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When the road between Montego Bay and Negril was improved in the early 1970s, it helped to increase Negril's status as a new resort location. It was a two-lane paved road that ran approximately 100 yards inland from two white coral sand beaches, at the southern end of which was a small village. The long paved road from the village ran north to Green Island, home to many of the Jamaican workers in Negril, and was straight enough to double as a runway for small airplanes, which was why there were lengths of railroad track standing on end along the side of the road - to discourage drug smugglers from landing on the road to pick up cheap cargos of marijuana.
After Negril's infrastructure was expanded in anticipation of the growth of resorts and an expanding population, a small airport was built in 1976 near Rutland Point, alongside several small hotels mostly catering to the North American winter tourists. Europeans also came to Negril, and several hotels were built in order to cater directly to those guests.
The geography of Jamaica is quite diverse. The western coastline contains the island's finest beaches, stretching for more than six kilometers along a sandbar at Negril. It is known as the "Seven-Mile Beach" although it is only slightly more than 4 miles in length, from the Negril River on the south to Rutland Point on the north.
On the inland side of Negril's main road, to the east of the shore, lies a swamp called the Great Morass, through which runs the Negril River, amidst which is the Royal Palm Reserve, with wetlands that are protected since they are responsible for the growth of coral in the region, which upon death, begin to decay, helping to form coral sand along the beachfront.
In 1990, the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society was formed as a non-profit, non-governmental organization to address ongoing degradation of the coral reef ecosystem. The Negril Marine Park was officially declared on March 4, 1998 covering a total area of approximately 160 square kilometers and extending from the Davis Cove River in the Parish of Hanover to St. Johnís Point in Westmoreland. The Government of Jamaica delegated the NCRPS to manage the Negril Marine Park in 2002.
For years, Negril's has been rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world by many travel magazines. The north end of the beach is home to the large, all-inclusive resorts, and to the south are the smaller, family-run hotels. This combination gives the Negril area a large variety of rooms, services and prices. South of downtown Negril is West End Road, known as the cliff area, which is lined with resorts that offer more privacy. These areas offer easy access to waters good for snorkeling and diving, with jumping points reaching more than 40 feet high. Rick's Cafe is a place to watch the cliff jumpers, although there have been a number of fatalities and serious injuries with regard to visitors attempting even the lower level jumps. Rick's is considered one of the 1,000 places to go before you die. Although most of Rick's was destroyed, and slid into the ocean in the hurricane of 2003, it has been rebuilt and the sunsets are still some of the best in the world.
That Negril is still fairly underdeveloped remains a significant factor in its undoubted charm. This may not last, as a new highway from Montego Bay and an improved infrastructure may bring more tourists.
The last few years have seen major development along the famed "Seven Mile Beach." The resorts include Couples Negril, Sandals, Beaches, Samsara Hotel, Legends Resort, Grand Lido and Hedonism II. A branch of Jimmy Buffett's chain restaurant and bar, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and a duty free zone have also been added. These developments have led to adverse environmental effects e.g. dredging of sea grass beds caused the major loss of beach area due to increased sea water erosion.
More information can be found at: www.negril.com/
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