Situated on the west coast of Jamaica, the town of Negril is a haven for tourists thanks to its miles of sandy beaches, shallow bays and tranquil, turquoise waters. An array of bars, restaurants and resorts line the town and cater for the large numbers who descend here each year, many of whom come to enjoy its superb snorkelling and scuba-diving opportunities.
Beyond the well-trodden tourist trail, Negril has a number of lesser known sites and attractions that allow visitors to delve under the skin of the town. If you’re heading to Negril in the near future and would like to add some quirky landmarks and activities to your itinerary, check out our list below of the 12 most unique things on offer.
Visit one of the world’s finest beaches
Widely considered one of the world’s best beaches, Seven Mile Beach combines an idyllic setting with top class amenities and activities for all ages and tastes. Whether you’d like to take a leisurely stroll along its 7-mile stretch of white sand, sink back into a deckchair while taking in the panoramic ocean views, or getting the adrenaline pumping with some jet ski or banana boat action, there’s something for everyone here.
Attend a legendary ganja festival
The original and longest running ganja festival in Jamaica, Stepping High Festival has been a staple of the island’s social scene since 2004. The event comprises of four main segments: Education, Exhibition, Entertainment & Experiential, with patrons given the chance to see, learn about and explore an important aspect of Jamaican culture. There’s a top quality music concert featuring both established and up-and-coming reggae artists, live bands, DJ’s and video sessions, as well as one of the festival’s main highlights, the “Healing of the Nation Herbs Exhibition”. Additionally, patrons can peruse specialty items sold by community vendors, many of which are not available at regular stores. Overall, the event is designed to holistically feed the mind, body and soul and promote the concept of One Love.
LOCATION SH Grounds, West End & Norman Manley Beach Park DATES 20-21 March 2020
Take the plunge into a mineral spring
Situated off of a beaten path, the cavernous opening known as Blue Hole Mineral Spring is one of Negril’s most unique landmarks. Entirely encased in Karst limestone, a naturally occurring mineral, the site can be accessed either by diving into the clear water or climbing 30ft down a ladder. If you’re not quite intrepid enough to make the descent, there’s an inviting pool filed with pumped water at surface level for visitors’ enjoyment.
LOCATION Brighton District
Catch a large one on a fishing expedition
Jamaica is surrounded by a diverse ecosystem that plays a key role in sustaining the island, and anyone keen to discover the rich bounty of Jamaica’s waters can do so on a deep sea fishing excursion. In Negril one of the most renowned fishing charter companies is Stanley’s Deep Sea Fishing, who offer a range of boats and packages that invite fishing enthusiasts of all ages and experience to try their luck catching such exotic fish as mahi mahi, wahoo and blue marlin. Along the way eagle eyed guests might even spot exciting marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles and sharks.
Watch a music-filled marathon
Jamaica has been the birthplace of some of the world’s finest sprinters, but the island is also renowned for attracting more sedate exponents of running. Each year on the first weekend after the USA’s Thanksgiving in December, Negril plays host to the Reggae Marathon, which offers the chance for runners to test their stamina over 26 miles while enjoying the area’s beautiful coastline. A variety of DJs and live bands keep spirits up along the route while those who reach the finishing line are furnished with an ice cold can of Red Stripe, fresh coconut water, and a dip in the crystal blue waters off of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach.
LOCATION Starts at Long Bay Beach Park HOURS First weekend after the USA’s Thanksgiving each year
Let the kids loose at an aquatic-themed adventure park
Home to the Caribbean’s most diverse and invigorating adventure park experience, Kool Runnings Adventure Park invites visitors to enjoy a fun-packed day enjoying 10 amazing water slides, a wave pool, a quarter mile of lazy river, Captain Mikie’s Coconut Island, great food and games galore. The Adventure Zone will whet your appetite for Adventure with Paintball, Human Gyroscope, Astronaut Ride, Go-Karts, and Bamboo Jamboo Rafting on the Great Morass. Punctuate your day with a taste of the park’s famous Licky Licky Jerked chicken washed down with a tropical cocktails served from the Kool Blends Juice Bar.
LOCATION Norman Manley Boulevard HOURS Tues-Sun 10am-5pm Closed Mon
Drink in a bar only accessible by boat
There’s nothing quite so quintessentially Caribbean as a watering hole on stilts. Nestled off the coast of Negril, Floyd’s Pelican Bar sits perched above the waist deep waters of Parottee Bay, welcoming patrons who come to enjoy the stunning views, quirky décor, and eclectic drinks menu. The bar is only reachable via a 20-minute boat ride and – be warned – there’s no restroom.
HOURS Mon-Sun 9am-6pm
Delve deep into Jamaica’s waters
Negril is a hugely popular scuba diving destination thanks to its calm and clear waters that are found in this part of Jamaica, and there are a number of scuba companies located here. If you’d like to join a scuba tour you’ll be accompanied by an experienced guide who will help ensure everything goes smoothly and that you come away with memories to last a lifetime. All of your gear is usually provided in the price.
Climb the steps of a century-old lighthouse
Dating back to the end of the 19th century, Negril Lighthouse stands tall on a green expanse and is visible for miles around. One of the first concrete lighthouses built anywhere in Jamaica, the edifice can be explored via informal tours hosted by friendly and knowledgeable locals (tips always appreciated) who will guide you up its 103 stairs to be greeted by superb bird’s-eye views of the coastline.
LOCATION West End HOURS Mon-Sun 9am-5pm
Catch a live reggae show on the beach
You can listen to reggae everywhere in Jamaica, but there’s no better way to do so than from the idyllic environs of one of the island’s magical beaches, with the sounds of reggae set against the lapping ocean waves. Bourbon Beach, a popular stretch of sand on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, hosts local bands, reggae artists, and themed parties on an almost-nightly basis, with the music running until the early hours. Upstairs, a wide-open deck is a popular vantage point for star-gazers seeking a brief respite from the sounds below.
Jump off the cliffs at Rick’s Cafe
Perched on one of Negril’s most dramatic rocky seaside cliffs, Rick’s Café is renowned for its live entertainment and buzzing atmosphere. Visitors have easy access to the sea via steps and stairs carved into the rock, but for true adrenaline junkies there’s also the option of launching yourself into the ocean via diving boards positioned at varying heights along the cliff edge. If you’re not so inclined, there’s always the option of looking on in admiration as others take the plunge.
LOCATION West End Road HOURS Mon-Sun 12pm-9.30pm-
Explore a nature reserve
Nature enthusiasts visiting Negril are in for a treat thanks to the presence of The Royal Palm Reserve, one of Jamaica’s most expansive eco-tourism attraction. Spread across some 300 acres, the reserve is home to a stunning assortment of wetland flora and fauna, and offers activities including bird watching, fishing and nature trail walks. There’s also an on-site museum filled with books, exhibits, and memorabilia and a 30ft observation tower affording excellent views over the mangroves below.