When you arrive in Jamaica, you will probably head for the beach as soon as possible. There, the beauty of the coastline lapped by the crystal clear azure Caribbean Sea can make you slip into a laid back mood that is hard to shake. But Jamaica is an island of variety and there is much to see and do.
Most visitors to Jamaica, hoping for an enjoyable vacation will be looking for a wonderful resort town. Jamaica’s top three resort towns are Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Negril is famous for its party atmosphere and younger hedonistic crowds that flock to its seven mile beach, a sliver of white sand that snakes along the West coast of the island. But the resort town has grown and now stretches further South after the beach ends where the rocky cliffs, rising as high as forty feet, have also become very popular. Along this whole strip one will find a wide variety of accommodation, with countless hotels, villas, cottages and apartments, interspersed among bars, restaurants, shops, attractions, and other businesses catering to the roaring tourist trade.
Along the sandy beach, the sea is usually calm, so a variety of water sports establishments will encourage you to try sailing, snorkeling, parasailing, scuba diving, windsurfing, and more. Where the sea meets the cliffs, it is usually rougher and water sports are best enjoyed earlier in the day.
Many visitors, staying in other areas, make day trips to Negril to experience this wilder side of Jamaica’s tourism offerings. Their day out usually culminates in a visit to Rick’s Cafe where they wait for the sun to set. Until that red ball sinks into the Caribbean Sea, many will sip their favourite island cocktails while joining in or just watching brave souls leap from the cliffs into the water.
In 2010, Montego Bay was crowned the Leading Beach Destination in the World at the World Travel Awards, the “Oscars” of the travel business. It’s a cruise ship port, bringing many tourists to sample the island’s rich culture and exotic beauty in a day stop.
Like Negril, there is a variety of accommodation and plenty to do, as well as many gorgeous beaches to bask in the sunshine, if that is all you want to do. Very popular activities include rafting down winding rivers on long bamboo rafts, touring the marine park in an undersea boat, partying at Margaritaville and other bars, shopping and sightseeing.
The most famous attraction in Jamaica without any doubt is Dunn’s River Falls, a clean river that naturally cascades six hundred feet down to the sea, just a few miles from the lively resort town of Ocho Rios. James Bond made a big splash on the beach at Dunn’s River Falls when he surprised the gorgeous Ursulla Andress as she emerged from the water in nothing but her white bikini and diver’s knife. Climbing up the cascading waterfall is a must-do activity.
Ocho Rios is also a busy cruise ship port with docking facilities for up to three vessels to anchor right at the beautiful crescent-shaped bay. And there is plenty for visitors to see and do. For example, fans of the reggae superstar, Bob Marley, may take a trip to Nine Mile to see his birth place and pay their respects to a legend, who was undoubtedly one of the World’s most famous protest musicians. Others may head off to see Fern Gully, or Shaw Park Gardens, or Goldeneye where Ian Flemming penned his famous James Bond novels. Noel Coward’s hilltop home is also open to visitors and many exclaim that the view from there is one of the best on the island.
Ocho Rios offers a huge craft market, shopping centres, like Island Village, and many restaurants, shops, nightclubs and bars. And popular activities like swimming with dolphins, horseback riding in the sea, zip-wire canopy tours, river tubing and kayaking are just some of what’s on offer in and around this action-packed resort town.
With so much on offer, it is no wonder that Jamaica also won the World Travel Awards 2010 Leading Caribbean Destination. And The Lonely Planet first travel awards also crowned Jamaica as the Best Cultural Experience in the World.