Reasons Why You Should Visit Jamaica at Least Once
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Jamaica is famous for being the birthplace of reggae and jerk, but there are so many more sides to the island. The country is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, has eye-widening natural sites including waterfalls and lagoons, and produces one of the rarest coffees in the world. Here’s our list of reasons why it should feature on your bucket list.
The beaches are world-class
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Jamaica is home to some of the Caribbean’s most famous beaches. Seven Mile Beach in Negril and James Bond Beach near Ocho Rios are two of the best known. The former consists of a highway-long strip of platinum sand backed by palm trees and five-star hotels, while the latter formed the backdrop of Dr No. Other notable spots include celebrity favourite Frenchman’s Cove and the lively Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay.
It’s the birthplace of reggae
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Both reggae and dancehall were born in Jamaica. The music is ever-present on the island – you’ll hear it by the pool, on the beach, at street food stalls and in bars and restaurants. Head to the Hip Strip in Montego Bay to drink and dance to live performances until the early hours. For something a little more laid-back, visit Rick’s Café in Negril, and watch the sunset to a rocksteady beat.
It’s the home of jerk
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Jamaica is the birthplace of jerk – a style of cooking that involves slathering cuts of meat and seafood in an allspice and scotch bonnet marinade, and smoking them over hot coals. Jerk dishes are sold in restaurants and street food stalls all over the island. However, if you want to make a jerk pilgrimage, head to the Boston Beach area, where the first jerk stalls in Jamaica are said to have been established.
You can raft along the Martha Brae River
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The Martha Brae River is a 20mi (32km) stretch of fern-green water that runs through Cockpit Country in the centre of Jamaica. The best way to explore the river is on a rafting tour. Board a 30ft (9m) bamboo raft and a captain – Jamaica’s equivalent of the Venetian gondolier – will punt you along the waterway. Take some cash with you and you’ll be able to buy fresh coconuts from locals on the riverbank mid-float.
There are 100 different dive sites
Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
There’s a Sea Life Centre’s worth of tropical fish to discover in the seas surrounding Jamaica. Parrot fish, foureye butterfly fish and eagle rays are all part of the collection. If you’re keen to take a look, dozens of dive schools around Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios cater to beginners. Top sites for more experienced divers, meanwhile, include the Throne Room, where you can sometimes spot six-foot vegetarian nurse sharks, and the wreck of World War II minesweeper the SS Kathryn.
It’s home to a rare glowing lagoon
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Just off the coast of Falmouth, the Luminous Lagoon is filled with a rare form of algae called dinoflagellate. It’s virtually undetectable during the day, but when disturbed at night, it starts to glow in blue strobes. The best way to experience the phenomenon is on a boat tour from Glistening Waters hotel. Watch the water light up like the Vegas strip as you cruise through it, then jump in for a swim.
It produces one of the world’s rarest coffees
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The Blue Mountains raise out of the ground like bloated green bellies 24mi (40km) north of Kingston. The area is covered with walking trails – one of the most rewarding hikes takes you to the top of Jamaica’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, 7,402ft (2,256m) above sea level. This part of the island is a coffee heartland, too. Coffee farms are dotted all over and many of them welcome visitors for guided tours and tastings.
You can walk up a waterfall
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White water cascades down a 180ft (55m) flight of natural rock stairs at Dunn’s River Falls, near Ocho Rios. Visitors can climb these stairs, stopping to soak in natural pools and shower in the falls’ foamy water along the way. If scaling the falls isn’t adventurous enough for you, there’s also a zip-line circuit that features seven zip-lines and four hanging bridges.
These recommendations were updated on August 26, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.