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Montego Bay vs Negril?

by Aneisha Dobson | Associate Writer

montego bay vs negril

Undoubtedly, both Montego Bay and Negril are two of Jamaica’s most popular tourist destinations, with each attracting record scores of tourists yearly.

And although both are found on the western end of Jamaica, each destination has unique characteristics that set it apart, thus making comparisons difficult.

negril beach

Known as the The Capital Of Casual!, Negril is known to have a much calmer, laid-back vibe. Its geography, which includes its white, sandy beaches, embodies the atmosphere of relaxation.


Negril takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life and presents to you paradise under the sun.

Now Montego Bay paints a completely different picture. The ambience and atmosphere in Mobay is somewhat hard to describe. One could say it is somewhat of a mixture.

On one side you’ll find posh resorts, luxurious restaurants and melodious entertainment. While on the other, you’ll find a frantic city with traffic, congestion, honking horns and people busy getting to or from work.

But, strangely enough, this mixture works for Mobay. Montego Bay has a little of everything to cater for various personalities and tastes. It’s no surprise then that it is also known as the tourist capital of Jamaica.

Natural Attractions

Kissed by Mother Nature, Jamaica is home to some of the most beautiful attractions on earth!

When it comes to Montego Bay and Negril we find that its natural beaches are the closest thing to nature. This is no surprise, as white sands and turquoise waters are often used to trademark the island.

So, if laying on the beach all day with the sun kissing your feet is your idea of the ultimate vacay, Negril is the best destination for you.

Does Seven-Mile Beach ring a bell?

Well, this famous stretch is a must-go-to spot. Other popular beaches in Negril are Bloody Bay, Booby Cay and Coral Beach. Mobay also has some amazing beaches for you to enjoy. The only difference is that the beaches in Montego Bay tend to be a bit smaller.

beach in montego bay

So if you’re all about walking along long, sandy beaches, then I guess you’ll prefer Negril. However, if you’re not fussy about that stuff, then Montego Bay's beaches are a great choice for you.

mobay aerial view

Mobay’s most popular beaches include the world-famous Doctors Cave Beach and Aquasol Beach, now back to its original name, Walter Fletcher Beach. The newly developed Harmony Beach Park is also a popular hangouts spot with a beach, multipurpose court, jogging trail and food stops all located in the same area. Many picnics and beach days have been held here since it opened.

Buccaneer (aka Dead End Beach) and Sunset Beach are also popular free beaches in Mobay.

May I also mention that both have amazing sunsets?

sunsets in Jamaica

Notable Historical Sites

Jamaica has a rich history that has shaped its culture and identity. Many of these historical landmarks can be found in these two top tourist destinations.

I find that Montego Bay has a greater mix of heritage sites and landmarks compared to Negril though.

In fact, in the heart of the city, Sam Sharpe Square, a piece of history is planted. Bronze statutes depict Jamaica's National Hero Samuel Sharpe preaching to slaves with a bible in his hand.

Also in Sam Sharpe Square, is the multi-faceted Civic Centre, which also hosts National Gallery West. It was formerly the Court House where many trials of slaves were tried, including Sam Sharpe.

Have you heard of the tale of Annie Palmer from the White Witch of Rose Hall? Well, the Rose Hall Great House was where she resided. There are many stories surrounding her and the Rose Hall Great House, hence making it a popular attraction.

The Dome, Greenhouse Great House, Fort Montego, Salter’s Hill Baptist Church and St. James Parish Church are also quite popular.

There are a few historical sites in (or near) the Negril area. These include the Mannings School, Savanna-la-mar Baptist Church and the Cast Iron Fountain. The most notable historical site in Negril though, is the The Negril Lighthouse.

Fun and Adventure

Looking for something that fuels your inner child? Well, both western destinations aim to please your desires.

You’ll find various places that provide a variety of games, rides and adventures that will allow you to let loose and have some fun. Other than for your enjoyment, these places are a great way to keep the kids duly occupied.

We need to make special of the invigorating Kool Runnings Waterpark Negril experience. There’s a little for everyone, which includes paintballs, rafting and go-karts and the lazy river.

Rick’s Café in Negril is famous for cliff jumping (an activity not for the faint of heart).

ricks cafe

In regards to Montego Bay, we find that some of its most exciting waterparks can be found at the hotels, such as Sunscape Cove Montego Bay and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites.

However, Montego Bay offers a lot of fun out of the water and off hotel property.

For instance, the reopening of Coral Cliff Casino has sparked excitement amongst locals and tourists alike.

The facility offers an arcade, casino and area for live entertainment. There is also a cinema, Palace Multiplex, which shows the latest blockbusters.

Popular Bars and Retaurants

Jamaica is synonymous with many things…one of which is great food.

Both cities boast a wide variety of bars and restaurants to choose from. Some offer more yardie cuisines, while others offer more international cuisines.

The iconic Margaritaville is located in both areas, Rick's Cafe is popular in Negril and Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records is popular in Montego Bay.

Popular restaurants in Montego Bay for local cuisine include...
  • Scotchies
  • Pier 1
  • The Hoseboat
  • Chill Out Hut &
  • The Pelican Grill

Popular restaurants in Negril for local cuisine includes...
  • Presley's Seafood Bar & Grill
  • Ras Rody's Roadside Organic
  • Rasta Ade Refreshments, and
  • Blue Mahoe Restaurant

Hotels and Accommodations

Are you looking for something that screams luxury? You know…3-stars and above? Or do you want something that brings you closer to nature and the Jamaican way of life?

Well, the second city has a wider variety of hotels. Some of the popular ones in Montego Bay include:
  • SeaGardens Beach Resort
  • Iberostar Grand Rose Hall
  • Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa
  • Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall
  • Sandals Montego Bay

And in Negril:
  • The Caves
  • The Rockhouse
  • The Spa Retreat
  • Riu Negril
  • Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
  • Hedonism II

rockhouse negril jamaica

Getting There

So, how exactly do you plan to get there?

Mobay is home to the largest airport in Jamaica, the Sir Donald Sangster International Airport. So, if you’re coming to the Second City by air this is your port of entry.

montego bay airport

However, if you’re vacationing in Negril it may take a bit longer as your best option is to arrive at Donald Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, and then take a shuttle from there to Negril. Read more on how to get to Negril.

Festivals And Other Events

Jamaica is also synonymous with reggae music and partying! Both cities are popular hotspots for party events and music festivals. Some events are also family oriented so you can bring the kids along.

Popular Events In Montego Bay

Popular Events In Negril

  • Stepping High Ganja Festival
  • JAMFEST Spring Break Concert Series
  • Dream WKND

So back to the question, Montego Bay or Negril? I invite YOU to tell me via the comments.

I also recommend you read Negril To Montego Bay How Do I Get There?


Editor's Note
Have a question? Ask Away! Leave it right here!

Comments for Montego Bay vs Negril?

Click here to add your own comments

May 16, 2021
Negril is the place to be!
by: Anonymous

I love the laid-back vibe and the white sandy beaches. There is also a Castle which looks Amazing!

May 16, 2021
MoBay and Negril - here's more
by: Cheri Avery Black

Thanks for the great summary of some of the experiences available in both locations. I want to add more favorites.

In the Montego Bay area, don't miss the where you can also feed the tame hummingbirds, each with a name; and the when it reopens.

There's also the newish Island Strains lounge, restaurant (and medical marijuana office) on the Hip Strip, now also named the Jimmy Cliff Blvd.

The Carol Cliffs Casino has reopened across the street for dining, live music, and arcade (as well as adult gambling). Of course, there are many more restaurants, Peppa's, off Queens Drive (upper road) overlooking the bay, is one of my guests' favorite.

Ten miles before Negril (going from MoBay) is the Pirates Shack, a beautiful, quiet beach nearby a woodland, with a rustic cafe and delicious food.

For another $5 you may get a motor boat ride with Michael to their Calico Jack's island bar where Livingston grills lobster (in season) and fish dinners.

One mile past Rick's Cafe is Barney's Hummingbird Garden. Oh, and for a touch of country, we'll take you to tour our small organic farm and hometown of Lottery, 10 miles from MoBay.

Then nearby MoBay are the Luminous Lagoon; rafting/swimming, with flowers,fresh fruit and drinks; deep sea fishing; tubing; ziplining; ATVs; and horseback riding.

We enjoy helping visitors get the most out of your vacation and welcome you to our guest home (see

Thanks again, Wellesley, for all you do to appreciate and help link up in Jamaica.

Wellesley's Note Love it. Thanks Cherri.

Aug 23, 2020
Negril All The Way
by: Anonymous

Ya Mon! I know some people like to travel the world, but my traveling of the world stopped when found Negril! Such a peaceful place! Try to stay longer and mix it up. Negril has so much to do and you can just relax at the beach which is never a bad thing. Red stripe, lobster...yes!

Jun 23, 2019
Montego Bay vs Negril
by: Anonymous

I been coming to Negril for 12 years now, the only place I want to be!! See you there :)

Jun 23, 2019
Montego Bay vs Negril
by: Carol Hanson

Hands down For sure Negril!!!

Jun 23, 2019
Mobay vs Negril
by: kelly

Hah, no comparison,,, Mobay is the place to stay. And not in an all inclusive or you will miss the best Jamaica has to offer, the people~ no where else like it in the world. xo

Jun 19, 2019
Negril for sure!
by: Lionel

I prefer the laid back feel

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