Whether you set your sights on the breathtaking waterfalls and dense tropical forests or prefer to keep things rooted in civilization with visits to vibrant art galleries and museums, it all happens in Jamaica.
Only an hour and a half from Miami and fewer than four from New York, Jamaica allows you to leave home in the morning and be working on your tan by the afternoon. Three international airports make arrival a breeze, and with English as the official language, you’ll be able to navigate the island like a pro. Jamaica is divided into six main tourist regions. On the west side of the island you’ll find Montego Bay, Negril, and the South Coast offering a variety of activities, guaranteed to please any traveler. Over on the east side of the island there’s Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio that highlight both the natural beauty and the urban entertainment Jamaica offers.
This is the type of tropical paradise you always dream about, with powdery beaches and crystal-blue waters. But there’s so much to do beyond the beach. Just outside of Montego Bay, the Luminous Lagoon is one of the few places in the world you can swim in bioluminescent waters. You can also immerse yourself in an authentic cultural experience at the Rastafari Indigenous Village, play a round of golf at the Cinnamon Hill Golf Club, and step inside the supposedly-haunted Rose Hall Great House.
Presenting a relaxed vibe Jamaica is known for, Negril is famous for its spectacular sunsets, stunning cliffs, and shallow bays. Negril’s Seven Mile Beach—a portion of Long Bay dotted with bars, restaurants, and resorts—is at the center of it all. The cliffs are ideal location for a romantic getaway or destination wedding, while the beach area is drumming with nightlife. Set atop a cliff, a stop at the famed Rick’s Café is the perfect spot to watch the sun set after a day spent exploring pirate haunts, diving among the colorful reefs, or cruising the waters in a glass-bottom boat.
The South Coast
The South Coast region of Jamaica is a natural paradise with unspoiled beauty and old-world charm that gives you a glimpse into what life was like years ago. Along with visiting its coves and bays, the South Coast boasts Treasure Beach, a six-mile gem with coral and black-colored sand that’s home to an authentic fishing village and some vibrant local culture. Make sure to visit YS Falls, a collection of eight cascading waterfalls nestled within limestone cliffs. It’s considered by many to be one of Jamaica’s most beautiful natural attractions. And rum aficionados can tour Appleton Estate Rum for an inside look at how this local favorite was made in the 18th century.
The largest city on the island and Jamaica’s capital, Kingston is the cultural center and boasts endless options for music, art, food, and nightlife. Spend a morning browsing the colorful markets along streets lined with captivating murals. Uptown you’ll find the Hope Botanical Gardens known for its rare species of tropical plants and trees and an amphitheater boasting Jamaican folkloric storytelling and reggae concerts. Up the road from the gardens is the Bob Marley Museum, where the musical legend lived and wrote many of his famous songs.
Known for its gorgeous scenery and relaxing resorts, Ocho Rios also lures hungry tourists to its savory Ocho Rios Jerk Center for scrumptious offerings. A Jamaican specialty, jerk chicken and pork is dry-rubbed with a spicy mixture before being smothered by a traditional sauce made of Scotch Bonnet peppers, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions, thyme, garlic, and salt. Some of the main attractions include Dunn’s River Falls, Mystic Mountain Rainforest, and the GoldenEye Estate, where author Ian Fleming wrote all of his James Bond stories. Some of the movies were also filmed near the estate.
Nestled between the famous Blue Mountain and the Caribbean Sea on the Northeast coast of Jamaica, Port Antonio is a picturesque town that captures the attention of photographers and celebrities alike. Climb to the top of Blue Mountain Peak or hike to the magnificent Reach Falls for an unbelievable nature adventure. You can drift down one of Jamaica’s longest river in a bamboo raft or visit the renowned Frenchman’s Cove Beach. Don’t leave Port Antonio without exploring the breathtaking Blue Lagoon. Once thought to be bottomless, it’s waters appear almost magical as the colors shift from turquoise to sapphire.
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