Managed by the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) and located 1.5 kilometers into the middle of the Great Morass from Sheffield, the 121-hectare Royal Palm Reserve (9 a.m.-6 p.m daily, US$15) is home to 114 plant species, including the endemic morass royal palms found only in western Jamaica. It's also home to over 300 animal species, including insects, reptiles (including two species of American crocodile), and birds.
Negril has become Jamaica's foremost beach town, evolving over the past decade along with the changing nature of the tourists who come to bask in the sun and adopt the island's pace. Today, world-class restaurants and lodging provide an alternative to the low-key guesthouses and seafood stalls that became the norm during Negril's transition from fishing village to tourist boomtown in the 1970s. What was once Jamaica's secret paradise is today the heart of the island's diversified tourist economy.
Negril Beach Park (9am-5pm daily, US$3 adults, US$1 children 4-11) is well worth the entrance fee for the abundant shade beneath sea grape trees and for the absence of hustlers. The beach park has crystal clear waters, gently lapping waves, fine white sand, life guards and restrooms.
Negril Lighthouse is located near the westernmost point of Jamaica on West End Road just past The Caves. The lighthouse dates from 1894 and stands 30 meters above the sea.
Margaritaville has been headquarters for spring break activities for a number of years and is one of the most successful bar chains on the island. Villa Negril, as the Negril branch is called, is a more laid-back version of the Jimmy Buffet franchise than its Mobay or Ochi counterparts. When it isn't peak party season, it's mostly known for its giveaways and beach parties on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the early evening. Margaritaville is one of the venues frequently used for the Absolute Temptation Isle (ATI) events around Emancipation weekend.
Alfred's Ocean Palace has been in operation since 1982. Jamaican and international cuisine with chicken, shrimp, and fish dishes (US$10\15) is served 8 a.m.\10:30 p.m daily in high season; the kitchen closes at 9 p.m in the low season. Alfred's also has eight double- and triple-occupancy rooms (US$40\50). Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays are Live Reggae Beach Party nights, which typically feature local acts (US$4) with occasional big-name international acts like Toots and Capleton (US$10\15).
Wavz is a seasonal venue and promotions company that hosts occasional parties throughout the year.
Whitehall Great House is yet another great house in ruins, located on the old Whitehall Estate on the ascent to Mount Airy. To get there, take a right immediately before the Texaco Station on Good Hope Road heading east from the Negril roundabout toward Sav-la-Mar. The ruins are about a mile up the hill on the left and command an excellent view of Negril Beach and the morass. One of the largest cotton trees in Jamaica stands on the property.
Jamaica's longest beach is no longer the undisturbed keep of fishermen, as it was in the 1960s, but there are plenty of benefits that have come as a result of the virtually uncurbed development of the last 30 years. The sand remains a beautiful golden color, and the waters, while increasingly over-fished, remain crystal clear. A bar is never more than an arm's length away, and every kind of water sport is available. Expect advances from all manner of peddler and hustler until your face becomes known and your reaction time to these calls for attention slows.