Negril, located on the west side of Jamaica, is known for its white pristine sandy beaches found nowhere else on the Island, and rugged cliffs on the west end. The laid back vibe, vibrant colors and friendly locals make Negril an ideal destination to relax and unwind. Negril is dubbed the “Capital of Casual” which becomes apparent as soon as you arrive at your hotel.
The language spoken by Jamaicans is known locally as Patois (Patwah). It is an English-based creole language with West African influence. I was fortunate to learn more about Patois from my driver during the 90 minute trip from Montego Bay. I learned that although Jamaicans are fluent in English and speak it clearly when necessary; the slang Patois is often used when poking fun at the tourists. Because it is spoken so quickly, it is difficult to discern more than a few words.
The beach is filled with vendors selling everything from fresh fruit, handmade jewelry, and aloe vera massage. “No thanks, mon” is usually all that is required to stave off even the most persistent. The locals are warm and friendly. They enjoying sharing stories and take every opportunity to help visitors feel comfortable and relaxed. By the end of the day new friendships are made.
Small restaurants and tiki bars line the beach; offering fresh, local fare including jerk chicken, lobster, red snapper,and curried goat. Dine just feet from the beach, under a thatched roof hut while sipping Rum punch or Red Stripe beer.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is a lively hot spot for those wanting to dance, party, and people watch. The atmosphere is casual; shoes are optional.
When the sun sets, the beach is transformed by candle lit tables for intimate dining, bonfires and reggae music. Nearly every resort has live music. Home to Bob Marley, Negril is Jamaica’s Reggae capital. The distinctive offbeat rhythms are an integral part of Jamaica’s culture and there is no shortage of local artists.
Rick’s Cafe, the first public bar and restaurant on the west end cliffs, is known for its breathtaking view of the sunset. Descend the rocky stairs leading from the Cafe to the clear blue water below or enjoy a cocktail overlooking the cliff.
Jumping from the cliffs has become a favorite activity for tourists and locals alike. Despite the sting of hitting the water below, it is an exhilarating experience made complete by the cheering of spectators and sense of accomplishment. You can also watch as daring locals dive from trees high above the cliffs, hoping for a “donation” to entertain. It is a sight which will leave you in awe.
As the day comes to an end and the sun dips into the ocean, it is difficult to not fall in love with this alluring place. The ocean, the food, the atmosphere, and the people…I make a promise to myself…I will return.