Jamaica is a treasure chest full of beautiful experiences and attractive places to visit. With so many options to choose from, it can be tricky to figure out the best places to visit.
As travel nuts, we’re obsessed with finding the most unique and cool places to see, so we’ve rounded up what we think are some must-visit places to point you in the right direction.
18 Must-Visit Places in Jamaica
Stunning beaches, fantastic weather, reggae music, and the most delicious Caribbean meals are a few truths synonymous with Jamaica. Pomp and color wash over major towns during Jamaican festivals.
The lush rainforests, green mountains, turquoise seas, and the ever-flowing rivers have visitors from all corners of the world flocking to experience what can be found nowhere else.
Jamaica may be a small country in the West Indies, but nothing about the people here or the spectacular sights is small. There are numerous grand resorts in Montego Bay that tourists get to call home as they explore the rest of Jamaica temporarily.
Home to famed reggae musician the late Bob Marley, Jamaica is a repository waiting to be unraveled by many looking to vacation. Don’t know where to start? Here are the 18 best places to visit in Jamaica.
1. Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is home to the most glorious waterfalls, greenest mountains, expansive coffee plantations, and dense rainforests. In 2015, this park made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This park also stands in the books of history as a place where escaped enslaved people would seek refuge. Over the years, this place has remained the same. The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park harbors an incredible collection of wildlife.
The park has over 200 bird species, 800 endemic plants species, and a huge butterfly collection. It’s said that the second-largest butterfly in the world lives here.
Ride a mule or hike up to the 2,256-meter Blue Mountain Peak. Set aside at least two days to fully explore the park. This way, you can see breathtaking views of neighboring Cuba and create memorable experiences.
2. Negril Beaches
Jamaica without Negril is like food without seasoning. Negril is a town in the western part of Jamaica where you’ll find the most beautiful beaches. The beaches stretch over seven miles, are the clearest shade of blue, and have the whitest sand.
Bordering the long beaches are resorts, cottages, and boutique homes — a haven for tourists who love snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and tanning in the sun.
Don’t forget to visit the Negril Cliffs that elegantly rise above the clear blue waters on your visit here. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset. If you are looking for an adrenalin rush, consider jumping off the cliffs for fun.
3. Port Antonio
Most tourist spots are plagued with hawkers trying to sell visitors souvenirs, food, water, or other items. Port Antonio is, ironically, one of the few places you won’t find many people trying to convince you to buy something they are selling.
Port Antonio is a quiet resort village between the harbor and the mountains. It sets the perfect stage for tourists who love fishing and vacationing peacefully, without all the noise synonymous with town centers.
The near-endless trails make this place an excellent choice for visitors who love hiking. Other fun activities in Port Antonio include rafting in the Rio Grande, diving and snorkeling, visiting the Reach Falls, and swimming in the blue lagoon that’s said to be 60 meters deep.
4. Martha Brae River
Nothing beats the excitement that comes with rafting in a natural river’s rough and calm waters. If you are looking for such an experience, you must try rafting in the Martha Brae River.
Ideal for couples, you may choose to go by yourselves or have a guide accompany you. The tropical views are like nothing you’ve seen anywhere else in the world.
While rafting, the guides never waste a chance to entertain you. They’ll sing reggae songs, narrate short but interesting stories about the surroundings and make several stops for you to buy refreshments and souvenirs.
The Martha Brae River stands out for most visitors because it’s accessible via other tourist destinations like Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios.
5. Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay
Montego bay is a tourist playground that entices tourists from far and beyond. One of its delightful gifts is the Doctor’s cave beach. Pssst, rumor has it that the waters here have healing powers.
Visitors throng the beach from all over the world to touch, swim or soak in the waters, some for fun, some because they believe they’ll get healed of some ailment.
As a result, hotels have sprouted in the area, making Doctor’s Cave Beach a resort town and a flourishing tourist attraction.
Here, shops, changing rooms, and decent restaurants are available for tourists. Tourists will have to part for a small fee to access the beach. However, the fee is a small price to pay considering the experience in store for you.
6. Dunn’s River Falls
The pride and joy of Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River falls stretches over 180 meters. The clear/white waters elegantly glide over rocks to make it into the sea below. Tourists love to climb up the limestone edges to get to the top of the falls.
With a guide in tow, the cool water comes as a welcome contrast to the typical heat that washes over Jamaica. Schedule your visit to the Dunn’s River Falls along with cruise ship tourists.
This way, you experience the falls as a group and get to visit other nearby attractions like the birthplace of Bob Marley. Swim in the natural pools and take an evening boat ride in the Mystic Lagoon.
7. Blue Hole, Ocho Rios
Locals call it the Irie Blue Hole or the Island Gully Falls. The Blue hole is a series of aqua-colored water holes hidden in the rich green-covered mountains of Ocho Rios. Pick a guide to help you maneuver through the area.
Explore the jump-off cliffs and waterfalls and swim in the cool pools below. Bordering the blue holes are enchanting waterfalls that pose a challenge for many who want to try climbing.
Should you want to try climbing up the waterfalls, carry light clothes and put on water shoes.
The rocks you will be stepping on are super slippery. While you will have your guide climbing up with you, it’s of utmost importance for you to come prepared and ready to try hard to safely get to the top of the falls.
8. Rose Hall Great House, Montego Bay
Annie Palmer, famously known as the ‘white witch,’ lived in Rose Hall. She is famed for her no-nonsense demeanor and cruelty. Rose hall is a renovated plantation house that was built in 1770.
It features gorgeous ocean views, and some of the dated furniture is still there for tourists to see. Visiting Rose hall during the day is full of lessons about what happened here in the colonial and pre-colonial eras.
However, if you love horror-ghost stories, consider visiting Rose Hall at night and taking a candle-lit tour through the property. Guides go the extra mile to show up as different characters to make their hair rising tales of ghosts seem even more true.
It’s said that the ghost of the white witch lingers here to date.
9. Reach Falls
Hidden deep in Montane forest is a precious gem, the peaceful Reach Falls. While most other falls violently gush off the cliffs and crash down on the rocks below, the Reach falls are the opposite.
The falls flow gently and quietly, slowly cascading down to the underwater caves. Visitors love to let the water wash over them as they take trips inside the creepy caves.
Be sure to ask for assistance from one or more of the numerous guides at the site. Are you a bird watcher? If yes, you’ll be amazed by the vast collection of birds the forest has. A bird that always makes itself known is the yellow-billed parrot.
10. Mayfield Falls
For nature enthusiasts, nothing gives them a rush more than experiencing untouched natural places and items. Drive for about an hour from Negril, past the villages, and one of the places you are likely to end up is Mayfield Falls.
This oasis has a rich fern collection, two grand waterfalls, a vast collection of tropical flowers, natural springs, and 21 natural pools.
The well-built, thatched gazebos along the riverside serve as pit stops where you can purchase refreshments and get to know the area from the people’s perspective and rest.
While it’s always best to choose a guide to help you maneuver the Mayfield Falls, most visitors can swim, jump off the cliffs, climb over the boulders, and generally experience the falls all on their own.
11. Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain
Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios is like a playground for adults looking to make their blood boil in excitement. The fastest way to experience the mountain forest is by taking a single-person rollercoaster ride.
In addition, there’s no shortage of ziplines meandering through the treetops. Bring your camera with you and take photos of the panoramic views of the mountain.
Don’t miss the chairlift ride up the mountain dubbed the ‘sky explorer.’ The Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain is always bustling with activities.
Besides the ziplines, chairlifts, and rollercoaster rides, you can visit the hummingbird and butterfly gardens, take guided nature walks, dip in the infinity pools, challenge yourself on the climbing wall, or take a dip in the infinity pools, challenge yourself take a rope course ride through the lush greenery.
Seeing the entire forest, the town, and the sea from the top of the mountain is a memory that will be etched in your mind forever.
12. Rio Grande River
A visit to the Rio Grande river is for the tourists looking for a laidback experience rafting on the river. Some visitors also prefer to relax by the riverside where you may indulge in the snacks and refreshments you bought on your way here.
Compared to the Martha Brae River, Rio Grande is less crowded, with fewer activities. With a guide accompanying you, you may yet find out interesting facts about the Rio Grande.
For example, in 1911, rafting on the river was a means of transportation for farmers to move their bananas from one point to another. The entire Rio Grande river tour can take about two and a half hours.
13. Black River Tour
The black river boasts a top place among the longest rivers in Jamaica. To explore this attraction site fully, a safari boat ride works best. Abound the tranquil waters; your guide will offer a comprehensive review of the river, taking you through a mental picture of what it’s like to live here.
They’ll also tell you about the area’s history and narrate interesting facts about the river’s ecology. The river is home to over 100 bird species and crocodiles.
Not too far away are the YS Falls. The YS Falls is a series of seven falls, a few of which make natural deep blue pools that make perfect spots for visitors to cool off. Other activities you may indulge in at the falls include zip lining, rope swinging, and river tubing.
Falmouth is a well-hidden town that lets you in on 19th-century Georgian architecture. Falmouth was then one of the biggest ports. One of the courthouses used centuries ago has been fully restored and can be viewed today.
Cattle land and sugar estate now surround Falmouth. A major tourist attraction in Falmouth is the Greenwood Great House which Richard Barrett built-in 1790.
Now the house serves as a museum for the state of the art paintings, Wedgewood china, furniture, and a unique musical instrument collection. Tourists prefer to spend time on Falmouth’s Burwood and Red Stripe beaches on their visit here.
Some also like to go to the Coconut and sugar plantation dubbed Good Hope Plantation, built-in 1755. Nearby is the Luminous Lagoon, where there exists phosphorescence marine.
15. Portland Parish
Jamaica has the most delicious fruits and sumptuous meals. Ever wonder where most of it comes from? Portland Parish is home to the largest mango, banana, coffee, ackee, and breadfruit plantations.
Portland Parish town has a lot to offer to visit tourists. However, the real deal is going to the plantations and tasting fresh produce straight from the trees. On your stay here, visit the Boston Jerk Center and sample mouthwatering jerked foods prepared with traditional spices.
The best thing about visiting Portland Parish is that there’s no shortage of tourist accommodation. Some include the Fern Hill Club, Dragon Bay Villas, and Goblin Hill Hotel.
Kingston is Jamaica’s capital city. It’s where Jamaica truly comes alive. Kingston is ever bouncing with activity, a sharp contrast to the renowned beaches, pristine waters, and calm breezes.
Kingston town is a cosmopolitan space where you find more people and have organized tours that give you a better idea of the history of this place. If you crave some reggae music, get your full treatment at the Emancipation Park, where music concerts are held almost every other day.
Kingston’s top must-see attractions include Port royal, the Bob Marley Museum, and the Trench Culture Yard Museum. Visitors also love to go to the Natural History Museum, Devon House, and The National Gallery.
Before independence, the British largely dominated Jamaica. In Mandeville, you can view how much influence the British had over the land. Mandeville is a town set high up in the mountains of South Central Jamaica.
Tourists travel from different parts of the world to experience the slower-paced life of the locals here and learn more about the cultivation of coffee.
Mandeville has a small population of about 50,000 people. It’s famous for being the town set highest, sitting at an altitude of 2061 ft. above sea level. This tropical paradise is also home to the first Bauxite Mining site.
Tourists passionate about experiencing and learning about the Jamaican lifestyle never miss a chance to visit Accompong. Here, visitors are glad to switch the posh resorts with the locals for a day or two.
A stark contrast to the white sandy beaches, Accompong is a distant town without rivers or seas nearby. This place stands out because of the local people’s openness to letting strangers into their homes.
In this small town, people don’t pay taxes. It is an independent town that, until recently, did not permit outsiders past the gates. Today, residents freely mingle with tourists and make special home-cooked meals to accommodate their new friends.
Accompong is the main attraction site for places like the peace cave and town museum and hosts the annual Maroon Festival, which attracts hundreds of tourists from across the globe.
Things to Consider Before Visiting Jamaica
No doubt, Jamaica has a truckload of experiences for the curious tourist eager to visit Jamaica. While there are many nice things this glorious place has to offer, you must come prepared.
Some of the things you should know before visiting Jamaica include:
Best Time to Visit
Like most other tropical areas, Jamaica’s climate ranges from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The peak season starts in December and ends in April. If you’re working on a budget, visit Jamaica from May to November, when it’s more cost-effective.
Driving in Jamaica
People here drive at cut-throat speeds. If you can’t keep up, your next best option is to take a taxi with a red license plate.
Jamaicans prefer to use the Jamaican Dollar as their primary form of currency. The US dollar is also accepted here.
Hundreds of street vendors selling snacks and specially made meals will invite you to try something out if you look like a visitor. Some of the delicious meals you should try to include curried goat, roasted yams, peppered shrimp, oxtail stew, saltfish, and peppered shrimp. Most of the local food is spicy.
With all the beautiful beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, and dense mountains, Jamaica is a large playground for adults and children alike. Some of the fun activities you should try to include scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, rafting, and swimming.
What to Avoid
On your visit to Jamaica, you must be vigilant. Some of the things you should avoid include:
- Avoid getting into a taxi without a red number plate.
- Avoid putting on camouflage clothing. It’s illegal.
- Avoid following the rough roads without a guide; you may get lost.
- Avoid flaunting your wealth. You make yourself a target for burglars.
- Avoid hitchhiking and traveling at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Jamaicans speak English?
Most Jamaicans speak fluent English. However, their main language is broken English, dubbed Patois.
What are the safest places to visit in Jamaica?
Most resort towns have adequate security measures to keep locals and tourists safe. The safest places in Jamaica include Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, Mandeville, and Negril.
Is Marijuana legal in Jamaica?
Contrary to what most reggae songs preach, Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica.
Must I exchange money before I arrive in Jamaica?
You can exchange money both in your country and in Jamaica as well. Most hotels, resorts, and commercial banks offer money exchange services. Note, however, that exchanging your money back home is better than doing so in Jamaica. The rates in your home country may be more favorable than those in Jamaica.
What’s best to wear in Jamaica?
Comfort is of utmost importance than style because Jamaica is a relatively warm place. Put on light, casual clothes made of natural materials like cotton, linen, or silk. Be sure to bring a few sweaters to put on at night when it can be cold or start raining.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in Jamaica?
With all the hard work you put in day in and day out, a vacation in Jamaica is well deserved. An oasis of some sort, this vast Caribbean island is full of tiny treasures waiting to be unraveled. It’s home to the happiest people in the world, wild animals, birds, and insects.
Whether you have a full itinerary or don’t know about the best places to go in Jamaica, everything above is a comprehensive guide to the best places you should visit in Jamaica. Happy travels!