Rick’s Cafe is a Negril icon, and while you could argue that it’s maybe gotten too big or — like too many things in the Caribbean — been loved to death, it’s still a must-do on any trip to the west end of Jamaica.
There are at least two things that keep Rick’s relevant: cliff diving and sunsets. Perched on Negril’s cliffs (this is not a beach bar, no matter what you may have read in a “top” list online somewhere), Rick’s has weathered two hurricanes and the occasional spout of bad publicity when someone’s plunge doesn’t go well over its 40-year history.
Cliff diving is a local daredevil tradition that has been happily adopted by visitors, who can be seen dropping, diving, and somersaulting from a few or a few dozen feet into a rocky cove all day, every day, interrupted only by the occasional stunt dive from a platform 100 feet above the waves that’s for experts only (throw a dollar in the hat and enjoy the thrill). Diving, of course, is at your own risk, and risk there is — injuries and the occasional death have occurred, and needless to say, drinking and diving is a bad, bad mix.
Speaking of drinking, a rum punch will set you back about $6, not bad considering you’re paying for the scene, the views, and the live bands that take the stage every afternoon as sunset approaches. The food menu is limited in the sense that it’s either appetizers or entrees (no sandwiches), but food is hardly the reason you come to Rick’s: the sesame BBQ wings make a nice nosh with your beer or cocktail, but chances are you’ll be having dinner elsewhere later on.
If cliff diving isn’t your thing, but cooling off and working on a tan is, Rick’s also has a swimming pool that’s open to the public and cabanas for rent — a nice option if you plan on hanging around for a few hours under the hot Jamaican sun. If not, there are several levels of seating available, and a gift shop to browse.
However, all of that is mere prelude to watching the sunset from Rick’s patio, a daily ritual that never fails to spark a buzz in the crowd and inspire some awe even among the most jaded traveler. Join the crowd by the cliff’s edge for the inevitable selfie fail (good luck getting good lighting on your face as well as capturing the sun), or spend a minute or 20 snapping off endless shots of the golden orb slowly sinking toward the horizon. The party at Rick’s doesn’t end as soon as the sun sets, but hang around for a half hour past dusk and you’ll have plenty of elbow room for enjoying one last salute to the day as the crowds clear out. Tomorrow, it all starts over again.