Jamaica has a long history – from sailing ships to pirates to plantations to reggae. It also has a diverse geography including white sand beaches, islands, rivers, rain forests and the Blue Mountains. And the people are some of the warmest and friendliest anywhere. Combine that with the sunshine, warm ocean breezes, and laid-back lifestyle and it is no mystery why so many people enjoy Jamaica and love to visit this island.
Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica in 1494 and claimed the island for Spain. 150 years later the English arrived and overtook the Spaniards. They developed sugar plantations and imported African slaves to work them, with Jamaica becoming one of the worlds largest sugar exporters. In 1838 the British emancipated all slaves and in 1962 the country gained its independence from Great Britain. The official language is English although many also speak a local dialect called Patois. Another remnant of the English rule is driving on the left side of the road.
Get Active to Enjoy Jamaica’s Full Splendor
There are a lot of things to do and enjoy in Jamaica – something for every taste.
The ocean offers many opportunities – sail boating, partying on a catamaran, water skiing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, diving on a shipwreck or a coral reef, parasailing, fishing or swimming with dolphins.
Jamaica also many beautiful rivers to enjoy. Try kayaking, rafting, or tubing. Climb a waterfall or ride a river board down a series of white water rapids.
Visit Bob Marley’s birthplace high in the Blue Mountains. Take a Jamaican cooking class.
Watch the sunset and the cliff divers at Rick’s Café. Shop at duty-free stores and local craft markets. Take a plantation tour or a tour of the Appleton rum distillery.
And of course, sample the jerk chicken, Red Stripe beer, Blue Mountain coffee and other local specialities.
All these activities and more are available with organized tours, although if you’re adventurous you could do many of them on your own.
Below are some of the specific attractions available at major locations across the island. Many are accessible from anywhere on the island through organized tours via catamarans or buses.
- There many golf clubs around Montego Bay including Tryall Club, White Witch, Half Moon and Cinnamon Hill courses
- The River Bumkin Farm is a plantation located on the Martha Brae River. River trips by kayak, tubes and bamboo rafts are available. Also bicycling treks past historic ruins are offered.
- Dolphin Cove in Lucea offers close encounters with dolphins and other sea animals.
- BelleField Great House and Gardens is one of the oldest plantations in Jamaica. It was built in the 1600’s and its old world charm and lush gardens make it a popular location for weddings and other events.
- The Rose Hall Great House gives visitors a glimpse of life in the 1770’s. The ghost of Annie Palmer still inhabits this Georgian mansion according to legend. She practiced voodoo, tortured slaves and killed two husbands before being strangled to death by her slave lover. Learn more about her life with a tour of this mysterious estate.
Good Hope Estate offers tours by horse and carriage, river tubing, zip lining and even a high tea service.
- Treasure House Gaming Lounge casino is an exciting way to spend an evening on the town.
- The Shops at Rose Hall and Half Moon Shopping Village offer duty-free goods. The downtown Craft Market and the Old Fort Craft Market offer a broad variety of handicrafts and the opportunity to try out your bargaining skills.
- Rainforest Adventures at Mystic Mountain offers a variety of experiences including the Bobsled Ride down the mountain at top speeds, the Rainforest Sky Explorer chairlift, the Rainforest Zip Line Canopy Tour and the 246-foot water slide.
- The Green Grotto Caves take you underground to caverns and subterranean waterways.
- The popular Dunn’s River Falls allows you to climb up and down the waterfall for an exciting close-up view.
- Dolphin Cove gives you opportunities for close encounters with dolphins, swimming with stingrays, bird feeding, riding the water slide, walking the nature trail and enjoying the Night Dolphin and Shark Show.
- YAAMAN Adventure Park offers tours of Prospect Estate via Segway, horseback, tractor-drawn carriages or even on a camel. A Wet N Dirty Outback Adventure on two-seater dune buggies is a fast and mud-splattering ride.
- The Original Ocho Rios Craft Park offers all varieties of handcrafts. Island Village offers duty-free shopping.
- Negril is famous for it’s beaches, it’s laid-back lifestyle and it’s world-famous sunsets. Seven Mile Beach and Bloody Bay Beach are two of Negril’s most popular beaches and the sunsets are spectacular from both.
- The Negril Marine Park encompasses the coastline, mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs. This is a favorite place for nature lovers.
- Mayfield Falls, with 21 natural pools, mineral-infused waters and lush ferns is one of Jamaica’s hidden gems. A 45 minute guided climb of the falls is the best way to see them.
- Additionally many of the attractions on the South Coast and Montego Bay are very accessible from Negril.
- Lovers Leap was named for a slave couple who leaped to their deaths rather than be separated. Enjoy the spectacular view, then take the one mile hike down to the sea.
- Treasure Beach is a six-mile stretch of beach featuring both white and black sand.
- Front hill Beach Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature refuge. The park includes a number of amenities including showers, restrooms, picnic tables and lifeguards. The sanctuary is home to crocodiles, various wading and migratory birds and hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles.
- YS Falls is a magnificent seven-tier waterfall with wading pools, a zip line and tropical gardens.
- Black River is Jamaica’s second longest river and offers exciting river tours with crocodiles, egrets and herons as well as impressive trees and vegetation.
- Floyd’s Pelican Bar is built on stilts about a mile off the coast in Parotte Bay. It offers a variety of food and drinks.
Whatever you do in Jamaica, or perhaps nothing at all, be sure to interact with the local people. They are what makes Jamaica such a special place and give its unique identity.
Maximize Your Vacation by Plan Your Trip Vacation With an Industry Expert
There are so many things in and around Jamaica to enjoy, it’s hard to put them into just one article. The best way to maximize your stay and fun is to request assistance from an industry expert.
I’d love to help you enjoy Jamaica and your vacation to their fullest possible level, so just reach out to our contact page.