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Negril

In the 18th century, English ships assembled here in convoys for dangerous ocean crossings. The infamous pirate Calico Jack and his crew were captured right here while they guzzled rum. All but two of them were hanged on the spot; Mary Read and Anne Bonny were pregnant at the time, so their executions were delayed.

On the winding coast road 55 miles southwest of Mo’Bay, Negril was once Jamaica’s best-kept secret, but it has shed some of its bohemian, ramshackle atmosphere for the attractions and activities traditionally associated with Mo’Bay. One thing that hasn’t changed about this west-coast center (whose only true claim to fame is a 7-mile beach) is a casual approach to life. As you wander from lunch in the sun to shopping in the sun to sports in the sun, you’ll find that swimsuits and cover-ups are common attire.

Negril stretches along the coast south from horseshoe-shaped Bloody Bay (named when it was a whale-processing center) along the calm waters of Long Bay to the lighthouse. Nearby, divers spiral downward off 50-foot-high cliffs into the deep green depths as the sun turns into a ball of fire and sets the clouds ablaze with color. Sunset is also the time when Norman Manley Boulevard and West End Road, which intersect, come to life with busy waterside restaurants and reggae stage shows.

POINTS OF INTEREST

NEGRIL BEACH

Stretching for 7 miles —from Bloody Bay in the north along Long Bay to the cliffs on the southern edge of town—this long, white-sand beach is probably Jamaica’s finest. Some stretches remain undeveloped, but these are increasingly few. Along the main stretch, the sand is public to the high-water mark, and visitors and vendors parade from end to end. The walk is sprinkled with good beach bars and open-air restaurants, some of which charge a small fee to use their beach facilities. Bloody Bay is lined with large all-inclusive resorts; these sections are mostly private. Jamaica’s best-known nude beach, at Hedonism II, is always among the busiest; only resort guests or day-pass holders may sun here. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets; showers; water sports. Best for: partiers; sunset; swimming; walking.

KOOL RUNNINGS ADVENTURE PARK

Billing itself as the place where “Jamaica comes to play,” this park has 10 waterslides and a ¼-mile (½-km) lazy-river float ride, as well as a go-kart track and kayaking. An adventure zone features outdoor laser combat games and Jamboo rafting (on floating bamboo). There is also bungee jumping, a “kool kanoe” adventure, a wave pool, and paintball. Admission varies by age and area, and the All for One Plan covers both the water park and fun zone.