Jamaica — Overview
Loaded with lively, iconic beaches, awash with waterfalls, and populated by Rastafarians and reggae-loving locals, Jamaica is one of the hottest Caribbean destinations for both travelers and cruise ships. The birthplace of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and Rihanna, many are drawn to the home of these international talents to see what all the fuss is about.
Montego Bay is the main city, close to miles of resort lined beaches in Negril. East is Ocho Rios; both of which are very popular vacation destinations. Enjoying the beaches and water sports are the main pastimes, with Doctors Cave in ‘MoBay’ being the most famous. The striking interior of lush mountains and historic plantations is another draw, as is shopping for handicrafts, Jamaican rum and duty-free souvenirs.
Daytrips usually involve boat trips, scuba diving, tours of coffee or sugar plantations, or a walk down to the spirited capital to check out its colonial highlights. The island is awash with traditional fishing villages that get less press, such as Port Antonio in the east, while high profile attractions like Dolphin Cove have huge family appeal.
Jamaica is a good value for the money and the locals are hospitable. There is a glut of all-inclusive resorts at the main beach, some of which have their own private beaches, luxury spas and golf courses. Jamaican food is a big part of life and eating out is obligatory, from beachside shacks where jerk chicken and fresh seafood are ubiquitous and cheap, to posh restaurants with high end local and international cuisines.
Music is another big part of Jamaican life and tourists will hear it everywhere, from the liveliest Kingston watering hole to the backstreets of old colonial towns, and even up in the mountains. All festivals typically include fun street parties, the banging of steels drums, soca dancing, and dressing up.
Jamaica isn’t the most well-connected island, with no regular rail service and roads that are fairly roundabout. Getting to the next beach from Montego Bay, Negril or Ocho Rios is easy enough by taxi or local bus, however. Car rental can be fun for trips along the coast and into the mountains, and there are smaller airports dotted about the island for fast travel.
Most people visit in the winter when the weather is agreeable and there are no hurricanes. At this time, booking hotels at least three months in advance is a must. There are no visas to worry about for the majority of Westerners and the island is served from most major airports across North America.
- Sunbathe on Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay
- Climb Dunn’s River Falls and frolic in its refreshing pools
- Hike the Blue Mountains or Cockpit Country to discover historic plantations
- Take a lazy bamboo raft down the Rio Grande
- Pay homage to the master of reggae at the Bob Marley Museum
- Enjoy the laid back nightlife along Negril’s seven-mile beachfront
- Visit the oldest Anglican church outside the UK at Spanish Town