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Regrettably and to the surprise of many visitors, the Jamaica Tourist Board has no office in Negril. Seekers of information are referred to the office in Montego Bay, (tel. 876/952-4425), which is hardly a practical solution for most visitors.

Which One's for You: Negril or Mo Bay?

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, when Montego Bay was a magnet for some of the richest and best-known celebrities in the world, Negril was little more than a fishing village. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, it became well known as a destination for hippies who appreciated the cheap and readily available ganja and the laid-back lifestyle. But beginning in the early 1980s, Negril has redefined itself as a serious tourist competitor to Montego Bay. Despite the fact that Negril is catching up in the tourism game, the two resorts remain markedly different in their flavor and in what they have to offer. And despite an increase in first-class hotels, Negril is not in the same league as Montego Bay when it comes to famous, posh, or legendary hotels.

For the serious golfer, Mo Bay is also the better choice, with several of the finest courses in the Caribbean. And for those who view sightseeing as part of their holiday, Montego Bay offers the most diversified attractions in Jamaica. In marked contrast, Negril, other than its beaches, is not blessed with great sights.

What, then, does Negril offer? There is no more laid-back place in the Caribbean for sunning by day and "sinning" after dark. For those who want to hang out -- literally -- Negril has the only officially sanctioned nude beach in all Jamaica. Negril is a sensual, fun-loving Eden where you can find shelter in everything from a Rastafarian hut to an overcrowded Jacuzzi where fellow guests may be naked. And if you hate fancy French restaurants, but enjoy hallucinogenic brownies and 11km-long (6 3/4-mile) beaches, then Negril is the place for you.

Ironically, despite a well-deserved reputation for libertine behavior among otherwise conservative adults, for some reason, Negril has become increasingly popular in recent years as a destination for families with young children.

One caution: Though the temptation to take a moonlit walk on an isolated stretch of Negril's legendary beach is powerful, resist strolling along its most isolated sections. It's possible you could be mugged at night, or worse.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.