The first to discover Negril’s charms were the “Hippies and flower children” of the early seventies who naturally gravitated to the laid back lifestyles and related to the warmth and gentleness of the sparse population. The hippies left their mark on Negril forever and helped to create its carefree, unhurried atmosphere where friendships spring between visitors and locals.
Recently, the people of Negril seem to be aware of their uniqueness and exhibit pride in their territory. Nature blessed Negril and ensured her place in the tourist world with two shimmering beaches stretching seven crystal sand miles. Negril, the capital of casual has shopping plazas in the centre and one on a hotel strip. Paradise comes in another guise as you leave this seven-mile strip and pass the roundabout in what could be called the centre of Negril.
From here the road meanders along to the West End, where hotels and restaurants cling to the cliff’s edge. Here there is no beach. White sand gleams from the seabed. Here there are caves to explore, and rocky bluffs where heroism can be added to holiday pastimes and doughty souls may hurl themselves from dizzying heights into the crystalline waters below.
Not until 1959 was a road cut to Negril, launching the development of what was then a tiny fishing village. Electricity and telephones would not arrive until later. The sleepy beach front community quickly became a well-known vacation destination for Jamaicans. At around the same time, hippies and backpackers from abroad began to appear. These people boarded with locals or camped in tents on the beaches, smoked marijuana and ate psychedelic mushrooms while cementing the attitude and laid-back lifetyle that has become Negril.
Beginning in the 1970’s, more and more hotels, holiday cottages and major resorts were built, and the town had exploded in popularity among tourists of all types. A road had then been built between Negril and Montego Bay, and also a local airport was also built, making for easier access to this otherwise out of the way vacation spot.
Once the road which traveled from Montego Bay to Negril was developed in the earlier ’70s, it facilitated a boost in Negril’s stature as being the hot new vacation resort area. The road was a two-lane highway made of pavement that was laid approximately one hundred yards (91 m) inland from the white sandy beaches at the southern end of this small fishing community.
The long road through the community happened to run through Green Island which is also where a great number of the local workers from Negril actually live, and was also straight enough to be able to be used as a landing strip for small aircraft, which was the primary reason why one could find strips of rail tracks standing up on the edge of the road which were placed there in order to dissuade smugglers from landing on the road to pick up the pletiful loads of ganja.
After the infrastructure had been expanded in anticipation of the growth of vacation resorts in Negril as well as an expanding population, a small airport, the Negril Aerodrome, had been built in 1976 near Rutland Point, together with several small hotels mostly serving the North American winter travelers. Many Europeans also came to Negril, and several hotels were designed to appeal directly to those visitors.