The national motto
“Out of Many, One people"
Bolt to Jamaica
The national motto
“Out of Many, One people"
GMT -4 hours
You can tell Jamaica is unique from its national flag – it’s one of just two that excludes red, white and blue. Its bold coloured symbols represent the sun, the land and its resilient people. Venture on a Jamaica holiday to explore a real-life Fern Gully rainforest, bathe in pools fed by waterfalls and get swept away by spirited music. Sway to the island’s rhythm at the Reggae Sunsplash Festival, Ocho Rios Jazz Festival and Carnival.
Sun and sand are ‘musts’ on the Jamaican agenda. Kick back on the bountiful prime beaches, such as Seven Mile Beach in Negril and the more petite Doctor’s Cave Beach. Cool off on the waves with water sports – or grab a mask and snorkel to peep at the vibrant reefs and varied marine life. The ocean isn’t the only azure feature, either. Blue holes make popular swimming spots, and a trek up the Blue Mountains will provide vistas of the north and south coasts.
You may not pass for a local on the streets, since most Jamaicans are native-born, but you can still soak up the culture. Nip to the National Gallery of Jamaica and the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. For a more laidback induction, satiate your stomach with scrumptious dishes, like ackee and salt fish or curried goat, accompanied by smooth rums. Book your flights to Jamaica and savour the country’s exports of Blue Mountain coffee and Red Stripe beer in their homeland.
Retreat along a sprawling private beach in Ocho Rios at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica. You can expect excellent service and gourmet dining, as well as decadent treatments within the island’s largest spa. The extensive kids’ club with a jungle gym, splash park and tiny catwalk for miniature fashionistas make this a great choice for families.
The aptly named Couples Swept Away resort on Seven Mile Beach in Negril is another all-inclusive, but geared towards romance. While you can spend time together lying on the sandy shores or lazing in the five Jacuzzis, you can also bond during activities. Take to the 10-acre sports complex and hit the waves with included equipment hire. You can opt for a similar experience in Ocho Rios at Couples Tower Isle.
Choose Knutsford Court in Kingston as a budget-friendly option. It’s smaller and more intimate than a high-rise hotel, but it still offers a pool and a gym within a few minutes’ walk of the shops and restaurants of Knutsford Boulevard.
For a truly unique experience, check in to one of 12 cottages at The Caves resort in Negril. Their vantage point from the top of a dramatic limestone cliff provides stunning views, and although there’s no beach, you can scramble down a ladder to snorkel in sea caves.
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Some Jamaica hotels host a surplus of activities. However, some of the best holiday experiences are awaiting just outside of the resort. Grab suggestions from our Jamaica ‘things to do’ list to enjoy a dash of the local lifestyle.
1. Have you gotten spoiled by the gorgeous beaches around the island? Mix up your swimming routine with a trip to one of Jamaica’s blue holes, near Ocho Rios. Take off for Irie Blue Hole in the morning before it rains, and reward yourself post-trek with a refreshing plunge into the teal pool. Some visitors jump in from a rocky ledge or drop from a rope swing – but you can descend more gently. Cash will come in handy if you would like to purchase water shoes, order food from vendors or hire a local guide.
2. Bob Marley’s wife converted the musician’s former home into a museum – and it's unsurprisingly the most frequented site in Kingston. Fans of the world-famous icon can cram in knowledge about his life and career during an hour-long Bob Marley Home tour, which will take you past his gold and platinum records and media clippings. You’ll also get to see his bedroom, left as he kept it, and his personal effects. Before you go, stop in the museum’s gift shop, record shop and One Love Café.
3. Sometimes drinking is associated with silliness, but clever spirits enthusiasts can get clued in on rum at Appleton Rum Estate – the nation’s largest and oldest distillery. Head to Nassau Valley for the lowdown. You can inspect everything from the sugar cane fields and the molasses they yield to the rum’s aging barrels. After a trip to the tasting room, savour a cocktail with a meal at the lounge and bar. Alternatively, grab a limited-edition rum from the gift shop.
4. Yes, you can bobsled in tropical climes, a la ‘Cool Runnings’. The Jamaican Mystic Mountain Adventure Park gives you a chance to careen down a thrilling 1000-metre track amidst the treetops. Race full-throttle or hit the handbrake to slow your speed. You’ll take a 15-minute chairlift ride with astounding views of the forest and Caribbean Sea to arrive at the attraction. Once you finish your trip down the track, catch your breath at the infinity pool, hummingbird garden and cultural centre.
5. Kickstart your day by summiting Jamaica’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak. (It’s more than just a coffee brand.) The prominent geological feature stands 2256 metres tall, so you’ll have to start early if you want to arrive in time for sunrise, since the seven-mile ascent takes roughly four hours. Still, you can hike any time of day. You’ll be rewarded with views of Buff Bay and Kingston on a clear day – as well as a shadowy indication of Cuba.
When in Jamaica, you’ve got to experience Kingston. It’s blessed with a captivating coastline, as well as inviting views of the Blue Mountains. Like most capital cities, Kingston offers opportunities to experience the best of the nation’s art and culture. Hang out Downtown to peek at the historic buildings and artwork within the National Gallery of Jamaica – or head Uptown for a breezier vibe.
It’s no secret that you’ll find the very best beaches in Negril, including the famous Seven Mile Beach. Venture to the very western tip of the island to chill out among brilliant white sands and turquoise waters. You can stay right on the beach or stop in at one of many beach bars for sundowners. Port Antonio, on the other side of the island, offers swimmers the unique Blue Lagoon, an oasis of piercing aquamarine waters, surrounded by greenery.
The formerly quiet port town of Montego Bay is not far from Negril. It is frequented by travellers for its harbour and beautiful beaches. Golf courses and nightlife have become part of the tourist scene, too. Try to time your visit with a yacht race – or the massive Sunsplash reggae festival in August – for extra fun.
Ocho Rios is another village that has bloomed in popularity throughout the years. The rainforest surrounding Fern Gully offers a nice shady respite – and tours often pair it with a trip to the impressive 600-foot Dunn’s River Falls. (James Bond fans will recognise this as a scene where ‘Dr. No’ was filmed.
The best hotels in Jamaica are just waiting for you to arrive. However, you’ve got to decide whether you want an all-inclusive holiday to Jamaica or a cheap holiday to Jamaica. Either way, you can book a good value trip.
Couples Negril offers the ultimate convenience in Jamaica with an all-inclusive offering that covers unlimited water sports and scuba diving, in addition to gourmet dining around the clock. You and your partner can take it easy, tune into nightly entertainment or join included local excursions.
Plenty of Jamaica resorts cater for families, too. For instance, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa will delight with its full activity programme, kids’ club and water park. Parents will prefer the palm-lined beaches, 18-hole golf course and spa. However, the eight on-site restaurants are sure to please everyone’s tastes.
Feeling glam? Float around a rooftop pool at the adults-only Breathless Montego Bay Resort and Spa – and grab refreshments from the swim-up bar. Burn off any extra energy with sports and organised fitness classes. When temperatures cool off in the evening, cosy up around the firepits or show off your best dance moves at themed parties.
For a memorable stay, sleep six feet off the ground in a ‘treehouse-style’ lodge. The rooms at Sunset of the Palms in Negril are raised up on stilts and each come with a private porch. Resort facilities include a spa, private beach club and water sports centre.
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