Negril Travel Guide

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Negril Beach

Negril Beach

Tommy Lee

Negril's History In the early 1970's, Negril was a two-lane paved road that ran approximately 100 yards inland from two white coral sand beaches. There was a small village at the south end of this road, with little encampments of hippies enjoying the modest hospitality of the locals - and the endless supply of "herb". Others liked to lolligag about in an alcoholic fog since the rum was excellent quality, and very cheap. The swimming was fabulous. The only concern was the sea urchins which were like nasty underwater porcupines. They don't move, and they're easy to see. There were endless buffet-style meals for only a few dollars, curry goat, lobster (cray fish), and jerk pork.

The long paved road from the village ran north to Green Island, home to the most of the Jamaican workers in Negril. The road was straight enough to land an airplane on, which was why there were lengths of railroad track standing on end along the side of the road - to discourage drug smugglers from landing on the road to pick up cheap cargos of "herb".

After the local water supply was up-sized in the early 1970's, and an small airport built near Rutland Point, several small hotels appeared mostly catering to the North American winter tourists who liked to spend a week or two getting gently juiced or stoned. There's always the mild Caribbean for swimming, some tennis, reading, nude sun-bathing. There's no surf here. And it's too hot for touch football or baseball.

Vistors to Negril are often amazed at the vast wetlands on the inland side of the main road. These wetlands (called the great Morass) have many birds and crocoiles so they are protected. they also provide the nourishment for the coral formations off-shore. As the coral grows and decays, it provides the coral sand for the beaches. If the wetlands are filled, the coral beaches will wash away.

Jamaican People

Jamaican people try to be hospitable to the tourists, but it's not really in their bones. They try, but they're not great hosts. They don't know how to make a good cup of coffee, even though they grow some of the world's finest. Some of the street "higglers" are too persistent in trying to get you to buy their trinkets. Some of the youth are too rude (they like being rude). On the other hand, the local cops (referred to in Jamaica as "Babylon") really like slapping rude boys. And Jamaicans sure know how to drink. So it all seems to find a seedy equilibrium that sort of works.

Tourism's Importance to Jamaicans

Large areas of Jamaica depend on tourism as the basis for their economy, with local wages extremely low and free, statutory education only being available up to age 11 (with progression to a government public school depending on exam entry) many families simply cannot afford the private school fees, resulting in 1/3 of children leaving education after primary school. As a result it is no surprise that many people try to make a living in anything related to the tourist industry; from taxi services to selling trips/tours or drinks, food, trinkets, and hand made jewellery on the beach and craft market. Hustlers Whilst we as tourists might express our irritation at being approached to buy what ever it is that they’re selling, we would do well to remember that we can’t really complain that people are just trying to make a living. In point of fact, our very presences as tourists only legitimizes tourism as an essential part of their Jamaican economy. We really can’t have it all ways! So just buy what you want and don't buy what you don't want because they are Jamaica's citizens and we tourists aren't, we're just here today and gone tomorrow!

However the 750ml bottles of fresh orange/pineapple/grapefruit juice sold by the beach traders along the stretch of 7 mile beach about 1/2-3/4 of a mile from “down town” Negril and the “patties” sold by the old guy who pushes his bike along the sand really are well worth the money ($1 for the patties).  That said, if you don’t want to buy something, all you need to be is polite and say no thanks. You might need to say it more than once but getting angry and opinionated won’t help the situation. If a hustler is not getting your message just ask him or her if you need to call for an officer and they're sure to scoot away. The Town of Negril

“Down town” Negril has almost everything you need; bank, bureau de change, cash machines, Burger King, KFC, pharmacy & supermarket. Along Norman Manley Blvd (the “road side” of 7 mile beach) there are also several small shops/supermarkets selling bread, eggs, water, tinned foods or road side stalls selling fruit/veg. There are also cash machines in the Duty Free shopping centre and an internet café just adjacent to the Yellow Bird hotel/beach cottages.

Transportation

Getting from Montego Bay (and back again) is simple & cheap enough. Regular commuter flights make the 15-minute trip from MoBay Airport to Negril.  Licenced mini buses also run from the airport and will drop you at your hotel/guest house in Negril, just let the driver know where you’re staying. Allow at least an hour and half for the journey time.

You can rent a car in Montego Bay (right-hand drive) and do the journey yourself. The road signs are all in English (Jamaicans say "Hinglish"), but the local cows also use the same road. 

Summation

Negril is a pretty primitive town when compared to Kingston and Montego Bay. You'll need to go east of Montego Bay to find championship golf courses for instance or horse-back riding. For horse-racing, cricket test matches, football, or car races, you'll need to bite the bullet and go to Kingston. But Negril is just fine for two weeks of mucking about on the beach, with drinks at noon, watching the sunsets, reading, and watching stuff on the barbeque one moment and the beach bikini'd eye-candy another. Especially if it's snowing back home!

For a free, complete visual encyclopedia / directory of Negril and each of its 600+ tourist oriented enterprises, as they are today, just search for the Negril Jamaica Vidia (that is its correct spelling) website. It will come up at the top of your search results on Google, Yahoo and MSN.


Contributors

March 26, 2007 change by gezb (4 points)

April 22, 2007 change by hoserjoe

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