Negril is a major tourist destination in Western Jamaica, known for its white sandy beaches.
Negril is famous for its 7 miles of cool, white sand beaches and another 7 miles of 40' cliffs. One of the most beautiful towns in Jamaica, it has a more laid back atmosphere than that of Montego Bay and is more touristy than Ocho Rios. When you stay at a hotel on the beach you are literally on the beach when you walk out of the beachside of your hotel. You have probably never seen water this clear or warm. You will be amazed at how far out you can walk in the water before it gets up to your neck. The water is gentler and the sand is whiter (smaller grained aka softer) the farther down(away from town) you are. The end of the beach down by the all-inclusives is the whitest. The region is also known for the foreign janes (female sex tourists) who visit.
The name Negril is a shortened version of Negrillo (Spanish: Little black one), as it was originally named by the Spanish in 1494. A theory holds that because there was a vast population of black eels along Negril's coast, the Spaniards called the area Anguila Negra which was shortened to Negrillo and then to Negril. Although Negril has a long history, it did not become well known until the second half of the twentieth century.
Negril's development as a resort location began during the late 1950s, though access to the area proved difficult as ferries were required to drop 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. Daniel Connell was the first person to create more traditional vacation lodging for these "flower children" when he set up the first guest house in Negril - Palm Grove. The area's welcoming and hospitable reputation grew over time and the first of many resorts was constructed in the mid to late 1960s. 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. It was a two-lane paved road that ran approximately 100 yards (91 m) inland from two white coral sand beaches, at the southern end of which was a small village. The long paved road from the village ran north to Green Island, home to many of the Jamaican workers in Negril, and was straight enough to double as a runway for small airplanes, which was why there were lengths of railroad track standing on end along the side of the road - to discourage drug smugglers from landing on the road to pick up cheap cargos of marijuana.
After Negril's infrastructure was expanded—anticipating the growth of resorts and an expanding population, a small airport, the Negril Aerodrome, was built in 1976 near Rutland Point, 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 geography of Jamaica is diverse. 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, from the Negril River on the south to Rutland Point on the north.
On the inland side of Negril's main road, to the east of the shore, lies a swamp called the Great Morass, through which runs the Negril River. Within the Great Morass is the Royal Palm Reserve, with protected wetlands and forest.
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.
The West End Road is also known as Lighthouse Road as there is a Belgian engineered lighthouse protecting seafarers from the cliffs. There are views from this western tip of Negril, near Negril Lighthouse.
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.
Many vendors and shops are located around the beach resorts; however, they are predominantly located on the south end of the beach, where there are fewer all inclusive resorts.
A new highway from Montego Bay and an improved infrastructure may bring 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.
The last few years have seen major development along the beach. The resorts include Couples Swept Away, Couples Negril, Sandals, Beaches, Samsara Hotel, Legends Resort, the Grand Lido, Riu Palace Tropical Bay, Riu Club Hotel and Hedonism II. The Hedonism II resort is one enduring hotel/resort that has been saved from bankruptcy and remains an adult destination. A franchise of Jimmy Buffett's chain restaurant and bar, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and a duty-free zone have also been added.
In recent years, a large development has been constructed consisting of ocean front villas, 2 or 3 bed townhouse developments and studio apartments. This development is known as Little Bay Country Club and is home to some of the wealthiest Jamaican families.