Negril is a resort town in the westernmost end of Jamaica, home to luxurious powdery-soft white-sand beaches and craggy picturesque cliffs. Negril’s Seven Miles Beach has been rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world by several travel magazines for years. Similar to my Dunn’s River Falls post from last April, I may potentially get my Jamaican card revoked by revealing that this was my first time visiting Negril but that’s okay. There’s a first time for everything and I thoroughly enjoyed this daytrip. Not even a flat tire on the way back after falling into one of Jamaica’s infamous potholes could ruin the mood. It was also my first time going parasailing, an experience I’m excited to share with you, my readers.
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Where is Negril?
Negril is pretty easy to find with Google Maps but just expect a long looong drive, especially if you’re driving from my hometown of Kingston (roughly 8 hours roundtrip) which thankfully I wasn’t. There’s some ongoing roadwork near Savanna-la-Mar which may slow things down, plus our south coast isn’t as blessed with a nice smooth highway like up north in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. However, if you’re patient, you’ll eventually forget how long you had to drive and have a lovely time– until of course it’s time to leave. That being said, having multiple drivers in the group helps in that you can take turns driving. Even better, find an affordable villa or AirBnB to spend the night so you won’t have to drive back that same evening.
I recommend stopping in Middle Quarters, St. Elizabeth for some huge delicious red-hot peppered shrimps, but be warned! The pepper isn’t for the faint of heart and for some, it may burn twice.
There are several things to do in Negril, and thankfully the admission to many are free. That leaves you with money to take on a water activity or two. Everything here is dually priced in US$ and JM$.
Seven Miles Beach, Negril
The beach’s name is a misnomer because it’s only 6.4km in length, but no problem man! I’m not sure my feet will be able to enjoy sand at other beaches anymore– the bar has seriously been raised! Luxuriously soft and powdery white, the sand at this beach glides silkily between the toes. The waves were gentle while the water was a soothing contrast to the piercing hot Jamaican sun. We parked at Chances Restaurant and Club for free and walked through their restaurant to access the beach since the parking lot wasn’t crowded and the owners don’t seem to object. They understand that the traffic through their restaurant will likely encourage you to purchase something eventually which we did. They also had empty deckchairs on a Saturday and we had absolutely no competition, even leaving and coming back in an hour to find the chairs exactly as we had left them.
From here you can walk the length of the beach if you desire. Going left will carry you past a few souvenir shops, hotels and watersports and catamaran cruise offices. Going right will take you to Margaritaville and their inflatable waterpark.
You will be approached by all sorts of pedlars, ranging from salesmen soliciting customers for the daily sunset catamaran cruises, selling souvenirs, fruits or even marijuana and baked marijuana-laced treats. Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica contrary to popular belief, but the rules are lax in Negril so indulge responsibly if it’s your thing. This is the constant complaint people have of Negril but even the most persistent salesman will take a firm no as an answer. For a daytrip, I wasn’t really annoyed but if I had to do this every single day for a week-long vacation my stance may be different. Nonetheless, this is people’s livelihood so respect it. Be polite.
Note: the beach and Margaritaville are free, but the price of food and drink will be pricey just because it’s a tourist hub. Thus, I only had a beer then bought food and drink after leaving.
Activities to Do in Negril
These include but are not limited to snorkeling (US$30), taking a glass-bottomed boat ride to admire the beautiful reef (US$30), sunset all-you-can-drink catamaran cruises (US$50 and $70), boat rides to Booby Cay (US$150 for a group of 4) and parasailing (US$50/$6,000JMD). Your friendly Jamaican coward went parasailing! For my 24th birthday I created a 30-before-30 birthday bucket list, of which parasailing is the first activity I’ve accomplished.
I found Fly High Parasailing to be decently professional and they handled their equipment knowledgeably and smoothly. They have a main parasailing vessel and one or two shuttles (smaller boats) which’ll carry customers to it. We spent about 10 minutes in the air flying and the only thing that would’ve been more thrilling was if they dipped us– err our feet– in the water at the end. Perhaps one of these companies should look into the water skiing business. Sign me up! They could take my money.
The only scary bits are the ascent and descent because you can feel the acceleration of the boat but while you’re in the air, everything feels surprisingly still despite the boat moving at 100km/hr. You can maintain normal conversation and get drone-like footage of the coast line with your eyes or phone if you were brave (stupid) enough to bring it up there with you.
Chasing Sunsets in Negril at Rick’s Café
The sunset at Negril is often touted as Jamaica’s best, and one of the best vantage points to admire it is at Rick’s Cafe by West End Negril (the cliffside). Thus, it was a mad scramble to make it to Rick’s in time for sunset after our parasailing adventure took probably past 1 hour at sea (we weren’t the only patrons in the boat). Rick’s Cafe was opened in 1974 at a time when Negril was a sleepy seafaring village but now it’s a popular resort town traversed by thousands of tourists each day. Rick’s has grown with the times, rebuilding and renovating especially after damage it sustained from two of Jamaica’s most infamous hurricanes (Gilbert, 1988 and Ivan, 2004). Rick’s Cafe is free to enter. Cliff jumping for the brave or watching other people cliff jump (for the sane) is the main attraction they offer in addition to watching an uninterrupted technicolor sunset. People line up by the dozens to jump at their own risk and a few locals will put on a hair-raising dive for tips from a tall pole or tree which has to be at least 80 feet high or higher. A lot of the tourists I saw jump seemed fuelled by liquid courage, you know, a good Jamaican golden lager or rum punch and maybe even something more. This doesn’t sound the slightest bit safe, but I haven’t heard about any jumps going awry.
No surprise I haven’t been to Negril before. It’s a very lovely place but too darn far! I’m all for road trips but there are so many other beautiful places which are closer to me and with half the crowd and zero harassments (harassment is such a strong word but I’m not sure what else to call it). 😥 Regardless, I rate Negril a full Elle complement of stars, ☆☆☆☆☆ and it was truly a day well spent.
‘Til next time, ✌🏽.
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