Some of the best reggae bands in Jamaica, often from Kingston and often Bob Marley wannabes, show up in Negril. Alfred's and Risky Business are both major venues for reggae performances. All establishments listed below are located on Norman Manley Boulevard unless otherwise noted.
Negril is not without nightspots, though you're likely to spend most evenings enjoying the entertainment in your own resort. Fun places are easy to find, as nearly everything is on Norman Manley Boulevard, the only major road in Negril.
The Jungle, in Mariner's Negril Beach Club (tel. 876/957-4005; www.junglenegril.com), is the most crowded, exuberant, and famous dance club in Negril, with a penchant for attracting sports and music-industry celebrities. Its slogan? "Unleash the Animal." The scene gets so mobbed during spring break that movie crews have flown in from the U.S. to film it. Most of the perspiration here is spilled on the ground level, where four bars and dance floors rock 'n' roll with music that varies according to the night's theme. Head for the upper level for the much-needed "cool-downs" that, at least here, have developed into a laid-back art form all their own. Red Stripe and rum punches are the drinks of choice for a crowd that really seems to enjoy their estrogen and testosterone highs. Fortunately, security at least appears tight, with a prominent sign in front that declares, NO PROSTITUTES OR GIGOLOS, NO DRUGS, NO SOLICITING, NO MISCONDUCT and a forbidding-looking bar that locks the place up tighter than a jail during off-hours. The cover charge is US$10 for men (referred to on signs at the entrance as TARZANS) and US$8 for women (referred to as JANES). The Jungle Arcade is a gaming room with around 100 slot machines. The club is open Wednesday to Saturday 8:30pm until the last patron staggers back to his or her hotel.
Alfred's Ocean Palace, Norman Manley Boulevard (tel. 876/957-4735; www.alfreds.com), draws mainly locals, but visitors are welcome. Set directly on the beach, it attracts primarily a young party crowd, but if you're 80, you'll still be warmly embraced, your cold Red Stripe waiting. The $7 cover is for shows, and in addition to grabbing a drink, you can order a bite to eat until midnight. Particularly interesting is the beach-party area, with a stage for live reggae and jazz acts. You can also boogie on the dance floor inside, shaking to hits you'll hear at clubs stateside.
Risky Business, Norman Manley Boulevard (tel. 876/957-3008; www.riskybusinesses.com), sits a few feet from the waves. It can be sleepy or manic, depending on the music. In season, you can order burgers and sandwiches, and the Red Stripe is cheap year-round. It's mostly a young hangout with parties Monday, Thursday, and Saturday beginning at 9pm. There's no cover.
Rick's Bar has long dominated the after dark scene in Negril. But it has some serious competition. Pirates Cave Bar & Restaurant, at Pirates Cave (tel. 876/957-0925), is carved out of a 30-foot tall sea cliff in the West End. In the 1970s, Steve McQueen leaped from the cliffs here to make his escape from Devil's Island in the prison classic Papillon. In the 1950s, parts of the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were also shot inside the rocky hollow. Today's barflies still jump off the cliff, calling it a "McQueen off the rocks." When not cliff jumping, guests drink rum punches and sample such dishes as grilled lobster or chicken in a homemade jerk sauce, even "rasta pasta" if you want to veg out.
Mary's Bay Boat Bar & Grill, West End Road (tel. 876/454-2284), the brainchild of a U.S. ex-pat, William H. Miller, is about a 10-minute walk west from the center of Negril. This popular bar opens onto a panoramic sweep of Negril's Seven Mile Beach. It has a wide selection of drinks and serves an array of hot, tasty Jamaican dishes. Live reggae music is presented on Tuesday night after 9pm. The bar is also a magnet during the day, with showers and lockers, chaise longues, and an Internet cafe. Boat charter services -- featuring fishing, snorkeling, and sunset cruises -- also operate out of here.
Another watering hole gaining renown is Ivan's Bar, at the Catcha Falling Star Resort in the West End (tel. 876/957-0390), named after the infamous Hurricane Ivan that struck Jamaica in 2004. Because of limited seating, the bar is open only to guests of the inn -- and their friends -- or else those who called and made dinner reservations. The bartenders make the best soursop martini on island. The kitchen turns out such delights as coconut pimento chicken or seafood linguini. Sometimes the heavy drinking lasts until the sun comes up over the drunken revelers.
Bourbon Beach (tel. 876/957-4405; www.bourbonbeachnegril.com) is the most popular and versatile hangout on Negril Beach. The club features live reggae 3 nights a week. The rum and Red Stripe flow freely through the day and night -- at least from 9am to 11pm (and often much later). The club also serves food, including jerk chicken or fresh fish and lobster.
Norma's on the Beach at Sea Splash (tel. 876/957-4041) is the bar that's associated with the most famous independent restaurant in Negril, linked as it is to the most famous restaurateur (Norma) in Jamaica, and recommended separately. But even if you aren't particularly hungry, you might have a merry and rollicking time hanging out at the lattice-trimmed bar here, looking at the waves, the moon, and the other clients. The venue, at its best, can be convivial and even festive, with hints of Jamaican chic and occasionally, humor. The bar is open daily 7am to 11pm.
Cosmo's Seaford Restaurant & Bar (tel. 876/957-4784) is also popular after dark. Located on the beach, it offers recorded music, everything from old hits to soca. You can play pool, drink, and mingle.
For the hottest night in Negril, don a toga and head for Hedonism II (tel. 876/957-5200), the most notorious all-inclusive in Jamaica. It's known for wild and raunchy parties. Nonguests are allowed entrance if they purchase a US$100 night pass. At first this might seem steep, but it's really not when you consider that for this fee you are allowed all the food and drink you can consume -- plus the entertainment. Fellow guests in thong bikinis and bondage suits are just part of the scenery. On-site is the resort's hottest disco, where action begins at 10:30pm and often goes on until 2am.
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.