Most visitors to Jamaica flock to the beautiful beaches and lively resorts of Montego Bay, but if you trek a little farther, adventure awaits in Negril—a vibrant seaside town on the island’s western tip. In the 1970s, it was the stomping ground for hippies and musicians. Today, it’s renowned for its exquisite Jamaican cuisine, energetic nightlife and spectacular Seven Mile Beach.
Morning: Breakfast on banana pancakes and Blue Mountain coffee at Big Roy’s Café Goa—a beachside eatery with a relaxed vibe. Afterwards, join the sunbathing crowd and relax on world-famous Seven Mile Beach.
Afternoon: Drive to the beach at Bloody Bay, a secluded spot where you can laze on sugar-white sand and snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Lunch at the Office of Nature, a beach hut serving lobsters that have been plucked from the sea and cooked over a wood fire.
Evening: Drive 30 minutes east of Negril to Zimbali Retreat, an organic farm nestled in the hills. After an estate tour, watch as the chef whips up a five-course, farm-to-fork feast of delicacies, such as fish steamed inside of a banana leaf and chicken stuffed with fruit. African drummers perform on Wednesday and Friday nights, so bring your dancing shoes with you.
Morning: Explore Negril’s West End on a tour with Paradise Travels. The day starts with a Jamaican breakfast of ackee fruit with salt fish, sautéed callaloo and plantain dumplings at Pablo’s Restaurant. Then you’ll visit Negril Lighthouse, where you can climb 103 steps to the lookout and snap photos of the countryside and Caribbean Sea.
Afternoon: Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Murphy’s West End Restaurant. This roadside shack is famed for its sweet-and-spicy “Devil Chicken” and jerk lobster. By mid-afternoon, get to Rick’s Cafe to enjoy a Rasta-Politan cocktail and watch daredevils jump from 35-foot-high cliffs into the surf below.
Evening: Join the hungry patrons devouring jerk chicken smoked on the grill at nearby Three Dives Jerk Centre. If you still can move after your meal, enjoy reggae music on Seven Mile Beach.
Morning: Start your day at Just Natural, a West End open-air hideaway that makes tasty vegetarian omelettes and tropical fruit smoothies. After, get picked up by Sunbaby Boat and cruise to Booby Cay, a tiny deserted island just off Negril’s shore. Enjoy snorkelling and sunbathing, followed by a picnic of fish and lobster.
Afternoon: Drive to the West End and unwind with a seaside massage at the Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel. In an oceanfront pavilion, a therapist will knead your knots into oblivion. Or opt for the Jamaican Java Sugar Scrub that uses Blue Mountain coffee.
Evening: It’s a short drive to Pushcart, a dreamy cliffside restaurant overlooking the Caribbean. Menu must-tries include the peppered shrimp, the Rasta Pasta and the curried goat. After your meal, stay awhile to sip a rum cocktail while enjoying the live music and a sublime sunset.
Where to Stay
Rockhouse was one of the first hotels on Negril’s West End and, in the 1970s, was a hangout for musicians such as Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Today, the hotel offers a luxurious getaway with thatched-roof stone villas that are perched on cliffs and surrounded by greenery.
With nine gourmet restaurants and a prime locale on Seven Mile Beach, everyone will love Beaches Negril. This all-inclusive resort is especially enticing for families, offering flexible room arrangements (some with a personal butler), an all-ages spa and an 18,000-square-foot waterpark.
[This story appears in the February 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.]
Top Hotels, Things to Do and Restaurants in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Revered by travellers for its natural beauty, Ocho Rios—a port on Jamaica’s northern coast—appeals to everyone from couples to families. It’s full of upscale resorts, beckoning beaches and ties to musician Bob Marley and James Bond creator Ian Fleming.