Why haven't we been to Jamaica yet?!
The Caribbean is heaven on earth, and Jamaica is, without a doubt, its crown jewel. It's hard to comprehend just how beautiful the island is, until you see it. The surreal white of the sand, the rich green of the lush vegetation, the iridescent blue of the water – Jamaica is vibrant with colours, sounds and tastes. The laidback reputation of the people is well-earned. You would be hard pressed to find a place warmer and more welcoming. Here are some of the places in Jamaica we loved best.
Lively Montego Bay
With some of the most beautiful beaches on the island (just watch the Bond movie Live and Let Die if you need proof), Montego Bay is a long-standing tourist favourite, especially for families. The city is big enough to offer something for everyone. Family friendly resorts are numerous, as are fun things to do. Try a relaxing cruise down the Martha Brae river, or one of the many informative and fascinating tours around the island to explore the fascinating history and unspoilt wildlife. My family adored the Kool Runnings Water Park, which has plenty of fun slides for both kids and adults. As history buffs, we also loved the Rose Hall Great House, an old plantation now restored and open for visitors. The glimpse into the history of life on the island was very interesting.
This gorgeous tiny town, perched on the coast west of Montego, boasts some of the most stunning landscapes on the island. The golden, seemingly endless seven-mile beach gradually gives way to dramatic cliffs, but the water is always warm and clear. I enjoyed the laidback feel of the town, and the relaxed people who seem to enjoy life to the fullest. In Negril, we skipped organized tours and decided to explore by ourselves. Negril has plenty of shops and restaurants with some seriously delicious food – for all tastes and price ranges. Plenty of resorts on the seven-mile beach offer excellent deals for family holidays in Negril.
The whole area around Ocho Rios reminded me of a huge, fragrant garden. Flowers and lush vegetation seemed to be everywhere. The landscape surrounding it is truly magical, with a seemingly never ending array of secrets. If you’re into music, one of the locations you mustn't miss is Nine Mile, the nearby village where Bob Marley was born and, later, buried. My absolute favourite part of our visit to Ocho Rios was the Dunn's River Falls. Located in a thick, shady forest, the Falls are one of the main Jamaican attractions, and with good reason. I was in awe watching the water cascade over the terraced rocks. At first, I felt a bit nervous about climbing the Falls in a human chain, but ultimately I thought it was an exhilarating experience.
Kingston offers a welcome contrast to the other, more relaxed parts of Jamaica. The capital is always buzzing with activity. With a bit over a million people, Kingston is the biggest city in Jamaica, and consists of the old, historic part and New Kingston. The bustling cultural and economic centre is nestled between the sea and the mountains. We absolutely adored the contrast of the shiny, glimmering Uptown with its fancy restaurants, hotels and tall buildings, and the historic Downtown full of charming colonial buildings and open markets. For families, I absolutely recommend visiting the Hope Botanical Gardens and Zoo where your little ones can run around and enjoy getting to know various kinds of plants and animals.
Jamaica is a place that cannot be fully explored in just one visit. It's a place where a wonderful surprise seems to be lurking behind every corner; be it a street party, a stunning waterfall, or the perfect hidden cove. We loved every second of our holiday, and can't wait to go back.
James is a recent marketing graduate who enjoys blogging about anything and everything that interests him. Currently he is fascinated with travel within the Caribbean.