Jamaica is one of the best places in the Caribbean for a sand and sea vacation, but with its own distinct flavor… and soundtrack. Soak up the smells of the creole dishes, taste the local rum and groove your way around the island to the reggae beats. Climb the island’s waterfalls, bathe in its freshwater pools and let the tide take you away… you’ll wonder why it took you so long to come. To make your trip to Jamaica even better, we’ve put together 10 awesome things you need to see and do on the Caribbean island.
1. Seven Mile Beach
This stretch of sand has long been one of the main tourist draws to Jamaica’s coastlines. It was once a quiet oasis, just you and the sea, but today the beach is fronted with dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs, plus water sport centers for the more adventurous. The beach is a beauty, and you definitely won’t regret spending an afternoon here, especially if you like a bustling atmosphere.
2. Blue Mountains National Park
The majestic Blue Mountains can be found on Jamaica’s eastern edge and is a must for nature-lovers. It’s not just a good place to get a cup of coffee, but also one of the best spots for hiking on the island. For the more intrepid, there’s nothing like a hike up to Blue Mountain Peak (7,400 feet above sea level) in time to watch the sunrise from the summit.
Kingston, the island’s capital city, is definitely worth more than a layover. The city overlooks the seventh largest natural harbor in the world, and the foot of the jungle-covered Blue Mountains – which produce some of the best coffee out there. Uptown you’ll find the Bob Marley Museum; the National Gallery is down by the waterfront; and St. William Grant Park is home to the city’s historic district and street markets.
4. Irie Blue Hole
This is one of the best things to do along Jamaica’s northern coast. The Irie Blue Hole is up on the White River and is the ideal spot to jump from Tarzan ropes into the deep pools, surrounded by the sounds of the forest. We bet you didn’t imagine you’d be living the jungle dream when you booked those flights to Jamaica! There are trails up to the hole along well-marked paths. A guide is an excellent choice, especially if you might want to explore some of the caves under the waterfall.
5. Rio Grande
Get a dose of local culture with a river boat ride down the Rio Grande. The locals still use the river to transport food, so don’t be surprised as your bamboo raft passes others brimming with bananas and other tropical fruits. This massive river in eastern Jamaica is one of the best ways to experience the river valley. Don’t forget to feast on some crayfish, fresh from the river, while you’re here. There’s lots of restaurants to choose from in nearby Port Antonia.
6. Pelican Bar
Floyd’s Pelican Bar is basically one of those places that you have to see in order to believe. It’s a floating driftwood structure, a hut really, that can only be accessed by boat and is famous for its rum punches and lobster curries, served with coconut rice. It’s a quarter mile off the coast, and is without a doubt one of the coolest places to drink in Jamaica.
7. Reach Falls
There’s certainly no shortage of waterfalls in Jamaica but Reach Falls definitely stands out as one of the most beautiful. Surrounded by rainforest, the rushing white water falls from one limestone step to the next, collecting in jade-colored pools at the bottom. It’s a great spot to walk and swim. If you want to explore the upper pools, hire a guide to take you there.
8. Bob Marley Centre
The birth home and burial ground of Jamaica’s most famous musician is one of the most poplar tourist attractions on the island. You’ll find it in the village of Nine Mile, which is tucked away on a rugged road between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Fans from far and wide have left messages to “the prophet” on the house’s inside walls. It’s good to arrive early in the day, as it’s a popular spot with cruise ship passengers, who arrive by the bus load.
9. Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon, the famous spot which launched Brooke Shield’s movie career, is arguably one of the most picturesque places in Jamaica. The 180ft-deep “Blue Hole”, opens to the sea through a narrow funnel but is fed by fresh spring water, creating changing shades of blue as the cold fresh water mixes and sits on top of the warm sea water below.
10. Boston Beach
If you’re hoping to do some surfing while on vacation in Jamaica, then this little cove is the perfect place to begin. Boston Beach sits in a small cove with a golden sand beach, and thanks to the shape of the bay and the weather, provides the perfect setting for surfing. Beachside amenities include showers, changing rooms, a lifeguard and a small restaurant nearby, so all your needs are catered for.