The 7 Best Recommended Attractions and Activities in the Island of Jamaica
Updated: May 10
Online travel website Tripadvisor.com named Jamaica to the 14th position in its ranking of the Top 25 destinations in the world for 2020. The island was cited for its mix of relaxation and adventure activities available to tourists, noting the prime hiking and bird watching offered in its forests and its reggae and dancehall music venues in Kingston; historical heritage sites in Trelawny; shopping and snorkeling availability in Montego Bay; and the luxurious spas of Ocho Rios.
Tripadvisor gave Jamaica the Number One spot on its ranking of the Top 10 destinations in the Caribbean, making special mention of Seven Mile Beach, Negril Cliffs, and Mayfield Falls.
Here are 7 recommended attractions and activities to lure you to the exciting Island of Jamaica...
1. The Beaches
The culture of Jamaica has a way of drawing you in and inspiring your curiosity. This Caribbean island is known for its friendly people, warm climate, and in particular, its amazing beaches. Sun, sand and sea are the perfect combination. Jamaica is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see. The island’s unique geography has created some of the world’s most sought-after beaches
Who would not go to the beach if they visited Jamaica? Nothing spells relaxation more than a day well spent on Jamaica's sandy beaches enjoying our beautiful waters and shaded, breezy areas provided by our palm trees. Some of the best are located in big resort communities like Montego Bay and Negril. You can however find great sand, surf, and seaside bars in more overlooked destinations like Port Antonio and Treasure Beach.
The world-famous Frenchman’s Cove is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve played in and I invite visitors to see for themselves.
2. The Scenery
Jamaica is blessed with a gorgeous landscape — the kind of scenery that brings you peace, serenity and joy. Known as the "birthplace of reggae," we offer travelers a treasure trove of natural jewels and a colorful African vibe. Golden beaches; lush, green mountains; turquoise seas; coral reefs; rainforests; and rivers are just some of the island's enviable assets.
If you love to experience nature, you will be delighted with the new experiences and adventures to take in while visiting Jamaica. Known for their exotic wildlife, the area bird species and flora will astound you. Cameras can help you retain the memories, but seeing the wildlife for yourself is irreplaceable. Jamaica is also renowned for its many historic plantations, where you can sample tropical fruits and tour the grand great houses.
If you decide to participate in snorkeling or scuba diving, the sea life will expand your horizons even further! Swim with dolphins, admire the aquatic plants, and be awash with enchanting sea creatures.
Lively Montego Bay is one of the most popular resort towns. Ocho Rios is the island's major port of call for cruise ships, and Negril is famous for its long and lazy beach lined with clear waters and coconut palms. Ecotourists love peaceful Port Antonio, thanks to its proximity to the spectacular Blue Mountains.
In Kingston, Jamaica's edgy capital, you can tour reggae legend Bob Marley's former home and explore the city's museums and historic sites.
The best way to start and end any day is to watch the picture the sun paints as it rises and sets over the mountainous terrain of Jamaica. It's absolutely beautiful! Finding the perfect spot to watch beautiful sunsets in Jamaica is easy and can create one of your most magical memories while on your vacation. As you meditate on an awesome Jamaica sunset your soul is renewed and you will never forget this island paradise.
3. The Blue and Johncrow Mountains
The Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning about 200,000 acres of tropical rain-forest. Located on the Eastern side of Jamaica, the area stretches through the mountain slopes of four parishes – St. Andrew, Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary.
The Blue Mountains is considered both a hiker’s and a camper’s paradise because of its’ exceptionally magnificent scenery and tons of fun-filled activities available. It is the longest mountain range, whose summit; Blue Mountain Peak, forms the highest point on the island at 7402 feet or 2256 meters.
It is a must-visit site for those planning to go for a vacation in Jamaica as there is a lot to be explored. These mountains are home to more than 800 species of endemic plants, the world’s second largest butterfly and 200 species of resident and migrant birds.
Also, it is home to the aromatic Blue Mountain Coffee. Notable sceneries in the mountain ranges include natural springs and waterfalls with excellent swimming spots. You can also get a chance to visit the Rastafarian village, Maroon heritage sites, and wind up your evening by dining at the ultra luxe resorts. Essentially, there is something for everyone. All you have to do is to select the activities which tickle your fancy.
Depending on how deep you intend to explore, you can choose to hike or bike to get a first-hand feel of nature at its best. Nonetheless, there are also some wild tracks for those who may opt to have a road trip. If you are in favor of the latter, you should consider a Blue Mountain day tour from Kingston.
Jamaica has a proud and astounding culture, embracing the land and the lifestyles we lead. One of the greatest aspects of Jamaica’s culture is the friendly and welcoming nature of Jamaicans. Once when I was staying at a hotel, a visiting US DJ was live on the radio through his home station and he said, “When Jamaicans greet you with warmth, it’s not because they want something from you as they are a truly friendly and warm people.”
Culture is the way of life of a people and includes, customs, practices, beliefs, superstitions, and food. All this lead people to act, think and behave differently from people in other cultures. The Jamaican culture is expressed through local stories, songs, dances, the use of herbs, and bush medicine, local beliefs, the preparation of indigenous foods and through religious practices.
Jamaicans perform folk songs and dance during festivals and independence celebrations. During celebrations it is customary to wear our national costumes, which is called the Bandana.
Jamaica’s folk culture began mainly in the rural and mountainous villages. The main contributors to Jamaican culture are the groups of people who made Jamaica their home.
These are the African, the English, the Spaniards, and the Indians.
5. Jamaican Music
Jamaican music is world famous, not only for making you want to sing along and shake your hips, but also for being a powerful tool for ‘change.’ Reggae emerged in the late 1960s out of Jamaica's ska and rocksteady styles, also drawing influence from American jazz and blues. It quickly became popular in the United States as well as in Britain, where many Jamaican immigrants had moved in the post-WWII years. The style is often championed as a music of the oppressed, with lyrics addressing sociopolitical issues, imprisonment and inequality.
Reggae also became associated with Rastafarianism, which deified the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and promoted the sacramental use of ganja, or marijuana. The 1968 single "Do the Reggay" by Toots and the Maytals was the first popular song to use the name. Marley and his group the Wailers then soared to fame on classic hits such as "No Woman, No Cry" and "Stir It Up."
Peter Tosh, a core member of the Wailers, established a successful solo career with hits including "Legalize It," while Desmond Dekker also enjoyed international success with the song "Israelites." Toots and the Maytals rose to prominence with "Pressure Drop" and Jimmy Cliff became an international sensation with "The Harder They Come," also the title of a 1972 movie he starred in.
The reggae sound, with its heavy bass lines and drums, has influenced countless artists and inspired many genres including reggaeton, dub, and dancehall. The steady beats and smooth grooves have also proven key to hip-hop: Sister Nancy’s anthem “Bam Bam,” for example, has been heavily sampled by superstars like Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, Chris Brown and Jay-Z.
Jamaican Cuisine is so delicious. Every meal in Jamaica will have you sucking on your fingers and wanting more. If you ever visit Jamaica, eat all the food you can. Trust me, you won't regret it. From beef patties to jerk chicken, it's all good.
Jamaica is well known for its exotic and locally-sourced meals. Fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and even eggs are all typically grown and sourced by the regional farmers in Jamaica.
One of the first things to try is the jerk-seasoned dishes, one of the most well known cuisines. Usually served on chicken or pork, jerk and curry seasoning pack a delicious punch! Some consider it the second-national dish of Jamaica.
The true national dish is ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a locally-grown fruit sautéed and served with onions, peppers, tomatoes and salt cod. Seafood is caught daily by the Jamaican fisherman, presenting you the freshest cuisine possible.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Jamaica, and shopping is one of them. The Land of Wood and Water is known for its unique culture that can be found nowhere else. From the world-renowned Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee® to the interesting wood carvings, Jamaicans take pride in blessing the world with items that represent their culture. Here, you can find some of the finest products to remind you of your visit to this Caribbean island:
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee® is the world’s best and one of the most expensive in the world. Its richness and lack of bitterness makes it a commodity that attract people to the island. Although "world's best" is subjective, its unique flavor, strict industry regulations, and small amount produced yearly means a flavorful cup of coffee.
Wood carvings in Jamaica are some of the most exquisite, creative, and detailed art and craft items sold on the island. Jamaica is home to many talented and ingenious artisans, so it’s no wonder the most popular Jamaican souvenirs are wood carvings.
J Wray and Nephew is a renowned overproof rum produced in Kingston, Jamaica weighing in at 126 proof (63% alcohol content). Wray and Nephew, as it's known behind bars, is not only a very popular spirit in Jamaica, but is also the top-selling high-strength rum in the world.
Jamaica is home to some of the best oil painters in the Caribbean. The island is known for its beautiful weather, fantastic cuisine, rich culture and influential icons. It has a large number of painters and sculptors, working in a wide variety of styles.
Jamaican cuisine is an adventure for the taste buds due to the mixture of potent herbs and spices used in the food preparation process. The combination of seasoning that brings out the unique flavour is what so many enjoy about Jamaican food.
The pandemic has profoundly impacted the world of tourism. However, Jamaica is working to support the heart of its economy while providing aid to its people amid the global crisis. By reopening its tourism services despite the health risks, the island is welcoming visitors back before too many businesses begin to struggle. Through its new regulations and checks, the government is ensuring that tourism in Jamaica remains a safe and thriving business for both tourists and locals.
A new tourism development is a planned arrangement to implement a multi-destination tourism framework and agreement to bolster arrivals. Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Cuba are key players in the discussions. They are hoping to finalize this agreement, the first of its kind, to commence by the start of the 2022/2023 Winter Season. This follows years of ongoing discussions between countries in the region to develop multi-destination tourism, in order to fuel growth within the sector.
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If you liked this story, join our email list to have the blog delivered to your inbox weekly. Jacqueline Cameron is an editor/writer with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.