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The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is a popular tropical paradise that welcomes visitors year-round by air, but mostly by sea. It’s never hard to find a cruise ship itinerary stopping at one of the various main cruise ports, and those who want to spend more than a few hours on the island may easily find flights to one of three international airports. Major tourist areas on the island include Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, and the capital city of Kingston.
Because most travelers visit by cruise ship or stay at all-inclusive resorts that offer either activities onsite or concierge services that book activities, guided tours and activities are very popular. Depending on what resort you’re staying at, make sure to check out what activities and amenities are included on property. There’s nothing better than a relaxing day at the pool or beach, while kids’ clubs or other scheduled activities can entertain the young and young at heart for all hours of the day.
For the adventure-seekers, there are endless activities to choose from. The Blue Mountains offer plenty of hiking trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls and rivers. There are plenty of guided tours offered, so don’t worry about missing out on the best spots for pictures or jumping in a natural crystal-blue pool. From ziplines to bamboo rafts to biking, there are always fast-paced experiences to choose from.
The mountain range is also home to some of the most expensive coffee in the world. Take a tour of a coffee farm and take in the breathtaking panoramic views from a vantage point high up on the mountainside. Ever since 1728, when coffee was introduced to the island, coffee-lovers have valued this naturally alkaline Arabica coffee, so make sure to take home a bag or try a cup before you leave.
Another beverage that the island is known for is rum! There are plenty of tours to take through scenic sugar plantations that produce some of the best rums in the world. Tastings of these finely crafted rums are offered at the tour’s conclusion.
To learn more about Jamaica’s history and culture, spend a day learning about the island’s rich musical history. There are many tours that navigate Kingston to highlight Bob Marley’s life and musical career. To experience the island’s culture, there are some tours that take you to a welcoming Rastafarian village in Montego Bay, where you can experience the rural community first-hand and get to know the locals.
Of course, many visitors are content with spending their days soaking up the sun on white sandy beaches. The captivating Caribbean Sea is hard to compete with, but there are plenty of opportunities to get out and have fun on the sparkling blue water. Jamaica is known for its clear waters, making snorkeling and scuba diving incredibly popular activities and a great way to see marine life and coral reefs. If you’d rather stay above the water, charter a catamaran or hop aboard a glass bottom boat for a better chance to see marine life. There’s also the option for jet skiing, parasailing, and taking in the ocean views on horseback.
We recommend visiting Jamaica at the beginning of winter. From November to mid-December, you’ll find fewer crowds and better deals on flights and accommodations. Because of the island’s beautiful weather, you’ll also be able to escape the cold for a week or so!
The crowds gravitate to Jamaica from January to April, covering the months that people are typically wishing for sunshine and relaxation. Tourists from around the world will flock to the area for resort stays and Caribbean cruises. This is also the time period when the island’s temperature is nearly perfect, so it completely makes sense!
If you’re wondering why summer isn’t the busiest season for Jamaica, we have two words for you: hurricane season. Yes, you’ll find cheaper rates and beautiful weather as well, but some people don’t want to chance a storm headed their way—which is completely understandable! If you do decide to head to Jamaica for a summer vacation, book your stay in the early summer months, purchase trip insurance, and have a backup plan at the ready.
As previously stated, there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts located in prime areas on the island. Montego Bay is a great home base for those looking for fantastic resorts, world-class golfing, and great snorkeling within the Montego Bay Marine Park. Runaway Bay in Saint Ann Parish is known for its beautiful beaches and coral reef. There, you’ll find the Green Grotto Caves, a major tourist attraction on the island’s north coast where you can explore the watery labyrinth of connected caves. Falmouth is also a great place to book your stay. A major cruise-ship port, the location itself is surrounded by some of the more popular attractions and is full of charming Georgian architecture with a tropical twist.