Montego Bay and Negril are separated by one road and a few hours. The close proximity of the two locations might make the decision between them sound like an easy one when in fact, that’s what makes things so complicated. Traveling from one to the other during a trip is definitely an option. Although people don’t usually come to Jamaica to spend half their vacation in the car.
It’s necessary to pinpoint which location is the best fit for each traveler in order to make the most of that vacation time. After singling out one city, shorter day trips to other nearby tourist attractions will be much more manageable. Let’s run through the pros and cons of each destination with a look at 20 reasons to choose one Jamaican destination over the other.
20 Montego Bay: More Resort Options
Since Montego Bay is a bigger city, there are more resorts to choose from. Travelers hoping to have specific needs met will have better luck. For example, there are more family-friendly resorts at a range of prices. Airbnb listings also show a wider price variety on the site.
19 Negril: Miles Of Beautiful Beach
The coast is no commodity for an island nation. However, Negril’s white stretches of fine sand are considered the best in the country. That's why what is known as Negril's seven Mile Beach has become such a draw. Beach bums will be delighted by all the land there is to cover.
18 Montego Bay: The Quickest Way To Negril Is Through Montego Bay
The airport closest to Negril is located in Montego Bay. If Negril is your final destination, you’ll start the journey in Montego Bay regardless. There’s no harm in spending some time taking in the sights while you’re there. A day trip to Negril might be enough for some.
17 Negril: Cliffs Line The Coast
Natural cliffs slope down into the crystal blue water on the western shores of Jamaica. As the cliffs get lower, quaint resort cottages appear along the edges in Negril. Travelers can take a hike uphill for some exercise or book a room for a relaxing view from bed.
16 Montego Bay: Experience A Real Jamaican City
The resident population in Montego Bay far surpasses that of Negril. It wasn’t designed to suit tourists. It was built up naturally as more and more people moved into the area. There is a certain liveliness in an organic city that can’t be replicated with diligent planning.
15 Negril: Horses Roam Through The Waves
Guides lead horse caravans around Negril’s long coasts of white sand. When the beaches are exhausted, horses enter the water for a stroll through the Caribbean. Similar tours are available in Montego Bay, but the unparalleled scenery in Negril adds a special element to the activity.
14 Montego Bay: More Locals And Fewer Tourists
Since a large number of citizens inhabit Montego Bay, you can count on meeting genuine Jamaicans. The crowd doesn’t matter much if lounging on the beach is the driving factor for your vacation. However, getting to know the locals makes it clear why Jamaica isn’t just any other Caribbean destination.
13 Negril: Small Town Built With Tourists In Mind
Negril’s population is somewhere in the thousands while hundreds of thousands stop by every year, notes Caribjes. Adventurers might consider how touristy Negril is a downside. Those who don’t want to do much research or planning will be thankful for the carefree days on the beach that Negril’s tourism infrastructure can provide.
12 Montego Bay: Private Beaches Are Beautiful And Inexpensive
Entry to the beach shown above is just six bucks, according to U.S. News. Kids pay half the price. This spot, Doctor’s Cave, is one of the most recommended in Montego Bay because the beach is actually a match for what you can find in Negril.
11 Negril: More Beaches Mean Fewer Crowds
Busy beaches are the bane of beach vacations. With so much available coastline, Negril is able to put some space in between clusters of tourists. Montego Bay, on the other hand, has a limited number of public beaches that can compare to Negril’s. Finding a secluded spot is less likely.
10 Montego Bay: Lively Nightlife
Upbeat clubs where locals and foreigners can finally get to know one another are tangled throughout the city. One of the biggest attractions is Margaritaville. LonelyPlanet states that the club is “a tourist trap by day, but as night falls, locals like to come here to dance to pounding beats.”
9 Negril: Day Trip To Blue Hole Mineral Spring
A limestone cavern opens up the ground an hour away from Negril. Blue spring water fills the pool at the bottom. The pure water is used for mineral massages on land, according to TripAdvisor. Guests can also climb down for a swim or watch staff members take expert dives.
Related: 10 Most Beautiful Springs In America
8 Montego Bay: Tour A Spooky Haunted House
Johnny Cash based his famous song “The Ballad of Annie Palmer” on the myths that surround this house, according to the Telegraph. Ghost stories are part of what makes this landmark so alluring. Its other attractive feature is its historical value as a well-preserved relic of 17th century Jamaica.
7 Negril: Creative Cafe Designed Around A Cavern
Rick’s Cafe has integrated those cliffs we talked about into its design. Patrons come to eat and to dive down into the sea. Though Inside Edition has described the dangers of jumping in carelessly close to those stone walls. Cautious travelers should dive with professionals instead.
6 Montego Bay: Experience Rastafari Culture
Spend a day at the Rastafari Indigenous Village to get a better understanding of the religion and culture. You can also learn from drum makers before the experts give their performance, according to Visit Jamaica. At the end of the trip, visit the local store for handmade souvenirs.
5 Negril: Gardens Filled With Hummingbirds
Lovely little hummingbirds of all colors flutter through the sea of tropical flowers at Barney's Hummingbird Garden. For an entrance fee just under $20, guests can come for a visit. Bottle feed a hummingbird sugar before getting some grub yourself at one of the nearby restaurants serving local dishes.
4 Montego Bay: Many Cruise Lines Dock In The Dedicated Port
Consider booking a Caribbean cruise and Montego Bay might be included. Since it has a cruise port available, unlike Negril and many other coastal cities, it’s a common port of call. Indecisive travelers will cover even more ground by expanding the limits to more than one country or city.
3 Negril: Ample Coast For ATV Runs
Various companies are willing to take tourists out on the beach on ATVs. In addition to zooming down the beaches of Negril, you can dive into the forest for a change of pace. Green foliage may reveal some of the tropical species of lizard and bids on the island.
2 Montego Bay: Jamaica's Top River Rafting Spot
Martha Brae river cuts through several cities before stopping just short of Montego Bay. According to Visit Jamaica, guests can board bamboo rafts at Rafter’s Village. Guides then lead the way through low-hanging trees. There are opportunities to try steering and jump into the water for a swim.
1 Negril: No Direct Flights
The downsides of this are quite obvious and have already been covered, but now we’d like to cover a less conspicuous upside. No airport means no roaring planes flying overhead. The laidback beach vibe that rubs off during the catamaran ride over will be there to stay.