Watching the sun set from Negril’s glorious seven-mile stretch of beach, it’s easy to see why the flower children of the 60’s flocked to this remote spot at the western tip of Jamaica.
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The let-it-be, no-worries attitude is most felt in the West End area. Here boutique hotels such as Rockhouse and Tensing Pen Resort, and modest guest houses are tucked into the dramatic rocky cliffs. There are also a number of small, friendly eateries and bars. The area’s first and most famous, Rick’s Café, has ballooned in size and patronage, but retains its funky feel and sunset cliff diving tradition.
Great seafood and Jamaican cuisine have become a Negril hallmark, both in the resorts, in Negril’s small town, and at seaside restaurants like Norma’s on the Beach, Cosmo’s Seafood Restaurant and Marguerite’s.
Come evening, it’s easy to find great music. Visitors and locals get down to the sound of live reggae bands at clubs along Norman Manley Boulevard or at beachfront bars such as Alfred’s Ocean Palace and Risky Business, and downstairs at The Jungle Night Club & Sports Bar.
Negril’s offshore reefs and sea grottoes provide a colorful and pristine haven for a parade of sea life that can be explored on a glass-bottom boat tour, or on snorkel or scuba diving expeditions. Sea-kayaking along the cliffs and canoe trips through mangrove forests as well as mountain biking and horseback rides are among the active ways to explore Negril’s natural attractions. There’s also an 18-hole golf course just south of town.
Nearby, the Royal Palm Reserve in the Great Morass wetlands draws nature lovers with its boardwalk and 30-foot observation tower overlooking the mangroves. Among the endemic species spotted here are the endangered West Indian whistling duck and the national bird, the streamer-tailed hummingbird, or Doctor Bird along with over three hundred other species of tropical birds, animals, butterflies and reptiles and one of the largest stands of Royal Palms in the world. There can be mosquitoes around, so be sure to bring repellent while exploring the Reserve.
Despite its growth, Negril retains its laid-back, anything-goes allure. Visitors can find discrete clothing optional beaches and even pool areas and eateries, especially at Hedonism II, which is known for its party-hearty ambience.