Capital of Jamaica: Kingston
Official language: English; Local Dialect: Patois
The currency: Jamaican Dollar
Official language: English; Local Dialect: Patois
The currency: Jamaican Dollar
km2 size of the island
Jamaica – ‘the land of wood and water’ is the heartbeat of the Caribbean, with its warm, lively and cheerful atmosphere and melodious reggae music. The country is one of the more popular Caribbean countries and its charismatic influence has spread to several other Caribbean countries as well as the world. Jamaica is completely surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and enjoys a tropical climate year round. This little island enjoys predominantly tropical weather throughout the year. It boasts breathtakingly beautiful beaches and scenery. It is a perfect destination for a romantic or family holiday!
Things to see and do in Jamaica
Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and there are four main tourist destination areas: Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and Portland. There are several attractions and must see places within these cities that capture a wonderful Jamaican experience.
Climb Dunn’s River Falls
The famed Dunn’s River Falls has been a tourist attraction for many decades. Tourists and locals alike have fallen in love time and time again with the sparkling waters of the falls and the beautiful scenery. Tours of the property can be had and a ‘must do’ at this location is holding hands and climbing up the falls with fellow visitors.
Visit Dolphin Cove
This is one of the newer attractions in Jamaica, but it has become a very popular one because of the dolphins. These aquatic friends put on quite a show for their guests and are very friendly and well trained. This is an activity for couples and families. A favourite activity of visitors is swimming with the dolphins.
Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay
Horseback riding, ATV dirt bike racing, tubing, horse and carriage, 4x4 safari and dune buggy are just some of the activities that Chukka Tours and Adventure offers. Whether you’d like an adrenaline rush with your partner and loved ones, or a nice romantic horse ride along the beach, Chukka is the ideal choice. They are a favourite among locals and tourists, and have received the World Travel Awards for the past five years.
Visit Mystic Mountain - Rain Forest Bobsled
Get an aerial view of beautiful Ocho Rios with the Sky Lift Explorer at Mystic Mountain. This action packed venue features zip lining, bobsledding, hiking and an infinity pool attraction. There is also a museum onsite showcasing Jamaican history as well as a gift shop. The restaurant onsite is a lovely place to relax and enjoy delectable, authentic Jamaican cuisine.
Green Grotto Caves and Attractions
The Green Grotto Caves are among the rich historic sites that have been preserved and shared with tourists and locals alike. This is a great, fun location for a nature inspired family trip. Along with the caves, there are other Jamaican themed attractions.
Cranbrook Flower Forest and Riverhead Adventure Trail
This 40 acre natural flower forest is home to several species of exotic flowers and plants, as well as two pristine rivers. The flower forest is a relaxing environment where you can get lost in the beauty of nature. Visitors can swim in the cool rivers, stroll around and even have a picnic within this beautiful Eden. The site is well maintained and has bathrooms and picnic facilities for visitors. It is also a beautiful site for weddings and receptions.
Kool Runnings Adventure Park
This is Negril’s premier location for family fun and water based activities. ‘Lazer Kombat’, Paint Ball, Go Cart Racing and ‘Jamboo Rafting Kayak Racing’ are their feature attractions. A fun filled day is guaranteed at this site. They have won several local and regional awards.
Dive from the Cliff at Rick’s Café
Rick’s is a favourite spot for enjoyment and great food in Negril. The restaurant is ideal for both romantic and family vacations. The food is delectable, and the scenery is breath takingly beautiful. A popular activity at this site is jumping from the cliff into the sparkling blue water. Full safety measures and professionals ensure that this dare devil activity is one that you with keep as a cherished memory. Rick’s is also a great place for romantics to view the famous Negril sunset.
Go Rafting on the Rio Grande
Glide along the beautiful and peaceful Rio Grande for a relaxing and romantic experience. Rafts are made from sturdy bamboo with seats for two. You are guided through the waters by a licensed rafter and the trail is one of pure Jamaican beauty. This nature retreat will completely calm your senses and ease your mind.
Visit Frenchman’s Cove Beach,
Paradise within paradise is the most fitting description for the Frenchman’s Cove Beach in Portland. The small cove boasts a beautiful stretch of white sand beach and a freshwater mountain mineral stream. Located on the property of the Frenchman Cove Hotel, the beach is open for visitors. Lush green hills and the sparkling ocean add to the appeal of this tropical and exotic haven of serenity. The site is great for honeymoons and weddings (upon request).
This natural waterfall is one of Jamaica’s most amazing and naturally preserved attractions. The falls are located in the midst of a beautiful and exotic rain forest. The crystal clear water that cascades from this fall is complemented by the natural bamboo and vines that are nestled within this tropical oasis. The site is very well maintained and is worth the trip for a most memorable experience. This is a great site for nature lovers.
Hike the Blue Mountain Trail, Kingston
The lush Blue Mountains are the highest ranging mountains in Jamaica. This is also the home of the world famous Blue Mountain coffee beans. The mountain trail is a favourite for hikers who desire to reach the peak. There are several guided tours as well as the option to stay overnight while hiking. If you are a hiker and nature lover, climbing to the Blue Mountain peak is a ‘must do’ item on your trip itinerary.
Jamaica Zoo, Kingston
Visiting the local Zoo in Kingston is a great family activity that children and adults will love. The Zoo has seen recent upgrades and it has added several exotic animals to its collection. There are also fun activities geared towards children and families.
Cornwall Beach, Montego Bay
Described as ‘Montego Bay’s Hideaway Beach’, the Cornwall Beach is one of the city’s finest beaches. Snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards and boogie boards are available for fun activities. Lounge chairs are also available for those who just want to relax.
Best Time to Visit Jamaica
Tourists visit Jamaica between November and June
Jamaica enjoys tropical weather all year round. However, travellers should pay keen attention to the weather during the hurricane season from June 1 –November 30. It all depends on what type of experience you are looking for. There are speciality hotels that appeal to couples and to families, so depending on the experience you would like, once you choose the right accommodations you can travel to Jamaica whenever you like.
Did you know?
The island is made up of fourteen (14) parishes
Jamaica is the third largest country in the Caribbean
Jamaica is famous for Bob Marley – Reggae Music
Kingston is the nation’s capital city and its largest. Montego Bay is the second largest city and a choice location for tourists’ vacations. Both of these cities have an airport. These are the only two airports in Jamaica; however they are conveniently located at either end of the island, so that no location is too far away to get to. Getting around Jamaica is easy; you can use private (chartered) vans and taxis, take the public transportation or rent a car.
- If you are staying at an all-inclusive hotel you don’t generally need to tip the staff, though some satisfied customers do so ‘unofficially’. Otherwise, it is ok to tip when you go out and receive service, though it may not be explicitly asked for.
- Locals know that the freshest fruits and vegetables can be found in the markets and by sellers on the roadside.
- Also, the best local jerk chicken is done by using the ‘drum grill’ to cook it. These vendors usually have small by the way stops, by the roadside. Usually the scent of the Jerk floats to greet you.
- The best craft can be found in the craft market. There is where you will get genuine locally made Jamaican arts and craft.
Famous Festivals and Carnivals
- Rebel Salute –January (St. Elizabeth)
- Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival – January (Trelawny).
- Carnival – a colourful and vibrant display of carnival costumes and February (Kingston)
- SKAZZ – ska and jazz festival (Ocho Rios)
- Ocho Rios Jazz Festival – June (Ocho Rios)
- Portland Jerk Festival – June (Portland)
- Little Ochi Seafood Carnival – July (Ocho Rios)
- Reggae Sumfest – July (Montego Bay)
- Independence Day Celebrations– August
- Mobay Jerk Festival – August (Montego Bay)
Local dishes to try
- Ackee and Saltfish – national dish
- ‘Rundown’ - Saltfish seasoned with vegetables and flavoured with coconut milk
- Jerk Chicken Rice and Peas
- Escoveitch Fish and Festival/Bammy
- Devon House Ice-Cream
- Puddings and local pastries
Best Time to travel
Be sure to check the weather to ensure before you come, especially if you are thinking of visiting the island throughout the hurricane season (June 1 – November 30).
Remember to stay hydrated
Remember to stay hydrated. This is especially important is you are coming from a climate that is different from Jamaica’s. The tropical weather is lovely; to ensure that you enjoy it, drink liquids to keep properly hydrated.