Jamaica – Negril
by Mindy Milliron
Cayman Islands | Cozumel | Jamaica | Jamaica-Negril | St. Lucia | Bermuda
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Negril is famous for its 7 mile long white sand beach and for its exciting cliffs. Twenty years ago Americans discovered Negril and its undeveloped beauty. It is only in recent years that the hotel industry has begun to develop the area.
Jamaica, however, has been careful with development. No one can erect buildings higher than the highest palm tree on the property, the result is an area that from roads and hill tops looks entirely undeveloped and wildly beautiful. The roads in Negril are winding with sugar cane plantations and ocean on either side. One is likely to round a corner and suddenly find himself staring into the eyes or a cow or a goat. Negril is not Ocho Rios ro Montego Bay and while there is plenty of night life, this is a place to kick off your sandals and relax.
I saw over fifteen properties in Negril, let me tell you about a few.
Beaches – an all-inclusive family resort though while not inexpensive won’t break your budget either. At certain times of the year children stay free. I saw people of all ages at beach from a one month old to an elderly couple. This resort is also very accessible to the disabled. Everything with the exception of para-sailing and scuba diving and spa services is included at this resort. Twenty-four hour food service, all drinks, day time day care, and nightly entertainment. The property itself is beautiful and the accommodations wonderful. There were three weddings on the property during the four days I was there.
Sandals – owned by the same people as Beaches and lives up to the same standards in service and accommodations. The difference here is that this is a couples only resort. Sandals sees many weddings and offers quite a few vacation packages.
Swept Away – another couples only resort is famous for its sports and spa facility, but what I liked best were the garden – not the beach – view rooms. All the rooms are spacious, but the private porches of the garden rooms open out onto lush, green gardens with growth so thick that you can not see any other rooms. It truly feels as though you are in a very private garden all your own.
Grand Lido – an elegant, very expensive all inclusive resort. Just beautiful – couples only. Identified as one of the World’s Best Resorts by Conde Nast, it even has two beaches – one is clothing optional.
Hedonism II – is owned by the same folks as Grand Lido. In fact Hedonism’s clothing optional beach abuts Lido’s. Hedonism is adult only and is a non-stop party. Twenty-four hour activities are available here. There is a clothing required beach as well at Hedonism. You can choose a room on either side of the resort – the clothing optional side is more expensive. Everything included here!
That’s the beach side of Negril. Now for the West End, the part of Negril I really like. The West End is a little more raw. This is the part of Negril first beloved by the American college students in the 1970’s. There are hotels and villas and private homes where you can rent a room. There are inland hotels where they will shuttle you to the beach and then there are the cliffs! The cliffs are just magnificent – there’s no beach but the snorkeling here is great and the panorama just unbelievable! This is the very western tip of Jamaica and the sunset can’t be beat. Go to Rick’s Cafe for cocktails and sunset. While you’re there watch the cliff divers – or dive off yourself.
Mariner’s Inn – This is a diver’s paradise. From the road this place looks like I dump – really! But as you walk down into the property you see lovely pastel buildings with just 8 units each half with a cliff view and half with an ocean view. The dive packages are very inexpensive and so are the rooms. You can buy a meal plan if you like. This is another great sunset spot and there are daily sunset parties with live music. This is a little more spacious than Rick’s but just as beautiful. The rooms have been recently renovated – they’re nothing special, just spacious, simply furnished, and very clean. What more do you need? If you don’t want to dive, lie around the pool and the staff will get you down to the beach.
The Rock House Hotel – my favorite! The most romantic hotel in Negril. Currently, there are only fourteen rooms, each one a stand-along hut with a queen sized bed, bathroom and an outdoor shower. Each is perched on the cliffs with a beautiful view of the ocean and sliding glass doors on three sides. You can pull down the mosquito netting, open all your windows and fall asleep to the sound of waves hitting the rocks beneath your floor. The restaurant food is terrific and this place is just one more view of the Jamaica sunset. No telephones, no television. Just the sound of the ocean. Quiet, restful, and romantic.
Well, that’s what I saw in Jamaica. Are you ready to go?