Jamaica Travel Guide
She is the homeland of Bob Marley and Usain Bolt. She is the birthplace of reggae, ragga, dancehall and jerk chicken. She is Jamaica. With a tropical climate, beautiful white sandy beaches, mountains covered by lush green rainforests, rich flora and fauna, rivers, cascading waterfalls and mineral springs, Jamaica undoubtedly has much more than music and athletes to offer the world.
The original inhabitants of Jamaica, the Tainos, called the island “Xaymaca”, meaning the land of springs. Rightfully so, the island consists of tens of rivers. It is surrounded by a coastal plain adorned with beautiful sandy beaches, with an interior mostly dominated by mountains and green rainforests. The summer months are the hottest while the winter months running from December to March are cooler (the high altitude areas are generally cooler). The two major cities in Jamaica are Kingston, which is the capital city, and Montego Bay, with other popular destinations like the resort towns of Ocho Rios, Negril and Port Antonio, and Spanish Town.
Here are some of the destinations that will get you packing and booking the next flight to Jamaica:
The capital of Jamaica is located at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Rough and sometimes even dodgy, Kingston can be a bumpy ride, but underneath the rough exterior, this city has plenty to offer. Visited mostly for business reasons, but with its considerable music and art scene, Kingston is probably the best place to soak up the local culture. It has a variety of entertainment and recreation joints, like clubs, art galleries, craft shops, parks and markets. The city is also the best party destination, so make sure to see the night off in one of the city’s Reggae clubs, then wake up to a bird watching adventure or a hike. Up for a bit of culture? Kingston has you covered with the Bob Marley Museum, The Trench Town Culture Yard, National History Museum, and National Gallery among others. The city is also the gateway to the Blue Mountains which is an amazing place for hiking with its indigenous fauna and flora and brilliant landscapes. After spending the day absorbing the old and the new, you can take a walk in the Hope Gardens and let it all sink in…
This is the second largest city in Jamaica. With its famed Doctor’s Cave Beach, this resort area has grown into one of the most popular tourist hotspots in the Caribbean with a large number of cruise ships docking frequently in its port. On top of boutique and luxury hotels along the white sandy beaches, kitschy clubs, casinos and live music venues on the Hip Strip, Montego Bay boasts five championship golf courses. It is also home to the famous Rose Hall House. This is a plantation house built in 1770, from which Annie Palmer ruled with an iron fist. You will also find the Greenwood Great House built in 1790 and now houses collections of rare musical instruments and china. A short ride from Mobay you can reach The Glistening Waters also called the Luminous Lagoon located in the town of Falmouth. The fresh waters of the Martha Brae River meet the salt ocean waters to form this phenomenon. The lagoon is rich with phosphorus and tiny microorganisms which illuminate when disturbed, making the water glow. The lagoon is a few feet deep and totally swimmable.
Ocho Rios literally means eight rivers. This area is made up of rain forested mountains, gardens, caves, rivers and waterfalls making it a nature lover’s paradise. Out of all the waterfalls, the superb Dunn’s River Falls is the most popular one. It is a 180 meters tiered waterfall tumbling over limestone and rocks. You can choose to climb to the top tier or remain at the base and enjoy the pools. Other activities in Ocho Rios include water sports, golf and equestrian sports.
It has a reputation of being the hedonist center of the West Indies with a provocative liberal attitude that allows you to do pretty much anything you want. It has the longest beach in the Caribbean, the Seven Mile Beach, and it’s a great place to party. It is also the home of the famous Rick’s Café, and brags several all inclusive resorts and trendy restaurants dotted alongside the town’s main strip.
PORTLAND / PORT ANTONIO
My personal favorite, this resort town is found on the eastern end of Jamaica and is home to rich undisrupted indigenous flora and fauna. There are more than 800 species of plants and 200 species of birds. It offers not only great beaches but also various activities such as river rafting, scuba diving, snorkeling, as well as just wandering through the amazing jungles. For yachters and recreational sailors, the place to be is the modern Errol Flynn Marina named after the veteran actor who frequented the town. The exceptional Blue Lagoon, made famous by the classic movie, and which is believed to have formed at the crater of an extinct volcano, offers an excellent swimming spot. At Frenchman’s Cove, you can watch the fish filled slow river drain into the sea, which is also a good snorkeling spot. There are also several galleries in the town for the art lovers. Another spot to visit is picturesque Boston Bay, a small surf spot on the coast.
From sunbathing at the white sandy beaches, scuba diving and snorkeling in the clear waters, to nature walks and hikes in the forests and mountains, Jamaica has it all. Whether you want to marvel at its natural beauty, sample the art and culture, dance to the music and create long lasting memories, Jamaica should be at the top of your travel list.
Recommended places to stay in Jamaica
- Kingston: Kingsworth Hostel
- Montego Bay: Mobay Kotsh
- Negril: Judy House Cottages
- Ocho Rios: Reggae Hostel