Jamaica — Attractions
The beaches in Jamaica are the main draw, with the best ones in the north and west. They include Doctors Cave Beach in Montego Bay, while both Ocho Rios and Negril are also hotspots for relaxation and fun. The interior, meanwhile, is home to the lush Blue Mountains, the lazy Rio Grande River and the sublime Dunn’s River Falls. The capital city of Kingston is not for everyone, but it has historic attractions and boasts the Bob Marley Museum.
“MoBay” lies at the center of the “Jamaican Riviera” and is home to the island’s best beaches, including that of the aptly named Doctor’s Cave. The area was settled hundreds of years ago and is Jamaica’s second city, which presides over 10 miles of stunning shoreline backed by lush hills. The beaches are strewn with first class hotels that have all possible facilities on hand so you’ll have no reason to ever leave. You can enjoy golf or bamboo rafting nearby, snorkel onto the reefs or shop at the Craft Market. However, it should be noted, that it’s a busy town and most visitors prefer the safer, nicer environment of Negril, a 90 minute drive away. Montego Bay can be accessed directly from Sangster International Airport.
Address: Saint James Parish, Northwest Jamaica
Doctor’s Cave Beach
You need to pay to get to Montego Bay’s most famous strip of sand, but it is worth it as the waters are crystal clear and very clean. The beach was originally set up by doctors as an added bonus to the nearby bathing club (which still exists today) and could only be accessed through a “cave.” Mineral springs flow right into the beach which are said to have healing properties. Today, access is through Gloucester Avenue, the “Hip Strip.” Facilities include showers, shops, restaurants, and a cool beach bar.
Address: Montego Bay, Saint James Parish
Ocho Rios, one of the other major travel destinations in Jamaica, is located to the east of Montego Bay and north of Kingston. The cruise port drops passengers off at the beautiful beaches of Discovery Bay and Runaway Bay, where hotels offer all-inclusive packages. The nearby Dolphin Cove and Dunn’s River Falls are major attractions, while the Blue Mountains lie off to the southeast. Historic plantations are also within easy distance and can be toured on horseback. Ocho Rios town itself is also quite intriguing and loaded with shopping.
Address: Ocho Rios, Saint Ann, North Jamaica
Dunn’s River Falls
Jamaica’s most famous waterfalls are just west of Ocho Rios. Tourists and locals clamber to climb up the cascading falls in long daisy chains to enjoy the refreshing pools at the top. There’s an entrance fee (nominal) and guides are optional. Dunn’s River Falls is close to the shore and within walking distance from the famous Dolphin Cove where visitors can swim with the dolphins.
Address: Ocho Rios, Saint Ann
Occupying a huge chunk of eastern Jamaica, the Blue Mountains, garnering their name from a bluish mist that surrounds them, are a major attraction. Home to hundreds of species of birds and lush vegetation, wildlife is best seen at John Crow National Park. Hikers can enjoy the Peak Trail to the lofty Blue Mountain Peak from Abbey Green, spending the night in a cabin, while mountain bikers also appreciate the rugged terrain. The lower slopes are famous for their coffee beans and tours are offered of the plantations. Entry to Blue Mountains National Park is cheap and a long-lasting daytime excursion.
Address: Blue Mountains National Park, East/Interior Jamaica
Though hardly unique, the serene Rio Grande Valley along the Rio Grande River makes for an alternative afternoon away from the beach. Located in the east in the Portland area, raft trips depart from Berrydale or Grant’s Level ending in St Margaret’s Bay (just west of Port Antonio). The float takes two to three hours and passes through lush vegetation, sugar cane and banana plantations. Alternatively, rafting near Montego Bay is also possible from Rafters Village along the Martha Brae.
Address: Portland, East/Interior Jamaica
The bustling Jamaica capital resides in the southeast, sandwiched between the Blue Mountains and one of the world’s largest natural harbors. Not many visitors stay here, preferring the beaches in the north, though it is worthy of a daytrip to explore the historic landmarks and attractions. Reggae fans will love the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, while the National Gallery and Hope Botanical Gardens are also popular. Beyond the airport is the former capital city of Port Royal with its intriguing ruins and Lime Cay across the water.
Address: Kingston/Saint Andrew Parishes, Southeastern Jamaica
Negril is a laidback beach resort destination (arguably the most popular) in the western part of Jamaica, famed for its laid back atmosphere and party scene. The seven-mile long Beach is the main attraction by day, while in the other direction, the rocky coast makes for fantastic cliff diving. The scuba diving and snorkeling are also renowned, while kayakers head to the Great Morass to take in nature.
Address: Negril, Westmoreland/Hanover Parishes, Southwestern Jamaica
Bob Marley Museum
A must for lovers of reggae is the former home of Jamaica’s most famous son, Bob Marley. The Rastafarian—who died from cancer in 1982 at just 36 years old— put reggae on the international radar and his former house is loaded with memorabilia. It is open Monday through Saturday, though quite pricey. To see where Bob was born, check out the Bob Marley Mausoleum Nine Mile near Ocho Rios.
Address: 56 Hope Road, Kingston
Spanish and British architecture dot this former capital from when Jamaica was under Spanish rule. Hometown of Olympian Usain Bolt, it lies just west of Kingston proper and is best toured by day to take in its old landmarks, such as the ancient St James Cathedral. The Museum of Crafts is also a big draw, while the Town Square puts on a bustling market.
Address: West Kingston
This stunning natural harbor in Port Antonio gained notoriety after it was featured in the 1980’s hit Blue Lagoon, starring a young Brooke Shields. The sheltered cove is inherently beautiful and very refreshing, though it is best to get there as early as possible as it gets very crowded. The lagoon is about 180 feet deep, fed by mineral spring and backed by lush banks.
Address: Port Antonio