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Top Five Best Things About Visiting Jamaica

Updated on March 10, 2012

The Best of Jamaica

Jamaica is my favorite place in the world to visit when I need to unwind and relax. I traveled there for the first time in 2007 and have been back every year since. When I'm there I forget about my life back home, relaxing completely in the tropical paradise. Life slows down and I can truly live in the moment. What is it about Jamaica that I find so appealing? Jamaica is easy to get to, the resorts are top-notch, the country is amazingly beautiful, the food is divine, and there's so much to do! Read on to hear about the great experiences I've had while visiting Jamaica.

Jamaica: Easy Travel

If you live in the Midwest, East, or Southeast part of the United States, you can fly to Jamaica non-stop in about three hours. Air Jamaica, now owned by Caribbean Air, has non-stop flights that are reasonably priced and they don't charge extra for baggage. They even still serve food on their flights. It's recommended that you fly into Montego Bay rather than Kingston as you'll find you'll be closer to the major resort areas.

Once you arrive in Jamaica, getting around is pretty easy. It's a small island, only about 140 miles long by 25-50 miles high, and has a system of roads around the perimeter that makes it relatively quick to get to any of the popular resort towns. Negril, my favorite area, is only about an hour and a half from Montego Bay. Ocho Rios is about two hours away in the opposite direction. Either way, many of the resorts offer complimentary bus service from the airport to the hotel so there is no stress or worry about renting a car.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Seven Mile Beach in Negril, JamaicaSunset in JamaicaHorseback Riding is Offered on the BeachBeach VolleyballCouple's Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica
Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica
Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica | Source
Sunset in Jamaica
Sunset in Jamaica | Source
Horseback Riding is Offered on the Beach
Horseback Riding is Offered on the Beach | Source
Beach Volleyball
Beach Volleyball | Source
Couple's Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica
Couple's Swept Away in Negril, Jamaica | Source

Jamaica: Incomparable Beauty

Jamaica, as you can see from the photos, is an extremely beautiful country. In addition to the famous white sand beaches, like Seven Mile Beach in Negril, the country also has mountainous regions, rain forest type terrain, and cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

When I've visited Negril in the past, I've taken a catamaran trip to the furthest point west where steep rocky cliffs sprout out from the sea. The waves splash white against the rock and numerous resorts line the coast. Most of these resorts have a very natural look to them, blending into the cliff as if they belong there naturally. Some feature patios build into the cliffs with lounge chairs for relaxing. Past these resorts you'll find Rick's Cafe, one of the top rated bars in the Caribbean. Even if you don't drink, it's a great place to go to see people cliff dive.

But my favorite sites in Jamaica are the beach and the water. The sand is silky white and the water is the most amazing turquise blue and clear as a bath tub. You can often see schools of fish or a stingray swimming by along the shore as you relax under the shade of a palm tree.

Jamaica: Top Resorts

Jamaica has many options for where to stay. They range from small, boutique hotels to large hotel chains to all-inclusive resorts. My favorite place to stay is the award winning Couples Swept Away in Negril. If you're traveling with your spouse or significant other, consider one of the four Couples resorts in Jamaica, Couples Swept Away, Couples Negril, Couples Tower Isle, or Couples Sans Souchi. To learn more about Couples, read the article in link to the right.

If you're traveling with children, consider an all inclusive like Beaches or Breezes. Beaches has two resorts and Breezes has one on the island in Ocho Rios. When I stay at Couple Swept Away in Negril, I often walk up and down the beach or kayak the shoreline. I've seen the Beaches family resort in Negril and it seems like an awesome place for a family to stay. It is a bit expensive though.

If you're looking for a more affordable option, consider a hotel in Montego Bay or Negril with kitchen facilities. There you'll be able to prepare at least some of your own meals to save money on your trip.

Jamaica: Great Food

The food in Jamaica is unique and flavorful. Although you can get some typical American fare, you'd be remiss not to try some of the authentic Jamaican cuisine. Obviously, you'll want to try the jerk chicken. If you're staying at a resort, they'll most certainly have it on their menu. You can also find it at small roadside vendors or restaurants. Another dish to try is the beef or chicken patty. It's a pastry filled with a spicy beef or chicken mixture that's out of this world.

You'll also find foods in Jamaica that aren't usually eaten in the United States. For example, Ackee is a fruit that is found in many Jamaican recipes, including their National dish, Ackee and Salt Fish. They also use plaintains, which are similar to bananas, callaloo, which is similar to spinach, and coconut milk in many dishes.

Whatever the food you try, you'll find that everything is very flavorful due to the many seasonings used such as jerk seasoning, curry, ginger, garlic and allspice.

As far as beverages go, rum is used in many exotic frozen cocktails such as The Hummingbird. Jamaican rum is top notch and something you should try while there. I really like the spiced rum with coke. Another iconic Jamaican beverage is Red Stripe beer, which seems to be growing in popularity lately.

Steel Drum Band in Jamaica

Jamaica: Endless Activities

Jamaica offers so much more than just relaxing on a lounge chair on the beach, although if that's what you want, there's no shortage of beautiful beaches. The resort where I stay has so many actitivities that it's difficult to choose which to participate in each day. There's snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours, a catamaran sunset cruise, beach volleyball, bocci ball, horseshoes, live entertainment, hobie cats, sunfish, kayaking, paddle boats, wind surfing, tennis, golf, a full fitness center complete with classes and weight equipment, ping pong, pool, a full service spa, as well as crafts and activities to learn about Jamaican culture. Whew! Just listing them all makes me dizzy with the possibilities!

My favorite activities are the catamaran cruise, and beach sports. I also love the live entertainment on the beach on Christmas morning as shown in the video above. The steel drum is an instrument that's widely used in the Caribbean and has a unique sound that makes me happy and relaxed.

Going off the resort opens up additional opportunities for exciting actiivities such as hiking Dunn's River Falls, parasailing, renting a jet ski, horseback riding, or even shopping. There really is no shortage of fun things to do in Jamaica.

Have you ever visited Jamaica?

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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 3 years ago from New Jersey

      We first visited Negril, Jamaica in 2005, and have been back 4X. I have never seen such lush and beautiful plants, and love the calm, warm water. We stay at Negril Gardens, now Grand Pineapple. My husband passed on this year, and I didn't want the memories, so we went to a Grand Pineapple in Antigua, my son and I. The island was really just a bunch of bays, a lot of greenery, and all British people starved for sunshine. They were fun though. The staff was rude. I think Sandals is taking over the one in Antigua, but hope they keep the gardens in Jamaica, they work on them and they are gorgeous. It's a volcanic island, and there is plant life there not to be found anywhere else. And the people are great. I want to go back!

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 3 years ago from Texas

      I love Jamaica so much that I've been there 13 times! I agree that Couples Swept Away is one of the best in Negril. Good times, good food, good people. Great article!

    • blessedp profile image

      blessedp 3 years ago

      Beautiful hub @SD Dickens. I too love that island in the sun, it is a beautiful country that everyone should try and visit. It has some awesome scenery and the resorts and the beaches not to mention the food hmmm! is extraordinary.

      Jamaica is another of God's beautiful creation.

      I voted up thanks for your hub.

    • bookworm35 profile image

      Sheene Kirlew 5 years ago from Jamaica

      I'm Jamaican, and I'm so happy you've found such peace, comfort and pleasure in our small island. I live about 20 minutes from Negril, and I agree- it's a very beautiful and relaxing place. When I have a problem or just feel stressed, I'll take a good book and a taxi to Negril and walk along the beach, or simply lie under a tree, read, or watch the many visitors. Thanks for the great article!

    • lulu16 profile image

      lulu16 5 years ago from T & T

      My very favorite activity in Jamaica is just lying under Dunns River Falls, for as long as I can, without a care in the world! I was hoping to see at least one photo of you under the Falls! I still cherish my photo under the cascading white spraying waters.

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 5 years ago from North America

      We've been to Ocho Rios and it's beautiful there. It is a 2 hour bus ride from Montego Bay. I love the serene waters for swimming and the wonderful weather. Thanks for your hub!

    • profile image

      Robin M 5 years ago

      My 11 yr old is making his 7th visit with us in a month, sooooo looking forward to our return to this fantastic destination!

    • profile image

      Julie 5 years ago

      Making our first trip to Jamaica March 31. Staying at a Couples resort.............don't know yet which one. Looking forward to sun, beach, cocktails, and relaxing.

    • profile image

      Lena 5 years ago

      I agree! No better place on earth to relax and be in paradise! We got married in Couples Negril, and I'm obsessed with trying to find a way to go back...very soon! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • profile image

      missy 5 years ago

      Once you know, you go! Just booked my 7th trip to Couples Resorts! You forgot to mention the BEST part, the Jamaican people!

    • profile image

      amincio 5 years ago

      Going back to Couples Negril in July... I never want to be anywhere else on earth for vacation... And for all inclusive, 3hr flight.. it costs about as much as driving to the Jersey shore for a week. Paradise. Would recommend to anyone. Going with 2 other couples this year can't wait!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Emerald, Thanks for reading my hub and for the comments!

    • profile image

      Emerald Strachan 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with my country. This is amazing and just wonderful. Have a wonderful day.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      I didn't know that...thanks for reading and commenting rasta1!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Negril is the real Jamaican chill spot. Did you know that Negril hosts the most reggae concerts in the world.