The Adventurer's Guide to Negril, Jamaica
Jamaica is a destination that holds a very special place in my heart, and one that I keep returning to time & time again. In fact, my husband and I celebrated our wedding at Tensing Pen in Negril in 2022. Jamaica is stunning, of course, but it's the warm & welcoming hospitality of locals and their vibrant culture and world famous music that makes this place so special. I hope you love this magical little corner of the world as much as I do.
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Where to stay in Negril
Tensing Pen Resort
An intimate and romantic palapa-style Negril resort with local activity offerings and unwinding spa experiences.
Skylark Negril Beach Resort
Island-style sister property to the town’s beloved Rockhouse Hotel with a laidback atmosphere, resort amenities, traditional Jamaican restaurant Miss Lilly's and a relaxing spa.
The Caves Hotel
A romantic, adults-only boutique sleep with an all-inclusive plan and dreamy clifftop setting.
Complimentary Red Table private dinner for two.
15-minute spa stress release treatment for one.
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Things to do in Negril
Part of the beauty of Jamaica is its pace, so take your time to slow down, enjoy the music and bask in the sun. When you are ready to venture off-property from your hotel, some of my favorite things to do include:
Mayfield Falls: A series of 21 small cascades on the Mayfield River in the heart of Western Jamaica. This is a magical off-the-beaten-path immersion in nature (Dunn's River and YS Falls are much more well-known, and also more touristed). Guides will welcome you at the entry, and are well-worth adventuring with. Tip kindly: they reinvest tourism dollars back into the community.
Blue Hole Mineral Springs (pictured): A natural limestone sinkhole with gorgeous azure water. On-site, you'll also find a swimming pool filled with the same mineral water in case you don't want to make the jump into the sinkhole.
Seven Mile Beach: A gorgeous white sand beach with lively restaurants & shops. To get there, take a cab from your hotel. For lunch, Miss Lily’s is my go-to. Be sure to order the jerk grilled corn.
Booby Cay Island: Head to the sea on a glass bottom boat to visit Booby Cay Island, an uninhabited destination off the shore of 7 Mile Beach. You can stop to snorkel on your way in. Once ashore, pick from the fresh catch of the day, & the chef can cook for you on the wood fire grille. I recommend booking with Zimbali Retreats, a locally owned company.
The Jungle: A dance hall & Jamaican institution, and the go-to if you're looking for bumping Reggaeton beats and music. Thursday is ladies night, and you'll find a mix of travelers and locals alike.
A note from Kelley
You can rent water shoes at the entry of Mayfield Falls, but I recommend packing them in advance.
What to eat & drink in Negril
I'm the type of person who plans itineraries around food, and my recommendations for Jamaica are different. While you're here, be sure to try some of the local dishes.
Some of my favorites include...
Escovitch fish: Seasoned & fried whole red snapper that is topped with a mixture of onions, bell peppers, scotch bonnet pepper and vinegar.
Fried plantains: A personal favorite, and I'm not against getting a serving at each meal.
Bammy: A semi-sweet golden brown cake made from cassava root.
Callaloo: A not-to-be-missed plant-based dish made from taro.
Ackee & saltfish: Made from the yellow flesh of boiled ackee (a round, reddish fruit that originated from West Africa), & sautéed with salted codfish.
Dirty banana (pictured): Rum, Kahlúa, liqueur, banana, light cream & ice. Dangerous and very worthwhile.
Red Stripe: The go-to local beer. It's true what they say: Red Stripe tastes better in Jamaica. (It helps that it's produced on-island with better ingredients).
Where to eat & drink in Negril
The Lodge Restaurant at Tensing Pen (pictured): An open-air restaurant and bar with a menu that boasts local Jamaican cuisine made with a farm-to-table approach. Set on the cliffside of part of the westernmost part of the island, The Lodge is a top-notch spot for sunset.
LTU Cliff Bar & Restaurant: Just down the street from The Lodge, you'll find LTU Cliff Bar & Restaurant, a casual restaurant with a sizable pizza menu plus a rotating array of specials.
Miss Lily’s: The best spot to eat at 7 Mile Beach, Miss Lily's has a charming retro vibe and a menu filled with Jamaican staples. After sunset, nightly DJs spin the latest in reggae and dancehall.
Hammond's Bakery: For those looking for an afternoon snack while at 7 Mile Beach, head away from the tourists and toward Hammond's Bakery, a local gem. The bakery sells the island's most popular and affordable snack: the patty.
Rick’s Cafe: A destination as much as it's a bar, Rick's Cafe is Negril's oldest public bar & a spot famous for its cliffside jumping.
Pushcart Restaurant & Rum Bar: There are two restaurants at Rockhouse, and Pushcart (the option with local dishes) is my go-to. The modern version of the classic Jamaican “Jerk Centre,” Pushcart serves up a full spectrum of the island’s traditional fare in a lively, colorful and music-filled outdoor atmosphere.
Zimbali's: A true dining experience, Zimbali's offers a six-course tasting menu as part of its cooking show. Tour the farm on site, and then join Alecia (the co-owner & chef) in the hybrid kitchen-restaurant space for a cooking demo and meal.
Kool Vybes Bar & Jerk Center: There are a countless number of jerk huts, bars and restaurants along the winding roads in Negril; Kool Vybes is my favorite.
A note from Kelley
Reservations are required at Zimbali's, so plan accordingly. It is off-the-beaten-path from the beachside attractions in Negril, but the destination in the jungle is well worth the visit.
Need to Know
There are many incredible hotels in Negril. Tensing Pen is my personal favorite.
The best airport to fly into is Montego Bay. It takes approximately two hours to drive to Negril, and your hotel can arrange transportation.
It’s easy to hail down a driver in Jamaica. The hotel can also call one for you. Many drivers will also share their phone number so that you can contact them anytime for a ride.
There are no metered taxis in Jamaica. Ask the driver beforehand what the trip cost will be.
Tipping is not customary in Jamaica but it has come to be more traditional with tourists. Generally speaking, it’s recommended to tip 10-15% of restaurant bills. This is on top of the service fee.
Cards vs. cash
You’ll be able to use USD essentially everywhere we go. There is no need to convert currency.
Most places will take a card; it’s not necessary to bring cash everywhere. The exception to this is with drivers (cash is best).
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