Things to Do in Negril
High on the cliffs outside Negril, Rick’s Cafe is one of Jamaica’s most enduring institutions. Negril was a sleepy fishing village when Rick’s opened in 1974, and travelers and locals alike still make a pilgrimage to the restaurant and bar for strong cocktails, tasty Jamaican dishes, death-defying cliff divers, and sunset viewing parties.
Swaying palm trees, gentle azure waves, and dazzling white sands make Negril’s Seven Mile Beach a postcard-pretty classic. With a nearly permanent spot on myriad “best beaches in the world” lists, you won’t be alone in paradise—but with miles of beach and nearly every water sport available, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
The Black River is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica, flowing west for 33 miles (53 kilometers) until emptying into the Caribbean Sea near Negril. Travelers explore the river and its energetic YS Falls on inflatable tubes, canoes, or kayaks surrounded by lush green jungle and mangroves.
Even by themselves, the black hued cliffs outside of Negril are natural sites to behold. Rising 40 feet above turquoise waters and pockmarked by sea caves and coves, the cliffs form a defining natural icon for Jamaica’s far western coast. It isn’t just their beauty, however, that draws visitors here in droves. Rather, it’s the deep waters immediately offshore and the presence of cliffside beach bars—which all combine to form perfect conditions for throwing yourself off the edge. The cliff diving here on Negril’s cliffs is some of the world’s most famous, where locals and visitors regularly drop over 40 feet down to the sea. Professionals will often put on shows and perform daring flips and flops, and occasionally visitors will join in the show in a fit of Caribbean bravado. The cliffs are a popular spot for snorkeling tours to stop en route from the dive site, and are a short distance from the laidback guesthouses towards the southern end of Negril. After a long day of snorkeling, diving, suntanning, partying, laughing, and jumping, gather with dozens of other travelers to watch the fiery, west-facing sunset that illuminates the cliffs each night.
Lighting up the westernmost point of Jamaica, Negril Lighthouse has been guiding ships away from the craggy promontory below since 1894. The landmark stands sentinel at 65 feet (20 meters), and is a popular attraction for travelers yearning for a panoramic bird’s-eye view of Negril’s gorgeous coastline and the endless sea.
Bloody Bay, a pretty beach to the north of Negril's Long Bay, was once a port for whalers who disemboweled their large catches ashore causing the surrounding waters to run red with whale blood.
With those days far behind it, Bloody Bay led a quiet existence until the 1960s, when American hippies arrived in droves drawn by the area's relaxed ambience and marijuana scene.
Indeed, many of today's visitors still come to Negril and its beaches for the same reasons, but instead of sleeping on the beach or in a local's house (as you may have done in the hippy era), you can now take your pick from one the hotels that line the beach.
Rhodes Hall Plantation is a magnificent 18th-century estate and working fruit plantation on the coast near Negril. The beautiful and diverse terrains allow for myriad nature-based activities: explore the grounds on horseback, hike among thick banana groves and coconut palms, sunbathe on private beaches, and spot crocodiles in the mangroves.
Travelers can enjoy more than five acres of wet and wild fun at the Kool Runnings Adventure Park in tropical Negril. With ten distinctly different waterslides that offer experiences that range from high speed to sky high, there’s something for every kind of aquatic adventurer.
Rio Bueno Lazy River offers parents and kids the chance to relax on a slow flowing stream, while Captain Mike’s Coconut Island provides plenty of entertainment for the younger set. A popular juice bar, sports bar and island-themed grill mean there’s plenty of options for visitors looking to quench their thirst or fill their bellies.
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