Visit Jamaica: A mini guide to a perfect Jamaican vacation
It's one of the most popular and beautiful Caribbean Islands to holiday on, overflowing with stunning beaches, brimming with culture and boasting some of the most beautiful food in the region.
Indeed, Jamaica was recently voted the Caribbean's top travel destination by TripAdvisors reviewers.
So if you're planning a trip, or need some inspiration, Loop Lifestyle has designed this mini guide of island hotspots just for you.
(Image: Gustavo Kunst, via Wikimedia Commons)
Chill in Negril
Negril is Jamaica’s capital of chill. It’s home to the island’s longest sandy beach, where white sand meets calm water perfect for swimming. Low-rise hotels and resorts line the seafront and there’s a range of watersports including great diving and snorkelling available. One highlight is the sunset – Negril faces west, so visitors can enjoy a spectacular show (and a drink!) as the sun sinks into the sea. There’s accommodation for all budgets: Pure Garden Resort gets reasonable reviews as a low-cost option, while mid-range travellers rave about Beach House Condos. At the top end, you’re spoiled for choice but reviewers highlight The Cliff Hotel for spectacular views and friendly staff.
(Image: Banja-Frans Mulder, via Wikimedia Commons)
Ocho Rios – activities galore
There’s a nice beach right in the heart of this north coast town where you can lie back and lazily watch the cruise ships dock. But there’s also tons of beautiful parks and interesting places to explore. Top of the list is probably Dunn’s River Falls, a beautiful series of cascades that you can climb up and bathe in. For adrenaline-seekers, Mystic Mountain offers the chance to try a bobsled ride and zip-line through the jungle. Further afield, there’s Bob Marley’s Mausoleum and historic properties where writers Ian Fleming and Noel Coward lived. (For more, see Loop’s list of great things to do in Ocho Rios). For accommodation, hotels that travellers recommend include (in ascending price order) ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios, Hermosa Cove and Moon Palace Jamaica. There are also plenty of good Airbnb options.
(Image: Evgenii via Flickr)
Montego Bay – all-inclusive indulgence!
You want to sit on your balcony gazing at a lovely view, then stroll down to the beach for a swim in warm, calm waters. Maybe a cocktail by the pool before dinner, followed by a delicious evening meal combining the best of Jamaican and global cuisine. Sounds good? Then it’s time to go all-inclusive in Montego Bay. Resorts stretch along the city’s beaches and the standard is high. There are many to choose from, but hotels consistently winning strong reviews include (in ascending price order) Half Moon Resort, Secrets Wild Orchid Resort and Round Hill Hotel and Villas.
(Image: Charlesjsharp via Wikimedia Commons)
Hotels with a history
As well as great resorts, Jamaica is home to wonderful accommodation options that combine comfort with an interesting past. Goldeneye, near the town of Oracabessa, is where writer Ian Fleming created James Bond, and the estate is now home to a high-end award-winning resort. Not too far away is Tamarind Great House, a colonial property nestled in the hills where visitors can enjoy meals on the porch in lovely surroundings. Geddes Great House, at the heart of a former plantation in St Ann’s Bay, also gets great reviews. And Strawberry Hill Hotel, once visited by Admiral Lord Nelson and beloved by Bob Marley, sits in the Blue Mountains with fabulous views over Kingston.
(Image: Dubdem Sound System via Flickr)
Solitude in the south
If you want to head off the beaten track, Jamaica’s south coast has spectacular scenery and a low-key atmosphere. Treasure Beach is a favourite – there are characterful places to stay and quiet beaches that you’ll share with local fishermen, plus the fabulous Pelican offshore bar. For days out, in Black River you can spot crocodiles and a little further north you can try different kinds of rum at the Appleton Estate. Guesthouses and boutique hotels dominate the accommodation options in Treasure Beach - 77 West gets great reviews, as does Marblue Villa Suites - while further round the coast Sandals South Coast offers all-inclusive luxury.
And don't forget Smurfs for the most delicious breakfast in Jamaica!
Mixing it up
Finally, Jamaica’s northeast coast has a little bit of everything. It’s home to Frenchman’s Cove – one of Jamaica’s most stunning beaches, where a river flows into a small, white-sand cove – and the Blue Lagoon, made famous by the movie of the same name. Port Antonio, its biggest town, is a charming place to wander around and look at the beautiful natural harbour, while for the adventurous there’s the chance to go rafting through lush countryside on the Rio Grande. There are ample places to stay – Goblin Hill, near San San Beach, has mid-range villas that are good for groups. For top-end luxury, try the Trident Hotel near Port Antonio.