Presently, the road to Negril is being rebuilt to straighten out many of the curves and shorten travel times. It will become a better route, but be aware that the construction can cause delays right now. Many travelers on a tight schedule opt to take an intra-island flight from Montego Bay. The 17-minute flight goes into Negril airport, where taxis are available to take you to any resort.
Once you arrive in Negril, getting around is fairly easy, whether you choose to drive yourself or rely on the plentiful taxi service.
On the north edge, entering from Montego Bay, the resorts begin at Bloody Bay, location of Grand Lido Negril, Hedonism II and Sandals Negril. This stretch of beach is across the street from the Negril airport, behind which lies a giant swamp called the Great Morass. Continuing south, Bloody Bay gives way to Long Bay, home of the seven-mile-long Negril Beach. Along this stretch lie both big name resorts such as Beaches Negril and Poinciana Beach Resort as well as small inns under 50 rooms (and many much smaller). Travelers enjoy walking along the beach for miles and will find many beach bars and restaurants right on the sand. The resorts all sit on Norman Manley Boulevard, the main thoroughfare through the area, dividing the beach from the Great Morass.
Heading south, the beach is eventually broken by the intersection of the South Negril River, which marks the entrance to downtown Negril. Just north of the river lies the Negril Crafts Market, a ramshackle collection of buildings filled with woodcarvings, paintings and handmade jewelry, all representing the spirit of Negril. South of the market lies the roundabout and Norman Manley Boulevard becomes West End Road.
To the east, Sheffield Road turns toward Savanna-La- Mar (known locally as Sav-La-Mar). West End Road traces the shoreline, which becomes less sandy and more rocky and eventually gives way to steep cliffs. Along this section are some budget getaways that are favored by young travelers as well as many longtime Negril fans. Many of the small properties are built right out on the cliffs and one even utilizes the sea caves as guest areas (we had a massage inside a sea cave at The Caves). Also here is the Negril Lighthouse, which offers the best view of the region.
Read the precautions listed on page 60 before deciding to rent a car for your stay. There are several rental agencies in Negril.
CAR RENTAL AGENCIES
Paradise Jeep and Car Rental
Safari Auto Rental
Taxis are the most popular method of transportation for travelers. They can be found at any hotel, the airports, and most shopping areas. Travelers should be careful to use only licensed taxis; these have a red license plate that indicates the taxi is a Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV). If you need to call a taxi, contact the official carrier: Jamaica Union of Travelers Association or JUTA (876-957-9197 in Negril). Taxi rates vary, but are figured by car, not by passenger. Fares average about US $5-7 for 10 miles. If you accept a driver’s offer of his services as a tour guide, be sure to agree on a price before the vehicle is put into gear.
This popular mode of transport in Negril can be crowded and slow. The buses are generally not air-conditioned. Buses will stop anywhere along the route to pick up passengers. To catch one, stand by the side of the road with your arm outstretched; pat down with your hand when you see an oncoming bus. Bus fare is about US $1 for 30-40 miles.
WARNING: Traffic can be hectic on the busier stretches of Norman Manley Boulevard, so ride with care.
Many of the larger properties have bicycles available for guest use; if yours doesn’t, call one of these outfitters.
BICYCLE RENTAL AGENCIES
Coco Bike Rental
Dependable Bike Rental
Elvie’s Bike Rental
Gas Bike Rental
Holiday Bike Rental
Jah Bs Bike Rental
Jolly’s Bike Rental
Kool Bike Rental Limited
Nortigo Bike Rental
Pedro Bike Rental
Reids Bike Rental
Tike’s Bike Rental
Wright’s Bike Rental
Jamaica Estate Tours
876-963-9215 or 876-963-9508, fax 876-963-9218
(or check with your hotel’s tour desk)
Hours: 9-3:30 daily, except Sundays
See Sightseeing for details about tours of this estate.
BLACK RIVER SAFARI CRUISE
The tour to Black River is a popular one from Negril, especially for travelers who are staying for an entire week in the beach community. It gives you a good chance to get out and see the undeveloped areas of Jamaica, such as the wilderness along the Black River, still home to crocodiles as well as many bird species.
JACANA AQUA TOURS LTD.
Hours: 8:30 am-5 pm daily
Another tour to Black River, this package trip also includes a visit to YS Falls.
These guided tours give travelers a real taste of Jamaica with hikes, historic site visits, fishing and more. Here’s a rundown of the Shafston offerings:
- Mayfield Falls. A one-hour drive through the sugarcane fields leads to these remote falls. Bring along a swimsuit and water shoes as well as a camera (the guide will carry it for you). The tour includes lunch.
- YS Falls, Apple Valley/Appleton, and Bamboo Avenue. This tour goes through Middle Quarters (be sure to buy some peppered shrimp from the ladies along the roadside) to YS Falls. At Apple Valley, travelers can fish; another option is to visit Appleton Rum Factory (admission price is not included in the tour price). Finally, the trip winds back through Bamboo Avenue to Shafston Great House, finishing the day with a cold jelly coconut.
- Black River, Lover’s Leap, Treasure Beach. This South Coast tour includes a boat ride up the Black River for a look at crocodiles, a drive to Lover’s Leap for a spectacular view, and on to Treasure Beach. Travelers are warned that swimming can be dangerous here because of strong undertow.
- Negril. These excursions start at the famous Negril Beach and market. Later, participants can jump off the cliffs on the West End. Be sure to bring beachwear, camera, film and snorkel gear.
- Savanna-La-Mar, Little Bay, Bob Marley’s House. Visits the market of Savanna-La-Mar and continues to the fishing community of Little Bay, former home of Bob Marley. Here he lived with beauty queen Esther Anderson. Tours take a look at the house (tour price includes house admission).
- Bamboo Avenue, Alligator Pond, Gut River, Alligator Hole River, Manatees. This tour is a favorite with nature lovers as it winds through Bamboo Alley to the community of Alligator Pond, a fishing village, then on to Gut River. At Alligator Hole River you can often spot manatees. Bring along bathing suits, cameras and maybe even your snorkel.
- Horseback Riding. Ride at Paradise Park, a farm between Bluefields and Savanna-la-Mar, and afterwards go for a swim at a private river park. Bring long pants for the horseback ride and swimming gear.
- Kingston, Blue Mountain, Port Antonio. This three-day excursion includes a visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston then a drive over the Blue Mountains to Port Antonio for a stay in a local guest house. In Portland, stops include San San Beach, Frenchman’s Cove, Boston Beach and Reach Falls. The tour continues along the North Coast to Dunn’s River Falls.
- Scuba Diving. With two days advance notice, divers (at least six in the party) can go underwater and explore the area between Bluefields and Little Bay on the South Coast.
- Deep-Sea Fishing. Half- and one-day cruises are available from Bluefields Bay. Try your luck for tuna, barracuda, kingfish and marlin.
Offices at Negril Gardens Hotel
876-974-2332 or 974-2334
This company offers guided tours of the country’s top attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls, Black River Safari, rafting, Cockpit Country, Kingston, Mayfield Falls, Blue Lagoon, and more. Tours are available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch.