Finding Paradise in Negril, Jamaica

If you’re lucky like me, you’ve found your paradise. You’ve discovered that one magical place that brings you intense joy at even the thought of being there. It’s the place you go to in your mind when you need to escape reality for even a moment – you know, like when you’re sitting in a dentist’s chair trying desperately not to notice the needle about to make contact with your face. You close your eyes and begin reliving the moments of strolling on the beach under the clear blue skies with your flip flops in one hand and your pina colada in the other.  Suddenly, nothing else matters. (What needle?)

That’s my paradise.

And I’ve been lucky enough to come face to face with it three times in the last six years – even lucky enough to exchange vows there with my one true love.

When people ask what I love so much about Negril, I get the feeling several minutes later, when I’m still raving about the awesomeness of this place, that they wished they hadn’t asked.

And lucky for you (or not), I’m in a big-time raving mood today.

So here goes….

The Beach

If you’ve heard anything about Negril, you’ve heard about the beach – no question. There are roughly seven miles of it, broken up into Bloody Bay and Long Bay.  The water’s as picturesque as you can possibly imagine – calm and soothing with a turquoise hue that every tropical tourist dreams of. And to boot, there’s the powdery white sand that our precious feet crave on these cold arctic days in the North.


It goes without saying that when you wake up to a beach like this every day, walking several miles a day becomes a routine you can easily fall into.

The Sunsets

Spend an evening in Negril and you’ll surely walk away endorsing it as the true beauty that it really is – and chances are you’ll be thanking the mesmerizing sunset for that. As if the beach wasn’t enough; add to it the most eye-catching sunsets that set over it every night and you’ve got yourself a truly idyllic backdrop.

Small-Town Charm

You can’t go to Negril expecting an all-inclusive mecca. You know what I’m talking about: one all-inclusive resort after another, all lining the beach and all claiming to be more luxurious than the next. They’ve got the pillow-top beds with the pure white linens and comfy cozey duvets. They’ve got the stocked mini fridge with all the premium liquors you could ever ask for. And let’s not forget about the nine restaurants, all featuring white-gloved service and a five-star dining experience.

That’s not what you’ll get in Negril. Yes, there are the all-inclusives that offer some of these luxuries, but the small mom-and-pop hotels and inns outnumber these all-inclusive resorts. And most of these family-owned hotels don’t give into the trends of the big-time hotels and resorts across the Caribbean. They’re more interested in keeping things basic, and more importantly, keeping things Jamaican – and that means going without all the high-end linens, the pillow menus, the fancy bath robes and fluffy slippers.  Instead, they offer basic, yet charming, accommodations that really give you the feeling you’re in a quaint locally-owned Jamaican inn as opposed to an upscale American hotel.

Beachfront Mecca

Speaking of accommodations, unlike most Caribbean destinations that boast about their beachfront hotels and resorts, Negril’s resorts are, for the most part, truly beachfront. Unless you book a room across the street from the beach or on the cliffs, your resort will be right on the beach. Your room will never be more than a minute or two from the beach. Even the hotels across the street from the beach are a couple of minutes away. Other hotels say they’re a beachfront hotel, but in reality, the beach can be very far from your room, sometimes requiring a shuttle bus or trolley to get there.

Non-Stop Action

No matter what time of day or night you stroll the beach, you’ll always find something to do, somewhere to eat, or something to buy. The beach is lined with everything you can imagine, from funky little snack shacks to massage huts.  Speaking of shopping, you’ll find dozens of vendors lined up along the beach selling everything from handmade wooden statues to handpicked fruit and vegetables.  Be sure to read my post Beach Vendors: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em to get the full picture.

Negril beach vendor display

At night, you can stop in at any of beach-side clubs to take in some of the local talent.

And that’s just the on-land action. In Negril, it’s all about the water – think world-class snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities where you’ll come face to face with some of the most exotic species in the world.

The Cliffs

Don’t feel like being on the seven mile beach where all the action’s at? That’s fine! You can still truly experience Negril’s awesomeness on the cliffs. The cliffs provide ample diving opportunities, attracting adventurous maniacs from all over, and they’re home to several resorts that offer more privacy and seclusion than the resorts directly on the resorts.


The Vibe

Go anywhere in Jamaica and you’ll experience the laid-back-yeah-mon-everything-irie culture that Jamaica is widely known and praised for. Negril is no exception. But because Negril is smaller than most tourist towns on the island, you’re in closer quarters with the locals on and off the resort, meaning you’re more exposed to the cool, laid-back vibe that is Jamaica. Trust me, the vibe is infectious. Even the most uptight tourists can’t help but settle in, relax, and go with the flow in Negril.

See? I told you I’m in a raving mood!

If you haven’t found your paradise yet, I dare say you need to take a trip to Negril and see what I’m talking about.

Have you been to Negril? What is that makes it so special to you? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.



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