When most people think of visiting Jamaica, they think of the beautiful white sand beach resorts of Montego Bay and Negril, relaxing reggae music and good rum. These are definitely aspects of Jamaica, but Jamaica is much more than a Caribbean beach resort. The mountains, waterfalls, rivers, historic towns, the live shows, the food, the people are all aspects of Jamaica worth visiting for. Jamaica is a developing country that has developing country issues such as social inequality, migration from the countryside to the city and tensions. Despite these issues, Jamaica is a place with tons of character and a unique vibe not shared by any of the other Caribbean Islands. Some of the places worth visiting off the tourist path are Port Antonio (for all those nature lovers), Spanish Town (Jamaica's first capital), the Blue Mountains (home to some of the world's best coffee), the Bob Marley Mausoleum in Nine Miles and of course, Kingston, the capital, but also the heart and sole of Jamaica. It is from Kingston where most of the reggae artists come from, new Jamaican Patois (the Jamaican Language) is developed, and much much more.
The PORT ANTONIO AREA is perhaps the most beautiful and scenic part of Jamaica. Navigatable rivers, twin harbors, waterfalls, freshwater Blue Holes and so much more. Puerto Anton was the name the Spanish gave the town in honor of the Governor’s son but they made no real effort to settle the area.
BONNIE VIEW PLANTATION HOTEL—Perched on a ridge some 600 feet above Port Antonio, this moderately priced hotel offers the most spectacular view of the entire area.
RAFTING THE RIO GRANDE—Supposedly started by Errol Flynn to entertain his guests, this 3-hour, 6-mile journey through rural Jamaica on bamboo rafts is now a top attraction.
BOSTON’S BEACH—Also known as the Center of Jerk in Jamaica, is more than just a great place to eat. You can rent a surfboard and enjoy the high surf when it rolls into the beautiful beach area.
REACH FALLS—Sometimes spelled “Reich”, is a highly photographed waterfall that has only recently become popular with tourists and locals alike. If you time it right and there is no crowd, it will be a highlight of your trip.
BLUE LAGOON—Around 200 feet deep, the variations of Emerald and Jade colors will amaze you. Although the lagoon is open to the sea, the water springs from about 150 feet below the surface of the lagoon. Warm and cold water exist side by side so you can find your perfect temperature. The water is extremely buoyant from the upwelling and said to be an aphrodisiac.
Founded in 1692, Kingston was first a place for the survivors of an earthquake that resulted in the destruction of Port Royal. Before that date, Kingston was an agricultural area, but the survivors of the earthquake established their tent community on the sea front The town really began to grow after pirates did further destruction and burned Port Royal in 1703. By 1703, Kingston had become the biggest town on the island and a center of trade. It is the largest English-speaking city in Jamaica and the nation's capital. Central Kingston comprises the historic downtown area and New Kingston, both reached by Norman Manley International Airport.
The BLUE MOUNTAINS are the longest mountain range on the island and include its highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, which is 7,402 feet high. Visitors to the peak have excellent views of both the north and south coasts of Jamaica, and on clear days, it is possible to see Cuba some 130 miles away.
Located at the mouth of Kingston's harbor, PORT ROYAL was founded in 1518 and acted as shipping center for the Caribbean region it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. It was once known as the richest and wickedest city in the world and was home to generations of pirates who plundered silks and gold from Spanish ships. Edward Teach, the pirate known as "Blackbeard", and once lived in Port Royal.
The museum is located on the site of BOB MARLEY's home, in which the legendary reggae musician lived from 1975 until his death in 1981, and it was also the location of the Tuff Gong recording studio. The home was converted to a museum in 1987 to display Marley's personal items, including his guitar. On a guided tour, visitors can see a medicinal herb garden, press clippings about Marley, his stage costumes, photo gallery, and bullet holes in the walls from a failed assassination attempt on Marley.
Montego Bay, the capital of Jamaica's St. James Parish, covers the second largest city area on the island and is the fourth most populated city. It is a popular tourist destination, marked by duty-free shopping, a terminal for cruise ships, and world-famous beaches. Christopher Columbus first visited Jamaica in 1494 and gave the region the name of Golfo de Buen Tiempo, or The Gulf of Fair Weather. The last major slave revolt occurred in the Montego Bay area in 1832. Montego Bay was designated a city through an act of Parliament in 1980. Its coastline feature many tourist resorts, several being built on the grounds of former sugar plantations.
CORNWALL BEACH is a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, featuring a protected underwater marine park that offers close-up encounters with fish and other sea life. There are also cabanas, a bar, and a cafeteria on the beach, as well as a crafts center where visitors may watch artisans working. Saturdays feature a beach party with dancing and gambling on donkey and goat races.
GLOUCESTER AVENUE in Montego Bay is also called the "Hip Strip" and is home to more than 60 shops and 35 bars and restaurants. Nearby is the famous Doctor's Cave Beach as well as other fine local beaches. The Hip Strip is the one of the premier shopping areas in Jamaica, and it is near Montego Bay's airport.
Ocho Rios attracts tourists from around the world with its mix of natural wonders and cultural exhibits. Ocho Rios is located in St. Ann Parish. It is believed that Christopher Columbus made his first steps on land at Ocho Rios. This major tourist destination was once a fishing village, but now it is a port of call for Caribbean cruise ships and cargo ships. The name may stem from a corrupted version of its original Spanish name "Las Chorreras", or "the waterfalls", which may have been given in reference to the village because of its proximity to the spectacular Dunn's River Falls. The area was the location for several Hollywood films.
Negril, located at the western-most tip of Jamaica, spans the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover. It is believed that the Spanish gave the region its name in 1494 either in reference to the black cliffs located there - the setting for the James Bond film "Thunderball! - or to the many Black Eels found along the coastline. Negril's beaches are consistently rated among the best in the world. Its natural beauty, which features an almost equal mix of majestic cliffs and welcoming beaches, has made Negril a prime tourist destination since the 1950s. Today, the area is home to nature preserves and many fine resort hotels, shops, and restaurants.