Negril and the West

Sports & Recreation

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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Marine Life Divers

Marine Life Divers is a dependable dive shop offering certification courses and equipment rental for PADI-certified divers. The one-dive discover scuba intro course costs US$80; PADI certified divers with their own equipment can rent full tanks (US$42 one dive, from shore - 9am-10:30am, US$85 for two by boat 9am-1:30pm) or tanks and equipment (US$50/100). Transport is included from all Negril accommodations.

In: Sports & Recreation

Stanley's Deep Sea Fishing

Stanley's Deep Sea Fishing (is the most professional outfit in Negril. It's run by Captain Stanley Carvalho and offers a good mix of options from half-day (US$500) to three-quarter day (US$750) to full-day trips (US$1000) for up to four people. Additional persons can be added, up to eight passengers (additional person US$50/75/100 for the different length excursions). Stanley's also offers the option of charter sharing, where individuals can team up with others to fill up the boat (US$100) rather than charter exclusively.

In: Sports & Recreation

Negril Hills Golf Club

Negril Hills Golf Club (7:30 a.m.\3 p.m) has reasonable rates for nonmembers. For 9 holes: greens fee (US$28.75), cart (US$17.25), caddy (US$7); for 18 holes: greens fee (US$57.50), cart (US$34.50), caddy (US$14). Clubs can also be rented (US$18 for older, US$25 for newer, and US$40 for top-of-the-line and Hybrid clubs (e.g. Taylor Made and Cobras).

In: Sports & Recreation

Dream Team Divers

Dream Team Divers (8 a.m.-4 p.m daily) has English, German, Italian, and French-speaking dive instructors. Dive master Ken Brown has run every dive shop in town since he landed in Negril in 1991 and finally opened his own shop in October 2008. Dream Team offers free pickup and drop-off for clients from any accommodation in Negril. The outfit sets itself apart by visiting dolphin dive sites and locations not visited by any others. Rates range from the Discover Scuba intro course (US$80) to the dive master certification (US$600).

In: Sports & Recreation

Ray's Water Sports

Ray's Water Sports is one of the more successful outfits on the beach, impossible to miss with the parasail chutes plastered with his name.

In: Sports & Recreation