The white, sandy beaches of Jamaica draw thousands of tourists to the island nation each year. The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica boasts delicious food, vibrant music and plenty of outdoor activities. Whether you crave relaxation and solitude or a high-octane island adventure, Jamaica is a vacation destination you will enjoy visiting year after year.
Popular Jamaican Vacation Destinations
There are many different tourist hot spots in Jamaica, each with its own charm, including:
Located on the northwest coast of Jamaica, Montego Bay is home to the country's largest airport, as well as a handful of luxury, beachfront resorts, historic sugar plantations, rum distilleries, and a vibrant nightlife. Montego Bay also boasts some of the island's most popular resorts, including the Tryall.
The western city of Negril is famous for its spectacular seven-mile beach, one of the Caribbean's finest, as well as its laid-back lifestyle. Activity in Negril centers around the beach and the many small inns, watering holes, and island restaurants that sit just back from the shore. Watching the sunset at Rick's Café is a tourist tradition and one that rarely disappoints.
Ocho Rios is a lush and beautiful spot for a Jamaica vacation. Located on the north shore of Jamaica, Ocho Rios is home to some of the most exclusive resorts on the island, including the all-inclusive Sans Souci and the spectacular Jamaica Inn. Pop culture buffs will enjoy visiting Firefly, the former home of 20th century, British playwright, Sir Noel Coward and James Bond creator, Ian Fleming's former home, Goldeneye.
To tap into Jamaica's famed music history and culture, head to Kingston. The capital city is the former home of musician Bob Marley and the world headquarters of reggae music. You will also find shopping, nightclubs and plenty of dining options.
There's a little something for everyone in Jamaica. However, there are some places that rank as the most popular with tourist, including:
You can't visit Jamaica without visiting the beaches. The island has miles of white sand beaches, but some stand apart from the crowd. Montego Bay's Walter Fletcher Beach is a good pick for families, while Cornwall Beach, also in Montego Bay, is ideal if you want to snorkel. Negril's Seven Mile Beach has a mix of offerings: a family friendly section, a more party-centric portion of the beach with an on-beach bar and even a nudist section. If it is surfing you are after, head to Boston Beach in Port Antonio.
Dunn River Falls
This 1,000-foot tall waterfall in Ocho Rios is terraced with "steps" in the cliffside that can be climbed all the way to top. On your way up, stop and swim in small lagoons and take in the lush forest around you. You can climb alone or opt for a guided tour, where an experienced climber will help you make the trek.
The Blue Mountains - Jamaica's longest and tallest mountain range - is where the island's world famous Blue Mountain coffee is grown. You can explore the tropical forest while hiking through various trails, or you can take a guided tour by bus.
Bob Marley House and Museum
Bob Marley's former house, located in Kingston, is now a museum dedicated his legacy. No music lover's trip to Jamaica would be complete without a visit here. Check out his recording studio, hear some music and learn more about Marley's life and the evolution of reggae music.
Some of the best and most affordable food you can get in Jamaica comes from the jerk carts that are all over the cities and by the beaches. These carts are where the locals get their spicy jerk chicken and pork, which they frequently slather with ketchup. Some beachside food carts also serve up fish fresh off the boat. Ordering at least one meal from one of these many carts is a must. When you're looking for something a little formal, try:
Norma's on the Terrace
Norma Shirley is Jamaica's most world-renowned chef, thanks to her upscale take on Caribbean classics. She has three restaurants in Jamaican, but her Kingston-based Norma's on the Terrace is the most popular. The food is on the pricey side, and reservations are recommended, but most agree the food is well worth the money.
When you are tiring of Jamaican fare, give Da Gino's Italian cuisine a try. This Negril-based restaurant offers the best pasta on the island and melds traditional Italian flavors with local ingredients. Reservations are recommend.
Dining out in Jamaica can be pricy. When you're looking for a low-cost, casual alternative, head to Indies. Located in Kingston, locals and tourist alike dine on pub grub like fish and chips and burgers, as well as pizza. Reservations are not accepted.
Though you can find a la carte accommodations on the island, most tourists stay at all-inclusive resorts. These resorts offer rooms, some meals and even excursions for a single price. Among the most popular resorts are:
Sandals is synonymous with Caribbean all-inclusive deals. The company has seven location in Jamaica, each boasting its own special features. Though some Sandals are family-friendly, more are geared towards couples and adult travelers. All Sandals locations offer wedding packages.
Unlike Sandals, Beaches is designed with kids in mind. There are four Beaches locations in Jamaica, each offering activities the whole family can enjoy together. There are also supervised kids' activities so mom and dad can get in some alone time.
Jamaica for All
Whether you're looking for solitude or activity, Jamaica has something for all vacationers. Just remember to do your research before you book your trip, as you will want to make the most of your time in the island paradise. Putting together a list of must-see attractions will help keep you focused and allow you to explore as much of the island as possible.