Negril and the West

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Hanover and Westmoreland are Jamaica's westernmost parishes. Hanover wraps around from Montego Bay on its northeastern border to where Negril's large hotel strip overflows from Westmoreland at its western reaches. It's a picturesque parish with small mountains tapering down to the coast with rivers, lush valleys, and deep, navigable coves. Caves dot the landscape of some of Jamaica's most biologically diverse ecosystems, in the shadow of the Dolphin Head mountain range.

Negril, which straddles the Hanover\Westmoreland border, has become a mass-market destination popular among Jamaicans and foreign visitors alike. The Kingstonian phenomenon of a weekend escape to "country" often implies a trip west to kick back and adopt the beach life, which necessarily involves taking in spectacular sunsets and the enviable slow pace evoked in Tyrone Taylor's 1983 hit, "Cottage in Negril." A constant stream of new visitors also gives hustlers a chance to do their thing, and Negril has gained a reputation as a mecca for sinful indulgence as a result.

While Negril is the region's most well-known draw, there are several low-key communities farther east that are just as easily accessible from Montego Bay's international airport and worthy coastal destinations in themselves, namely Little Bay, Bluefields, Belmont, and Whitehouse. The Westmoreland interior consists of vast alluvial plains on either side of Cabarita River, still some of Jamaica's most productive sugarcane territory. The plains extend from the base of the Orange Hill, just east of Negril, to where the Roaring River rises out of the earth from its underground source in the hills above Blue Hole Garden.

Hanover exists as a parish since it was portioned off from Westmoreland in 1723 and given the name of English monarch George I of the House of Hanover. The Spanish first settled the area when New Seville was abandoned in 1534 and the capital moved to Spanish Town. Lucea became prosperous, with a busier port than Montego Bay in its heyday, which served 16 large sugar estates in the area. Remnants of many estate great houses dot the landscape to the east and west of Lucea, their abandoned ruins showing evidence of having been torched and destroyed during slave riots. Kennilworth, Barbican, and Tryall are a few of the old estates that have visible ruins; although they have been declared national heritage sites, they are not maintained.

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Negril Craft Market

Negril Crafts Market (betwen the Negril Beach park and the river) has a wide variety of crafts, some better and more authentic than others. Sadly, an increasing production of the products on sale are made in china rather than locally produced.

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Bongo Johnson

Bongo Johnson makes beautiful art sculptures, which can be seen by special arrangement. Johnson's delicate lignum vitae sculptures are on exhibit at the National Gallery in Kingston. He could be convinced to sell a piece if the price is right.

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Branzo Wood Sculptures

Abdel, a.k.a. Branzo can be found in his One Stop Branzo Wood Sculptures shop on the beachfront at Wavz Entertainment Centre (8 a.m.-8 p.m daily). Branzo is one of the most talented wood carvers around and also sells the work of several other woodworkers in his beachside shop.

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Natural Vibes Souvenir Shop

Natural Vibes Souvenir Shop (8 a.m.-7 p.m daily) has been run by Haresh "Hassle Free Harry" Pahilwani since 2004 and is known for hassle-free shopping for Cuban cigars, Jamaica T-shirts and sweats, sandals, sunglasses, Rasta hats, and smoking paraphernalia.

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Errol Allen

Errol Allen is a talented local artist who makes unique silhouette sculptures and oil paintings. Allen's sculptures can be seen on the grounds of Whistling Bird.

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Mary Wonson's Flower Hill Oil and Soap Company

Mary Wonson's Flower Hill Oil and Soap Company produces natural products like lip balms, soaps, rejuvenating oils, and restorative hair oil from extra virgin coconut oil. Contact Nordia Hill to see which retailers in the area are currently carrying the products or to place a direct order.

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