Being in the Caribbean with nice weather and warm water, the potential for getting active in Jamaica is huge. There are numerous beaches from which to enjoy traditional water sports such as jet-skiing and banana boats. All major beaches and resorts are awash with companies offering tours and/or instruction, while many hotels have their own facilities for guests. Diving, snorkeling, and fishing are all pastimes, while the interior is lofty and conducive to good hiking and things to do on land.
Most people come to Jamaica to lie on the beach and let their worries slip away. If sunbathing has you antsy, there are plenty of water sports to participate in. Some of the best surfing is over at Boston Bay in the Port Antonio area, while San San Beach has excellent snorkeling (and windsurfing in winter). The diving is also top draw.
Jamaica is surrounded by stunning reefs making for great scuba diving and snorkeling sites. It is especially known for its coral, sponge forests, underwater caves, and wrecks. Many are close to shore with visibility over 100 feet and warm water year-round. Popular spots are the Throne Room near Negril, for its corals and sponges, and nearby Ricky’s Reef. There are a plethora of dive companies and the tourist board can provide a list of approved operators, including Seaworld Resorts (near Montego Bay) and the Negril Scuba Center.
Fishing has always been a major pastime throughout the Caribbean, with deep-sea, reef and freshwater fishing all popular. Most charters are in the north and west and some even organize spear-fishing along the reefs. The annual Blue Marlin Tournament in September is a popular event. For more information contact Negril Charters.
The hiking in Jamaica is excellent, with a variety of terrain and particularly beautiful countryside amid the Blue Mountains in the east. Though quite rugged, the mountains are not overly intimidating and are easily accessed from both Kingston in the south and Port Antonio in the north. More intense hiking can be found in Cockpit Country, which is farther west towards Montego Bay. The Windsor circuit follows a loop via Troy Trail and Bamboo Bottom, about three miles long, that passes through a dense jungle, high mountains, drumlin-like hills and waterfalls. Hikes can also be enjoyed in the Rio Grande Valley, and if you’re in the south, be sure to head to the sheer Lover’s Leap. For guides and direction, Sun Venture Tours can provide you with safety and instruction.
There are several standout golf courses in Jamaica, many of which are located in and around the Montego Bay area. They are typically part of major hotel complexes, such as the Cinnamon Hill Golf Club, although non-guests are welcome. Ocho Rios and Kingston also have greens, and Spanish Town’s Caymanas Golf Course hosts the Jamaica Open every November.
Jamaica is a bird watcher’s paradise, with 300 species present, many of which are endemic to the island. The best time to come is in the winter when European and North American migratory birds swell the local population. A hike of the Blue Mountains or Cockpit Country is a good way to see the flora and fauna in action and many companies offer tours, such as Jamaica Explorations. The Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in the west is also a must-see for bird lovers.
Lots of couples choose to get married in Jamaica. The combination of sublime weather, beautiful beaches, and friendly hospitality make for a memorable day. Hotel marriages are all the rage and much cheaper and more hassle-free than a typical church ceremony back home. Sandals Royal Plantation Spa & Golf Resort in Ocho Rios is a popular venue.