Jamaica is a big Caribbean island with a huge personality, outwardly, it’s famous for spicy city culture, reggae, jerk and a relaxed party atmosphere, but the island also has hidden depths.
Explore the cool and misty Blue Mountains, the highest peaks of the Caribbean or tread your choice of 200 miles of rock and white sand beaches, including Seven Mile beach at Negril and the James Bond beach at Ocho Rios. Follow the crowds to pluming waterfalls at Dunn’s River Falls and then seek hidden inland rivers. Ian Fleming wrote many of the best Bond books whilst languishing in “the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday”- write your own adventure here. Choose your transport: rustic raft, unlikely bobsled or intrepid trek on foot and then make sure you think of some excellent theme music. Flights to Jamaica are a couple of clicks away.
Scenic Ocho Rios, call it ‘Ochi’, on Jamaica’s verdant north coast, is host to many luxury hotels including the Jamaica Inn and the trendy Sandals Ochi Resort. The spectacular Dunn’s River Falls should feature on any visitor’s sightseeing itinerary. Or head west to picturesque Discovery Bay, named after Christopher Columbus, who was thought to have made first landfall there. Learn about the famous explorer at the Columbus Park open-air museum.
Energy courses through lively Montego Bay – from the bustling street life of downtown to the buzzing beachfront parade known as ‘hip strip’. This promenade is lined with resort hotels, along with an array of bars, shops and some of the finest eateries on the island. Culture seekers will be in their element exploring the magnificent historic estates of Greenwood Great House and Rose Hall. The Bob Marley Centre and Mausoleum is a must-visit for fans of the reggae legend.
An energetic capital city for a day trip, Kingston is a pilgrimage for every fan of reggae culture- music is its heartbeat. Visit historic Devon House for exceptional ice cream and sweeping lawns to eat it on or, cooler than cool, the Bob Marley house for a performing hologram of the local legend. Visit the loud Coronation Market but be aware that, like other big cities, you need to keep a close eye on your valuables and stick to the tourist areas.
Escape the bustle for peaceful Port Antonio, formerly a celebrity haunt and banana trade nexus that has relaxed into a haven of beautiful beaches. Snorkel in crystal-clear waters or cast your line at this deep sea fishing hotspot. Beautiful Somerset Falls is an idyllic spot for bathing. Or visit Boston Beach, where the crashing breakers make for great surfing. Sample fiery jerk chicken served with sweet hard dough bread from one of the stands dotted around this rocky cove.
Formerly bohemian Negril today maintains its laidback vibe, but the beach-loving Rastafarian culture has largely been replaced with bustling resorts and trendy types on scooters. Beach bathers will still be in heaven stretched out on Negril’s stunning white sands, fringed by swaying palms and the striking black cliffs featured in the Bond movie Thunderball. Enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many cool eateries, or admire the breathtakingly beautiful sunset while sipping cocktails and swaying to reggae sounds.