The great thing about Negril is the fact that no matter the season, you can forget what day of the week it is in a hurry. While weekends remain "going-out nights," and important acts that draw large Jamaican audiences will perform generally on a Friday or Saturday, big artists also perform on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Because Negril is so small, the handful of clubs that monopolize the regular live entertainment market have made a tacit pact whereby each takes a night, or two, of the week. This way, the main clubs are guaranteed a weekly following, and Negril's transient crowd can somewhat keep tabs on where to go on any particular evening.
Negril and the West
Based at Eldin Washington Ranch on the main road from Negril to Savanna-la-Mar, Reggae Horseback Riding (1 hour US$60 pp, 2 hours US$80, US$50 ages 6-10, including transportation from Negril) features horse- back riding on a 365-hectare (900-acre) farm populated by peacocks, ostriches, donkeys, and goats. Schedule a tour with up to 15 riders. The two-hour ride ends on a 1.6-kilometer (1-mile) stretch of private beach.
Pushcart Restaurant and Rum Bar (3\10 p.m daily, US$9\16) serves entrèes including peppered shrimp, homemade jerk sausage, curry goat, and oxtail. Opened in early 2009, Pushcart brings a Jamaican street food experience to one of the West End's most exclusive accommodations enclaves. The name is derived from the pushcarts used by Jamaican street vendors across the island in open-air markets, whether for selling produce or cooked food. The pushcart provides the inspiration for the menu, which is inspired by street food from Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
Rick's Cafe (noon-10 p.m daily, US$18-28) is a moneymaker that has other business owners in Negril envious. It's worth stopping by for a look at the immense crowd that is bussed in each evening, making it one of Negril's most successful commercial ventures. The property was renovated in the recent past after a large chunk of cliff fell into the sea during a hurricane. A huge boom was erected for a rope swing, and there are plenty of platforms to jump off for all levels of adrenaline junkies.
The Sands (4 p.m.-sunset) is the best place to experience the West End's cliffs away from the gawking crowds that convene at Rick's each evening. It is a great bar, right next to the nicest and most secluded villa at Negril's top resort, and therefore a great way to experience The Caves' vibe if you can't stay there. There is a challenging-enough spot to jump into the water approximately 12 meters below--with the best view of Negril's lighthouse right next door.
The Jungle is Negril's only off-the-water club, located in an old bank toward the middle of the beach on the morass side of Norman Manley Boulevard. It has regular theme nights throughout the week, as well as special events, normally held on weekends. Ladies' Night on Thursdays gets packed, and Saturdays generally see a good crowd dancing well into the morning. The Amazon Lounge at Jungle is open daily (4 p.m to midnight).
Bourbon Beach took over from Debuss and is owned by four brothers and two sisters and managed by Jimmy Morrell. Monday Reggae Magic features internationally known acts like Gregory Isaacs, John Holt, and Yellowman, who are all regulars. Bourbon Thursdays features young and up-and-coming reggae acts and some of the more obscure local acts, and Saturdays Live on the Beach are usually reserved for a live local act, like Vybz Kartel or vintage artist like Ken Booth and The Mighty Diamonds.
On The Rocks (noon\midnight daily) is an interesting bar with what looks like a drive-in movie theater in its parking lot. Movies are played nightly (free admission), and popcorn and ice cream are served. Inexpensive drinks in a vibesy setting close to the water's edge make this a good place to down a mid-evening drink before hitting the clubs.
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).
Jamaica Tamboo is perhaps best known as the location for some of the parties during ATI weekend around Independence Day. Occasional events are held at other times throughout the year as well, while it functions day-to-day as a restaurant and sports bar. The beachfront property has basic rooms and wireless Internet at a good value (US$60).
- 1 of 2
- next ›