Most Beautiful Places in Jamaica to Visit
Heading to Jamaica soon and wondering about the best places to visit in Jamaica and the top best things to do? Then read on and find out about where to go in Jamaica and get some important travel tips.
This post was written by Cassandra.
Jamaica was only the 2nd Caribbean island I had visited, and I had no idea what to expect. Still, 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 forests, coral reef systems, coffee plantations, historic forts, and much more were contained on this island. With something to satiate all travel cravings, whether you love adventure, nature, relaxation, or history, you will definitely find it here!
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Pre-Travel Guide for Jamaica
Here are some quick tips for your trip before we discuss the best places to visit in 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 the 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 island’s coastal areas, which are more laid back and accustomed to travelers.
- Smoking weed is widespread 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.
- 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 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.
- Most coastal areas are accustomed to travelers, and I have found most people in Jamaica very friendly. Also, the main language spoken is English, which makes communication easy.
- Besides, 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 Jamaica
Although an island, Jamaica is a large one! It would take over six hours to cross from one side to the other.
Also, 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 arrange local drivers.
Things to pack for Jamaica
The island is hot, year-round! Pack summer and beach clothes, sandals and sneakers (depending on activities), bug spray, a raincoat (always a good idea if doing rainforest trekking), sunscreen, sunglasses, as well as a basic first aid kit with over-the-counter meds. Check out this summer packing guide for your Jamaica trip.
Where to stay in Jamaica
Below are my favored areas and hotel options. I choose the hotels based on location, mainly, and NOT being all-inclusive to 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), which is why I think it is the best place to vacation in Jamaica.
Just check the location on a map about 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. However, you will most likely fly into Montego Bay and take a transfer from there for both Negril and Ocho Rios.
- If you prefer a mega-resort or an all-inclusive stay, though, Montego Bay may be for you. Click here for accommodation in Montego Bay.
- Negril – Located right on a 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.
- 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 into 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.
- Ocho Rios – Located on the northern coast, this area is about two hours from the Montego Bay airport and is tucked into a lush, tropical rainforest. Hermosa Cove Villa Resort & Suites is a very well-rated resort nestled amid 12 acres of tropical gardens and 500 meters from Mahogany Beach.
Best time to visit Jamaica
Almost any time! Note that November and December bring high price points. 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 summer months’ heavy heat in this region, so it is a great option.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN JAMAICA
After all the important general info about a trip to Jamaica, here are my places to visit in Jamaica.
Visit the many waterfalls
One of the things to do in Jamaica is to chase waterfalls – but which ones?
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 it tends to get overly crowded due to the nearby cruise port. Dunn’s River Falls dumps into the main Ocho Rios bay – it is 55 meters high and 180 meters wide. You can climb the limestone rocks and see the cascading pools along the way. You could also use the staircase up the side – if you do not want to get wet.
- If you want to get away and see some lesser-known falls, visit YS Falls on the south coast. There are seven waterfalls, several of which cascade into natural pools.
- Reach Falls are outside Port Antonio on the east coast – definitely some of the best places to visit in Jamaica. Enjoy the cascading waterfall, have a picnic in the area, and do a guided tour upstream the Driver’s River (which feeds the waterfall) featuring a visit inside our legendary underwater cave. This is the waterfall that was featured in Tom Cruise’s Cocktails and the remake of Lord of the Flies.
- Konoko Falls: You can climb the 200-foot waterfall to reach the vantage point offering great views over the port town and Ocho Rios. Bring your bathing suit if you go to the natural shower or if you swim to the mini-cave. The Reach Falls are nestled into the hills of St. Ann parish, and you´ll also find a botanical garden, jerk hut, and educational center in the area and Bob Marley.
Go to 7 Mile Beach
One of the best places to go in Jamaica is 7-Mile Beach.
Located on the island’s west coast, this Seven Mile Beach in Negril 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 the most beautiful places to Jamaica. The water is clear and beautiful, and the sandy beach is perfect for nice strolls or just lying around.
The best bet is to stay in Negril and have this beach right in your backyard to enjoy! Also, there are security guards who patrol the shores near the resorts for your safety.
Appleton Rum Estate
If in Jamaica, visit the Appleton Rum Estate.
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 beautiful 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. This is a different place to visit in Jamaica and not like the other places on this list.
The admission fee for Appleton is around $30 US (adult). Here are day tours to Appleton Estate (pssst, check whether the entrance ticket is already included).
Cliff Jump at Rick’s Café
Another great Jamaica vacation spot is Rick´s Cafe. Rick´s Cafe is located in the Negril area on the west coast of the island – the area was long only known for the beautiful 7-Mile Beach until Rick´s Cafe opened in 1974 – the first public bar and restaurant in the area.
Cliff jumping at Rick’s Café was one of the best experiences in Jamaica I had! 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. Also, Rick´s Cade is also known as one of the best sunset spots in Jamaica. Click here to find tours – Day trip to Negril and Rick´s Cafe from Montego Bay
Pirate Town of Port Royal
One of the main attractions in Jamaica is the Pirate Town of Port Royal.
The village is located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of Kingston Harbour, in southeastern Jamaica, and was founded in the 15th century by the Spanish. It was once known as the “Wickedest City on Earth” and overrun by pirates. However, at the height of its wealth in the 17the century, a big part of the town sank into the sea because of an earthquake.
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!
Black River Safari
Here is another of the best places to visit in Jamaica: the Black River. It is one of the longest rivers in the country (about 33 miles) and a collection of stunning mangroves. 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. Check out Black River Cruises and enjoy this activity yourself.
Snorkel the Reef Systems in Negril
This is not a typical place to visit in Jamaica but rather a must-do activity: Snorkeling the reef system.
Where to snorkel in Jamaica? Montego Bay itself has a great, colorful reef for snorkeling, but it can be crowded due to it being a tourist hotspot. 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.
Take a ride on a traditional Bamboo River Raft at Rio Grande
Another top place to visit in Jamaica is a ride on a traditional bamboo river raft on Rio Grande.
With all of the rivers that Jamaica offers, you can’t miss taking a relaxing float down one on a traditional bamboo raft. On the northern coast near Montego Bay, Martha Brae, 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.
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 the 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. The glow comes from small microorganisms that emit a flash of light when touched. The microscopic organisms live and create this natural phenomenon which is known as bioluminescence. Jamaica’s luminous lagoon being the brightest amazes scientists and visitors worldwide.
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.
Visit the Blue Mountains Coffee Plantations
Looking for more places to go in Jamaica?
The Blue Mountains are another unique aspect of Jamaica – and very beautiful! The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica, and you will also find the island’s highest point, which is Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 meters above sea level.
A hike in the mountains is always enjoyable; starting in the base’s tropical rainforest, you can see the vegetation changing as you reach higher altitudes. Also, this is where Jamaica’s coffee plantations are! You can take tours of a plantation and try out different brews – delicious.
Final Thoughts on Stunning Places in Jamaica
I hope you have enjoyed the post and you have a better idea about the best places to visit in Jamaica. It is surely a unique country and has so much to offer that not all beautiful places in Jamaica are mentioned here. However, the above-mentioned places are some of the best the country has to offer.
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.