Things to do in Jamaica
Jamaica is much more than it is painted to be It’s a large and diverse island with so much going on. As well as the tried and trusted staples, step off the beaten track and you will end up in green, lush Port Antonio or head south to Treasure Beach, a world away where time slows!
Best things to do and see
SHOPPING AND DINING
When eating out make sure you try the national dish Ackee and Saltfish (salted cod) and the goat curry. Jamaican-style ginger beer is really worth tasting, it is rich and spicy with a surprising ‘ginger snap’. It’s nowhere near as ferocious as the Scotch bonnet chillies often used in Jamaican cuisine – these really are hot stuff!
Discover the origins of “Jerk”, a way of preserving meat, in Boston, in the parish of Portland. A day trip to find the first “jerk pit” where the dish was invented and taste the delicious jerk pork and chicken is definitely worthwhile, just watch out for the scotch bonnet peppers used in the rub!
There are numerous shopping malls, centres and villages can be found along the north coast, here you can buy anything from high priced jewellery to arts and crafts. You will also find numerous stalls and mobile carts on the road side selling an variety of tasty local treats from fruits to steamed nuts – listen out for the whistle, a tell-tale sound of the steamed nut cart!
Ricks café in Negril is now a Bucket List item. Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sea it is famous for having some of the best sunsets in the world. It is also renowned for the jaw-dropping sight of people diving and jumping off the cliffs – the highest around 35 feet – into the clear blue sea below. Visit in the evening to enjoy the breath-taking sunset, a cold beer and live music – the perfect Jamaican vibe.
CULTURE AND HISTORY
The roots of reggae music are in Jamaica and they run deep. It began in the 1960’s influenced by earlier music “ska” and developed over time into many strands of reggae such as “rocksteady” “dub” and “dancehall”.
Rastafarianism is a religion, a culture and a way of life developed in Jamaica. It is fascinating to listen to an elder Rastaman talk about his way of life, what he eats drinks and smokes and why! Walk with him through his farm and he will explain the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the plants he is cultivating.
Infamous Port Royal was the centre of trade and commerce in the region in the latter half of the 17th century, the plans for the city of Atlanta were drafted here! It was city of wealthy traders and pirates!
WATER AND SPORTS
Perhaps one of the best areas in Jamaica to snorkel is Negril with its cliffs and underwater caves but there are many other opportunities around the island to snorkel. Diving is possible for people of all levels of experience and you will find incredible sea life, rocks, reefs and wrecks.
Rafting on the Rio Grande near Port Antonio at Berrydale is a great way to see the spectacular local scenery. Or you can go rafting from Martha Brae village near Falmouth. To make it a day to remember you can arrange to have a meal cooked for you on the banks of the river.
Deep sea fishing trips can be organised from many of the north coast hotels. The Montego Bay Yacht Club also has information on how to charter boats to catch marlin, tuna and dolphin fish.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Black River is the oldest town in Jamaica but most visitors are oblivious to the town’s illustrious history and simply head straight for the River which is teeming with wildlife, most notably in the form of Jamaican crocodiles!
Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios are a spectacular sight, truly one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
Jamaica has many botanical gardens that showcase the island’s striking plants and celebrate its rich horticultural heritage. Royal Botanical Gardens and Cinchona Botanical Gardens in St. Andrew; Hope Zoo in Kingston; Castleton Gardens in St. Mary; and Ahhh Ras Natango Gallery & Garden in Montego Bay are all fine examples of nature on full display.
Montego Bay’s hip strip has so much going on, it’s easy to miss this hidden gem on Gloucester Avenue. Look out for the S Hotel. It’s a nice hotel but it’s not the hotel we want to bring to your attention. Head up to the 5th floor, there you will find the sky bar, be there at 5.30pm, order your favourite drink sit back and enjoy!
The bar has an easterly aspect and at 6pm, the sun goes down, unless it’s overcast, you are guaranteed a picture postcard sunset.
Events and holidays
New Years Day – New Year holiday
Mid Jan – Rebel Salute in St Elizabeth
6 Feb – Bob Marley day
Mar – Fun in the Sun Gospel festival in Ocho Rios
Carnival – Lots of parades and dancing around the island at Easter
Easter – Ash Weds, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday.
Easter Monday – Trelawny Yam Festival, Albert Town, Trelawny
23 May – Labour Day
End of May – Calabash Literary Festival on Treasure Beach
July – Reggae Sumfest, huge reggae festival
November – Jamaica Film and Music Festival
1 August – Emancipation Day
6 August – Independence Day Montego Bay
3rd Monday in October – National Heroes Day
December – East Fest, reggae show in St Thomas
25-26 Dec – Christmas Holidays
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