In Jamaica, lazy reggae rhythms, endless sunny days, miles of sugar-white sand beaches, and spectacular orange-hued sunsets dipping into the sparkling, azure waters of the Caribbean are a way of life. If you can pull yourself away from your beachside hammock, you’ll discover a rich culture of lush greenery and mouth-watering cuisine. For a primer to this island paradise, try our top 10 list of things to see and do.
Take the Bob Marley Nine-Mile Tour
Music fans should definitely take the Bob Marley Nine Mile tour, which takes you to the birthplace of reggae icon Bob Marley. On your way through the Jamaican countryside, you’ll wind your way through rural villages and spectacular mountain scenery. The house where Marley lived as a child is filled with cool memorabilia and music, of course, is playing everywhere. Throughout the experience, a Rastafarian weaves tales of Marley’s childhood and musical sojourns.
Catch a Jamaican Sunset at Rick’s Cafe
There’s no denying it. Whether you come to this Negril waterfront hangout spot for dinner or daiquiris, you’ll be among other bronzed bodies who are here to check out the most spectacular sunset in Jamaica. And it is a sight to behold. Off the cliff that plunges 33 feet (10m) into the ocean, the sun turns a blazing orange and dips slowly beneath a shimmering blue Caribbean.
Bobsled through a Rainforest
Bobsledding in Jamaica? You bet! The normally cold-weather winter sport is alive and well here. Various tours will take you into the rainforest to a winding course high up in the Blue Mountains. Once buckled in, you’ll head down a path for an exhilarating ride through a lush landscape of natural springs and exotic flora and fauna.
Hang at a Beach Bar
Beachside bars are ubiquitous in Jamaica, from mellow posh resort spots to lively raffish shacks. And you are on holiday – so why not make a day out of it? Grab a seat, order daiquiri, a rum punch, or a bottle of Red Stripe and soak up the sights and reggae rhythms on the beach.
Take Home Jamaica
Don’t leave this tropical island pearl without bringing a little back with you. Crafts are abundant—woodcarvings, weavings, jewelery—especially at the Crafts Market in Montego Bay or at Harmony Hall in Ocho Rios. Blue Mountain coffee and Appleton Estate rums and rum creams are also favorite take-home treasures.
Snorkel the reefs of Montego Marine Park
You can spend hours lazing the day away on the dazzling white sands of Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay. But if the warm, turquoise Caribbean waters beckon, head over to Montego Bay Marine Park for some of the island’s best snorkelling. You can explore some 15 acres of vibrantly colored reefs, where a dazzling display of fluttering sea life abounds. For above-water frolics, rent a jet ski or take a glass bottom boat ride.
Taste Jamaica’s Authentic Jerk Flavors
Forgo lunch at a beachside restaurant and instead stop at one of the ubiquitous ramshackle roadside stands for some jerk. This is truly an authentic Jamaican experience—and a spicy one! Jerk is like Jamaican barbeque. Meats and fish are flavored in seasoning then grilled on slats of pimento wood over a wood fire. Too spicy? Order a bottle of Red Stripe beer to wash it down.
Explore the Green Grotto Caves
One of Jamaica’s most fascinating natural sites is Green Grotto Caves, west of Ocho Rios. Wander among a forest of stalagmite and stalactites that hang in these limestone caves, filled with eerie chambers that are home to bats and marine life. The caves were once used to hide runaway slaves.
Swim with Dolphins
A top not-to-be-missed Jamaican experience, swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cove, in Ocho Rios, provides the best one-on-one encounter with these lively critters. This exhilarating adventure includes touching, holding, feeding, and swimming with the dolphins. Afterward, you can dig into a Jamaican-style buffet and linger over tropical drinks at the bar. The more adventurous should ask about the shark program.
Take a Stroll along Seven Mile Beach
With nearly 7 miles of white, powdery sand, strolling Seven Mile Beach defines “tropical paradise.” Palm trees sway on the beaches, nude sunbathers soak up the never-ending rays, inviting aquamarine waters beckon snorkelers and swimmers, and reggae rhythms pulsate from the endless line of resorts, clubs, and beach bars. A true hedonistic wonderland. Families and conservative folk may want to go elsewhere.
- William Travis