Jamaica is 2019’s hot Caribbean destination. This reggae island sizzles with options for everyone; from laid-back romantics looking for beach time and fine dining to fearless adventurers in search of mountain hikes and zip lines, and a rousing reggae party.
No wonder Jamaica just enjoyed its best year ever in tourism, having welcomed over 4 million guests to the island during the past year. Once you arrive, you’ll face a bounty of things to do.
Here are 10 engaging and varied attractions that will put a smile on your face, warm your heart and soothe your soul. The memories will last a lifetime.
1. Rio Grande rafting (Port Antonio)
Rafting the Rio Grande is a relaxing, contemplative and seductively romantic journey that glides you through some of the most divinely beautiful scenery in the world. The three-hour trip on a bamboo raft guided by an experienced captain is a frame-by-frame slideshow of nature’s perfection. See colorful plants, trees, birds, fish, wildlife and some river activity too. The ride varies from shallow, transparent rapids to silent, pastel-painted blue-green deep waters. And the captain will share fascinating river stories that go back generations.
2. Sunset-watching from Negril’s West End (Negril)
Watching the sun gracefully sink behind the horizon from Negril’s West End is a decades-old ritual. Today, hundreds of locals and visitors alike still rush there an hour or two before showtime to witness the drama and its magical afterglow. Rick’s Café is the popular viewing point, but those who prefer a quieter, more meditative way to end the day can enjoy the same dazzle from one of many other ocean-view locations along the picturesque West End.
3. National Gallery of Art (Kingston)
Jamaica’s National Gallery of Art is an impressive treasure house of the finest representation of Jamaican art and artifacts. Some pieces from the collection date from the period of native Taino Indians in A.D. 1000. But the majority of the collection represents 20th century works, from the early genius of Dunkley, Kapo and Edna Manley to more recent luminaries such as Barrington Watson, Everald Brown, Albert Huie, Carl Abrahams, Milton George and David Boxer.
4. Mystic Mountain (Ocho Rios)
Mystic Mountain is a mind-blowing adventure for those seeking thrills. The action-packed activities include a cable-car ride where you will soar 700 feet above the rain forest, over the tallest trees, providing an excellent view of the mosaic of nature below. Or you can fly like a bird above the forest on a zip line. Bobsled rides, water slides, nature trails, an infinity pool, museum and gift shop are available too.
5. Greenwood Great House (Falmouth)
Greenwood Great House is a hilltop plantation once owned by the family of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. In the 1800s the family owned some 84,000 acres and the great house was mostly used for entertainment. Many artifacts from the days of slavery can be seen there including paintings, antique furniture, rare books and an impressive collection of working music-making devices. Spooky legends abound, and tour guides say any rumblings heard upstairs after 6 p.m. are ghosts dancing a quadrille.
6. Kingston’s outdoor reggae parties (Kingston)
Jamaicans love to dance under the moon and stars so outdoor parties are everywhere. Two sizzling ones can be found in Kingston, the culture capital of the island. One is called Dub Club, a trendy outdoor jam on Sunday nights at the top of Jacks Hill with a jaw-dropping view of the city. A much younger party crowd converges on Monday nights for an all-night ritual called Uptown Mondays. This party continues until sunrise with brand name artists, gravity-defying dancers and celebrity models.
7. Glistening Waters (Falmouth)
Glistening Waters is a luminous lagoon attraction where the action begins after dark. At night anything moving in the water, including swimmers, appears to light up like a fluorescent bulb. This impressive, rare light show is due to microorganisms in the water that emit light when disturbed. The experience is complemented with dinner and a local show.
8. Rastafari indigenous village (Montego Bay)
Rastafari is a powerful religious movement that began in Jamaica. The Rastafari culture is usually not visible to outsiders, but Montego Bay now offers visits to a working Rastafari community. A 2.5 hour participatory experience is available to those seeking to better understand the Rastafari story.
9. Puerto Seco Beach (Runaway Bay)
Many Jamaicans remember the fun times at Puerto Seco Beach from school trips and family picnics. This pristine white sand beach park on Jamaica’s northern coast has recently benefitted from an exciting renovation. The 10-acre property now boasts a welcoming, Jamaican vibe in which visitors and residents mingle. New amenities include a swimming pool, restaurants, bars, scuba diving, gift shop and a floating water park.
10. Lovers Leap (South Coast)
Lovers Leap is a historic site atop the Santa Cruz Mountains with a magnificent view of Treasure Beach, the new fun hub on the South Coast. A heartbreaking local legend tells of two young lovers, Mizzy and Tunkey, who jumped off the 1,700 foot cliff rather than be separated. A wooden sculpture of Mizzy and Tunkey commemorates their love and untimely end.
Fall in love with Jamaica at VisitJamaica.com, the official source for vacation planning. Discover things to do, hotels, history, culture and itineraries.
— Provided by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and written by their contributor, Dave Rodney, JTB’s 2018 recipient of the Marcia Vickery-Wallace Award for excellence in Caribbean-region travel writing.