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

Isabella Biava CARIBBEAN, JAMAICA 2 Comments

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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. I would like to  show you the best way to experience Jamaica, whether you are traveling for the first time or you have been there already. There is always something new to discover, 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 I have realized that there is so much for me still to discover as well.

I am happy to be able to offer you the best Jamaican vacation tips from an insider perspective.

If you don’t want to ready it through the guide, you can just check out the index here below and click on the title related to the information you need, so that you can get straight to the point!

Listen to this while reading, so that you will feel you are already there! one love!!

JAMAICAN FACTS

Jamaica was my first Caribbean love.

It holds a special place in my heart, which is why I kept procrastinating my writing. I am afraid that emotions will take over and won’t allow me to convey the real essence of the country, and the people, along with the feelings that wash over you if you travel there.

I remember the first time I have flown there. As I stepped out of the plain, without knowing anything ( I didn’t researched, I almost never do it) I thought: I am going to love this place. I wasn’t there for vacation I was on a  6 months work assignment which became 18. And you will know why as you will read on.

Jamaica

Port Antonio – Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

I believe it is one of the Caribbean islands with the strongest traditions and most deeply-rooted cultural identity, not only in the music heritage, which everybody recognizes, 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 impartial but this is how I feel. You will tell me what you think once you go there. 

What I am trying to do here is to put together everything I know about the island from hotels to lifestyle, food and practical information, starting from this very last point.

Hopefully it will be useful for your next trip to Jamaica or it will help you to make up your mind on where to travel.

A FEW  JAMAICAN FACTS

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 GOVERNAMENTConstitutional monarchy –  Jamaica became independent from the United Kingdom in 1962 but remains a member of the Commonwealth.

CAPITAL – Kingston

Jamaica

Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

POPULATION 2,731,000

TOTAL AREA (SQ MI)4,244,   10,991( SQ KM) (Third largest of the Caribbean, after Cuba and Hispaniola)

MONETARY UNIT – Jamaican Dollar  1US= 130 $JAM (Aprox)

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE – English

DIALECT – Patois ( 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)

CLIMATE: Never trust the whether 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. 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 in a sunny day you will see the entire island perimeter. I was there with rain, but it was an amazing hike anyway, through coffe’ plantation and the lush vegetation. Read on and I will tell you how to get there…

CULTURE & 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.

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.

Jamaica

Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

Food

Jamaica is a proud nation due to 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, 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 which requires a full article covering every aspect in more detail.

In this detailed guide, I am explaining all the delicious Jamaican dishes and the most interesting vegetable and fruits that you can find here.

Religion

While I was living there I kept hearing that Jamaica has more churches per square mile than anywhere else in the world. 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, that’s for sure. 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.

Jamaica

Blue Lagoon – Port Antonio – Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

Perhaps you are wondering about Rastafarianism and its place in Jamaican culture. Well, I am not an expert and certainly don’t want to appear so, but you can check out this very informative website, where I have actually verified the accuracy of my information.

It is common to think that all Jamaican are Rastafarian, but nothing is further from 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, reminiscent of the most famous Rastafarian, Bob Marley, whose reggae music gained the Jamaican movement international recognition.

Jamaica

Local Art – photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

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 believe in the Divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie I as  the influence of Jamaican culture and resistance of oppression and  pride in African heritage; all  beliefs with strong political convictions, deeply influenced by African traditions.

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

On this link ,you can also find a lot more information and suggested books as well on the topic.

Music

Reggae music is indeed part of Jamaican identity, culture, and its strongest landmarks, as is Bob Marley, the most popular performer. Although I am virtually unable to distinguish between opera and rock, so to speak, a few words on the topic are due, thus I will leave you with most useful links, where you can dig deeper into the history of reggae.

First of all, it is worth mention other names that Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, 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, some 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, example UB40 and 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 in the beginning of July. Click here  for the official site.

Here is the link of 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 artistes such as Sean Paul and Shaggy represents us well with a more contemporary style of Reggae. And my Italian pride, if not my knowledge, wants me to add among the best representatives of the modern reggae, Alborosie, an Italian reggae singer, song-writer 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 most strict purist of the reggae movement, becoming one among 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 :

World of Music

New World Encyclopedia

Suggested books

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 I would say winter, from January through may, when it should be dryer and cooler.

There is less risk of hurricane, actually zero to none chance of hurricanes. However you can still expect showers every now and then.

BEST THINGS TO BUY IN JAMAICA

There are several things you can buy in Jamaica, here below 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, cultivated and processed in the blue mountains surrounding Kingston, the Jamaican Capital. They also organize tours where you can hike and visit the plantations.
  • 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 visit to the YS fall, the black river and other interesting sites.

WHERE TO STAY

I will list my preferred hotels in a different post divided by city and by category luxury hotels , affordable hotels, villas.

Here is my guide on the best hotels in Negril.

I am preparing one for each destination, so kindly bear with me while I am writing it 😉

In the meantime, if you are in a rush and you wish to check availability you can check out this link or this other one.

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JAMAICAN RESTAURANTS

Here I am giving you a list of special places where I love to go eat.

Bear in mind that restaurants close relatively early in the night. consider that normally the kitchen closes at 9/9.30 pm, even if the restaurants stay open to hanging out and for drinks until 11 or so (generally speaking) .

If you wish to know more about Jamaican cuisine and local products check this article

NEGRIL JAMAICAN RESTAURANT

SWEET SPICE

The place is not fancy,  but cozy, although a bit cold if I remember well. The food is amazing, especially the conch stake or conch bits. and the natural juices.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

ZIMBALI RETREAT

It is a beautiful place in the middle of the jungle. It’s also a hotel where you can stay. in the beautifully decorated wooden cottages. The restaurant satisfies all kind of sophisticated palates, from meat eater to strict vegan. It’s definitely a place for foodies.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

Guide to Jamaican food - pure bliss - Boundless Roads

Jerck Chicken

DA FABIO

Fabio is an Italian guy, a friend, who has lived in Jamaica for 20 years now and managed to built his own beautiful places, on top of the hill overlooking Negril. Cooking is its biggest passion, after his newborn beautiful daughter. You need to make a reservation in order to go there as it’s not like a regular restaurant. Its specialty is lobster and lobster pasta but he has always many surprises. I would suggest you go before the sunset to enjoy the amazing view.

LITTLE OCHI

This is a new place that I haven’t been able to check out. The beach is called alligator pond. You will need to pass Negril downtown in the direction to Savanna la Mar. It’s a lovely beach with a great restaurant known for the best Jamaican style fish. The fish is fresh as it’s a fisherman village and it comes straight from them.

NEGRIL RESTAURANTS ON THE 7 MILES BEACH

STREET VENDORS

I loved to buy the jerk chicken from the vendors on the street. For me it is the best chicken. You can see them cooking in tanks cut in half and reversed on a sort of cart. You can choose between breast or leg and tights and it is served in an aluminum paper with a slice of bread and the jerk sauce on the side.

MISS SUNG

Its a little cabaña on the street by the beach 700 mt before getting to downtown on the right side. It offers delicious Vietnamese cuisine to eat there or take away and fresh natural juices.

Ackee and Saltfish – typical Jamaican dish

THE TREE HOUSE

This is the new restaurant within the hotel tree house. It offers great sushi beside the authentic Jamaican cuisine.  Its located right on the beach and open for breakfast lunch and dinner. Laid back and informal ambient.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

KUYABA

Lovely restaurant on the beach, Kuyaba is also a cute little hotel. It’s good both for lunch and dinner and offers great Jamaican and international dishes.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

THE SWEET SPOT

This is the real Jamaican place. It’s located on the beach road but on the opposite side of the road. It’s a very popular place among taxi drivers and locals who go there for a real Jamaican takeaway, but they have a lovely area where you can eat as well. The menu varies from jerk chicken to conch or goat, or fish.

Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor

JUICY J

It’s a yellow shack on the road opposite to the beach famous for the best patties of Negril. Fried and a little heavy if you are careful to your diet, but totally worth it.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

Guide to Jamaican food - pure bliss - Boundless Roads

Stewed meat with dumplings and Cassava

BOURBON BEACH

This is the place to be for night reggae concert, normally on Mondays but you will here a vendor walking all along the beach shouting whenever there is a concert in place. It’s the place of the Jerk chicken and pork. The best ever. served with festivals or fires. Top Jamaican jerk.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

KENNY’S PLACE

New kids on the block (relatively) this restaurant is not only a great place to eat any time during the day open from 8 am to 12 am or so. In the evenings it turns into a cool place to hang out with lounge music, comfortable sofa’ and lounges where to meet people and listen to good music.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

NIAH’S PATTIES

I Love this place. it’s a shack on the beach and they made the most delicious Jamaican Patties. You’ve got to try it if you are on the 7 miles beach.

Check out their reviews on Tripadvisor

ON THE CLIFF

THE ROCK HOUSE

The rock house has always been known as the posh place, and the most romantic place if you wish to impress someone takes them there. I used to go with my friends anyway and treat myself as well. The food is kind of Jamaican-international and is great but what you will love the most is the location. You will eat right on the cliff with a stunning view of the water lighted for the occasion. Sometimes sea turtles would show up for your amusement.

The rock house reviews on TripAdvisor

TENSING PEN

The restaurant of the hotel mentioned among my luxury experience hotel list, is as good as the place that owns it.  The ambient is quite cozy and romantic. Located on the cliff it offers a perfect setting for a tranquil and fancy night out.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

IVAN’S BAR AT CATCH A’ FALLING STAR

I have always heard amazing things about this restaurant and I never made it there.

You can check out their reviews on TripAdvisor. A lot of compliments.

LTU

Lovely laid back outdoor bar. Most people use to go there for a drink and a chat but it is also a great restaurant with its own specialty such as the papaya boat and the rasta pasta, among my favorites.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

PUSHCART

This beautiful terrace on the water it’s another great option for your dinner out on the west end. A laid-back atmosphere with Jamaican and international cuisine.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

CIAO JAMAICA

The restaurant is lovely with beautiful pictures hanging on the walls and although it’s not right on the water, you still have a cozy, west-end Jamaican feeling. The cuisine offers a huge variety of dishes a blend between Jamaica and Italian. Definitely to try.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

MONTEGO BAY RESTAURANTS

SCOTCHIES

Scotchies is THE jerk place, I would say officially or at least it has gained its fame for the best jerk in town. They have actually opened a second restaurant in Ocho Rios and will open one in Negril. It’s really a special place and you cannot leave Jamaica without having tried this experience. Be it chicken, pork or fish, served with festival, breadfruit or fries. Also, the soup is a delish (very spicy).

The place is very laid back, self-service style and you can sit in the benches under the palapas.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

THE PELICAN

Honestly, I have never been there. It’s the posh restaurant in Montego Bay. Been there for ages and still holds tight to its reputation. The place where you would bring somebody that you want to impress ( except me though 🙂

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

THE HOUSEBOAT

I have never been here but I know it’s among the best in Montego Bay, literally on a boat. A great experience.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

PIER ONE

This is also a place where people hang out and party in the weekend but also a great restaurant on a pier, right on the sea.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

RESTAURANTS IN OCHO RIOS

SCOTCHIES

After the huge success in Montego Bay they have opened another restaurant in Ocho Rios, a few km before the town on the right-hand side of the main road. You can’t miss it. Same delicious food, same concept.

Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor

TOSCANINI

Toscanini is one famous posh restaurant, but I have never been there. It’s Italian run by Italian and if it is popular they must be doing something good 🙂

Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor

EVITA

Another Italian abroad, what can I say. She’s been there for ages and the food is really great, adapted to the local and international cuisine. What I love the most is the warm welcoming atmosphere and the funky style of the place.

Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor

MISS T’s

I missed this one but I was informed it is a very popular local place, with delicious Jamaican food.

Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor

RESTAURANTS IN PORT ANTONIO

I need to tell you that all these places I am mentioning I haven’t been, but I have asked local friends to live or used to live there in Port Antonio, just so you know the references are authentic 🙂

ANNA BANANA

This is an icon in Port Antonio, been there for ages to serve locals and Tourists. Authentic Jamaican cuisine in a Jamaican place. On the way downtown town. The real stuff.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

WILKES

One of the most praised for the great service and authenticity

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

WOODY’S

Lovely Jamaican wooden house offers burgers of a different kind except for meat. A good place for lunch on the road.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

THE ITALIAN JOB

A delicious historical Italian restaurant popular for pizza and other Italian dishes. They say it is one of the best Italian in Jamaica.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

PIZZA CORNER

Another Italian in Port Antonio who opened a pizza place on the go… or you can sit at the tables outside. It’s located in downtown.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

CYNTHIA

Located in Winifred beach, it’s a cool Jamaican place to have lunch if you are on the beach or close by. Vegetarian Restaurant

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

THE JERK CENTRE

This is the place to go for your dose of Jerk be it chicken or pork or sausages and lots of natural juices.  Located by Boston bay beach, this is a series of stalls where you can purchase your food to go and eat it either on the tables and benches right there or take it away with you. You can’t miss it as you can see it from the road.

Check out their review on TripAdvisor

LIKKLE PORTY

A very local shack, right in front of the Somerset falls before getting to Port Antonio, where you get chose fresh fish and they cook it right in front of you. A real authentic place.

If you wish to know more about Jamaican cuisine and local products check this article

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA

After a long year of hard work and stressful business meetings, the only thing you want to hear is the sound of the waves crashing on a white-sand beach, while you feel the heat of the sun on your skin. Sipping your colorful cocktail the only thing you plan to have on your mind is the message you are going to take in an hour…

If this is what you are looking for, stop reading this article immediately!

Read this instead:

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

If, however, you love to explore and live like a local, understand Jamaican culture and lifestyle, then you will love what follows.

First and foremost, I will never get tired of telling you that you should rent a car and go off on your own. Jamaica is no different.  

On the contrary, you will be fascinated by the kindness of the people who are willing to help you and give you directions (when they know). I loved to drive around and through the lush vegetation, especially on the north-east or west coast. Basically, everywhere. I used to do that all the time when I lived there, as soon as I had some time off from work. 

Jamaica

Reach Falls – Port Antonio – photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

However, if you don’t feel comfortable this is understandable and is why there are multiple tours for you to join, or alternatively tailor-made ones which can be organized for you. 

In Jamaica, there are plenty of excursions you can do from anywhere you are. It’s a relatively small country and since they improved the thoroughfare, it’s even easier to get from one end to the other, discovering the natural beauties and culture of Jamaica.

Below is a list of places to visit and tours.The list is divided into 4 main areas, based on the main cities:

THINGS TO DO IN NEGRIL

Negril is a quaint laid-back town, with a good variety of hotel choice, of which I wrote a fully comprehensive guide here. 

Among the best things to do in Negril is basking on the spectacular 7 miles beach or have long relaxing walks by the sea.   

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

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

Jamaica

Sunset – West End Negril

The beach is interrupted in the downtown area where the coast makes a turn and heads off to what is termed as 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.

Jamaica

Negril 7 miles beach

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.

Here some tips on the best things to do in Negril, Jamaica

#1 RICKS CAFE’ and Shopping (TOUR and how to get there on your own) 

Rick’s cafe is the world famous cafe’ which actually doesn’t sell any kind of coffee at all but drinks and a delicious international restaurant on the terrace.

Located on the west coast of Negril, on the cliff part, it’s a world-famous Jamaican hot sport 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. 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 painting to wooden sculptures.

For those who are coming from Montegobay, the tour is a full day tour and 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) 

#2 WALK IN THE MAYFIELD FALLS

This is a heavenly 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 beautiful waterfall-shaped river that forms natural Jacuzzis 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.

It is not located in Negril, but it is the closest resort, at about 1-hour drive. You can ask the tour desk at your hotel to book a tour if you don’t want to drive on your own, or you can just hire a taxi. Remember to agree on the price before. They should normally have fixed prices hanging at the reception of your hotel. 

THINGS TO DO IN OCHO RIOS 

Ocho Rios became famous for the 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.

Here some places of interests and tours

#1) BOB MARLEY & DUNN’S RIVER  

If you are a fan of Bob Marley and reggae music you will need to take this tour and go where he has lived for part of his life which is now one of the most visited among the Jamaican points of interest. The tour is very demanded and a little commercialized. Once you get there a small town called 9 miles, you will see a shop with Bob Marley brands and things like that but you know at least that it is authentic and it will support the local community. You will see his house which has now become a sort of museum and a local guide will take you around.  

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Dunn’s River Waterfalls

Then the tour will take you to the famous Dunn’s river falls – the famous waterfall locate in Ocho Rios, that you climb up the natural steps that form several small lagoons scattered around the water flows. It is not only a natural show but also a historical place since it is right there, where the Battle of Las Chorreras took place in 1657 when the British defeated a Spanish expeditionary force from Cuba. A plaque placed at the bottom of the falls by the Jamaican Historical Society commemorates the event.

You will have your lunch in a suggestive restaurant nearby and you will go back to your hotel.

Distance:

From Negril to Ocho Rios – 170km 

From Montego Bay to Ocho Rios -100km

From Kingston to Ocho Rios – 85 km 

If you are a fan of Bob Marley, you will find the following tours very interesting:

Jamaica Full-Day Tour: In the Footsteps of Bob Marley

Dunn’s River Falls, 9 Mile & Luminous Lagoon Day Trip

Legends & Falls – Bob Marley with Dunn’s River Falls & Lunch

#2 BLUE HOLE WATERFALLS

I could not believe that I never knew about this place when I was living there!!! My bad. But now that I know I can’t wait to go back and check it out personally. It is located close to Ocho Rios, in the countryside. One of the beautiful no-more-hidden treasure of Jamaica. Oasis of pristine water in the middle of the Jungle. I would definitely go and spend a half day there either by taxi or renting a car.

If you wish to join a tour, here is an option for you.

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Blue Hole Waterfall

For other tours from Ocho Rios click here.

THINGS TO DO IN MONTEGO BAY 

Friendly called “Montego”, 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 built 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 it also takes place the most important Reggae festival in the world, the Summerfest, normally at the beginning of July.

Here is what you can do in or close to the city.

LUMINOUS LAGOON (tour and how to go on your own)

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 suggest you should take the organized tour or if you wish to go on your own, you should contact the local tour company for reservations to make sure they have space. 

ROSE HALL GREAT HOUSE

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 if it seems to come from a fictional creation.  Truth is that funny stuff happens in that house… I was told. best thing to do is go yourself and check it out. 

RAFTING ON THE MARTHA BRAE RIVER

THINGS TO DO IN JAMAICA

Marta Brae River

Situated at 20 miles from Montegobay and 40 from Ocho Rios, 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 history and Martha Brae interesting legend.

Click here to book the tour.

Other tours from Montego Bay:

Jamaica YS Falls and Black River Safari tour

Jamaica: South Coast Safari with Rum, Crocodiles & YS Falls

Negril 6-Hour Sunset Tour from Montego Bay Resorts

Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls & City of Ocho Rios Day Tour

Montego Bay: Bob Marley Tour to 9 Mile, St. Ann

THINGS TO DO ON THE SOUTH COAST, JAMAICA

It’s not that there is a particular 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 in 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

@ Jakes in Treasure Beach

The other gem of the south coast 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.

BLACK RIVER AND YS FALLS

You will explore the south coast of beautiful Jamaica, including a boat tour on the black river, where a knowledgeable local guide will tell you about the flora and fauna that you will encounter along the way, including alligators and herons among others bird spices. 

You will then cross the countryside through the picturesque bamboo avenue and reach the YS falls, less known but very entertaining as you can jump in the terraced natural waterfalls from a cord hanging from a tree. If it hadn’t rained in the days before you will enjoy the crystal clear water.

This is another full day in the Jamaica culture and natural beauties. 

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Black river – Jamaica

BLUEFIELDS

A beautiful protected area in the blue Caribbean sea, where you can snorkeling and admire the underwater population. See the video I have posted at the bottom of this chapter.

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Y.S. Falls – Jamaica

THINGS TO DO IN 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. My favorite thing to do in Kingston is to hike in the Blue Mountains, stopping off at one of the Blue Mountain coffee plantations, and also the amazing Strawberry Hill resort, Sundays brunch are a fancy must. 

You can also find organized walking tours around the most important historical places in the city, not to mention lots of great places to eat and hang out.

Here some tours’ suggestions:

Blue mountains Hikes and views

Take a winding uphill drive in the Blue mountains through a military parade ground and barracks to a picturesque nature park with walking trails and amazing views. See waterfalls, indigenous birds and fauna in the early morning dew of a cloud forest.

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. See Fort Charles, the Giddy House and more.

Kingston city and Blue mountain tour

This is quite a complete tour that will take you to discover Jamaica’s heritage, a coffee tour in the Blue Mountains, have lunch at Café El Centro, and visit the Bob Marley Museum, the Devon House Mansions, and the Décor VIII Jamaican Art Gallery.

THINGS TO DO IN PORT ANTONIO

Port Antonio is located in Portland, which is my favorite region, being more genuine and authentic, not yet consumed by huge hotels and mass tourism. This little town in the north-east 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 which 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.

Jamaica

Port Antonio Monkey island- Photo courtesy  of Barbara Ripamonti

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 posts that will make you fall in love. 

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: 

  • 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, 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.

 “Reach Falls” 

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Frenchman’s cove

A series of small waterfalls forming a long 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. 

Somerset 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. I hope they will open soon so that you can enjoy it too.

Blue Lagoon 

Jamaica

Blue Lagoon – Port Antonio – Photo courtesy Barbara Ripamonti

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

Frenchman’s Cove  

Frenchman’s Cove – Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

This bay is actually located in 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.

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.  

Jamaica

Winnifred Beach – Photo courtesy  of Barbara Ripamonti

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. 

San San Beach

Jamaica

San Beach – photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

Another amazing corner of Port Antonio – a beautiful beach

Long bay beach

Jamaica

Long Bay Beach – Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

And the last but not least Long bay beach, the longest stretch of beach in Port Antonio wherein “good ” weather, meaning when there is the right swell you will see surfers dancing on the water.

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.

Things to do in Jamaica - Boundless Roads

Reach Falls – Port Antonio

AROUND JAMAICA

JAMAICAN DISCOVERY ( 2 days tour)

I will never get tired to tell you to rent a car and discover Jamaica, you can really see a lot, exploring the natural beauties and the local life. However, I understand that driving on the other side of the road, in a place that is not familiar to you it can become uncomfortable. Therefore my friends in Jamaica have put together an amazing tour for you to discover the highlights of the island.

It starts from Ocho Rios, where you will experience the Dunn’s River falls ( see above). Right after lunch, you will leave the city to reach Port Antonio, the quaint vibrant city where you will stay for the night.

Jamaica

Reach falls Port Antonio – Photo courtesy of Barbara Ripamonti

The following day is dedicated to exploring the beauties of Portland ( the name of the region ) among which the famous Blue Lagoon (of the same famous movie) and Frenchman’s Cove, a beautiful bay surrounded by thick vegetation, location as well of many different movies. After lunch on the beach, you will be taken to visit the characteristic restaurant.

On the way back you will be driven through the north coast with many stops in the most typical places.

You will cover a lot in two days and your guide will be with you all the time with a lot of great stories on the reggae island.

FULL  TOUR OF JAMAICA – TAILOR-MADE

We can also do tailor-made tours according to your preferences. Send us an email and we will get back to you to the soonest.

 

Bluefields

HOW TO GET THERE AND MOVE AROUND

HOW TO GET TO JAMAICA

All the major airlines fly from the most important hubs from the USA, like Atlanta, Charlotte, Huston, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, 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 from the major capitals, through scheduled airlines or Charter companies.

The majority of tourism arrives to 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.

You can check out this consolidator site to compare fares from your city.

TRANSPORTATION FROM & TO THE AIRPORT

If you buy a package (which you can do here) you can normally include transportation to your hotel. Otherwise, you can always approach one of the tour operator 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.

Transfer to and from MontegoBay airport and any of the Montego Bay hotels

Transfer from Montego Bay airport to Negril (one way)

Private transfer from Montego Bay airport to Ocho Rios (one way- 1 to 4 persons)

HOW TO MOVE AROUND

BY CAR

For those who know me, you already knew that I would have suggested to rent a car from day one and be able to move around freely. I used Island car rental and always find an amazing service. Otherwise you can check here on this link and see what’s the best option available.

BY BUS

After I left Jamaica they have 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.

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 the 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 in the what-to-do section for our available tours so you will be able to enjoy your visit not to worry about anything. After all the Jamaican motto is

“no worries about a thing. Every little thing is going to be all right” as Bob Marley was singing.

Jamaicans say…

I loved talking to Jamaicans because of their accent and certain expression that they have. They crack me up. They talk with such an emphasis and passion whatever they saying and they are straight forward. Whatever they think, they give it a voice. 
 
One time I met up with a friend, and as she looked at me she shouted out:
 
“Wha’hm to you? How come you got so fat gal!?”

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing instead of getting offended.

Besides it was true I had put on some weight in those days. They are just genuine and simple. So here I have put together some words and expressions of common use that will help you to get by during your vacation. Of course, there are much much more and if you know some please feel free to let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to add them.

Jamaican greeting phrases in Patois

Wahgwaan? = How are you?

Me Deh Yah = I ‘m here .. I am ok

Wha’m to you = literally is  “what happen to you” but it is also used as “how are you”

Irie=  Everything ok

Bless = Like blessings but used much more frequently when you say goodbye or hi.

One love = same use as blessings

Respect = it’s used after a conversation to confirm or agree with something or just as a sign of respect or goodwill towards somebody.

Me gaan= Literally ” I am gone” meaning, I am going, Off I go.

Weh yuh a deal with ? or Weh yuh up to? What are you doing, what are you up to.

Other funny things Jamaicans say 

Me feel away = I feel weird

Me rate you = I respect you

Bomboclat –  You don’t have to use this, just know what it means in case you hear it and you will, I assure you 😉 . It’s an insulting exclamation, very much used instead of f**k – It’s not necessarily used towards somebody, but just to express a big surprise or disappointment towards an event as well. 

Pickney = kid

Gyal = girl

Them a bawl too much = they are crying to much!

A weh yuh a seh? = Really? is that so?

Small up yuhself = Make room

No sa! = No

Proverbs

Rain a fall breeze a blow chicken batty out-a-door

One coco full basket = a coconut at a time you fill up the basket

Nuh hide yuh tick a lick a man= Do not hide your stick and hit someone. (Be honest from the beginning when dealing with someone)

If you wish to know more I have found this amazing site with a complete guide to Jamaican sayings.

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I’ll leave you with one of my favourites 

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JamVac
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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.