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Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Jamaica

From the open-air markets and colonial landmarks in Kingston and Montego Bay to the laid-back vibe on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica has an activity for every traveler’s style. Vacation in true Caribbean fashion by lounging on the miles of beaches along the Ocho Rios coastline. You’ll want to take breaks to taste some local rum, sip a Red Stripe or some famous Blue Mountain coffee, or dig in to a plate of traditional jerk chicken. The entire azure coastline offers myriad opportunities to swim and snorkel among the coral reefs and the abundance of marine life. A tour guide is the best way to gain insight into the island’s musical history, with a visit to the Bob Marley Museum or even Marley’s hometown, Nine Mile. Adventure-seekers can take their pick of activities such as ziplining through the jungle canopy; whitewater rafting down the Black River; climbing the terraced Dunn’s River Falls; hiking to the top of Blue Mountain; or spelunking in one of the many limestone caves that dot the island nation. Don’t miss a visit to the Luminous Lagoon, one of the few places in the world where the conditions are just right for swimming and boating in a bioluminescent bay lit up by tiny, harmless dinoflagellates.
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Rick's Café
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110 Tours and Activities

A local institution, Rick's Cafe was the first public bar and restaurant of its type on the West End cliffs.

Opening its doors in 1974 when Negril was still a sleepy fishing village, Rick's is now a popular spot to view the sunset, which regularly provokes a round of applause from an appreciative crowd.

It's a touristy but laid-back spot on cliffs that plunge 33 ft (10 m) into the ocean. Local cliff divers and foolhardy visitors often make the jump from several platforms into the sea below.

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Bob Marley Museum
41 Tours and Activities

Jamaica’s most famous son is Reggae musician Bob Marley, who came from the island’s capital of Kingston. And in the uptown part of the city, the Bob Marley Museum, which occupies the singer’s former home and recording studio, in the most popular tourist attraction on the island. Marley lived and recorded music in the colonial-era home from 1975 until he was killed in 1981, and the home-turned-museum remains much as he left it, including bullet holes in the wall from an assassination attempt. A visit to the museum includes an hour-long tour of the home, during which you can see Marley’s gold and platinum records hanging on the walls, articles of his clothing, and his favorite guitar still resting beside his bed. Behind the home is his recording studio where you can see photos of the legend and watch a short film. The on-site One Love Café serves some of Marley’s favorite food and drink, and you can pick up souvenirs in the gift shop.

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Blue Hole
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Blue Hole is a natural wonder located near Ocho Rios. A deep cavern within the tropical mountains of Jamaica, Blue Hole gets its name from the deep hue of the water here. This site isn’t just pretty water, though. There are also waterfalls pouring into the hole from the sides and thick vegetation growing around the edges and from crevices in its rocky perimeter. Vines hang down into Blue Hole as well, giving it an even more exotic appearance. It is an excellent place to go swimming and cliff jumping.

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Club Mobay Departure Lounge
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Don’t let your Jamaica vacation end when you get to the airport. Continue the island relaxation and fun by spending your last hours in Jamaica at Club Mobay Departure Lounge in Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport.

Club Mobay is an airport lounge to rival all airport lounges. Feel like you’re flying first class as you step into the nearly 12,000 square foot lounge and take in the comfortable chairs, stylish bar, large televisions and well-stocked snack bar. There is also a business center with computers for those that need a peaceful place to catch up on work emails or do other online projects before heading up into the air. High-speed Wi-Fi is available throughout the lounge. Club Mobay also has a great area for kids called Pickney Place that has arcade games and other activities. There are also shower facilities if you’d like to freshen up before your flight.

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Appleton Estate
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Largely regarded as one of Jamaica’s best rum distilleries, Appleton Estate has been producing the liquor since 1749, making it the country’s oldest sugar cane estate and distillery. With its sprawling sugar cane plantations and modern facilities, the estate covers a vast 11,000-acre plot in the fertile Nassau Valley, hemmed in by the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Black River. Today, the historic estate produces about 10 million liters of rum per year, including a variety of gold, white and aged rums.

The Appleton Estate is open to the public, and touring the distillery makes for a popular day trip from Negril or Montego Bay. As well as tasting an array of different rums, visitors can gain insight into the traditional distillation methods using 200-year-old copper pot stills, try their hand at time-honored methods of cane-juicing and sugar boiling, and visit the barrel houses where the rum is aged.

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Dunn's River Falls
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Dunn's River Falls is a spectacular waterfall near Ocho Rios, where cold mountain water cascades 1,000 feet (300 meters) down naturally terraced steps. Visitors can climb the falls alone or in a guided "human chain," but there's also plenty of swimming, sunbathing and sightseeing to do as well. Those interested in geology will be fascinated with the way the falls renew themselves via regular deposits of calcium carbonate and sodium, and movie buffs will recognize them from films such as Dr. No and Cocktail. Families will enjoy the swim; the water is mountain runoff and fairly cold, which is perfect on particularly hot days. It's also close to Ocho Rios' land-and-sea attractions and restaurants - spend the day swimming and exploring Dunn's River Falls and finish up relaxing in town.
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Bob Marley's Nine Mile
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Nine Mile is synonymous with one of Jamaica’s most famous sons, the late great master of reggae Bob Marley.

Thanks to guided tours led by Rastafarian guides, you can visit the former home of Bob Marley, as well as the musician’s beloved Mt. Zion Rock and his mausoleum. Many of the guides are Bob’s fellow musicians, relatives, and friends.

You can admire Bob’s gold and platinum records on display, along with musical instruments, his favorite chair and other personal effects.

Another highlight of a visit to Nine Mile is the Jamaican scenery you’ll see on the drive from the coast.

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Club Kingston Airport Lounge
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The Club Kingston Airport Lounge at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport gives passengers access to numerous lounge facilities on arrival and departure. This uniquely Jamaican first-class lounge experience allows you to escape the stress of security lines and busy gates to a place where you can relax or work undisturbed.
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Martha Brae River
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The Martha Brae River is the tranquil home of river rafting in Jamaica, the best way to discover the country's tropical interior. Guided tours include refreshment, lunch and lagoon swim stops, and quite often the guided rafting trips pass riverside crafts stalls. Rafts are ecologically friendly, made from bamboo, and the trips along the river pass Luminous Lagoon, where a natural phenomenon causes the water to glow. While you're here, pay a visit to the port of Falmouth on the river estuary, known for its seafaring heritage.
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Columbus Park Museum
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Legendary explorer Christopher Columbus first trod upon Jamaican soil at Discovery Bay, when he landed here in 1494. Columbus Park commemorates that momentous day in history.

The Columbus Museum here explores the history and impact of that landing, along with the pre-colonial history of Jamaica’s indigenous people.

From Arawak canoes to sugarcane milling, nautical relics and cannons, the open-air museum overlooking the harbor at Discovery Bay is littered with fascinating artifacts from Jamaica’s past.

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More Things to Do in Jamaica

Trench Town

Trench Town

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Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach

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Seven Mile beach is 11 km (6.75 mi) of golden sandy loveliness. It's a paradise setting of azure waters, soft, warm sand and palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze, things you take in all before you see the resorts, the hustlers and the (gasp!) nudity.

Seven Mile beach maybe one the best beaches in the Caribbean (as voted by several travel publications) but it is also one of the most hedonistic. Topless sun baking is a given along its entire stretch and there is even a section (and several hotel-specific beach sections) for those chasing an all over tan.

Resorts line the beach and everything is on tap to indulge your every whim. If you can tune out (or embrace) the hawkers, constant reggae and exhibitionists, then this may just be your idea of paradise. More conservative-minded folk and families seeking a little more solitude and a tad less nudity may wish to park their beach towel elsewhere.

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Montego Bay Cruise Port

Montego Bay Cruise Port

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Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish and the second largest city in Jamaica. If you want to get some Duty Free shopping done, this is the place to do it. Or, if you’re more inclined to be outdoorsy, Montego Bay offers every type of water activity imaginable.

The official language of Jamaica is English (with that characteristic accent), and the currencies are the Jamaican Dollar or the US Dollar. Vendors around Montego Bay are notorious for their aggressive tactics, so be firm in your refusals. Jamaica also has higher crime rates than many of the other islands, so limit the number of valuables you carry, and be wary of your surroundings.

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Ocho Rios Cruise Port

Ocho Rios Cruise Port

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Jamaica is known for much more than its Bobsled team! The small town of Ocho Rios is the ultimate gateway to a plethora of sightseeing and cultural experiences on the North Coast of the island. Originally a fishing village, Ocho Rios has grown into a noted port of call for cruise ships and a bustling economy has developed around the influx of tourists.

The cruise port is located in convenient walking proximity to downtown Ocho Rios, a mid-sized town with six shopping plazas and an abundance of bars and restaurants. The taxi drivers around the pier have a reputation for being very aggressive. Be polite in denying their solicitations, but don’t let them intimidate you.

Although somewhat tourist congested, you cannot visit the North coast without seeing Dunn’s River Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls you will ever see. The Horseback Tour will allow you to enjoy the view from a unique perspective and also takes you along the Caribbean Sea.

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Doctor's Cave Beach

Doctor's Cave Beach

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Occupying a spot of Montego Bay’s “hip strip,” Doctor’s Cave Beach is the best-known beach in Jamaica. It's a top party destination with plenty of sand-and-sea-centric activities available at good rates. Its white sand descends into the turquoise of the Caribbean, as beachgoers soak up sun in a tropical paradise.

Rent a beach umbrella and unwind with a can of Red Stripe, or grab some snorkel gear and marvel at the stunning variety of marine life in water so clear you can see all the way to the bottom. Doctor’s Cave Beach provides easy access to the 15-acre Montego Bay Marine Park, and you can also rent Jet skis, parasailing and glass bottom boat rides from private operators located nearby. When you’re done with all your sea and shore activities, you’re just a short walk from the restaurants and bars in one of Jamaica’s hottest entertainment districts.

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Greenwood Great House

Greenwood Great House

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Take a walk through an unique piece of Jamaican and literary history with a tour of the Greenwood Great House, built in the late 1700s by Richard Barrett, a cousin of poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, whose family was among Jamaica’s original colonial settlers. Nearby Rose Hall often overshadows Greenwood Great House, but in fact Greenwood is better preserved, with many of the original furnishings still intact, including the library, a collection of Dresden china, and haunting relics from the original owner’s slave holding past, like a 6-foot-long, steel man-trap for catching runaways.

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Rose Hall Great House

Rose Hall Great House

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Built in the latter part of the 18th century, Rose Hall is the most well-known great house in all of Jamaica. The massive Georgian mansion is the centerpiece of a plantation that covers over 6,500 acres, but it's most notable for its famous occupant, Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.

Said to have dabbled in witchcraft, Annie Palmer allegedly poisoned her three husbands. Stories allege that she routinely took slaves as lovers and had them killed when she grew tired of them. She was supposedly smothered with a pillow in her bed in 1830s by a vengeful slave.

As such, the house is steeped in folktales and supernatural claims. While these stories are just that, the house itself is a testament to the wealth, pomp and grandeur of plantation-era Jamaica.

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White River

White River

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White River Valley prides itself on its eco credentials, offering all manner of outdoor adventures. The white limestone rocks give the White River its name, causing the water to tumble over rapids and forming tranquil lagoon pools for rafting.

You can go tubing or kayaking in the White River, or even saddle a horse for a ride along trails leading through tropical rainforest! Visit the landscaped Village of Flowers, and seek out the old Spanish Bridge dating back to the 1600s.

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Mayfield Falls

Mayfield Falls

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The Mayfield Falls are a series of waterfalls situated on the Mayfield River in the parish of Westmoreland in Jamaica. The falls feature 21 cascades in total. The tallest, nicknamed the ‘Washing Machine’ and reaching around three meters in height, is large enough for visitors to get behind and play in the jets of water. The jungle setting of the falls is abundant with lush plantlife, as well as a variety of exotic species of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife native to Jamaica.

Most people set off to the Mayfield Falls with a guide. The level of physical activity here is moderately demanding and involves quite a walk through the water and across rocks to explore the falls in their entirety.

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Mystic Mountain Adventure Park

Mystic Mountain Adventure Park

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Thrill seekers who visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica, must make time to visit Mystic Mountain for some stomach jumping and gravity defying adventures. Mystic Mountain is a nature park located in Jamaica’s lush rainforest. You’ll see and experience the island from different vantage points through three different types of excursions.

Mystic Mountain’s zipline course sets you racing through the rainforest as you slide down thick cables while strapped to them via a harness. As you reach each new platform that is part of the zipline course you’ll not only get a rush of adrenaline, but you’ll also see gorgeous views of the rainforest as the zipline course takes you through a distance of over 550 feet.

The Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica will get you feeling like an Olympian as you race around twists and turns on the bobsled track – no snow or ice required. You can speed up for thrills or slow down to enjoy views of the rainforest and Caribbean Sea as you slide around the track.

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Black River

Black River

40 Tours and Activities

The Black River is one of the longest rivers in Jamaica and flows west for 33 miles until it empties into the sea. The name derives from the river’s dark riverbed, which has obtained its hue from thick layers of decomposing vegetation that has stacked up over the years beneath the water. The Black River is easily accessible from the popular vacation spot of Negril and provides several different activities to fill a day with fun during your vacation in Jamaica.

Tubing and kayaking down the Black River are adventurous ways to experience the rapids here, and with the thick rainforest trees and plants surrounding the water, you’ll feel like you’re twisting and dipping your way through a tropical paradise, all while getting an adrenaline rush.

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Devon House

Devon House

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In the capital of Kingston, the 19th-century Devon House mansion is not only unique on the island, but also throughout the Caribbean, as it was the home of George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, offering a rare glimpse of West Indian high society. When you visit the Georgian-style home, you can explore rooms furnished with 19th-century Jamaican and Caribbean antiques, along with original features like the English chandelier bought by Stiebel that still hangs in the ballroom. Today, the house sits on 11 acres of gardens within the city, and the surrounding buildings, including the stables and the kitchen, have been repurposed into shops, art boutiques and cafés. Don’t forget to stop in the courtyard, where you can find a sweet treat at the original location of the now-popular island chain Devon House I Scream.

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YS Falls

YS Falls

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YS Falls is a stunning ecosystem located on the lush, south coast of Jamaica. Often overshadowed by its Jamaica waterfall rival, Dunn’s River Falls, YS is worth a visit simply for its more secluded location, 50 miles southwest of Montego Bay and 50 miles east of Negril.

The precise location of YS Falls is actually on a working cattle farm called YS Estate, where visitors get the chance to see a glimpse of Jamaican countryside farm life as they make their way to YS Falls.

From YS Estate, you’ll take a jitney tractor to YS Falls, which flows into the Black River. Once at the water, you’ll encounter natural swimming pools adjacent to the cascading falls, as well as the surrounding tropical jungle, which provide opportunities for zip-lining. There are wooden walkways along the riverbank for those who would rather continue their adventure on ground level, and the river provides other fun activities such as tubing down the small rapids.

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Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

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The Blue Mountains create the longest mountain range on the island of Jamaica and constitute one of the longest continuous mountain ranges in the Caribbean. Blue Mountain Peak is the highest peak on the island and rises an impressive 7,402 feet (2,256 meters) above sea level. Stretching for 28 miles (45 kilometers), the mountain range spans the rugged and scenic eastern region of Jamaica and offers views of the island’s north and south coasts. On a clear day, you can see across the Caribbean all the way to Cuba. The Blue Mountains are one of the most spectacular natural attractions on the island of Jamaica and are a major draw for nature lovers. The region is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including Jamaica’s national tree, the Blue Mahoe; and the giant swallowtail, the second-largest butterfly in the world. The temperature in the mountains is noticeably cooler than down at sea level and the layer of mist that shrouds the peaks gives the mountains their bluish tint.

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