Would you like to have a wonderful holiday in a quiet place with breathtaking views and lots of tourist attractions? Why don’t you think of travelling to Jamaica to have a peaceful mind? “Love the life you live, live the life you love,” said Bob Marley, the legendary Reggae Jamaican singer-songwriter, about Jamaica. So let’s explore Jamaica, the Land of Reggae!
Also known as Jamrock, Jamdown, or Jamdung in Jamaican Patois, Jamaicans refer to their homeland as “The Rock.” This magnificent island is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea. It is best known for its stunning beaches, majestic waterfalls, luxurious all-inclusive resorts, Blue Mountain coffee, jerk dishes, and Reggae music. In this article, we will let you know the top things to do in Jamaica.
Jamaica’s official language is English. However, the national language of Jamaica is Jamaican Patois. Spoken by the majority of Jamaicans, it is an English-based creole that is influenced by West African language and culture.
Time in Jamaica
Jamaica’s time is always five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC -5). Having only a one-time zone, Jamaica has the same UTC offset all year. It does not adjust for Daylight Saving Time.
The Flag of Jamaica
Jamaica’s flag was adopted when the country gained independence from the West Indies on 6 August 1962. Dividing the flag into four sections, the flag includes a yellow saltire. There are two sections which are black and two which are green.
The black colour stands for the difficulties faced by the nation and their strength and creativity while the green colour stands for the agricultural resources and hope. The yellow colour depicts Jamaica’s natural wealth and the beauty of its sunlight.
The monetary unit of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, divided into 100 cents. This currency has been issued since 1969. To distinguish it from other dollars, its symbol is J$ or JA$. To convert currencies, $1 equals around J$155 and €1 equals J$176.
Which Continent is Jamaica In?
Where is Jamaica?
In the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is one of the islands that form the Greater Antilles. It is located to the northeast of mainland Central America. Jamaica lies south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
The Capital of Jamaica
Kingston is the capital of Jamaica. It is located on the southeastern coast of Jamaica, backed by the Blue Mountains. It is the largest city in Jamaica. After Spanish Town and Port Royal, Kingston is Jamaica’s third capital.
Weather in Jamaica
Jamaica has tropical and sunny weather. With a few degrees differentiating between summer and winter, Jamaica is hot all year round. The average temperature fluctuates between 20°C to 30°C in summer and winter. Sometimes, the heat is sweltering.
The best time to visit Jamaica is from January to April. If you would like to visit Jamaica in the summer, visit it in July because there is a decrease in precipitation. Also, the risk of hurricanes is lower in July. Hurricanes occur more likely between August and October.
Top 15 Things to do in Jamaica
Jamaica is famous for its stunning natural destinations and wonderful attractions. Tourists from around the world come every year to enjoy the breathtaking turquoise seas and coral reefs, explore the birthplace of reggae, and soak up the African atmosphere. In the following lines, we will provide you with the top 15 things to do in Jamaica.
1. Seven Mile Beach
Once you land in Jamaica, you will hear about Seven Mile Beach several times a day. That is because it is Jamaica’s most popular beach. Visiting it is one of the top free things to do in Jamaica. Appreciate the tree-lined beach along with the white sand and the crystal clear turquoise water.
Seven Mile Beach is also known as Negril Beach. With infinite magnificent views, you can relax on one of the beach loungers and get a tan. You can also enjoy swimming or strolling along the stunning beach. Other exciting activities you can enjoy there include scuba diving, jet-skiing, snorkelling, and parasailing.
2. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon in Jamaica is worth a visit. It is located six miles east of Port Antonio. The lagoon is a mix of saltwater and freshwater fed by a mineral spring near it. Enjoy the magical views of its breathtaking water with its different shades of cobalt blue, surrounded by lush green spaces.
Exploring The fabulous Blue Lagoon on a boat or rafting tour is one of the most exciting things to do in Jamaica with family. Capture the moment and take as many pictures as you can. Swimming around the lagoon is cool and entertaining, too. However, it is recommended to do so in a group because the lagoon is deep and secluded and could be dangerous.
3. Blue Hole
“A little piece of Heaven!” This is how the visitors described the Blue Hole in Jamaica. Also known as the Cool Blue Hole, the Irie Blue Hole, the Secret Falls, or the Island Gully Falls, it is located in Ocho Rios in Jamaica’s White River Valley between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Ann. It gets its name from the deep azure hue of its water.
Among the most thrilling things to do in Jamaica is visiting The Blue Hole. With a surrounding Jamaican jungle, this deep cavern within Jamaica’s tropical mountains comprises stunning cascades that flow down into a series of sinkholes.
Jumping off the cliff into one of its magnificent refreshing freshwater pools is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy the breathtaking views while hiking its nature trails. Clambering the cliffs over the falls is enjoyable. The higher you go, the more stunning views you will see.
4. Martha Brae River
From the Blue Hole, make your way to the Martha Brae River. It takes one hour to drive from Ocho Rios to Martha Brae River. On the north coast of Jamaica, Martha Brae River in Trelawny is about three miles south of Falmouth. The driving distance from Lucea to Martha Brae River is 74 km and it takes approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
Rafting on the Martha Brae River is one of the top things to do in Jamaica with toddlers. Also, if you are a newly-married couple, the Martha Brae River bamboo raft will take you on a romantic adventure along the outstanding trail of the river.
Enjoy gliding down the river on a bamboo raft while soaking up the tropical atmosphere at Martha Brae Rafter’s Village. In the Martha Brae River excursion, the guide will show you many recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, a picnic area, and a bar. There are also shops where you can purchase souvenirs and refreshments.
During the trip, the guide will entertain you by singing some reggae songs or sharing interesting facts about the flora and fauna in Jamaica. Additionally, you will learn about the legend of Martha Brae.
The Martha Brae River rafting entrance fee starts from $35 per person and it differs depending on the pickup location and the selected type of transportation. The rafting weight limit is 300 lbs (136.078 kg) and the minimum age is two years old. The raft accommodates two adults and an eight-year-old child or younger.
Besides the Martha Brae River Rafting Excursions, enjoy an exhilarating swim with your companions. Taking an educational and entertaining guided Martha Brae River tubing tour is a unique experience that you will always remember.
5. Bob Marley Museum Kingston
In the Land of Reggae, visiting the former home and studio of the legendary reggae singer, Bob Marley, will fill you with excitement. Snooping around Bob Marley Museum is one of the best things to do in Jamaica. It is dedicated to the Jamaican singer-songwriter, Bob Marley. Explore Marley’s personal recording studio, bedroom, and more. You will also find some artefacts that belong to Marley.
Located at 56 Hope Road, Bob Marley Museum is in Kingston. To reach the museum from Ocho Rios, it takes around one hour and 15 minutes. From Montego Bay to the museum, it takes approximately two hours and 47 minutes.
The Bob Marley Museum‘s opening hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It opens every day except Sundays. Bob Marley Home Tour costs $25 for adults and $12 for 4 to 12-year old children. Children under the age of three have free admission. Online reservation is recommended.
At different prices, additional tours are available at the museum. Choose one of the other Bob Marley Museum tours, Tuff Gong International’s Bob Marley’s “Making of the Music” Tour and Combo “One Love” Tour, and enjoy!
After you complete your Reggae-inspired tour, relax at One Love Café and enjoy your meal. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs.
6. Nine Mile Bob Marley Museum and Mausoleum
The Bob Marley Museum and Mausoleum Trip is among the best things to do in Jamaica. After you visit Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and explore the home and studio of the legendary Jamaican singer-songwriter, it is time to visit Nine Mile to check out the Bob Marley Museum and Mausoleum.
Take a guided tour in Nine Mile to explore the farming village where Bob Marley and his wife grew up. You will also see the home where he spent his childhood. In a small traditional-Ethiopian-style church, visit the two marble mausoleums of Marley and his mother. You will find that Marley’s body is buried along with his guitar.
7. Dunn’s River Falls and Park
For a wonderful day trip, why don’t you try the Dunn’s River Falls and Bob Marley’s Nine Mile tour?! Your guided tour will start from Nine Mile where you delve into the life of Bob Marley and explore the place where he was born. Then, you will continue to Dunn’s River where you enjoy the mesmerising views.
Having fun at Dunn’s River Falls and Park is also among the best things to do in Jamaica. Less than 10 minutes away from Ocho Rios, hike the naturally-tiered rocks to the top of the famous Jamaican falls, but be cautious! The rocks are a little bit slippery due to the algae. So, make sure you wear water shoes that fit appropriately.
Attracting thousands of visitors each year, recline and relax in this magical area. Cooling off with a swim in the natural terraced pools at the bottom of the waterfalls is one of the refreshing things to do in Jamaica. With the surrounding greenery, enjoy the mesmerising views of the water tumbling over the limestone ledges and pouring into the Caribbean Sea.
The ticket includes lunch and all entrance fees. Pickup and drop-off in Ocho Rios, Negril, or Montego Bay are also included. With dinner at Joe James, there is an option to include a night boat ride in the Luminous Lagoon to your tour.
8. Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon
You can visit the magical luminous lagoon of Glistening Waters as an optional part of the Dunn’s River Falls and Bob Marley’s Nine Mile tour or in an independent tour. Located east of Falmouth in Trelawny Parish, enjoy the marvellous views of Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon on Jamaica’s north coast.
Imagine the water is shining like glamorous stars! In Glistening Waters, you will see the water light up with a bright blue colour around you. There are only four places in the world that have this phenomenon. Jamaica has the brightest luminous lagoon ever due to the consistent climate there.
When the fresh water from the Martha Brae River and the salt water from the ocean meet, they form this breathtaking luminous lagoon. Its marine phosphorescence occurs since the lagoon has billions of bioluminescent microorganisms that glow in the dark when you touch it or splash the water.
Taking a boat at night around this wonderful bioluminescent lagoon is one of the wonderful things to do in Jamaica. Also, swimming in this luminous lagoon is a one-of-its-kind experience that you will never forget. You will be surrounded by a magical glowing light that moves with you.
9. Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
Sprawling around the eastern edge of Jamaica, visit Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. For its cultural and natural heritage, the area was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. Taking a guided tour or a bicycle tour in Jamaica’s only national park is one of the best things to do in Jamaica.
Enjoy hiking, trekking, and camping in Jamaica’s longest mountain range which has the island’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 2,256 metres. The higher you climb, the craggier the terrain is and the cooler the weather is. So dress in heavy clothes and bring water to stay hydrated during your hike.
At the summit, appreciate the mesmerising views of the perpetually-mist-shrouded mountains, the scenic rock formations, the lush flowering vegetation, the colourful birds, and the cascading waterfalls. Also, explore the endemic plants and the species of birds. The wildlife there is impressive, too.
Exploring the amazing waterfalls on John Crow Mountain, especially Nanny Falls, is wonderful. These falls are named after Nanny of the Maroons, a Jamaican heroine. Besides the offered breathtaking views, delve into the history of Jamaica and learn more about the Maroons, the descendants of Africans in Jamaica.
Among the most enjoyable things to do in Jamaica is sipping coffee in the Blue Mountains. Home to its namesake well-known coffee, explore the coffee field in the area while smelling the distinctive aroma of fresh coffee. Enjoy roasting some coffee there, then take samples home.
10. Rose Hall Great House
Paying a visit to Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay is among the best things to do in Jamaica. It is a Georgian plantation house that is turned into a historic house museum. With spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, be enchanted by the grand house along with the surrounding magical tropical gardens and historic ruins.
Also known as the House of Horrors of Jamaica, legend has it that the famous White Witch, Annee Palmer, haunted the house. If you have enough courage, explore the mystery of the place by taking a spooky 45-minute tour at night. The night tour is available from Thursday to Saturday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. It costs $30 for adults and $12 for children from four to 11 years old.
In the morning, explore the beauty of Rose Hall Great House with its beautiful gardens. From Monday to Thursday, take a day tour of the house and garden in any 45 minutes from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It costs $25 per person and $10 per child from the age of four to the age of 11.
Another tour in Rose Hall Great House is the Annee’s Escape Bundle. Available daily From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, take a tour in the house and a tour in the championship golf. Shopping at Main Street Jamaica and having lunch is part of the bundle. It costs $129 per person and $99 per child from four to 11 years old.
Rose Hall includes two of the Caribbean’s most widely acclaimed golf courses with 54 holes of championship. There is also Cinnamon Hill Great House, the home of Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter-Cash. Visiting this house costs $25 per person and $10 per child from four to 11 years old. It is open from Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
If you are a couple and want to plan a wedding in a wonderful place, Rose Hall offers many wedding venues with outstanding landscapes. In Rose Hall, you can also plan your events; from pool parties and mega concerts to corporate dinners. The team will execute the event according to your preference and plan.
11. Doctor’s Cave Beach
In Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, one of the best things to do in Jamaica is visiting Doctor’s Cave Beach. Appreciate the clear turquoise water of the sea along with the white sandy beach, lined with green palm trees. With an entry fee, enjoy swimming and playing in soothing waves. There are lots of water sports that you can enjoy, including kayaking, snorkelling, and riding water scooters.
How the beach got its name has an interesting story. Having a beach property, Dr. Alexander James McCatty and his friends, who were working in medical professions, used it. They used to pass through a cave to reach the beach. A hurricane destroyed the namesake cave in 1932. In 1906, Dr. McCatty donated this property to found a bathing club.
In 1920, a well-known British osteopath whose name is Sir Herbert Barker claimed that the water has curative power that could cure various ailments. This boosted the popularity of the beach and attracted more visitors from around the globe to experience it themselves. Soon after this, the place was full of several hotels and became one of the amazing tourist attractions in Jamaica.
12. Tryall Club Golf Course
If you love playing golf, Tryall Club, with its luxury villas and stunning landscapes, offers a golf course alongside the Caribbean Sea. Located close to Montego Bay, Tryall Club Golf Course offers one of the most challenging courses in the area with an 18-hole, par-71 championship green. Accept the challenge and experience one of the world-class golf courses!
Tryall Club Golf Course hosts several golf championships. However, this does not mean that it is suitable for experienced players only. Everyone can play there; beginners, amateurs, and experienced players. If you are still a beginner, don’t worry! There is a Golf Academy with expert instructors to help you improve your game.
13. Rio Grande River
In the parish of Portland, the Rio Grande River rafting is one of the best things to do in Jamaica. It is one of the largest rivers in Jamaica; however, it is less crowded than the Martha Brae River. Lasting for two hours, a licensed guide will take you on a bamboo raft tour and share interesting stories about the area with you.
Meaning the Big River, Rio Grande was named by the Spanish who occupied Jamaica in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1911, rafting began in this grand river. To transport their bananas from the Rio Grande Valley to other areas along the river, banana farmers used rafts. Now, rafting in the Rio Grande River has become a popular tourist attraction.
Enjoy rafting on the river and taking in the sights along the way. The wonderful views of the lush green rainforests along the crystal clear water of the river help you relax and unwind throughout your trip. To enjoy your vacation to the full, take some refreshments with you on the raft. The guide will stop at a local restaurant and you will try some delicious local food for lunch.
14. Black River
Similar to the Rio Grande River, the Black River is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica. At a length of more than 53 kilometres, it is located in St. Elizabeth parish in southwestern Jamaica. It got its name from the river bed’s black hue caused by the thick layers of decomposing vegetation. It also houses a complex ecosystem that thrives in a tropical, damp climate.
Taking a guided boat tour along the Black River is one of the top things to do in Jamaica. Immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the spectacular views of the greenery. Spotting crocodiles creeping on the riverbanks is enjoyable. There are also many species of birds, including snowy egrets and herons. Besides learning about the species that inhabit the area, you will learn all about the area’s ecology, geography, and history.
15. YS Falls
Ys Falls is usually combined with the Black River in one tour. Located in St. Elizabeth, it is a short drive away from the Black River. With lots of exciting activities, visiting YS Falls is among the best things to do in Jamaica.
YS Falls is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. It costs $20.00 for adults and $12.00 for children under the age of 15. Considered Jamaica’s largest waterfalls, appreciate its wonderful views along with the surrounding beautiful gardens.
In the area, there are seven outstanding falls cascading over lush vegetation into natural pools. With your kids, cool off by taking a dip in one of these pools or relax while enjoying the mesmerising views. River tubing and ziplining over the falls are also adventurous activities you can do there.
Jamaica has irresistible food and drinks that you should try when you visit it. The seasoning and spices added to the food will make your experience unique. Here is a list of the best Jamaican cuisine.
1. Ackee and Saltfish
Ackee and Codfish is Jamaica’s national dish. It is more popularly known as Ackee and Saltfish. Resembling scrambled eggs, it is made of the ackee fruit sautéed with stewed salted codfish, tomatoes, onions, spices, and herbs. There is another recipe where ackee is curried and served with rice.
To have a tasty dish, there is a trick in cooking this dish. It is that the ackee should be ripe. When its pod bursts open, it reveals the yellow fruit inside which is suitable for eating. Ackee and Saltfish is served mostly at breakfast and sometimes at dinner with coleslaw, hardo bread, or Jamaican dumplings.
2. Jerk Chicken
Another popular Jamaican dish is Jerk Chicken. The chicken is marinated in allspice, cinnamon, clover, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper. Alternatively, it can be seasoned using the dry rub method.
After the chicken soaks in the flavour, it is slow-smoked on an open grill. The grill composes green pimento wood placed over burning coals.
Jerk chicken is usually served with rice or bread, peas, and steamed cabbage. Using the jerk cooking style, you can also try jerk fish, seafood, beef, goat, and vegetables.
3. Jamaican Dumplings
Made of only three ingredients, the Jamaican Dumplings are also a popular side dish in Jamaica that is mainly served beside Ackee and Saltfish. All-purpose flour, a pinch of kosher salt, and water make its stiff dough.
After shaping the dumplings or spinners, they are cooked in boiling salted water, soup, or stew. There is a different recipe where they are deep-fried.
4. Blue Mountain Coffee
Do not miss out on trying a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee while you are in Jamaica. Sipping your coffee on one of Jamaica’s beautiful beaches is relaxing. This world-class coffee is highly sought-after and it is one of the most expensive coffee in the world. Chris Blackwell once said, “Jamaica has the best coffee, the best sugar, the best ginger, and some of the best cocoa in the world.”
Flights to Jamaica
To visit Jamaica, you can travel on a cruise ship. On the other hand, flying is the quickest and cheapest way to reach Jamaica. There are three international airports in Jamaica; Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, and Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios.
The flight duration from Cuba to Montego Bay in Jamaica takes around one hour and 22 minutes. There are also many flights from Jamaica to The Bahamas that take around four hours. Travelling from Jamaica to Barbados takes two hours and 35 minutes.
The UK to Jamaica flights are a lot. To travel to Jamaica from the UK, you can take a plane from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, or Aberdeen. Nine hours and 45 minutes are the estimated duration of a flight from London to Kingston. However, it takes 10 hours and 15 minutes from Manchester to Jamaica.
Enjoy a four-hour flight from Canada to Jamaica. From New York to Jamaica, it takes only three hours and 40 minutes. However, it takes three hours and 20 minutes from Mexico City to Jamaica.
Pieces of Travel Advice for Jamaica
Before you travel to Jamaica, you should take into consideration the following pieces of advice:
- Convert some of your money into the local currency (Jamaican Dollar J$). You can get it from most ATMs or any local bank on the island. Many airports also provide currency exchange services.
- Keep your money safe. Do not take a lot of money with you when you are out. Just take what you need for the day.
- Wear sunscreen when you are out because the sun is scorching in the Caribbean. It is also recommended to wear sunglasses and a hat.
- Use insect repellent all the time to avoid insect and tick bites. There is a risk of Zika Virus in this country which is transmitted by mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, avoid travelling to Jamaica until after the pregnancy.
- Do some research before travelling. Then, make a list of all the things to do and see in Jamaica and prioritise them.
- Use credit or debit cards in Jamaica. There are a lot of ATMs across the country. This way is easy and fast. However, check with your bank that your card can be used abroad before you travel. Also, ask about the fees for overseas withdrawals.
- Take an adapter with you. Jamaica’s standard electricity is 110 volts with two-pin sockets.
- Keep your phone inside a waterproof case when you visit waterfalls and water parks. You will then be able to use your mobile and take lots of amazing photos without damaging it.
- Avoid hitchhiking and travelling at night. If you choose to take the risk, travel in pairs and tell someone about your destination.
- Avoid wearing camouflage clothing or accessorising with anything that has a camouflage print. This is illegal in Jamaica and may be confiscated in the airport.
- Ride the taxi that has a red number plate. It is licensed and authorised to operate.
- Learn some Jamaican patois before you travel to Jamaica because it is part of the national identity. Get used to the popular Jamaican phrases and sayings.
- Tipping is normal in Jamaica and is appreciated. However, do not tip shared taxi drivers. Do not leave tips in restaurants that have automatic service charges.
There are many things to do in Jamaica. It is full of wonderful natural spots and dazzling tourist attractions. If you have not travelled there, you missed a lot. Why don’t you consider a holiday in Jamaica this year?! We wish you a nice trip to Jamaica!