A Beginner’s Guide to Negril, Jamaica

by Alicia Taggio

Home to 7 Mile Beach, Negril has so much more to offer than merely a beautiful stretch of land. Having been to this area a few times over the years, I’ve discovered some hidden gems, and some of the best places to eat, drink, and truly take in the island life. Whether you’re planning a trip to Jamaica with your partner, friends, or family, Negril has an incredible amount to offer visitors.

How to Get to Negril

The best way to get to Negril is by flying into Montego Bay Airport and taking a transfer to your hotel/resort. Make sure that your vacation package includes a transfer bus to your accommodation because trying to find a taxi or bus upon arrival could get pricey (the drive takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Montego Bay to Negril).

I highly recommend buying a Club MoBay Lounge pass on your departure out of Jamaica which allows you to escape the stress and chaos of the security lines and by-passes to a special VIP lineup where you are escorted through customs to a first class lounge with food, drinks, and comfortable seating. Ask any traveller who has experienced it, and most (if not all) will agree it was well worth the money.

Want to make sure your airport transfers are included? Ask your Travel Expert about a tailor-made Flight Centre Holiday, a Better Beach package, or a vacation package from Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations and Transat. 

Top 5 Negril Resorts

Couples Swept Away

couples swept away negril

I’ve stayed at this resort twice (once for a destination wedding, and the second time on a vacation) and both experiences were consistent. Situated amongst lush greenery, this resort offers the perfect escape from the ‘city life’ and is the epitome of what island life is all about. From the friendly staff to their incredible health facilities (yoga classes, tennis courts, pools and spas) this resort won over my heart when I discovered their plant and flower nursery on-site. All of the flowers used throughout the resort for decorations and weddings are grown on-site. Oh, and if you like cats, you’ll find no shortage of these cuties roaming around the resort.

Rock House Hotel

Rock House Hotel Negril

If you’re looking for the ultimate escape in Negril, it doesn’t get much better than this.  This boutique hotel stretches across the cliffs of Pristine Cove and nestled amongst tropical lush gardens. Guests can swim in the sixty-foot horizon pool or take the stairs carved into the rock down to the cove for snorkelling on the reef. It also has a pretty epic spa which is also a ‘quiet zone’ and offers the perfect green escape.

Sandals Negril

sandals negril

Combining a laid-back atmosphere with refined elegance, this Five-Star Diamond Award-winning resort offers the ultimate personalized and pampering experience. From unique swim-up river suites with Butler Service and 24-hour room service to a full-service Red Lane Spa; to gourmet dining at a choice of 6 restaurants, this legendary hideaway is the ultimate beach resort for two people in love. I recommend having dinner with your partner at Barefoot by the Sea which offers beautiful views, mouth-watering dishes, and a relaxing atmosphere.

Beaches Negril

deluxe guestroom with balcony

Situated on the 11-kilometre white sand beaches in Negril, this award-winning family resort boasts 12 acres of beachfront space and 8 acres of tropical gardens for an immersive island getaway. Guests enjoy spacious rooms and suites perfectly designed for a family trip, a host of thrilling activities, and a stunning array of dining options from around the world.

Sunset at the Palms

shaded swimming pool at sunset palms

An Adults-Only tropical retreat offering a laid-back holiday destination in beautiful Negril. Enjoy unique and secluded treehouse-style accommodations set amidst lush gardens. Walk across the street to lounge on a beautiful beach, or head over to the central pool to grab a drink at the swim-up bar. Instead of crowds and non-stop entertainment, enjoy peaceful ‘barefoot luxury’ where the priority is rest and relaxation. If you’re in the mood for some fun, try a cooking or cocktail mixology class at the resort, join an exercise class, or dance to nightly live music.

What to Eat in Negril

Many of the spices used in Jamaican dishes were influenced by the African, Spanish, and French cultures. If you’re a fan of spicy foods, no doubt you’ll find a wide selection of jerk dishes to whet your appetite. But if you’re not a fan of spice, fret not – there is still plenty of other mouth-watering dishes to enjoy including anything made with ackee (the national fruit) and seafood.

Murphy’s

Murphys Jamaican food

If you’re looking for a good home cooked meal, Murphy’s West End Restaurant is a hidden gem in Negril. But be sure to make a reservation, or get there early because capacity is very limited and they often have to turn people away.

After chatting with the owners and getting to know a bit of the history behind this family business, we were able to witness jerk cooking in a drum grill, and the staff members climb trees to pick Ackee (Jamaica’s national fruit) which would be used in some of their dishes. Their jerk recipe is simply amazing, but they’ll never divulge their secret recipe, so diners must savour it on property.

Top 3 Negril Attractions

7 mile beach jamaica

Whether you prefer to kick back and enjoy the island life, or get out there and experience the adventurous side of Jamaica, there is no shortage of things to do in Negril. Here’s some highlights worth adding to your itinerary:

Rick’s Cafe

On the western-most point of the island, you’ll find the infamous Rick’s Cafe which is a bar/restaurant located right on the cliff edge and is known for a good party (at any time of day). Grab a rum punch and watch the sunset over the glistening ocean. If you’re feeling adventurous, take the plunge off one of their many cliff jumps (or watch the locals do it). I got to see ‘Birdman’ jump off one of the highest points and it was absolutely insane!

Bourban Beach

In the heart of 7 mile beach sits an eco-resort by the name of Bourban Beach which also has some of the the best outdoor live-reggae parties. We had so much fun the first night that we had to return again a second time before leaving Negril. Not only is there a great crowd of people there, but also an outdoor bonfire, live music, and people dancing barefoot in the sand.

Island Routes Reggae Catamaran Cruise

Island routes catamaran cruise jamaica

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend 3 hours of your day, sign up for an Island Routes Catamaran cruise which will take you out snorkelling in Doctor’s Cave Beach as well as a visit to Margaritaville where you can enjoy a bevie or two, and play like a kid on their water slide and water trampolines.

When you return to the boat, it’s like a club on water where everyone participates in lots of dancing, drinking, and more dancing. I remember pulling up to the dock at the end of the tour feeling so sad it was coming to an end. It’s amazing how jam-packed full of fun they were able to squeeze into three hours.

View more fun things to do in Negril here!


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