Jamaica’s blazing sunshine, pristine beaches and all-inclusive resorts may make the island seem like any other Caribbean destination, but Jamaica’s unique history and culture set it apart. Any visit to Jamaica should include an immersion in the island’s African heritage, a remnant of a time when the island was a major outpost for the sugar and rum trade. While Jamaica is best known for its natural scenery, from the beaches and underwater coral reefs that surround the island to the crystal-clear waterfalls of Ocho Rios, there’s more to explore. Sample a cup of Joe made from the coffee beans of the Blue Mountains, brewed at the century-old factory at Mavis Bank; take a bush-medicine hiking tour through Jamaica’s tropical jungles; visit one of the island’s larger metropolises for thriving nightlife, or one of the smaller fishing villages barely touched by tourism. When you travel to Jamaica, you’ll be rewarded for stepping off the beaten path.
Things Not to Miss in Jamaica
• Scuba diving at Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios
• Relaxing on the palm-fringed beaches of Treasure Beach or Frenchman’s Cove
• Sampling Jamaica’s famous jerk-seasoned cuisine
• Paying homage to the King of Reggae at the Bob Marley Museum
• Climbing waterfalls at YS Falls Cascades, Reach Falls and Dunn’s River Falls
• Rafting in the small village of Martha Brae
• Visiting the restored colonial home of Devon House
• Swimming with bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Cove
When to Go to Jamaica
Perhaps the best time to visit Jamaica is between October and December, when temperatures stay in the 70s and 80s and you’ll be able to find decent hotel and flight rates. You’ll also find good deals during the summer, but that’s when hurricane season is in full force. January through March is peak travel season for Jamaica; while the weather is pleasant, you’ll have to contend with large tourist crowds and high hotel rates, so make your Jamaica travel plans accordingly. Most of the island’s heavy rainfall occurs in the mountains, further inland; luckily, rainy spells don’t last very long along Jamaica’s beaches, where most of the resorts and hotels are situated.
Cooling off at Treasure Beach, the Blue Lagoon, and other secluded swimming holes around Port Antonio, where the likes of Errol Flynn and other celebrities frolicked in the 1940’s.
Tasting Jamaican jerk where it was invented, at Boston Bay. The fiery, tangy meat is best enjoyed on the sand in front of one of the shacks lining the shore with a Red Stripe in hand and reggae beats in the background.
A boat ride through the Black Mountain Morass swamps, Jamaica’s answer to the Everglades, where native crocodiles lurk and tangy pepper shrimp is the local delicacy.