8 places to visit in Jamaica outside of Montego Bay
Ocho Rios Bay Beach (PHOTO: JTB)
A state of emergency may be in place in and around Montego Bay, but that doesn’t mean tourists should despair because Jamaica has plenty of other wonderful options for visitors! Here are eight other places you can vacation on our beautiful island:
If you’re seeking pure golden sand and clear, calm seas, look no further than Negril. Its long bay is described by travelers as a perfect Caribbean beach. Stroll along the sand or duck into a beach-side bar for a cocktail and a bit of people-watching. Sunsets can be spectacular, particularly from the West End cliffs, Jamaica’s most westerly point. For snorkelers, there are several reefs and for divers, wrecks including two sunken planes. If you want to try something a bit different, Barney’s Flower and Hummingbird Garden offers visitors the chance to see Jamaica’s national bird at close quarters - and even feed one!
The Seven Mile Beach (PHOTO: JTB)
Treasure Beach, located in St Elizabeth on the south coast, is a charming, laid-back slice of Jamaica. It’s a less-visited corner of the island and offers a quieter vibe than Jamaica’s big name resorts. There are three low-key beaches where tourists can watch fishermen at work and see pelicans diving for fish. For a drink with a difference, try the Pelican Bar, a wooden shack sitting on a sandbar a short boat ride offshore. A good day trip from Treasure Beach is YS Falls, where seven different falls flow into natural pools. You can zipline, swing on ropes or simply swim in the wonderful natural scenery.
Treasure Beach (PHOTO: Dubdem Sound System/Flickr)
Among the the attractions in Portland is the Blue Lagoon, which became one of the island’s best-known sights after a young Brooke Shields frolicked in its turquoise waters in the film of the same name. Lush green cliffs surround the lagoon and underwater streams feed into it. It drops to almost 200ft at its deepest point. Hire a guide with a raft and spend a few hours exploring this lovely site. It lies on Jamaica’s northeast coast and there are several other beaches nearby including San San Beach, where you can snorkel, and Frenchman’s Cove with its pretty stream flowing into the sea. A short drive away is Port Antonio, where you can get a bite to eat and wander along the waterfront.
San San Beach
Ocho Rios, in the centre of Jamaica’s north coast, has a pretty horseshoe-shaped bay where you can swim, soak up the sun and watch the cruise ships easing into port. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, and some of Jamaica’s most popular excursions are close by. At Dunn’s River Falls, water cascades down over rocks to a pretty beach. Visitors can climb up the falls but be aware – you need sensible shoes. For nature-lovers, there’s Mystic Mountain, where you can take a chairlift over the forest canopy and then try zip-lining or a bobsled ride.
Ocho Rios Bay Beach (PHOTO: JTB)
For history buffs, the north coast town of Falmouth offers a glimpse into Jamaica’s trading past. Once a thriving 19th century sugar-cane port, it’s home to several Georgian buildings and renovated wooden shops. Jamaica Culinary Tours offers a food tour of the town that includes how the sugar trade shaped local cuisine and gets great reviews online. Half an hour away at the Hamden Estate, sugar is on the agenda again at the working distillery, where visitors can see how rum is made. Tasting is included!
Sugar Cane (Chris McBrien/Flickr)
Rounding off the north western tip of the island, Hanover is often overshadowed by nearby Montego Bay but has its own share of beauty. It’s home to beach-front resort Round Hill, one of the Caribbean’s top attractions. Located on a 100-acre peninsula, Round Hill is known for entertaining some of the world’s most renowned personalities and lists former US president John F Kennedy, fashion designer Ralph Lauren and James Bond writer Ian Fleming among its notable guests. Another option is the ultra-chic Tryall Beach and Country Club comprised of private villas – each boasting their own style and character – on 2,200 acres of land.
The beautiful view of the sunset from a villa at Round Hill (PHOTO: Round Hill)
This beautiful farming town, located in the north eastern parish of St Mary, boasts beachfront estate Golden Eye, the former Jamaican vacation home of Ian Fleming which has been transformed into a luxury resort by famed businessman Chris Blackwell. Located on a 52–acre site, Golden Eye is home to secret coves, private beaches, tropical forests, and a seawater lagoon. Oracabessa is located on the main road leading to the neighbouring parish of St Ann, which includes popular resort town Ocho Rios.
The Golden Eye Hotel (PHOTO: JTB)
While not the traditional white sand and blue water destination, the nation’s capital Kingston is the cultural centre of Jamaica. Through organized tours, you can visit Trench Town, where reggae music was born; go to the Bob Marley Museum, the former home of the legendary musician; explore the historic Devon House (make sure to try the ice cream), or view amazing artworks at the National Gallery. A trip to Kingston isn’t complete without a visit to the historic seaside town Port Royal, once branded the ‘wickedest city on earth’.
US President Barack Obama gets a tour of the Bob Marley Museum from staff member Natasha Clark in Kingston. (PHOTO: AP)