Jamaica

Touring Jamaica can be both thrilling and frustrating. Rugged (albeit beautiful) terrain and winding (often potholed) roads make for slow going. Always check conditions before you set off by car, but especially in the rainy season, June through October, when roads can be washed out. Two-lane primary roads that loop around and across the island are not particularly well marked. Numbered addresses are seldom used outside major townships, locals drive aggressively, and people and animals have a knack for appearing out of nowhere. That said, Jamaica's scenery shouldn't be missed. To be safe and avoid frustration, stick to guided tours and licensed taxis.

If you're staying in Kingston or Port Antonio, set aside at least one day for the capital and another for a guided excursion to the Blue Mountains. There's at least three days of activity along Mo'Bay's boundaries, but also consider a day trip to Negril or Ocho Rios. If you're based in Ocho Rios, be sure to visit Dunn's River Falls; you may also want to stop by Bob Marley's birthplace, Nine Mile, or Firefly, the restored home of Noël Coward. If Negril is your hub, take in the South Coast, including Y.S. Falls and the Black River.

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  • 1. Dunn's River Falls

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    A popular natural attraction that is an eye-catching sight: 600 feet of cold, clear mountain water splashing over a series of stone steps to...

    A popular natural attraction that is an eye-catching sight: 600 feet of cold, clear mountain water splashing over a series of stone steps to the Caribbean Sea. The best way to enjoy the falls is to climb the slippery steps in a swimsuit (there are changing rooms at the entrance), as you take the hand of the person ahead of you. The entrance, which looks like one for an amusement park, is usually crowded, especially when cruise ships are in port, but it is well organized. It's easy to make arrangements and get trusted guides who will offer bits of local lore while showing you where to step. After the climb, you exit through a crowded market, another reminder that this is one of Jamaica's top tourist attractions. If you can, try to visit on a day when no cruise ships are in port. Always climb with a licensed guide at Dunn's River Falls. Freelance guides might be a little cheaper, but the experienced guides can tell you just where to plant each footstep—helping you prevent a fall. Ask for a guide at the Dunn's River Falls ticket window. Official licensed guides are inside the Dunn's River Falls property, not outside the gate. They should be able to show you credentials if asked. If you arrange the tour through a resort or cruise ship, the guides provided will be licensed.

    Off Rte. A1, between St. Ann's Bay and Ocho Rios, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica
    876-974–2857

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20
  • 2. Good Hope Estate

    Falmouth | Historic Home

    About a 20-minute drive inland from Falmouth, this estate on more than 2,000 acres provides a sense of Jamaica's rich history as a sugar-estate...

    About a 20-minute drive inland from Falmouth, this estate on more than 2,000 acres provides a sense of Jamaica's rich history as a sugar-estate island, incredible views of the Martha Brae River, and loads of fun. An adventure park offers zip-lining, river tubing, a great house tour, access to a colonial village, an aviary, swimming pool, challenge course for adults, and kids' play area with its own challenge course. Guests may get a taste of Jamaica at the Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum Tavern and Jablum Cafe or enjoy spicy goodness from the Walkerswood Jerk Hut. Adventure park passes entitle visitors to all estate activities.

    Trelawny, Trelawny, Jamaica
    876-881–6869

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $55
  • 3. Negril Beach

    Beach

    Stretching for 7 miles (11 km)—from Bloody Bay in the north along Long Bay to the cliffs on the southern edge of town—this long, white-sand...

    Stretching for 7 miles (11 km)—from Bloody Bay in the north along Long Bay to the cliffs on the southern edge of town—this long, white-sand beach is probably Jamaica's finest. Some stretches remain undeveloped, but these are increasingly few. Along the main stretch, the sand is public to the high-water mark, and visitors and vendors parade from end to end. The walk is sprinkled with good beach bars and open-air restaurants, some of which charge a small fee to use their beach facilities. Bloody Bay is lined with large all-inclusive resorts; these sections are mostly private. Jamaica's best-known nude beach, at Hedonism II, is always among the busiest; only resort guests or day-pass holders may sun here. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets; showers; water sports. Best for: partiers; sunset; swimming; walking.

    Norman Manley Blvd., Negril, Westmoreland, Jamaica
  • 4. Rose Hall

    Historic District/Site

    In the 1700s it may well have been one of the greatest great houses in the West Indies. Today it's popular less for its architecture than for...

    In the 1700s it may well have been one of the greatest great houses in the West Indies. Today it's popular less for its architecture than for the legend surrounding its second mistress, Annie Palmer. As the story goes, she was born in 1802 in England, but when she was 10, her family moved to Haiti. Soon after, her parents died of yellow fever. Adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess, Annie became skilled in the practice of witchcraft. She moved to Jamaica, married, and became mistress of Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with more than 2,000 slaves. You can take a spooky nighttime tour of the property—recommended if you're up for a scare—and then have a drink at the White Witch pub, in the great house's cellar. The house is 15 miles (24 km) east of Montego Bay.

    North Coast Hwy., St. James, St. James, Jamaica
    876-953–2323

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20
  • 5. Appleton Estate

    Museum/Gallery

    One of the Caribbean's premier rum distillers, Appleton Estate offers guided tours illustrating the history of rum making in the region. The...

    One of the Caribbean's premier rum distillers, Appleton Estate offers guided tours illustrating the history of rum making in the region. The tour begins with a lively discussion of the days when sugarcane was crushed by donkey power, then proceeds to a behind-the-scenes look at the modern facility. Upon being fully educated about rum you can partake of the samples that flow freely. Furthermore, every visitor receives a complimentary miniature bottle of Appleton. Reservations are not required for the tour, but they also offer tours with lunch. To include lunch with your tour, you must reserve 24 hours in advance.

    Hwy. B6, Siloah, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
    876-963–9217

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $25 without lunch; $40 with lunch
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  • 6. Bank of Jamaica Money Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    You don't have to be a numismatist to enjoy the exhibits at this museum, which offers a fascinating look at Jamaica's history through its monetary...

    You don't have to be a numismatist to enjoy the exhibits at this museum, which offers a fascinating look at Jamaica's history through its monetary system. It includes everything from glass beads used as currency by the Taíno Indians to Spanish gold pieces to currency of the present day. Ultraviolet lights enable the viewing of detailed features of historic bank notes. There's also a parallel exhibit on the general history of currency through world history.

    Duke St., at Nethersole Pl., Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica
    876-922–0750
  • 7. Bellefield Great House

    Historic Home

    A direct link to the past this imposing great house has stood since 1735 on the Barnett Estate, a 3,000-acre plantation owned by the Kerr-Jarrett...

    A direct link to the past this imposing great house has stood since 1735 on the Barnett Estate, a 3,000-acre plantation owned by the Kerr-Jarrett family for generations. Mangoes, sugarcane, and coconuts are still grown on the property. Jamaican cuisine is emphasized in the recently revamped "Taste of Jamaica" tour. The great house and its environs have also been renovated to replicate the splendor of the sugar estate in previous centuries. The tour includes a cane pressing and sugar boiling demonstration, and rum tasting and lunch are available at an additional cost. The property also hosts weddings and other events.

    Granville Main Rd., Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica
    876-952–2382

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $28 (tour only), $40 (tour with lunch), $52 plus 15% service charge (tour and rum tasting), $65 plus 15% service charge (tour, rum tasting, and lunch), 4 people minimum and 50 maximum per tour. Special arrangements can be made for tours on Fri. and Sat.
  • 8. Blue Hole Mineral Spring

    Hot Spring

    At this mineral spring about 20 minutes from Negril, near the community of Little Bay, you can jump 22 feet off a cliff or climb down a ladder...

    At this mineral spring about 20 minutes from Negril, near the community of Little Bay, you can jump 22 feet off a cliff or climb down a ladder to swim in the hole's icy water. Mud around the water's edge is said to be good for your skin, and the water itself is reputed to have therapeutic properties. For those who cannot jump or climb, water is pumped into a swimming pool at the surface. A bar, grill, cabanas, and a volleyball court add to the attractions. Take a chartered taxi from Negril, or call to organize a pickup.

    Brighton, Westmoreland, St. James, Barbados
    876-860–8805

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 9. Blue Lagoon

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Steeped in lore, Blue Lagoon is one of Port Antonio's best-known attractions. The azure waters of this spring-fed lagoon are a contrast to the...

    Steeped in lore, Blue Lagoon is one of Port Antonio's best-known attractions. The azure waters of this spring-fed lagoon are a contrast to the warmer waters of the ocean. How deep is it? According to legend it's bottomless, but it's been measured at 180 feet. There is no fee to access the lagoon, but there are unofficial guides who offer their services and try to make you believe that there is an entry fee. Also numerous vendors have set up at the entry hawking their wares and creating a noisy juxtaposition to the peaceful natural scenery of the lagoon.

    Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica
  • 10. Bluefields Beach Park

    Beach

    On the South Coast road to Negril, this relatively narrow stretch of sand and rock near the small community of Bluefields is typically crowded...

    On the South Coast road to Negril, this relatively narrow stretch of sand and rock near the small community of Bluefields is typically crowded only on weekends and local holidays. The swimming here is good, although the sea is sometimes rough. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; swimming.

    Bluefields, , Jamaica
  • 11. Bob Marley Centre and Mausoleum

    Museum/Gallery

    The reggae legend was born and is buried at Nine Mile, in the parish of St. Ann, and today his former home is a shrine to his music and values...

    The reggae legend was born and is buried at Nine Mile, in the parish of St. Ann, and today his former home is a shrine to his music and values. Tucked behind a tall fence, the site is marked with green and gold flags. Tours are led by Rastafarians, who take visitors through the house and point out the single bed that Marley wrote about in "Is This Love." Visitors also step inside the mausoleum where the singer is interred with his guitar, and there is a restaurant and gift shop. It is best to take a guided excursion from one of the resorts. If you're driving here yourself, be ready for some bad roads, and the hustlers outside the center are some of Jamaica's most aggressive.

    Nine Mile, Calderwood Post Office, St. Ann's Bay, St. Ann, Jamaica
    876-843–0498

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $19
  • 12. Bob Marley Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    At the height of his career, Bob Marley purchased a house on Kingston's Hope Road and added a recording studio—painted Rastafarian red, yellow...

    At the height of his career, Bob Marley purchased a house on Kingston's Hope Road and added a recording studio—painted Rastafarian red, yellow, and green. It now houses this museum, the capital's best-known tourist site. The guided tour takes you through rooms wallpapered with magazine and newspaper articles that chronicle his rise to stardom. There's a 20-minute biographical film on Marley's career. You can also see the bullet holes in the walls from a politically motivated assassination attempt in 1976.

    56 Hope Rd., Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica
    876-978–2991

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20
    View Tours and Activities
  • 13. Boston Bay Beach

    Beach

    Considered the birthplace of jerk-style cooking, Boston Bay is the beach that some locals visit just to buy dinner. You can get peppery jerk...

    Considered the birthplace of jerk-style cooking, Boston Bay is the beach that some locals visit just to buy dinner. You can get peppery jerk pork at any of the shacks spewing scented smoke along the small beach, perfect for an after-lunch dip, though these waters are occasionally rough and much more popular for surfing. Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); toilets; showers. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; surfing; windsurfing.

    11 miles (18 km) east of Port Antonio, Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica
  • 14. Boston Beach

    Beach

    A short drive east of Port Antonio is this destination for lovers of jerk pork. The recipe's origins go back to the Arawak, the island's original...

    A short drive east of Port Antonio is this destination for lovers of jerk pork. The recipe's origins go back to the Arawak, the island's original inhabitants, but modern jerk was perfected by the Maroons. Eating almost nothing but wild hog preserved over smoking coals enabled these former slaves to survive years of fierce guerrilla warfare with the English. Jerk resurfaced in the 1930s, and the spicy barbecue drew diners from around the island. Today a handful of jerk stands, known as the Boston Jerk Centre, offers fiery flavors cooled by festival (like a Southern hush puppy) and Red Stripe beer.

    Rte. A4, east of Port Antonio, Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica
  • 15. Coyaba Gardens and Mahoe Waterfalls

    Museum/Gallery

    Coyaba is a word from the Arawaks, the original inhabitants of Jamaica, meaning paradise. Learn about Jamaican heritage and history at the...

    Coyaba is a word from the Arawaks, the original inhabitants of Jamaica, meaning paradise. Learn about Jamaican heritage and history at the museum, and then discover what makes Jamaica a natural paradise through a guided 45-minute tour through the lush 3-acre garden and also see the beautiful waterfalls and stunning views. The complex includes a crafts and gift shop and a snack bar, and Mahoe Falls is a good spot for a quiet picnic or swim.

    Shaw Park Estate, Shaw Park Ridge Rd., Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica
    876-974–6235

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 16. Demontevin Lodge

    Historic Home

    On Titchfield Hill, this fine example of elegant 18th-century Victorian architecture has period decor and furnishings. It's also next to other...

    On Titchfield Hill, this fine example of elegant 18th-century Victorian architecture has period decor and furnishings. It's also next to other architecturally interesting buildings on Musgrave Street. Interested guests may choose to spend the night for $50 to $170, depending on the room category.

    21 Fort George St., Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica
    876-993–2604
  • 17. Devon House

    Historic Home

    Built in 1881 as the mansion of the island's first black millionaire, George Stiebel, who made his fortune from gold mining in South America...

    Built in 1881 as the mansion of the island's first black millionaire, George Stiebel, who made his fortune from gold mining in South America, this National Heritage Site was bought and restored by the Jamaican government in the 1960s. Visit the two-story mansion, furnished with Venetian-crystal chandeliers and period reproductions, on a guided tour. On the grounds there are restaurants, crafts shops, a bakery, and a wine bar. Probably the biggest draw is the Devon House I-Scream shop, where lines of locals form, especially on Sunday, to get a dip of their favorite ice cream, often rum raisin.

    26 Hope Rd., Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica
    876-929–6602

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 to tour the house; free admission for the grounds and the shops
  • 18. Doctor's Cave Bathing Club

    Beach

    Located along Montego Bay's touristy Hip Strip, this famous beach first gained notoriety for waters said to have healing powers. It's a popular...

    Located along Montego Bay's touristy Hip Strip, this famous beach first gained notoriety for waters said to have healing powers. It's a popular beach with a perpetual spring-break feel. The clubhouse has changing rooms, showers, a gift shop, and restaurant. You can rent beach chairs, pool floats, and umbrellas. Its location within the Montego Bay Marine Park—with protected coral reefs and plenty of marine life—makes it good for snorkeling and glass-bottom boat rides. Chairs, umbrellas, and pool floats are available to rent for $6 per item for the day. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; sunset; swimming.

    Gloucester Ave., Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica
    876-952–2566

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $6
  • 19. Dunn's River Falls Beach

    Beach

    You'll find a crowd (especially if there's a cruise ship in town) at the small beach at the foot of the falls, one of Jamaica's most-visited...

    You'll find a crowd (especially if there's a cruise ship in town) at the small beach at the foot of the falls, one of Jamaica's most-visited landmarks. Although tiny—especially considering the crowds—the beach has a great view. Look up for a spectacular vista of the cascading water, the roar from which drowns out the sea as you approach. All-day access to the beach is included in the falls' entrance fee. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); toilets. Best for: swimming.

    Rte. A1, between St. Ann's Bay and Ocho Rios, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica
    876-974–4767

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20
  • 20. Emancipation Park

    Plaza/Square

    Seven acres of lush greenery make a popular respite from New Kingston's concrete jungle. Locals come to jog, play table tennis, see concerts...

    Seven acres of lush greenery make a popular respite from New Kingston's concrete jungle. Locals come to jog, play table tennis, see concerts, and relax. Clowns entertain children, and photographers take romantic pictures of couples by the fountain. At the south entrance, Redemption Song is a pair of monumental statues of slaves, a reminder of the island's colonial past.

    Knutsford Blvd., at Oxford Rd., Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica
    876-926–6312

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closes at 6 pm on public holidays

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