Negril and the West


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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Guangos Jerk

The best spot to eat out in Savanna-la- Mar, Guango’s Jerk (11:30am-11pm Sun.-Thurs., 11:30am-midnight Fri.-Sat., US$7-25) has a well-prepared menu featuring Jamaica’s favorite seasoned meat. The jerk chicken is served with perfectly crispy skin, the festival is just the right consistency and sweetness, the rep peas soup delicious, and the beer cold. Fish is also served in brown stew, fried, steamed, or roast. Specials include oxtail, stew peas, curry goat, and mannish water.

In: Food

Calico Jack's

A ramshackle bar and grill on a little island just offshore from Half Moon Beach, Calico Jack’s (11am-sunset daily, US$6-20) serves grilled lobster, jerk chicken, veggie kebabs, and escoveitch fish. The bar serves pirate’s rum punch and beer. Calico Jack’s hosts a Pirates Party on Saturdays (4pm-6pm Sat.).


In: Food

iNi Vegan Rastarant

iNi Vegan Rastarant (9am-11pm daily, US$5-10) is a dab bar specializing in Rastafarian ital food. iNi offers indoor and outdoor seating, takeout options, waitstaff, and is wheelchair accessible. A few dishes and beverages offered include Rasta Pasta, ital patties, veggie sandwiches, bush tea, coffee, and ganja tea.


In: Food, Vegetarian

Kool Vybes Bar and Jerk Centre

The food is cooked in a jerk pan grill with open-air seating on picnic tables under a zinc roof at Kool Vybes Bar & Jerk Centre (11am-11pm daily, US$5-30), serving jerk chicken and pork as well as pepper shrimp, curry goat, lobster, and fish.


In: Jerk, Jamaican

Blue Mahoe Restaurant

Blue Mahoe Restaurant (US$10-30) is at Negril Spa Retreat but welcomes non- guests, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. The menu features a mix of Jamaica-inspired dishes like jerk fish tacos and jerk chicken pesto as well as more traditional Jamaican fare like braised oxtails and beans, curried chicken, and curried goat. International standards include burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. The large indoor dining area extends outside onto the cliffs.


In: Food

Motions HQ Bar & Grill

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Motions HQ Bar & Grill  (7am-11pm daily, US$8-20) includes dishes ranging from ackee and saltfish to seasoned shrimp, fish, and curry goat. A billiards table and bumping reggae provide entertainment.


In: Food

Seaview Bar & Grill

Seaview Bar & Grill (West End Rd., around the bend from Scotiabank, 4pm-2:30am daily) does the best steam roast conch (US$4) in Jamaica, as well as steam roast fish (US$12), conch soup (US$2), and jerk or fried jerk chicken (US$5), among other local favorites.


In: Food

Canjam Wake N Bake Cafe

Located just past Rick’s Café, Canjam Wake N Bake Café (West End Rd, across from Citronella, 7:30am-3pm daily high season, US$10-15, ganja edibles mid-Apr.-Sept.) serves fresh fruit juices and breakfast items, as well as famous ganja cookies that pack a punch far beyond their weight.

In: Food

Sun Beach Restaurant Bar & Jerk Hut

Sun Beach Restaurant Bar and Jerk Hut (9am-9pm daily, US$6- 32) serves seafood and Jamaican-inspired cuisine. The cozy beachfront bar and restaurant treats guests to live reggae every Thursday evening.


In: Food

Woodstock Negril

Woodstock Negril (7am-11pm Mon.-Sat. US$3-15) serves a variety of grilled and seafood dishes. This is a great place to bring the family, with free live band entertainment on Thursday, different themed cocktails each night, and karaoke Saturday night.


In: Food