs and rain forest waterfalls, hand-feeding hummingbirds, and zooming through the jungle canopy on ziplines. After a day of relaxation and adventure, head to the famous Negril Cliffs, to watch divers plunge from the limestone peaks as the fiery sun slides into the sea.
There are various guided tours available, many of which include bird watching, hiking and climbing. Depending on the time of year and location there may also be a festival taking place. The most popular is the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay in July.
The top 8 attractions in Negril:
· Blue Hole Mineral Springs
· Kool Runnings Adventure Park
· Margaritaville, Negril
· Mayfield Falls
· Negril Hills Golf Club
· Negril Royal Palm Reserve
· Rick’s Café
· Rhodes Hall Plantation
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Jacqueline Cameron is a writer with decades of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.