Columbus on beholding the island for the first time described Jamaica as “the fairest land…”. He has had company ever since. Jamaica, to many visitors epitomises paradise, a step above the ordinary. Our island seems to have always attracted her share of visitors, and despite the small size has made wonderful memories for millions of visitors each year. Jamaica with only 10,991 square kilometres (4,244 square miles) is more than beaches and hotels; it is a phenomenon, an experience – best savoured by immersion or in small bits. We have broken down these bits as resort areas. These resort areas include Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, the South Coast, Negril, and Port Antonio.
Sheltered by the Blue Mountains, the Kingston Resort area is bordered to the north by Jamaica’s largest mountain range and to the south by the world’s 7th largest natural harbour. The resort area of Kingston provides a contrast of experiences that cannot be found in any other resort area or across the region. Kingston provides opportunities for natural, historical, cultural and recreational experiences.
Often referred to as “the heartbeat of Jamaica”, Kingston is considered the business and cultural capital of the Caribbean. The area is home to many thriving educational and entrepreneurial institutions as well as numerous entertainment and recreational facilities. Access to the area is made easy through the Norman Manley International Airport, the Tinson Pen Aerodrome, and a healthy road network.
The seat of government for the island, Kingston is the official home for the Governor General (the Queen’s representative on island), the Prime Minister’s Residence and Office (Vale Royal and Jamaica House respectively), as well as the region’s largest University campus (the University of the West Indies).
The Kingston resort area’s sights include:
- The historic towns of Spanish Town and Port Royal
- Theatres, playhouses and clubs
- Meeting spaces of varying sizes and budgets
- Galleries, craft shops and markets
- Gardens and coffee farms
- Bird watching and hiking trails
Jamaica’s bustling second city, Montego Bay (MoBay for short) is considered the tourist capital of the island. Graced with a modern international airport (Sangster International) and cruise ship pier which can accommodate megaliners, Montego Bay is a thriving city abuzz with activities for every budget and preference.
The “complete resort”, Montego Bay has all the very best that Jamaica has to offer including five (5) championship golf courses, boutique and luxury hotels, themed restaurants and gaming lounges as well as picture-perfect white sand beaches. Montego Bay is home to the Hip Strip – a full mile of restaurants, entertainment, shopping, fun and excitement.
The resort area encompasses the town of Falmouth with its fine examples of Georgian architecture and the Jamaican Vernacular. The sleepy seaside town of Falmouth dates back to the early 1700’s and was served by piped potable water before many major North American cities, including New York.
The Montego Bay resort area’s sights include:
- Rose Hall and Greenwood Great Houses
- Croydon and Hilton Plantations
- The “Hip Strip”
- White sand beaches
- The Luminous Lagoon
- Five (5) Championship Golf Courses
The quintessential “kick-your-shoes-off, do-as-you-please” resort area with its laid back atmosphere and picturesque sunsets, Negril is Jamaica’s most westerly of resort areas. Dubbed the “capital of casual”, Negril is a popular getaway for those who want an escape from the daily grind – it is the place to pack a bag and run to. Protected by law from large scale developments and high rises, the area has intimate bungalows on the beach besides sprawling all inclusives; pubs with live reggae music and local fare that cater to all budgets and tastes.
Negril Sites include:
- The Kool Runnings Water Park
- The World Famous 7 mile beach
- Watching Sunsets at Jakes
- Cliff Diving
Encompassing the garden parish of St. Ann, the resort area of Ocho Rios is the nature lover’s escape. Fabled to be watered by eight rivers (as its name suggests) Ocho Rios provides a lush landscape of caves, gardens, rivers and white sand beaches. The name Ocho Rios actually derives from “Las Choreras” meaning “waterfalls” and may be a reflection of the many waterfalls in the area. From the Fern Gully located in the remains of an old river bed to the tiered waterfalls of Dunn’s River, arguably, Jamaica’s most popular attraction, Ocho Rios draws thousands of visitors back to arguably the island’s most romantic, picturesque resort area.
The “centerpiece of Jamaica”, Ocho Rios provides a range of activities from golf to watersports to equestrian and soft adventure activities. The area is approximately equidistant between the island’s two cities – Kingston and Montego Bay, providing excellent access from both international airports. The birthplace of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, Ocho Rios offers a variety of cultural experiences – Marley’s mausoleum at Nine Miles, ReggaeXplosion and Seville Heritage Park all help to chronicle Jamaica’s experience in story and song.
The Ocho Rios resort area’s sights include:
- Dunn’s River Falls
- Fern Gully
- Shaw Park, Coyaba and Cranbrook Gardens
- Dover Raceway
- Craft and Duty free Shopping
The South Coast
Small intimate communities, rustic, comfortable inns, fresh produce and provisions are images conjured by the island’s South Coast. The eclectic “off the beaten track” resort area is the cradle of the island’s community based tourism initiatives. Rising in the cool hills of Manchester across the more temperate flatlands of St. Elizabeth, the South Coast is plantations and safaris, peppered shrimp at Middle Quarters and curried lobster at Little Ochie, cold Red Stripe at Floyds and Papaya Daiquiri at YS Falls. It is iconically, Appleton Estate and the unique flavour of Jamaica birthed in the cool, lush Nassau Valley and the people who make it the world’s finest rum.
South Coast sights include:
- The towns of Mandeville, Black River and Treasure Beach
- Milk River Bath & Spa
- YS Falls
- Safaris on the Black River
- Lovers’ Leap
- Appleton Estate
The picturesque eastern end of the island has a special allure for those who enjoy the calm peace of an English countryside framed by the majestic Blue Mountains and azure Caribbean waters. Port Antonio is quiet, quaint and intimate with its homely villas hidden in forested nooks and waterfalls gushing from the hillsides into serene rivers. One visit and you’ll understand why we say Port Antonio, naturally.
Home to the Maroons of Moore Town and the bastion of Jamaica’s sole heroine, Nanny, Port Antonio has been home to many other famous residents including Errol Flynn, the Hollywood actor who used cargo rafting on the Rio Grande as a recreational activity for his guests. The area receives more rainfall than any other area on island resulting in verdant pastures, rivers and landscapes teaming with indigenous flora and fauna.
Port Antonio is also a yachter’s haven with a modern marina, named in honour of Errol Flynn, and dry dock facility. Jamaica’s longest running fishing tournament – the Port Antonio Marlin Tournament – takes place in the area each October.
Port Antonio sights include:
- Folly Ruins
- Nonsuch and Foxes Caves
- Scatter, Reich and Somerset waterfalls
- The Blue Lagoon and Frenchman’s Cove
- The Errol Flynn Marina
- White sand beaches
Jamaica offers a vacation for every traveler and every budget. Scores of hotels, villas, inns and apartments are enhanced by attractions ranging from historic sites to soft adventure. A modern transportation system provides ease between and in resort areas.