Read our pocket guide to Jamaica
Jamaica: A pocket guide
Jamaica is widely considered the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, and as laid-back as it gets. Blessed with azure waters, white-sand beaches, swaying palms, and majestic waterfalls, this reggae-pulsating island makes up for its small size with an abundance of personality.
Beach barbecues, rum shacks, sensational seafood—the island has all that and more. Now a popular tourist spot, it offers a truly indulgent island-life experience. Luxurious villas, available for rent, sit amid the lush botanical pandemonium from east to west, providing holiday homes for visiting groups of any size.
Ocho Rios, a bustling port on the north coast, is a popular resort, its bay beach lined with hotels. Traditionally a fishing village, it is as much a hive of activity today as it was when fishermen cast their nets. Along the shore, walking trails wind through the rainforest to reveal waterfalls plunging into deep lagoon pools. Cardiff Hall Public Beach, at the west end of Runaway Bay, has calm waters ideal for family visits. The town of Discovery Bay is on the north coast in Saint Ann Parish. Long a favorite holiday spot of Jamaica’s wealthiest families (who reside in vacation rentals in the hills), Discovery Bay is becoming a destination for foreign travelers as well. Also in Saint Ann Parish is Nine Mile Village, where reggae legend Bob Marley was born and where you can visit his tomb.
Head east and arrive at Port Antonio. Hollywood’s playground, this peaceful area was once owned by actor Errol Flynn and remains a popular destination among the rich and famous. Close to the spectacular Blue Mountains, Port Antonio is calming, charming, carefree, and home to some of the finest Caribbean cuisine.
A trip to Jamaica is not complete without a visit to Kingston. In Jamaica’s edgy capital, visitors can tour reggae legend Bob Marley’s former home and explore the city’s museums and historic sites. Here, days are filled with culture before the night gives way to lobster feasts and rum punch parties.
The west of the island is equally vibrant. Negril, famous for its uninterrupted stretch of shallow bay beaches, is popular with water sports enthusiasts; nights are punctuated by the dancehall beat that emanates from Negril’s many surfside clubs. In Montego Bay—the second largest city in Jamaica—elite golf courses back onto protected waters, home to the island’s coral reefs, where snorkeling and diving can be arranged.
Jamaica offers every bit of the effervescent island life you have imagined, from dreamy oceanfront villas to the singing of rainforest frogs, serenading the island and her beauty. It’s no wonder Jamaica has inspired some of the most iconic artists of our time.