.Known as the “Capital of Casual” for its come-as-you-are lifestyle, Negril was initially put on the tourism map by hippie “flower children” and budget backpackers in the 1960s. Today, the mentality remains the same and everything from budget accommodations to five-star resorts can be found dotting the beachfront town.
Hippie flower children aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen in love with Negril, as Hollywood has made the town a regular destination for filming movies and vacations. The Negril Cliffs of the West End have been shown in films including one of the most famous and popular James Bond movies “Dr. No” and “Thunderball,” as well as well-known flicks including “Papillion,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and “Cocktail.” Negril has also been known to play host to some of the world’s most famous celebrities with star sightings including Keri Russell, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and husband Pete Wentz, Michael Jordan, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, and Sharon Stone. Stevie Wonder and John Slattery also make a regular, annual tropical vacation in Negril.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawaks people when the Spanish discovered it in 1494, Jamaica remained under Spain’s possession until 1655 when it came under British control. For centuries, Negril was virtually undiscovered and untouched beyond being used as a fishing port, and it was here that the infamous pirate Calico Jack Rackham was captured and later put to death on the island in the neighboring town of Spanish Town.
Tourism was slow to grow in Negril due to bad roads and large swamps, and it wasn’t until the late 1950s when the infrastructure was improved that the town caught on with visitors seeking bTeach paradise. What first started out as a holiday destination for local Jamaicans quickly caught on in the 1960s with the flower children. Young foreign hippies, backpackers, draft dodgers, Vietnam veterans, and college kids discovered Negril and flocked to the town’s untouched paradise. Negril’s popularity and reputation continued to grow over the years for its hospitality and natural beauty, and local legends that originally welcomed the flower children to the town, such as Grandma “Malale” Porter, continue to welcome visitors to Negril today.
It was until 1977 that international tourism really exploded in Negril, with the opening of the first resort. By the 1980s, Negril was beginning to experience the height of its tourism, which it continues to see today. The town is now a hugely famous vacation destination for those looking to escape reality and enjoy the slower pace of island life. Nevertheless, even with its continued tourism growth, Negril remains conscious of its expansion and works hard to keep the pristine environmental gems it has to offer in near perfect condition for all to enjoy. Negril and Jamaica welcome all visitors with open arms and invites them to revel in the treasures the town and island have to offer.