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Things to do in Jamaica and other tips: your complete guide

This guide to Jamaica is not a usual guide on the best things to do in Jamaica only but aims to give you a broader overview and deeper knowledge of this beautiful country.

Don’t worry, it’s not going to be boring at all, I hope 🙂

I have lived in Jamaica for 18 months and I would like to show you the best way to experience this incredible Caribbean island and its beautiful people.

Whether you are traveling to Jamaica for the first time or you have been there already, there is always something new to discover.

There are so many things you can do in Jamaica that one time is not enough. Although I have lived there for more than one year and returned several times afterward, I always find some new secret corner or detail to appreciate.

And even if you are staying in one of the beautiful all-inclusive resorts please go out and explore either by renting a car or joining a guided tour.

In this post, I will share all the best places to see, from the hidden gems to the most popular places such as Dunn’s River Falls and mystic mountain in Ocho Rios, the seven-mile beach and rick’s cafe in Negril, the White Witch haunted great house in Montego Bay, just to name a few.

BLUE HOLE WATERFALL JAMAICA - THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA
Jamaica Overview Photo from Canva
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Table of Contents

Jamaica at a glance

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION – Jamaica belongs to the group of the West Indies islands, Jamaica is about 146 miles (235 km) long and varies from 22 to 51 miles (35 to 82 km) wide. It is situated some 100 miles (160 km) west of Haiti, 90 miles (150 km) south of Cuba, and 390 miles (630 km) northeast of the nearest point on the mainland.
FORM OF GOVERNMENTConstitutional monarchy –  Jamaica became independent from the United Kingdom in 1962 but remains a member of the Commonwealth.
CAPITAL – Kingston
POPULATION 2,731,000
TOTAL AREA (SQ MI)4,244,   10,991( SQ KM) (Third largest in the Caribbean, after Cuba and Hispaniola)
JAMAICAN CURRENCY – Jamaican Dollar  1US= 130 $JAM (Approx)
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE – English
DIALECTPatois ( I absolutely love it and I proudly say that I can understand quite a bit if they don’t talk too fast. I just think it is super funny and cute)
JAMAICA WEATHER: Never trust the weather forecast. One of the things I loved about Jamaica was that you could drive in a cloud of rain where you cannot see before your nose and in a blink of an eye you find yourself in a shining sun with a totally dry road… and an amazing rainbow, while looking back at your rare-view mirror watching the rain pouring from where you are coming from. Amazing!
TERRITORY– Another beauty is the territory, the lush thick vegetations, the rivers, and the mountain regions, although they are not very much advertised as touristic areas, or probably because of that.

The highest pick is only 2256mt (about 7400ft), Blue Mountain Peak, but if you reach the top on a sunny day you will see the entire island perimeter. I was there with rain, but it was an amazing hike anyway, through the coffee plantation and the lush vegetation. Read on and I will tell you how to get there…


Things to do in Jamaica: Overview

If you come to jamaica to relax and enjoy one of its spectacular hotels, laying on its beautiful beaches with a cocktail in your hand, stop reading this article and go to this one instead.

The best resorts in Jamaica that will make you want to stay there forever:) 

However, if you also want to explore this incredible island and understand Jamaican culture and lifestyle, then you will love what follows.

You could either rent a car and explore the island on your own, or you could join organized tours with a knowledgeable guide to learn more about the local culture and history.

It’s totally up to you and in this guide, I will share both options, and for your convenience I will split the things to do in Jamaica into different areas, depending on where you are staying.

Things to do in Jamaica: Negril

Negril is a quaint laid-back town, with a good variety of hotel choices, and in fact one of the most popular places to stay in Jamaica. You can read about the best hotels in Negril to check out my reviews. I have seen them all for real.

1. Walk along the seven mile beach

Basking on the popular beach, the so-called seven miles beach, or having long relaxing walks by the sea is among the best things to do in Negril.   

Here, the beach dives gently into the sea, forming the ideal place for all kinds of swimmers, and also kids, thanks to its shallow waters.

Because of the calm waters, it’s also the place where to practice all sorts of water sports generally offered by the hotels lining the coastline, from paddle boarding to kayaking, and surfing.

The sea holds no danger here, but that’s basically the same all around Jamaica.

All inclusive hotels in Negril - Boundless Roads
7 miles beach Negril Photo from Canva

The beach is interrupted in the downtown area where the coast makes a turn and heads off to what is called the ‘west end”, one of my favorite parts of Jamaica, with beautiful hotels built by the cliff from where you can admire stunning sunsets.

All in all, there is 25 km of varied coastlines.

Negril is considered the fun place on the island, where even Jamaicans find their weekend getaway to relax and party.

Besides the amazing beach, the small town offers a variety of places to eat and a few bars where people gather at night to party, to Reggae beats, of course.

On the first weekend of August, Negril gets packed out, due to the celebration of Independence week, with the extremely popular ‘Dream Weekend’, one of the best parties in the world, or so they say.

Also worth a note is the colorful art and craft market on the beach, right before the bridge that connects with the downtown, where local artists showcase their work. Some pieces are really beautiful, great souvenirs of authentic Jamaican art

2. Watch the sunset from Rick’s cafe

Rick’s Cafe is a world-famous cafe’ that actually doesn’t sell any kind of coffee at all but drinks and a delicious international restaurant on the terrace with great live music.

Located on the west coast of Negril, on the cliff part, it’s a world-famous Jamaican popular spot to watch heart-throbbing cliff-jumps and look at the sun disappearing in the sea at the horizon painting the sky of all different colors, all of these at the sound of Reggae of course.

There is always alive playing and people dancing, every single day.

This is really something you can easily do on your own if you are staying in Negril. Just grab a taxi and let the driver take you.

The only thing is that I suggest you should negotiate the fare before and make sure that the taxi agrees in waiting for you.

They normally do it. Jamaicans are very smart and kindhearted people and they know about customer service, a lot, it just comes naturally to them.

Then you will always find the grumpy ones, as in everywhere in the world.

If you wish to join a tour that is fine as well, especially if you are traveling alone, this is a place where it’s nice to go with the company.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Private Negril Sightseeing Tour with Rick Cafe Cliff Diving on VIATOR

Sunset in Negril
Photo from Canva

3. Buy some authentic souvenirs at the artisan market

Normally the tours make a stop at the craft markets right before reaching downtown Negril where you can check out the local art! And believe me, you will see amazing works, from paintings to wooden sculptures.

For those who are coming from Montegobay, you can get a full-day tour which includes the morning and lunch spent on a beautiful spot on the world-famous 7 miles beach (lunch itself is not included because you can get to choose where you want to eat and what).

4. Walk along the Mayfields falls

Mayfield falls Jamaica
Photo from Canva

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 22 Reviews

A spectacular place in the Jamaican deep jungle, a less touristic hidden treasure of unimaginable beauty. It’s a beautiful ride through the Jamaican overwhelming nature until you get to the destination.

A refreshing waterfall-shaped river that forms natural pools along its way down the valley.

You will basically walk all the way up the river and do your stops in the refreshing whirlpools where you can sit and rest while having your natural massage.

Distance: 1-hour drive from Negril

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book your tour to the Mayfield falls from Negril on VIATOR

5. Negril & Ricks Cafe Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Restaurant on the clif
Restaurant on the cliff NegrilPhoto from Canva

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 132 Reviews

This tour combines a catamaran cruise, snorkeling excursion, and sunset stop at Rick’s Cafe.

You will get on board at Margaritaville and cruise along Negril’s coastline, stopping to snorkel at a coral reef and see tropical fish and maybe sea turtles or rays.

Guests enjoy the open bar on board as much as the stunning views of the Negril coastline at sunset.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book your Ricks Cafe Sunset Catamaran Cruise on VIATOR

6. Rastasafari Experience from Negril

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 290 Reviews

A three-hour tour riding through the Jamaican countryside on an all-terrain vehicle to see how the locals live.

You will get to rugged parts of the country that typical tourist vehicles can’t reach, through hills, agricultural fields, and a natural mineral pool where you can cool off.

Lunch and water are also included.

Non-refundable

👉 Book your Rastasafari Experience from Negril on VIATOR

7. Blue Hole & Secret Falls Private Tour with Entrance Fees

Negril Jamaica Blue Hole
Photo from Canva

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 60 Reviews – 6-hour tour (approx)

A private guided tour to one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Jamaica the Blue Hole and Secret Falls.

Take an easy hike up to Secret Falls through the lush jungle, enjoying engaging stories from your guide on the way.

Nature lovers will enjoy this tour completely immerse in the tropical Jamaican Jungle!

Hotel pickup and drop-off are included –

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book your Blue Hole & Secret Falls Private Tour on VIATOR

8. YS Falls, Black River Safari, Appleton Rum Tour, or Pelican Bar (Choose 3)

safety in Jamaica
YS Falls Jamaica

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 58 Reviews – 8-hour tour (approx)

This full-day tour from Negril will take you to Jamaica’s scenic South Coast with a local tour guide.

Stop at your choice of three popular attractions: Appleton Estate, where you will learn how the Jamaican original rum is made, swim in the spectacular YS Falls immerse in the jungle, take a short boat ride down the Black River, and sip a drink at Floyd’s floating Pelican Bar.

You can choose 3 of these activities (for time reasons)

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 YS Falls, Black River Safari, Appleton Rum Tour, or Pelican Bar VIATOR

Jamaica Black River
Black River Photo from Canva

9. Bob Marley nine miles tour + Dunn’s river falls

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 215 Reviews – 9-hour tour (approx)

This is a full-day tour from Negril all the way to Ocho Rios with a stop at Bob Marley’s old house where he was born and grew up in the small town of Nine Miles.

You will continue to Dunn’s River Falls, where you trek to the top of the falls for scenic views of the surrounding landscape.

Lunch, all entrance fees, and round-trip transportation from Negril, Ocho Rios, or Montego Bay are included.

A knowledgeable guide will be with you all the time sharing interesting facts about Jamaica’s history and culture.

👉 Book your tour to Nine Miles and Dunn’s River Falls from Negril VIATOR

Dunn's River Falls
Photo from Canva
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: tours and activities from Ocho Rios 

Ocho Rios became famous for Dunn’s river falls and the popular 007 film, ‘Dr. No’, set right by the waterfall of the scene where a sexy Ursula Andress comes out of the water.

I am sure everybody remembers the iconic movie, even the younger crowd should.

Also, Ocho Rios is where Ian Fleming, author of 007, finds inspiration for his writing. His house is still there and has now become part of the beautiful Goldeneye hotel, by the famous beach of the same name.

Another important note is that in the 90s, Ocho Rios became the principal port for cruises, which has now been shifted to Falmouth, where a huge new port and infrastructure welcome the biggest cruise ships.

10. Bob Marley nine miles tour from Ocho Rios

If you are a fan of Bob Marley and reggae music you will need to take this tour and go where the king of reggae music was born and has lived for part of his life which is now one of the most visited Jamaican points of interest.

The tour is very unique because it focuses only on Bob Marley like a music pilgrimage from your hotel to Nine Miles

You will also enjoy the beautiful scenery as your driver navigates the narrow, winding country roads to the mountain village of Nine Mile, the birthplace and final resting place of Bob Marley.

You will then take a tour of Marley’s home, led by Rastafarian guides, and enjoy a rendition of one of his songs.

See the “rock pillow” where he rested his head for inspiration. Finally, visit the mausoleum where Marley is buried along with “Mamma Marley” Cedella Booker and half-brother, Anthony Booker.

At the end of the tour, your driver will drop you off back at your hotel, Port or Airport.

👉 Book your tour to Nine Miles VIATOR

11. Blue Hole only tour from Ocho Rios

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 201 Reviews – 3-hour tour (approx)

BLUE HOLE WATERFALL JAMAICA
Photo from Canva

A short guided tour from Ocho Rios to this spectacular swimming hole, hike up to a waterfall or plunge into the hole on a Tarzan swing.

You’ll be back in Ocho Rios by midday with plenty of time for an afternoon activity.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book your tour to Blue Hole only from Ocho Rios VIATOR

12. Chuck Norris Secret Falls and Dunn’s River Falls

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 181 Reviews – 6-hour tour (approx)

At Chuck Norris Secret Falls, splash into waterfall-fed pools via a rope swing and cliff jumps and hike through the rain forest on secluded trails.

You will then go back to enjoy Jamaica’s premier natural attraction at Dunn’s River, where you can climb up a massive waterfall with a guide’s help for stunning tropical views.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book the tour to Chuck Norris Secret Falls and Dunn’s River Falls VIATOR

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads
Dunn’s River Waterfalls Photo from Canva

13. Private Sightseeing Tour in & Around Ocho Rios

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 106 Reviews – 3/4-hour tour (approx)

Your local guide will pick you up from your hotel or the cruise port and will drive you to the vicinity of the botanical garden.

Here, you can see various medicinal plants and spices growing and also catch a view of rock star Mick Jagger’s home.

Then it’s on to Fern Gully, a scenic road framed by hundreds of species of ferns.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book the tour to Chuck Norris Secret Falls and Dunn’s River Falls VIATOR

14. Visit the Kokono falls and Botanical Garden

Located in the lush hills of Ocho Rios in Sant’ Ann Parish, this spectacular place is an oasis for nature lovers. You can spend the entire day at Kokono falls, enjoy swimming in the refreshing waters, and walk around the botanical garden.

There is also a small museum about the ancient history of the first inhabitant of the island.

You can easily go on your own. Ask your hotel to call a taxi for you.

Or you can book a private tour that includes Blue Hole waterfalls and Kokono together

👉 Book your private tour to Blue Hole waterfalls and Kokono VIATOR

15. Dunn’s River Catamaran Cruise From Ocho Rios

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 61 Reviews

Get to the most popular Falls in Jamaica on a catamaran.

Once there, join hands to ascend the 600-foot falls, snap photos, or hang back and take in the scene.

Back on the boat, enjoy a live deejay, snacks, and an open bar as you sail Jamaica’s north coast.

Hotel pickup and drop-off included.

Non-refundable

👉 Book your Dunn’s River Catamaran Cruise in Ocho Rios VIATOR

16. Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 69 Reviews

This is a full-day tour from Ocho Rios up to the Blue Mountains around Kingston.

With a local tour guide, you will be taken by car up to the mountains, and after a stop for a traditional Jamaican brunch along the way, you will continue to the Blue Mountain Coffee company for a roasting demonstration of their famous Jamaican coffee.

Then hop on a bicycle and coast downhill through the mountainous terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the area surrounding Kingson on the way.

You will then stop for lunch and a refreshing swim under a local waterfall.

This is an amazing tour off the beaten path in Jamaica for nature lovers.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

👉 Book your Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour From Ocho Rios VIATOR

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: Montego Bay

Friendly called “Montego”, or “Mobay” the city saw a huge growth in the past years, with the new shopping outlets and many international hotel chains that have invested in the area to build huge beautiful resorts and take advantage of the transparent and crystalline Caribbean sea of its coast.

The most popular international airport is here in Montego, Donald Sangster, the hub of the main airlines and doorway for the majority of Jamaican tourism.

In Montegobay also takes place the most important Reggae festival in the world, the Summerfest, normally at the beginning of July.

There are also plenty of things to do in Montego Bay although there are certain areas that you should avoid for safety reasons. So just stick to the touristy areas and don’t wander around like an explorer. It’s not worth it.

Montego Bay Jamaica
Montego Bay Jamaica Photo from Canva

17. Visit the bioluminescent lagoon

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2 Reviews

You will arrive at the best-kept secret, near the lovely town of Falmouth,  right after sunset. The natural phenomenon you will experience in this lagoon is one of a kind and present in very few other places in the world.

Microorganism lights up in the water when the sun goes down, creating a beautiful natural show in the crystal waters. You will see it from a special boat and if you wish you can even swim in the sparkles. 

On this one, I would recommend joining an organized tour as they will take care of everything from transportation to booking your spot and sometimes even food and drinks.

If you wish to go on your own, though, you should contact the local tour company for reservations to make sure they have space. 

Free Cancellation within 24 hrs

👉 Book your tour to Falmouth Mystic Luminous Lagoon  VIATOR

18. Visit the mysterious Rose Hall Great House

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1 Review

I love this place. If you have some time and you are staying in Montego Bay, it’s worth paying a visit. You can go by taxi, as they have guided tours on location. They have different tours, but the night one is more exciting.

Oh yes, but what is it? The Rose Hall great house is an old colonial house with a legendary history. The story tells about the wife owner, a rich lady, Ann Palmer, born in 1802 and raised by her nanny who thought her witchcraft and voodoo.

She used to kill all her multiple husbands and slaves until a slave killed her for revenge. The story also narrates that her ghost still lives in the house.

This is what we are told in a nutshell but some of it seems to come from a fictional creation.  Truth is that funny stuff happens in that house… I was told. The best thing to do is go yourself and check it out. 

👉 Book a day tour to the Rose Hall Great House on  VIATOR
👉 Book a night tour to the Rose Hall Great House on VIATOR

19. Rafting on Martha Brae River

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA
Martha Brae River Photo from Canva

Situated 20 miles from Montegobay and 40 from Ocho Rios, Martha brae river is a great place to enjoy the lush Jamaican nature.

This excursion is a pleasant slow ride in the river surrounded by the green of the lush tropical vegetation, while your guide every now and then interrupts the sound of silence to give you a few stories of Jamaica’s history and Martha Brae’s interesting legend.

👉 Book a rafting on Marta Brae River  VIATOR

20. Montego Bay Great River Rafting and Limestone Foot Massage Private Tour

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 89 Reviews

This is one of the most popular activities if you are staying in one of the spectacular hotels in Montego Bay.

It’s a relaxing tour that lasts 2 or 3 hours and includes a scenic ride cruising down the beautiful Great River on a unique 30-foot hand-crafted bamboo raft.

Your guide will share interesting stories about the area while you will be exploring the lush vegetation and wildlife that surrounds you.

You will also get a nice foot massage using limestone paste, made from river rocks, locally known as ‘Jungle Socks’.

It takes approximately 30-45 minutes from hotels in the Montego Bay area to get to this location.

👉 Book a Montego Bay Great River Rafting and Limestone Foot Massage Private Tour  on VIATOR

Jamaica Overview
Photo from Canva

21. CHUKKA – ATV, Horseback, Zipline & Catamaran at Ocean Outpost Park, Montego Bay

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 364 Reviews

This tour will take you on adventurous activities in nature exploring Jamaica’s backcountry through ATV riding, tubing, and ziplining.

It’s a half-day excursion that includes hotel pickup and drop-off in Montego Bay, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the lush jungles and Jamaica’s rugged landscape.

Lunch and beverages are included.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book a ATV, Horseback, Zipline & Catamaran at Ocean Outpost Park,Tour on VIATOR

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: South Coast

It’s not that there is a particular tourist attraction. It’s the whole place that has a particular vibe.

You won’t find the white sand Caribbean beaches,  the sand is dark and the majority of the coast is rocky, but here you will find the less touristic and more authentic Jamaica.

Once a year every 2 years this is where the literature festival is held, where all artists gather for an intense weekend of poetry and literature.

I bumped into it by chance the first time I went, and except for the fact that I couldn’t find accommodation, I had a blast.

Jamaica Safety in Jamaica
@ Jakes in Treasure Beach

22. Spend a fancy weekend at Jake’s hotel

The other gem of the south coast of Jamaica is Jake’s hotel. A beautiful boutique hotel that will make you feel in heaven.

The carefully furnished villas and apartments offer the comfort of laid-back luxury, as I call it. The authentic Jamaican food and service will make you feel at home.

Just be careful because you run the risk that you will want to stay.

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads
Black river – Jamaica Photo from Canva
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: Kingston

The capital city of Jamaica is the financial and economic hub of the island.

The city is busy and a little chaotic, though I still believe it is a fascinating place to spend a couple of days and experience the exciting nightlife and cultural events.

Also, there are some interesting historical places to visit such as the Bob Marley Museum, Devon House, and Port Royal.

You can also enjoy the exclusive Lime Key, an off-shore island where Kingstonians normally spend their Sundays, sunbathing and relaxing.

23. Have a Sunday brunch with a view at Strawberry hill resort

Among my favorite things to do in Kingston is to spend some time at the Strawberry Hill resort, a spectacular hotel on the hills of Kingston with stunning views over the bay.

You will enjoy the Sunday brunch but if you don’t like crowds you should go during the weekdays for a delicious lunch or a simple tea with one of their amazing dessert.

You can hang out in the amazing garden and infinity pool. If you can stay there for a couple of nights it’s even better.

24. Blue mountains Hikes and views

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 16 Reviews

Although it’s a concrete jungle and a busy city, Kingston is embraced by the lush and green blue mountains and you shouldn’t miss a good hike to the Blue and John Crow Mountains, a UNESCO Heritage Site, with stunning views over the city.

With this tour, you will be picked up at your hotel in Kingston.

You will reach your first stop at a lookout point where you will see the eastern side of the city and be informed about its various landmarks, areas, and history.

Blue mountains views
Jamaica Blue Mountains Photo from Canva

You will continue the journey, passing through “Irish Town”, a small village area that was and is still used today by wealthy Kingstonians to get away from the Kingston heat and work your way up to your second lookout spot with magnificent views of the lush green valleys and peaks of the Blue Mountains.

You will be driving up for a stop at the old British barracks and parade ground in New Castle, St. Andrew.

There you will see the southernmost views of Kingston, Regimental insignia of Colonial times, the tallest point on the Western side of the Blue Mountains, and an old seventeenth-century canon.

You will continue driving up to the UNESCO National Park grounds, our destination for hiking, bird watching, and being one with nature.

From the park, you can see the western side of Kingston completing its panoramic view.

Then you will be hiking for about 2 hours before heading back to the city before another stop for a delicious local lunch (optional).

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book a full-day hiking tour on the blue mountains on VIATOR

25. Jamaican Music History Tour of Kingston

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 7 Reviews

A short guided tour around Kingston, the birthplace of reggae music, and get an insider’s peek into Jamaican music history.

You will stop by the Bob Marley Museum, the famous Orange Street record shop, and a modern recording studio.

A stop in Trench Town is also included.

Bottled water, and hotel pickup and drop-off are provided.

Non Refundable

👉 Book a Jamaican Music History Tour of Kingston on VIATOR

Kingston Jamaica by night
Kingston by night Photo from Canva

26. Port Royal Heritage tour

A jump into history. Port Royal was at one time the busiest city in the Caribbean. During the age of the buccaneers, Port Royal was a bustling center for both legitimate trading and ill-gotten wealth.

This excursion includes a guided tour of the city’s highlights, including Fort Charles, and some free time, as well as round-trip transportation from your Kingston accommodation in an air-conditioned tour vehicle.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

👉 Book a Jamaican Music History Tour of Kingston on VIATOR

27. Kingston City Tour

Since Kingston is not one of the safest cities in the world, for most parts, and you wouldn’t know where it’s ok to go or not, the best way to visit is with a local guide.

This tour will take you around the highlights of Kingston and share interesting facts about Jamaican culture and history.

👉 Book a tour of the city of Kingston on VIATOR

Emancipation park kingston
Photo from Canva
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: Port Antonio

Port Antonio is located in Portland, which is my favorite region (also called Parish), being more genuine and authentic, not yet consumed by huge hotels and mass tourism.

Port Antonio is a small town in the northeast of the island is where the first tourists landed in the 70s, arriving from the coasts of the United States by boat. 

Portland is the rainiest part of the island, making its vegetation so lush and green.

Traveling to Port Antonio has always been my favorite drive: kilometers of roads amidst huge tropical leaves and trees, and lanes that seem to devour you.

They have now improved the road system, and I am glad to see that they have done so while still respecting the natural landscape.

Port Antonio is also a popular destination among Hollywood stars, who come and stay in beautiful villas scattered around the surrounding hills, to chill out, hide from the spotlight, and relax by the blue lagoon. 

Besides total relaxation, Port Antonio also offers one of my favorite spots: The Reach falls, which is my favorite among the fun things to do in Jamaica, but there are many other amazing locations in the area that will make you fall in love. 

Insider tips about Port Antonio:

  • The majority of the beaches in Port Antonio require a small fee to enter, not sure how much but a few dollars, not a lot for your budget.
  • Also, you need to know that in Port Antonio it rains a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean it. This is why the vegetation is so lush and green. So in case, don’t get mad, and enjoy the vibes.

Let’s move on to the things to do in Port Antonio.

Reach Falls
Reach Falls Photo from Canva

 28. Visit the spectacular Reach Falls

A series of small waterfalls form along the river, where you can walk upstream, swim, and relax in the natural whirlpools.

Similar to the Mayfield Falls, mentioned earlier, although these are longer and larger, a little more exciting, and less spoilt. 

Ask your hotel to call you a driver or a taxi to take you there and wait for you to take you back to your hotel.

29. Visit the Green Grotto Caves

You can also visit these spectacular caves on a tour from Port Antonio if you are a group of 3 or 4 people. Otherwise, it’s more convenient to get a taxi.

👉 Book a tour to the Green Grotto Caves on VIATOR

30. Swim in the Sommerset falls

Right before arriving in Port Antonio, you will see the entrance on the right-hand side.

It’s a beautiful small waterfall where they take you on a tiny boat by the origin of the fall and you can jump from the rocks.

It’s a very peculiar experience. If you are driving in Jamaica you can get there on your own. They are located on the way to Port Antonio on the main road.

Otherwise, you can ask a taxi driver to take you and take you back.

31. Take a boat tour in the Blue Lagoon

Here you can rent bamboo rafts to float on and have the guides take you around the beautiful lagoon, surrounded by thick green vegetation. 

Monkey Island Blue Lagoon
Monkey Island by the Blue Lagoon Photo from Canva

32. Try the famous Jerk Chicken or pork on Boston Bay

Boston bay is where the original jerk source has been first created. Right by the beach, you will find street food stalls where you can get delicious jerk chicken, pork, fish, or other local food.

I recommend you should try it.

Visit the spectacular beaches in Port Antonio

32. Spend a day at Frenchmen’s cove beach

Jamaica Frenchman's cove beach in Port antonio
Port Antonio Frenchman’s cove Photo from Canva

This bay is actually located on the premises of a beautiful hotel, a little tired now, but still charming, made from casitas scattered around the peninsula. The beach has public access for a small fee. Totally worth it.

33. Winnifred Beach

another beautiful beach on the coast of Portland. This beach has a little restaurant by the water, where you can taste a lovely Jamaican-style lunch while spending your day on the beach.  

Boston Bay – the beach is not so special, but if you love surfing this is your place. Close by is the famous Boston Jerk place, a few stalls where they cook the best Jerk pork and chicken, and where Jerk sauce was originally invented. 

34. San San Beach

Another amazing corner of Port Antonio – a beautiful bay with a small kiosk where you can get drinks and local food

Port Antonio San San Bay
Photo from Canva Blue Lagoon Port Antonio

35. Long Bay Beach

Long bay beach, is the longest stretch of beach in Port Antonio where you may see surfers trying to catch some waves when it’s “good ” weather.

36. Boston Bay

It’s a beautiful bay although smaller than the others, it is a main attraction for the local surfer as it is where most often you get the right swells.

They have also built brand new bathrooms and showers.

You can take surf lessons if you want to try.


THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Jamaican culture and history

 “Out of many one people” What does the Jamaican motto mean? 

The Jamaican motto reflects their heritage and history. Jamaican culture is built on a mixture of different nationalities which have blended over the course of history: African, European, Chinese, Indian, and some Middle Eastern cultures, mixed with the Taino, the original inhabitants of the island.

So out of Many one people means that they may are coming from different places but they are one people!

The meaning of the name “Jamaica”

The name, Jamaica, comes from the Taino name of Xaymaca, which means ‘the land of wood and water“. This is likely to come from the copious amount of vegetation and rivers found on the island.

Jamaican food
Photo from Canva Jamaica Jerk Chicken

Jamaican food

Jamaica is a proud nation for its heritage and traditions.

Food, in particular, still rooted in preparation methods by the original settlers, the Taino, includes the ever-so-popular “Jerk”, which is not an insult in this case, but rather an extremely spicy sauce with a unique, authentic Jamaican flavor, used for cooking meat and fish. 

Jerk chicken and Jerk pork are two of the main specialties in Jamaican cuisine, a topic that requires a full article covering every aspect in more detail.

In this detailed post on Jamaica food, I explain all the delicious Jamaican dishes and the most interesting vegetables and fruits that you can find here.

Jamaican food
Photo from Canva Jamaican fried festivals

Religion in Jamaica

While I was living there I kept hearing that Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country.

I am not sure if this is true or not as I never counted or investigated further, but I did see a lot of churches, and that’s true.

And if you happen to be there on a Saturday or on a Sunday, you should go and participate in a mass. It’s an amazing experience, an outburst of joy through song and touching words of wisdom.

The choirs are so heartfelt and engaging that no matter what creed you believe in; they will leave you positively heart-warmed.

Rastafarianism

Perhaps you are wondering about Rastafarianism and its place in Jamaican culture.

It is common to think that all Jamaican are Rastafarian, but nothing is further from the truth. Not all Jamaican are Rastafarian, nor are all Rastafarians Jamaican.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 64% of the population is Christian (62% Protestant and 2% Roman Catholic) and only 1.1% is Rastafarian.

Nevertheless, a few extra words should be spent on Rastafarianism, remembering the most famous Rastafarian, Bob Marley, whose reggae brought to the Jamaican movement international recognition.

There are many variations of Rastafarianism or many levels of practice, and there is no formal organized leadership, although the common denominators are that Rastafari believes in the Divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie I as the influence of Jamaican culture and resistance to oppression and pride in African heritage; all beliefs with strong political convictions, deeply influenced by African traditions.

The authentic Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one’s hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.

Some interesting books on Rastafarianism for further reading

Music

Reggae music is indeed part of Jamaican identity, culture, and its strongest landmarks, as is Bob Marley, the most popular icon.

Although I am music illiterate, unable to distinguish between opera and rock, so to speak, a few words on the topic are due, thus I will leave you with the most useful links, where you can dig deeper into the history of reggae.

First of all, it is worth mentioning other names such as Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and Prince Buster, among a few of the names who made history.

Reggae includes two sub-genres, Roots Reggae (the original reggae) and Dancehall Reggae, which originated in the late 1970s.

Reggae is the fuel for the Rastafarian movement and as a matter of fact, one of the main themes of traditional reggae has been social liberation in both political and religious aspects.

It is said that Reggae is not only the precursor to the modern Jamaican style of Dub, but also to American Ska, Jambands, and British reggae-based bands, for example, UB40 and the predecessor to the now popular Hip-Hop and Rap music.

One of the most popular Reggae festivals in Jamaica is the Reggae Sumfest, in Montego bay which normally takes place at the beginning of July. Click here for the official site.

Here is the link to a list of the most popular reggae festivals in the world.

Today the big representative of the traditional modern Reggae are Morgan’s Heritage, Luciano & Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, while artists such as Sean Paul and Shaggy represent us well with a more contemporary style of Reggae.

And my Italian pride, wants me to add among the best representatives of modern reggae, Alborosie, an Italian reggae singer, songwriter, and producer, who has been living in Jamaica for more than 2 decades now.

Despite his non-Jamaican origin, with his music work and heart, he has managed to conquer the respect and appreciation of the most strict purist of the reggae movement, becoming one of the most acknowledged and complete artists in Jamaica and internationally. 

For the dancehall reggae, I will live you to this post whose author for sure knows much more than me.

Other useful links :

Here are some suggested books on Jamaica and Reggae

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

The Best Time to visit Jamaica

You can actually travel to Jamaica all year round and you will find an amazing warm tropical climate.

However, if you want me to tell you what is the best time of the year to travel to Jamaica I would say winter, from January through May, when it should be dryer and cooler.

It is also the most expensive time of the year to go to Jamaica but the favorable climate makes it worth it.

There is less risk of hurricanes, actually zero to no chance of hurricanes. However, you can still expect showers every now and then.

Jamaica Black River
Jamaica Black river Photo from Canva

Is Jamaica safe?

Well, this is a difficult question that requires a long answer. That’s why I wrote an entire post about it. Click on the box below to read it.

However, the short answer is: Yes, it is safe to travel to Jamaica if you avoid certain areas and silly behavior.

Places like Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, and Treasure Beach are the safest area but still, you need to make sure you stay out of trouble as well.

Montego bay is relatively safe along the coast, just don’t wander around like a tourist if you don’t know where you are going. Certain areas are not recommendable.

Kingston is for the pros! It’s a great city but explore it with a local or a guide!

Read more in my full article on Safety in Jamaica here below!

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

The best souvenirs to buy in Jamaica

In Jamaica, you will find souvenir shops everywhere, no kidding, especially in the proximity of the most popular tourist attractions. And they all sell pretty much the same things. I will list the most typical products from Jamaica:

Local art ranges from hand-made wooden statues and small decorative objects to beautifully colored paintings. In Negril, you will find them in the artisan market at the beginning of the 7 miles beach before getting to town.

Blue mountain coffee is cultivated and processed in the blue mountains surrounding Kingston, the Jamaican Capital. They also organize tours to the coffee plantations where you can hike and visit.

✔ Appleton Rum. Jamaicans are very proud of their own rum and you can visit the factory where it’s produced during a beautiful tour that covers part of the south coast and includes a visit to the YS fall, the black river, and other interesting sites.

Margeritavillws montego bay
Margaritaville Montego bay Photo from Canva
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

How to get to Jamaica and around

All the major airlines fly from the most important hubs in the USA, like Atlanta, Charlotte, Huston, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, just to name a few.

A few years ago, Copa Airlines is connecting South America as well through Panama, and of course, Europe is connected to the major capitals, through scheduled airlines or Charter companies.

The majority of tourism arrives at Sangster international airport, in Montego Bay, although Kingston airport, Norman Manley is also a good hub to arrive at and very well served by taxis and a local company called Knutsford express.

OUR PICK
Jamaica Sangster Airport Lounge Access and Fast-Track Lines 2022 - Montego Bay
5.0
Pros:
  • Separate arrival and departure lounges
  • Skip the crowded airport terminals
  • Relaxing atmosphere of a comfortable lounge
  • Enjoy cold and hot beverages, as well as tapas, sandwiches, fruit, and other snacks
  • Enjoy unlimited Wi-Fi
  • Catch up on the latest magazines and newspapers
  • Receive fast-track service through security, immigration, and customs lines

Transportation from and to the airport

If you buy a package (which you can do on Expedia) you can normally include transportation to your hotel.

Otherwise, you can always approach one of the tour operators at the airport or a taxi at the JUTA (Jamaican taxi association) desk, and purchase your transfer right there.

It’s just a little more expensive. If you want to book in advance, which is always advisable, here below you can find the links to different options according to your destination.

👉For the best flight deals check on Skyscanner or Expedia.

👉 From Montego Bay Airport to Montego bay hotelsBook your private shuttle here

👉 From Montego Bay Airport to Negril hotelsBook your private shuttle here

👉 From Montego Bay Airport to Ocho Rios hotelsBook Your private shuttle here

👉 From Kingston Airport to AnywhereBook your private shuttle here

Norman Manley Airport Club Kingston Lounge Access 2022
5.0

Read more about Club Kingston Lounge and Concierge Service at Norman Manley 

Pros:
  • Included Wi-Fi
  • Play games on the Samsung Galaxy tablets Catch up on the latest magazines and newspapers
  • Enjoy cold and hot beverages, as well as tapas, sandwiches, fruit, sushi and other snacks Receive fast-track service through security, immigration and customs lines
  • Separate arrival and departure services are available — choose one or both
THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

How to move around Jamaica

Jamaica by car

For those who know me, you already knew that I would have suggested renting a car from day one and being able to move around freely. I used Island car rental and always find an amazing service.

Otherwise, you can check on Discover Cars platform and compare different car companies to find the best deals

MY PICK
Best Car Rental Deals w/ Free Cancellation, Compare & Save! | Discover Cars

Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!

Jamaica by bus

After I left Jamaica they implemented a great service with a company called Knutsford express.

They started small connecting only Kingston Airport with Montego bay and I have seen that they have extended throughout the island connecting the most important cities. 

Those are big comfortable buses. Click on the link to check out their schedule and price.

Negril Jamaica ocean cliff

Jamaica by taxi and tours

If you are not planning to explore on your own and you are a bit shy about renting a car, no worries.

Taxi in Jamaica are reliable and if you are lucky you will even meet an extra nice driver with real Jamaican positive vibes who will also be able to play the guide part.

 Just make sure you agree on the prices before boarding. Also, you can check out the what-to-do section for our available tours so you will be able to enjoy your visit and not worry about anything.


THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA – TRAVEL GUIDE

Things to do in Jamaica: Final thoughts

Oh wow!! You made it to the end of this huge guide about Jamaica! Congratulations! Now you know everything about this beautiful island and you are ready for an amazing trip!

Jamaica is one of the Caribbean islands with the strongest traditions and the deepest cultural identity, not only in the music heritage, which everybody knows about but also in the heart of the people, their passionate personality, and extraordinary talents.

So many talented individuals originate from this tiny island. Why is that? My guess: they are hard-working, high-spirited, warm-hearted souls who know how to give their all for the sake of self-integrity and freedom. 

You see I am probably being a bit biased but this is how I feel about Jamaica. You will tell me what you think after your trip!

I truly hope this jamaica travel guide has been useful and fun!

One love! and happy travels!

Your Essential Travel Resources

JamVac

Thursday 13th of September 2018

This post is a gem. Your info is accurate so far ( I am at "Where to Stay"). I love to read the writings of those who are not Jamaicans as I can feel the love and passion for our country; somethings we natives usually take for granted.

Isabella Biava

Thursday 13th of September 2018

Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Yes, indeed we all tend to take for granted whatever is at an easy reach. :)

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