Known as the "birthplace of reggae", Jamaica boasts a treasure trove of natural jewels and a colorful African vibe. Golden beaches, emerald mountains, turquoise seas, cascades, coral reefs, rainforests, rivers, and mineral springs are just some of the island's enviable assets. Not surprisingly nature lovers will find plenty of things to see and do, from hiking and birding in the jungle to horseback riding along the beach and diving colorful coral reefs. Jamaica is also renowned for its many historic plantations where visitors can sample tropical fruits and tour the grand great houses.
Doctor's Cave Beach, Montego Bay: One of
the best beaches in Montego Bay, Doctor's Cave Beach is an alluring strip of
white sand fringed by clear waters that helped shape the fate of Montego Bay.
In the early 1920s a famous British osteopath declared that the water had
curative powers after swimming here, a claim which began to lure visitors from
around the world. Hotels sprouted and the area became a popular tourist
destination. The cave for which the beach is named was destroyed by a hurricane
in 1932, but the beach is as popular as ever and is often crowded with cruise
Rose Hall Great House, Montego Bay: Built in 1770, Rose Hall is a restored plantation house with beautiful ocean views. Legendary Annie Palmer (the White Witch) ruled here with cruelty and met a violent death. Today her home is adorned with period furniture and visitors can choose between a day tour or a spooky candlelit evening tour topped off with tales of ghost sightings.
by sugar estates and cattle land, Falmouth is one of the Caribbean's
best-preserved Georgian towns. Once a leading port, the town offers excellent
examples of 19th-century Georgian architecture including a faithful restoration
of the courthouse. Greenwood
Great House is a major
tourist attraction in the area. Built in 1790 by Richard Barrett, a relative of
poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Great House is now a museum with period
furniture and a rare collection of musical instruments and Wedgwood china.
Kingston: At the
foot of the Blue Mountains,
Jamaica's busy capital city offers a cosmopolitan contrast to the island's
relaxed pace. Kingston can be intimidating, but visitors can view some of the
town's attractions on organized tours. The Bob
Marley Museum, at the reggae superstar's former home, is Kingston's
most-visited attraction and the site of the Tuff Gong recording studio.
Highlights are Marley's bedroom with his star-shaped guitar by the bed. Look
for the bullet holes in the rear wall, evidence of an assassination attempt.
Tours will also take travelers to
explore mansions like historic Devon
House, as well as museums such as theNational Gallery, and the Natural History Museum,
Jamaica's oldest museum, with preserved specimens of the island's plants and
animals. Also in town, the Institute
of Jamaica's museums cover a
wide range of the country's history from prehistoric to modern times, Hope Gardens is the largest botanical park in the
West Indies, and National
Heroes Park features statues
of leading players of Jamaican history and independence. At the tip of the
peninsula surrounding Kingston Harbor lies the community of Port Royal, the focus of
British fortification in the late 17th century.
Negril Beach: Also known as
Seven Mile Beach, Negril Beach is one of Jamaica's most beautiful stretches of
white sand and aqua sea. The beach extends from Bloody
Bay to Long Bay and the Negril Cliffs south of town.
Tucked within groves of coconut palms, many resorts and restaurants fringe the
shore here. Water sports abound, and snorkelers will find schools of fish
swimming in the clear waters. Be prepared for persistent hawkers prowling the