Runaway Bay: A pocket guide

Yellow-billed night heron, Jamaica
Yellow-billed night heron, Jamaica

Runaway Bay on Jamaica’s northern coast is close to some of the island’s most famous beaches. Although cultural activities are limited here, seekers of sun, sand, and snorkeling will be in their element. Thanks to a history of pirate takeovers, revolutions, and rumrunners, the shoreline is dotted with shipwrecks, the perfect place to explore the exotic marine life.

Cardiff Hall Public Beach, at the west end of Runaway Bay, has calm waters ideal for family visits. And thanks to an influx of Hollywood glamour in the 1960s, there’s now a private 18-hole golf course at the vast Cardiff Hall Estate. The beach is one of the quieter ones on the island (the nearby megaresorts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are more crowded). Jamaican specialties are served in the nearby restaurants and cafés for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so once you’re settled into your sun lounger there really is little reason to leave.

The Cool Blue Hole, in Columbus Park, is a turquoise lagoon of mineral waters where you can swing like Tarzan from a rock outcrop into the cooling waters or dive under and swim through the caves; a short five-minute hike through the forest brings you to Secret Falls. Another option: cycling in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica’s longest mountain range and home to its highest peak. Although 12 miles long, a cycle tour is a relaxing way to take in the views and explore the natural beauty of the area. Tours include a drive to the mountains, breakfast, lunch, and guided tour, finishing with a swim in the Blue Mountains’ lagoon.

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