10 Best Places to Visit in Jamaica and Things to Do in Jamaica

+ All the Important Things you Need to Know Before Visiting Jamaica

This post was written by Cassandra

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Jamaica was only my 2nd Caribbean island I had visited and I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity and beauty the island had to offer. When I first arrived I was greeted by a warm “Welcome Home” a greeting almost all Jamaicans give when they hear you are visiting for the first time- I found this lovely.

The laid-back relaxed happiness exuded by the locals was contagious, the food was spicy, fresh and unique and the nature was stunning. Mountains, rivers, beaches, cliffs, rain forest, coral reef systems, coffee plantations, historic forts and much more were all contained in this island.

With something to satiate all travel cravings whether you love adventure, nature, relaxation or history you will definitely find it here!

Pre-Travel Guide for Jamaica

Tips and tricks and do´s and don´ts for Jamaica

Don’t drink tap water, only bottled water!

Bartering is part of shopping locally – be sure to haggle with pricing.

Don’t wander around after dark – it’s best to stay on property, or stay with a group tour, if out at night.

If you venture into the city of Kingston, be particularly aware, as there are high rates of crime here.

I myself prefer staying along the coastal areas of the island, which are more laid back and accustomed to travelers.

Smoking weed is very common here and it will most likely be offered to you at some point. Keep in mind that although most authorities don’t care, it is technically still illegal on the island, so be smart.

Security tips for female travelers

Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings – always.

Most of the coastal areas are very accustomed to travelers, and I have found most people in Jamaica to be very friendly. In addition, the main language spoken is English, which makes communication easy.

A lot of Jamaica is rural, so you wouldn’t want to be wandering around at night. Be careful not to expose your money/valuables. Trust your gut if a person or situation doesn‘t feel right – leave.

Don’t go out drinking alone, and don’t share your hotel information with people you don’t trust. Be conscious of the fact that every city has good and bad areas – research before you go, so you know your good areas and stay in them.

Aim to blend in – don’t wear/ flash designer items and expensive jewelry. For example, although it’s a Caribbean island, Jamaica is also a traditional island, and things like thong swimsuits are frowned upon.

In addition, they are still close-minded about same-sex relationships, so it’s recommended to avoid public displays of affection in these situations, so you can avoid any hassle when outside the hotel or resort areas.

Lastly, as I always like to recommend, ignore catcalls. It’s better to avoid confrontation when in foreign countries.

How to get around in Jamaica

Although an island, it is a large one! It would take over six hours to cross from one side to the other.

In addition, the majority of the island is rural and impoverished. The roads are poorly maintained and usually not lit at night – a car rental is not recommended.

The best thing to do is use transfer services – I have used Jamaica Tours Limited for airport pickups and such, and I have used both Island Routes and Viator before for day trips and excursions.

If you want to get out for the day, the hotel can always assist with arranging local drivers.

Things to pack for Jamaica

The island is hot, year-round! Pack summer and beach clothes, both sandals and sneakers (depending on activities), bug spray, a rain coat (always a good idea if doing rainforest trekking), sunscreen, and sunglasses, as well as a basic first aid kit with over-the-counter meds.

Where to stay in Jamaica

Below are my favored areas and hotel options. I choose the hotels based off of location, mainly, as well as NOT being all-inclusive, so you can have a more authentic experience. They are all varied in style and level of accommodation, though (some in town, some beachfront, some very basic and simple, and others a bit more high-end) and this is why I think, it is the best place to vacation in Jamaica.

Of course, if you want all-inclusive resorts, there are plenty on the island. If you plan for longer periods of time or need less expensive options, you can always use Airbnb to rent a local home or apartment.

Just check the location on a map in relation to these hotels, and you can stay in a similar location. I did not include Montego Bay, as that is the current tourist hub and it’s best to get outside of this area to experience more of Jamaica. You will, however, for both Negril and Ocho Rios, most likely fly into Montego Bay and take a transfer from there.

If you prefer a mega-resort or an all-inclusive stay though, Montego Bay may be for you.

Negril – Located right on 7-mile beach, one hour south of Montego Bay, this is the spot to be in if you want to snorkel, relax, or play in the Caribbean Sea. Try the Boardwalk Village as a budget-friendly hotel option in the area, only a 15-minute ride from Rick’s Café.

Port Antonio – Although Port Antonio was the original tourist destination back in the 1940s, it has been abandoned as the tourist hub for Montego Bay since then. Port Antonio is currently a hidden gem worth exploring, where you can get more of a feel for “real Jamaica.”

Pimento Lodge is tucked in the cliff-side, and you can take a walk down the hill to the local beach. For the more famed beaches, like Frenchman’s Cove, you can grab a 15-minute taxi ride. If you want a more interesting accommodation, try the Great Huts near Boston Bay. Here, you can stay in a wide range of traditional-style accommodations, from basic huts to small villas.

Ocho Rios – Located on the northern coast, this area is about two hours from the Montego Bay airport and is tucked into lush, tropical rainforest. The Blue House Jamaica is a bed and breakfast, quaint with great hosts. In addition, a portion of their proceeds go to help impoverished communities on the island!

Best Places to Visit in Jamaica and Things to Do in Jamaica
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Best time to visit Jamaica

Almost any time! Note that November and December bring high price points and September is the heart of hurricane season (although this doesn’t mean a guarantee of bad weather! I travel to the Caribbean during these months regularly, and luckily, have never been caught in such a storm).

May usually has good pricing and is before the heavy heat of the summer months in this region, so it is a great option.

After all the important general info about a trip to Jamaica, here are my favorite things to do in Jamaica

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Top 10 Things to Do in Jamaica and Best Places to visit in Jamaica

Here are some great places to visit in Jamaica and tips for what to do in Jamaica.

1)      Visit the many waterfalls

One of the things to do in Jamaica is to chase waterfalls.

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Jamaica is a unique island, boasting over 120 rivers that run through rainforests and mountains, creating the perfect environment for gorgeous, multi-tiered waterfalls. Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, on the northern coast of the island, is the most popular, but due to the nearby cruise port, it tends to get overly crowded.

If you want to get away and see some lesser-known falls, visit YS Falls on the south coast, or Reach Falls outside Port Antonio on the east coast – definitely some of Jamaica points of interest.

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2)      Go to 7 Mile Beach

One of the best beaches in Jamaica is the 7 Mile Beach.

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Located on the island’s west coast, this 7-mile beach is the nicest stretch of beach on the island, and being on the western end is perfect for sunsets as well, and it does not come as a surprise that it is one of he most beautiful places to Jamaica. The best bet is to stay in Negril and have this beach right in your backyard to enjoy!

3)      Appleton Rum Estate

If in Jamaica, visit the Appleton Rum Estate.

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Rum is one of Jamaica’s largest exports and Appleton Estate farms the sugarcane and distills the rum. A tour through the grounds is fun and informative. The scenery is very pretty with peacocks strutting about, tastings and Jamaican rum punch to enjoy, and you can even see a demonstration of the techniques used before modern technology.

4)     Cliff Jump at Rick’s Café

Another great Jamaica vacation spot is Rick´s Cafe.

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Another thing you must do in Jamaica is to cliff jump at Rick’s Café. It was one of the best times I had in Jamaica! Dining while listening to live reggae music and dancing was a blast, but it’s the cliff jumping you come here for!

They have several levels to jump from; I opted for the baby 10-footer, while the more daring jumped from the 20 or even the 35-footer! If you’re lucky, you may even catch professionals doing daring tricks as they leap in. It is located in the Negril area on the west coast of the island.

5)    Pirate Town of Port Royal

Here is another one of the best place to go in Jamaica.

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One of the main attractions in Jamaica is the Pirate Town of Port Royal. Once known as the “Wickedest City on Earth” and overrun by pirates, you can now visit and see some amazing history!

Visit the treasures in the Maritime museum, check out the forts lined with cannons and the Giddy House artillery shop, and if you scuba dive, you can also visit the parts of the town that sunk in the 1692 earthquake!

6)     Black River Safari

Here is another of the best places to go in Jamaica: seeing the Black River.

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The Black River (along the southern coast) is a collection of stunning mangroves and taking a black river safari is one of the most fun things to do in Jamaica. Taking a river cruise here, you will see tons of wildlife, including crocodiles! It’s a really cool experience and you get to see another side of Jamaica, away from the beach scene.

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Are you still wondering wha to do in Jamaica?

7)      Snorkel the Reef Systems

Another fun thing to do in Jamaica is to snorkel the reef system

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Montego Bay itself has a great, colorful reef for snorkeling, but due to it being a tourist hotspot, it can be crowded. I, personally, enjoyed snorkeling in the Negril area, where you can see tons of colorful fish and coral right in Bloody Bay, as well as Rock-house.

8)      Take a Ride on a Traditional Bamboo River Raft

Another to thing to do in Jamaica is a ride on a traditional bamboo river raft.

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With all of the rivers that Jamaica has to offer, you can’t miss taking a relaxing float down one on a traditional bamboo raft. Martha Brae, on the northern coast near Montego Bay, and the Rio Grande, on the western coast near Port Antonio, are the best spots to enjoy this. A local guide will pole the raft through the river waters and you can also give it a try yourself.

9)      Bioluminescent Lagoon

One of the best places to visit in Jamaica is the Luminous Lagoon.

There are very few places in the world where you can witness this magic of Mother Nature, and Jamaica is one of them! Located in the Trelawny area of Jamaica along the northern coast, you can visit the Luminous Lagoon at night to see the glowing phenomena and even take a dip.

Try to go during the new moon, if possible, to see the glow as brightly as possible – during a full moon, you may not get to experience the full effect. This is easily accessible from the Runaway Bay or Ocho Rios areas.

10)   Visit the Blue Mountains Coffee Plantations

Looking for more places to go in Jamaica?

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The Blue Mountains are another unique aspect of Jamaica – and very beautiful! A hike in the mountains is always enjoyable; starting in the tropical rainforest at the base, you can see the vegetation changing as you get to higher altitudes. In addition, this is where Jamaica’s coffee plantations are! You can take tours of a plantation and try out different brews – delicious.

What do you think? Have you ever been to Jamaica and what was the most beautiful place you have seen? What was the best thing do in Jamaica?

Hope, you have enjoyed the post and this post has inspired you to visit Jamaica. Let us know if which of these activities has made it on your bucket list!

About the Author:

Cassandra is a US-female travel addict that loves traveling the world. She has made traveling her priority and so she has traveled for the last few years.  Check out her site where she sells her travel photography.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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Safe Travels, Arzo