Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island and whether its activity or tranquillity you’re after, Jamaica has it all. There are numerous exclusive hotels suiting all tastes and the beaches in Jamaica are made up of powder soft white sands which are gently caressed by the tropical blue Caribbean waters. Negril boasts the famous 7 mile beach and a relaxed Caribbean ambience with several restaurants and reggae bars. Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are much busier with lots of shops, restaurants and an abundance of nightlife. There are also secluded resorts such as Runaway Bay and there are plenty of things to explore on the island.
Things to see and do in Jamaica:
Attractions: Situated just outside Ocho Rios, Dunn’s river falls are one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist destinations and thousands of visitors each year come to play and swim in the waterfall’s pools. Alternatively, you can climb up the falls with or without a tour guide or simply chill out on the beautiful beach. Not far from Dunn’s falls is the spectacular and also very popular Blue Hole, which offers 20 feet of cascading waterfalls and deep blue waters; perfect for cliff jumps and dives for the more adventurous visitors. If you’re visiting the capital city of Kingston, make sure you take a trip to the Bob Marley Museum – which is a fitting tribute to Jamaica’s most famous export – who lived in Kingston until his death in 1981. Here you can take a guided tour around his modest house and see his recording studio, stage outfits and photo gallery. For lovers of 007, make sure you visit James Bond Beach, just up the road from where Ian Fleming wrote his 007 novels and also the scenic location for the Dr No film. Even if you’re not a James Bond fan, you’ll still enjoy the lovely views and walks along the powdery white sand.
Events/festivals: It will come as no surprise that Jamaica has a lot going on! Before you visit, make sure you check out the events that are taking place as you wouldn’t want to miss a Jamaican party! In January, the island hosts its Jazz & Blues Festival, which attracts international soul and jazz stars. The following month, February, sees the island’s Jamaica Carnival, with live music, colourful costumes and lots of dancing. In June, fashionistas will love Caribbean Fashion Week where top designers display their latest collections. Also in June, Ocho Rios hosts its annual Jazz festival. July is perhaps the biggest month for partying during the Reggae Sumfest, when local and international reggae and pop stars (including 50cent, Usher and Beenie Man) perform for the expectant crowds. The Jamaicans celebrate Emancipation and Independence Day in August when the island comes alive with dancing, music, parties and a Gala parade in Kingston.
Sports: The Jamaicans are big cricket fans (it’s their national sport) and if watching cricket’s your thing and you’re visiting in April, try to catch the Jamaica Cricket Festival, which promises lots of exciting matches. Jamaica is also of course home to a raft of elite sprinters, including the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. If you are a watersports fan, there are endless opportunities in Jamaica to join in the fun, whether you’re looking for scuba diving, snorkelling or deep sea fishing, you will never be bored!
Nightlife: Jamaica has a great choice of nightlife. With a reputation of having more rum bars per capita head than anywhere else in the world, you will never find yourself far from a rum cocktail or two! Montego Bay and Ocho Rios offer a large choice of nightlife options plus lots of restaurants, whereas Negril has a more relaxed atmosphere with mainly smaller reggae bars and restaurants.
Eating/Drinking: Jamaican cuisine is renowned the world over and has a tendency to be on the spicy side. Jerk chicken (or pork) is almost an institution in Jamaica, and is made by marinating the meat in a mixture of peppers, herbs and hot spices. The national dish is ackee fruit and salt fish and is often eaten for breakfast or brunch. (For the less adventurous, most resorts offer a wide range of International cuisine too!) Popular drinks include rum punch (and other rum cocktails), Blue Mountain coffee, Coconut milk and Red Stripe Jamaican Lager.
Shopping: Popular items to take home include Jamaican crafts, wood carvings, spices, and rum. There are various places across the island to shop including malls, markets and craft halls.
When to go
Jamaica enjoys warm tropical temperatures all year round. The best time to visit is between mid-December and mid-April when the weather is at its driest. However, this is peak season and you may consider travelling during May and June when the weather is similar but the island is not quite so busy. The summer months and up to November tend to be hot and humid and during this time the island is most at risk from hurricanes and heavy rain – however, many of the island’s best events and festivals happen over this time, particularly in midsummer.
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