Our trip to Negril divides pretty nicely into two parts. We spent the first half of it at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay on Bloody Bay north of the town of Negril. This was a vacation with extended family and small children and an experiment of sorts. It was also our first experience with an all-inclusive resort.
The Riu property was very nice. There are a couple pools and a large assortment of bars and restaurants which all serve the same things (at different times) and are all clustered in the center of the resort. Perhaps the highlight of the all-inclusive portion of this is the daily stocked liquor bar in the rooms. It only takes one attempt though to learn that Jamaican brandy is not fit for human consumption. Stick with the rum.
Bloody Bay is a small inlet just north of the better known Seven Mile Beach. There's a little bit of Calico Jack pirate history here but it's not really relevant to lying on the beach so we'll skip it. The bay is really more like a large swimming pool. I'm not sure we ever saw a wave that wasn't generated by a jet-ski. The water is crystal clear and it's soft sand quite a ways out. North of the Riu property is a public beach which doubles as an impromptu craft market which also means an impromptu drug market. This shouldn't actually discourage anyone as it is easily brushed off.
There isn't much in the way of good snorkeling in Bloody Bay itself. Just outside the bay on either side though there are reefs and mangroves. The cannon site is probably the most common destination from the horde of operators that sit just outside the resort swimming areas and troll for customers.
Middle reef which is bit closer to the town of Negril is probably a better snorkeling site. We took several outings from both the Riu and the Cliffs section of Negril. There are the usual Caribbean highlights including rays, lobster, barracuda and parrotfish.
We were most impressed with the swarms of tiny silver fish though. It doesn't really matter exactly what they are but there are thousands of them and swimming into them is a surreal experience.
Back to the all-inclusive - since it was our first visit to one we can't really compare it to any other resort. The food was ok but gets a little bit redundant after three or four days. It works pretty well for the group portion of a vacation though. We are probably not likely to go all-inclusive by ourselves but with family it is an option.