Travel Jamaica | Jamaica Vacations, Reggae, JerkNavigation
The beauty of Jamaica, West Indies, is in the details – her warm and welcoming people, her spectacular scenery, her delicious food, and the small everyday things. Get out there! Broaden your horizons! Experience the REAL Jamaica! Absorb the culture, savor the spirit, and get to know some out-of-the-way special people & places in this beautiful jewel of the Caribbean.
Known as one of Jamaica’s most beautiful natural waterfalls, cascades tumble over limestone from one pool to another. A 1/2 mile hike upriver leads to Mandingo Cave, which has a whirlpool and is worth the hike. The well paved road starts in Hector's River, Portland & is a spectacular 1-mile drive along the valley of the Driver's River into the foothills of the John Crow Mountains.
Jamaica has a rich history. First inhabited by Taino & Arawak Indians, then discovered & ruled by the Spanish (1494-1655), and taken by the British (1655-1962), it's a gold mine for history & architecture buffs. See Spanish Town, the original capital, Georgian beauties in Falmouth, plantation great houses islandwide & more churches per square mile than anywhere in the world!
The Blue Mountains are the site of Jamaica's first National Park. The range covers three parishes: St. Andrew, St. Thomas and Portland. Don’t miss a rewarding drive and visit to a farm growing the famous Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans. This is a hiker's paradise and a nature-lover's dream. Visit Holywell for spectacular views of Kingston, bird-watching & camping.
Believed to be the crater of an extinct volcano, the Blue Lagoon is over 180 feet deep and is a popular haunt for divers. “Blue Hole” (the local name) is one of the most scenic spots in Jamaica. Its blue and green hued water is kept cool by hundreds of tiny, underground mineral springs. The best way to access the Lagoon is by boat so you can see all the fabulous surrounding villas.
Probably the biggest fast-food industry in Jamaica, you literally cannot go anywhere in Jamaica, at any time of the day or night, without encountering a jerk stand! Jamaicans and visitors alike never get tired of jerk – whether it’s chicken, pork, fish, goat, beef, sausage or even vegetables, lobster or shrimp. Until you try real Jamaican jerk, you haven’t tasted Jamaica.
Most Jamaicans live in the country. To me, this is where the real spirit of the island is. Natural beauty is all around - rivers, hills, mountains - and lush fields of yam, callaloo and cassava. Get out there & enjoy the serenity (go slow; most roads are pot-holed). Have a Red Stripe or a bite to eat at a local bar or cookshop & introduce yourself. You'll be glad you did.
As the pirate & trading capitol of the New World, Port Royal was "The wickedest city in Christendom." The notorious pirate Henry Morgan spent lots of time here with the hustling prostitutes & flowing rum. Blackbeard stopped in on his Caribbean trips. Most of the old city sank in a violent earthquake in 1692. Fort Charles still stands & the silent cannons still keep watch.
Stop "pon di road" for the freshest fruits and vegetables. Treat yourself to a cold "jelly" (coconut water), which they'll open for you with a machete. You may know the pineapple, papaya, coconuts, bananas, plantains and delicious West Indian mangoes, but what about these - soursop, june plum, ackee, jackfruit, naseberry and uglifruit? Be adventurous!
Farmers used to transport their bananas & crops downriver by raft to coastal port markets. Now you can enjoy the cooler, more serene countryside on a bamboo raft trip down one of Jamaica's many inland rivers. First popularized by Errol Flynn on the Rio Grande (near Port Antonio), you can also enjoy a trip on the Martha Brae (near Falmouth) & the White River (near Ocho Rios).
Pimento (you probably know it as Allspice) is one of the most important ingredients in Jamaican cuisine. Pimento wood, leaves and berries are the main components of jerk and jerk seasoning, and pimento is used in many ways in Island cooking – meats, vegetables, sauces, pickling, and even dessert. All but a tiny percentage of the world's pimento is grown in Jamaica!
Jamaican art dates back to indigenous Taino Indians who created carvings of their gods, for ritual spiritual purposes. There's an abundance of wood carvings - simple, elaborate & often irreverent - as well as gallery and street art and crafts, reflecting Jamaica's culture and her people. Colorful street art is a powerful symbol of pride in every community.
The Bath Mineral Springs in St. Thomas (known locally as Bath Fountain) were discovered by a runaway slave in the 1690s. The therapeutic mineral-laden waters flow from the rocks. Soak in a private bathhouse or take the short hike upstream to the open air springs for a delightful "rasta massage". Also enjoy the Milk River Spa in Clarendon & Rockfort Mineral Spa near Kingston.
One of Port Antonio’s prettiest landmarks - the bright orange & white striped Folly Point Lighthouse – has lit the way for seagoing vessels on Jamaica’s north- eastern coast since 1888 and is still active. Jamaica has 7 lighthouses, each different from the other & all of them interesting in their design. The earliest was built in 1841 at Morant Point in the parish of St. Thomas.
Visit the birthplace and burial site of Bob Marley, the most legendary reggae artist ever. Nine Mile is a small town high in the mountains of beautiful Saint Ann. The winding road can be treacherous in parts, but the rural scenery is well worth the drive. Continue on to Brown's Town to see old great houses, historic churches and the well-known produce market (M, W, Sat) .
This is the heavenly, sweet and peaceful Jamaica that feeds MY soul and brings me joy. Go out there and absorb some of it for yourself! "If we sit with an increasing stillness of the body, and attune our mind to the sky or to the ocean or to the myriad stars at night, or any other indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy." [Ravi Ravindra]
Whether you are a local resident or a tourist, I urge you to enjoy Jamaica with an open mind and embrace its spirit.
Yes, travel in developing countries presents some unique challenges (bad roads, sporadic hot water/ electricity), but think of the hilarious stories you'll have to tell later. If you judged every country by the negative things people say, you would never go anywhere. Go. Smile. Be patient. Breathe. And don’t be afraid to say no.
With common sense & the same precautions you'd take anywhere, traveling Jamaica will give you a new respect for your easy life in the developed world. While Jamaica can definitely provide you with "first world comfort", you'll never experience the spirit of the place by staying inside the walls of your hotel.
Explore the beauty, music, culture & people of Jamaica by eating in local cookshops and supporting local merchants. And always KEEP IT JIGGY!
Jamaica is part of the Greater Antilles, located in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, directly south of Cuba (it's the island in ORANGE on this map). Jamaica is about 90-minutes by air from Miami.
Jamaica is the largest English-speaking nation in the Caribbean and the 3rd largest island overall, spanning 4,320 sq.mi. (a bit smaller than Connecticut).
Columbus "discovered" Jamaica for Spain in 1494 (it was already home to Arawak & Taino Indians who called it "Xaymaca"). The island was captured from Spain in 1655 by the British. Today's population of 2.8 million largely descends from freed African slaves who were brought to Jamaica by the Spanish & British. Jamaica eventually became independent in 1962, but remains part of the British Commonwealth.
Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes with diverse terrain, histories & economies. Start here to learn more about Jamaica!
If you're looking for all-inclusive resorts (Beaches, Sandals, Riu, Hedonism, Couples, etc.), you won't find too many of them here. We love them, but we think they isolate visitors from experiencing the real culture and beauty of Jamaica.
If you don’t venture beyond the walls of the mega-resorts, you will hinder yourself from enjoying the quiet, unhurried, unpretentious spirit of this tropical paradise and the outstanding Jamaican people. We want to get you out on the road!
We try to find you reasonably-priced options in every Parish. You'll find everything here from campsites to guest houses to eco-lodges to bed & breakfasts to hotels to villas. Select "Travel Jamaica" in the menu at the top of the page for lodging and activities by Parish & look around.
If you want us to list a property, please contact us with details. Read more about lodging in Jamaica.