Just got back from an awesome trip to Negril, Jamaica and want to live there now LOL. Here's my quick recap, hope it helps if you ever want to check out that beautiful place.
When I usually give trip recaps I break it down by day but to be honest when you go to Negril you don't go to do a whole bunch of activities. You go to relax and that is exactly what I did. But there are some places and tips I thought would be good to share.
We arrived in Montego Bay airport and had a car service take us the 75-90 minute drive to Negril. I say 75-90 minutes because it all depends on how fast the driver drives. It took us 90 minutes to get to Negril but about 75 minutes to get back. We used https://montegobayairporttonegril.com/ and they were fabulous. Had a sign waiting for us at the airport and had cold drinks for us to sip during the drive (I chose Red Stripe- when in Rome...). We got round trip service and it was about $130 total for the round trip which my sis and I split. We tipped about 20%.
One thing to note about tipping, in most places there is a regular tax and then a service charge. The service charge (10%) isn't necessarily a tip for the waitress but for the staff (like maintenance and cleaners) so we tipped above it.
Negril is a lovely town but its not as developed. If you are looking for sidewalks and real shopping then Montego Bay is your better bet. But I loved the quaintness of Negril and the people were very friendly despite the lack of luxury (which you can get if you go on a resort) and hey, you are on a beach with warm weather- that's luxury in itself.
We choose to stay in a hotel instead of an all inclusive resort. I preferred to mix and mingle with people who aren't just tourist (or couples) and not be stuck with the food and drink that a resort offers. We stayed at Sandy Haven Boutique Hotel which I loved. There weren't any kids and it was a good mix of couples and singles. It was updated, the staff was friendly and helpful, they offered a free continental breakfast, there was a pool (which we didn't use) and spa services, a restaurant, bar/grill, the beach part didn't allow vendors on the property so they couldn't hassle you. There was free wifi, cable, A/C and ipod plug in to jam to some music as you get ready for the night. There was also a gym.They were strict about who could be on the property and knew faces which helps with safety concerns.
A note on safety: there are volunteers who survey the beach and call in police if things are looking suspect. They wear uniforms and I appreciated their presence. Jamaica is big on tourism for their economy and preventing crime is a big concern for them. They warned my sister often not to walk the beach at night.
The location of our hotel was great so we walked for the most part to wherever we went (on the street with no sidewalks so walk in the direction that the cars head towards you so you can see what's going on). The cab drivers are hustlers and will stop and wait for you even if you don't ask them to, just shake your head and they get it and go on. Most travel along the beach shouldn't cost you more than $5 (they do accept US dollars). Come with exact change because sometimes vendors or drivers don't have any change (or so they say) so if all you have is a twenty and the ride was $5 well you just gave him a nice tip!
As to nightlife, it's a beach town so to me the best time is chilling on the spots on the beach. We arrived on a Wednesday and it was pretty quiet. Things didn't liven up until Thursday (we went to the Jungle on a Thursday for ladies night which was "eh" but it seemed busier on a Saturday) but the best nights are Friday and Saturday. On Friday the popular options are Margaritaville or Alfreds. We choose Alfreds and had an awesome time. Saturday is supposed to be good for The Jungle or Bamboo, we didn't do either and just were low key at the beach bars.
I'm sure I didn't go everywhere I could have gone to eat and wish I paid more attention to planning out food options. I loved the food at a local spot called Janette's Delish Delights (best pina colada EVER). Margaritaville food was eh. Had breakfast at Alfreds- good. Had some jerk
Our hotel was good about giving us options of things to do. Water activities are of course the biggest options but I've done a lot of those types of things so we were looking for something different. We choose to go horseback riding. We went to a ranch and did a two mile trek to a beach where we went into the water with the horses. What an awesome experience. I felt like a cowboy!
Also check out Ricks Café to watch the sunset (amazing) or cliff dive (if you dare, I didn't) or eat/drink and listen to the live band. We went on a Friday around 5pm which was a great time to go and mix and mingle. My sister and I must have been looking fierce because when we walked past two local girls one whispered "we got competition" and they left. Maybe they were prostitutes... DID THEY THINK WE WERE PROSTITUES! Anyway, fun time.
I didn't get to do anything else but check out the Falls or do a day trip to Montego bay or Appleton Rum tour. I plan to next time.
Outside of that, the beach was the sight for me. Amazing water that I want to paint to really capture, neat beach, warm people and fun little jewelry and services etc. to buy (remember to barter but don't be stingy).
All in all, a great time, I want to go back!