No matter where you go, Jamaica is the name most associated with the Caribbean region, much to the chagrin of other small island folk. Nevertheless, it is understandable why so many people believe that the land of Reggae music and dancehall is the mother of all Caribbean islands; for one thing, it’s one of the biggest islands in the region, and added to that, much of the culture in the smaller islands is heavily influenced by all things Jamaican – everything from the music, to the food and lingo.
For Caribbean jetsetters, the island is the ultimate vacation spot because there are so many points of interest in Jamaica, from exploring picture perfect beaches and rare luminous lagoons, to touring famous museums, swimming in refreshing waterfalls and exploring ancient forts.
Within this article, we’ve highlighted 40 points of interest in Jamaica which should help solidify your decision to vacation in this part of the world.
No exaggerations or embellishments necessary, Jamaica is hands down one of the best places for a Caribbean holiday with plenty of things to do. Read on to see why!
Located: Port Royal
Let your explorations begin with Fort Charles, where you can explore the history of Port Royal, and find out more about the people from this Jamaican village near Kingston Harbour. Fort Charles was constructed in the mid-1600s by the English, after their historic invasion of the island. The Fort played a significant role in their defense in times of war, and still today there are several canons standing around the Fort. One of the highlights of this tour is the museum experience, which is made that much more engaging by a knowledgeable and passionate museum curator.
Located: Montego Bay
The Hip Strip is considered by some the “heart of Montego Bay”, and rightly so, as the pulsating rhythms from various bars, restaurants and shops permeate the atmosphere day and night, drawing in those who want to experience the vibrancy of the land of Reggae music. If you’re there in the evening, it may be worth your while to have some drinks and learn some Jamaican dance moves at one of the hottest clubs in town. Early morning city crawlers will enjoy the action packed beaches in this area.
Located: Spanish Town
Just a 20-minute drive from Kingston, you’ll find the Caymanas Golf Club, which officially opened in 1957. Today, the 18-hole course attracts golfers from around the world, offering the perfect setting for both new and experienced golfers. High on the list of best Caribbean golf courses, Caymanas also has its own Golf School, a pro shop, clubhouse, driving range, and chipping green.
Explore Jamaica’s largest water and adventure park and add some excitement to your vacation. This is the perfect things to do in Jamaica if you are bringing your kids, but even if you’re not travelling with children, you can still enjoy a river rafting or canoeing adventure, the wave pool, or some paint ball action. Other activities include outdoor laser combat, go-karts, and kayaking. The park is open six days a week (closed on Mondays), from 10 am to 5 pm.
Located: St Ann
Back in the 1700s the area now known as the Green Grotto Caves attracted more than just curious explorers – it was a safe haven for the Spaniards during the English invasion. Today the caves still stand in all their glory, and we promise, you haven’t seen anything like the labyrinth of caves found here with all the prominent features you would expect, including stalactites, stalagmites, overhead ceiling pockets, and a hidden underground lake. The site is open for tours daily from 9 am to 4 pm.
Located: New Castle
Who knew a coffee tour could be as engaging as the ones on offer by the Standing Springs Plantation? You’ll definitely be wide awake for this one as you trek into the Blue Mountains to explore coffee fields with Plantation Founder and Owner Price Smith. The Plantation has existed for over 100 years, but only in recent times has it solidified its identity as a coffee grower and distributor. You can choose between a brief (two hours), or more extensive tour (four hours plus), which includes roasting your own coffee, and going home with some samples! The coffee tours run from 8:30 am through 4:30 pm Monday to Sunday.
Bob said it best, “every little thing will be alright”, and it always is, especially if you’re in Jamaica. Fans of the late Bob Marley will be filled with euphoria once they set foot at the popular Bob Marley Museum in Jamaica. The museum is located at the musician’s home, converted by his wife Rita Marley. This Reggae inspired tour provides an in depth look into the life of Bob Marley, and you can choose between the ‘Combo “One Love” tour, the ‘Bob Marley Home’ tour, and the ‘Making of the Music’ tour.
A visit to the Luminous Lagoon must be on your things to do list while in Jamaica – glowing waters is a rare find not only in the Caribbean, but in the world. Microorganisms called dinoflagellates are responsible for the luminescent glow to this body of water in an area where the Martha Brae river meets the ocean. There are only four other locations in the world where you can witness this phenomenon, and the water in this area in Jamaica is said to glow the brightest of them all because of a consistent climate.
Located: West of Port Antonio
It goes without saying that you’re going to do some beach hopping while in Jamaica. Since the stars have already aligned precisely for you to do just that, you might as well check out Winnifred beach, a must see, out of the way golden strand that never disappoints. A few years ago this beach came narrowly close to being developed, by way of a business center and villas, but still today it remains as pristine and refreshing as it has always been, and it will do you well to enjoy it while you still can!
Tip: Amid the greenery on this beach, you’ll find Cynthia’s Restaurant, where you can enjoy grilled seafood and other delicious meals!
Located: Port Royal
Forget Pirates of the Caribbean. The real story waiting to hit the big screen is in Jamaica, where you can find a pirate tale for the generations. Did you know that Port Royal was once considered a pirate haven, once seeing the likes of Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, and Calico Jack? Well, you’ll find out all this and more with a visit to the Sunken Pirate City area in Port Royal, which was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1692. Now the remains of the city lay underwater, and they’re a major tourist attraction. Find out how you can explore the area with a local dive center.
Welcome to surfer’s paradise! Grab your board, and get ready to hit the waves. Unless of course you want to just kick back and relax, and take in the sights and sounds, or indulge in a great seaside Caribbean restaurant. The best time for wave action is between June to December, which also happens to run parallel to the hurricane season. For sun seekers, that time of year may serve as a deterrent, but not for people hoping to ride the biggest waves while in Jamaica.
Tip: Surf lessons and board rentals are available at this location.
Located: Montego Bay
The Tryall Club golf course has hosted a significant number of golf championships, and for that and other reasons to do with positive reviews spreading via word of mouth, the course has rocketed in popularity for all who choose to vacation in Montego Bay. Tryall Club is great for all ages, and all levels of golfing ability, with an 18-hole par-71 championship green that will help you perfect your game against a stunning Caribbean backdrop.
Are you looking for some artistic inspiration, or do you just want to check out a collection of varied and intricate art? A visit to the National Gallery of Jamaica, one of the oldest museum in the Caribbean (opened in 1974), will more than deliver; here you’ll find creations by artists from all over the Caribbean, from different time periods, so it’ll be like a blast from the past, right on into a carefully composed, or totally abstract future.
Located: Ocho Rios
The Sandals Golf & Country Club is more than ideal for spending a day out on the green, and golf lovers will enjoy the fact that they can stay and play at Sandals Ocho Rios and Sandals Royal Plantation for as long as it takes to explore and master the course, or longer, if you decide to. The course is open to guests from any of the six Sandals properties in Jamaica, so you’ll have a steady stream of competition from around the world. The Sandals Golf & Country Club features a pro shop, golf shop, driving range, and a clubhouse.
Insider Tip: Visit the Sweet Spot Jerk Shack on the #10 Green for lunch while at the Sandals Golf and Country Club!
Located: Montego Bay
Doctor’s Cave Beach is definitely one of the top five beaches in Montego Bay, and one of the top ten in Jamaica, overall. If you listen to the locals, you’ll be convinced that it is more than just a beach, but a magical shore where healing is possible simply for submerging in the clear, blue sea. This train of thought spread like wildfire back in the early 1900s, when a famous British osteopath (who inspired the name of the beach) concluded that the waters had healing powers. People came from all over the world to experience it themselves, and pretty soon hotels sprung up all over the place. It is still today a popular tourist destination, whether or not the legend holds any weight!
Tip: At Doctor’s Cave Beach you’ll find a restaurant, bar, washrooms, and a Starbucks Coffee shop!
And now for the top 25 points of interest in Jamaica…
Located: Montego Bay & Whitehouse
The first of its kind, Sandals heart-shaped overwater bungalows in Jamaica are a sight to behold and even more amazing to spend the night in! You can find the heart-shaped suites at Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals South Coast. With glass floors and 24-hour butler service this accommodation is truly one of a kind.
Located: St Elizabeth
Get in touch with nature with a tour along the Black River learning all about the species that inhabit the area, including scores of birds, and crocodiles. You may spot the latter creeping along the riverbanks as you glide across the river on a boat tour, but have no fear, they’re mostly just about their own business. This tour is a great way to learn about the geography and ecology of the area, as well as a bit of history.
This location is notorious, and once you get here you’ll find out about its significance to not only the Jamaica populace, but also to Caribbean people at large. Devon House was conceptualized by the island’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. Here, Caribbean and Georgian architecture collide, complemented by antique furniture, along with some recreated pieces. Still today, with rolling green lawns, the house is carefully maintained by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. It is a much-celebrated national monument.
Tip: While at Devon House, check out its internationally acclaimed ice cream parlor.
Sunsets, Reggae music, and cliff jumping… not necessarily in that order. You’ll have a blast at Rick’s Café, whether you go with a group, or with the love of your life. For aspiring cliff jumpers, please note that the biggest jump is 35 feet high, which seems an easy feat for local divers, who are entertaining to watch as they fling their bodies any which way into the waters below. It is an experience you won’t soon forget, especially with the possibility to view live performances from the main stage once you’re done with diving. There’s also a pool area, and a lounge with delectable bites.
Insider Tip: Rick’s Café is located 15 minutes from Sandals Negril, which makes for easy access for guests staying at the property.
Located: Montego Bay
Some call the Rose Hall Great House the House of Horrors of Jamaica, but that doesn’t scare hundreds of people from taking a tour of the property while in Jamaica. Legend has it that the house is haunted by Annee Palmer, the famed ‘White Witch’, and as part of the tour, trained actors do their best to scare the living daylights out of anyone that can be caught off-guard. The House dates back to the colonial era, and was restored in the 1960s. Here, apart from being scared silly, you’ll learn about the life of the British elite in the not so distant Caribbean past.
Located: Ocho Rios
There is no question about it, dolphins are smart, funny, and not to mention, super adorable! They are literally man’s best friend of the ocean, and an opportunity to swim and play with them should not be missed. While in Jamaica, you can visit the Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios to experience this for the first time… or second, or third! You can also swim with sharks and stingrays and learn more about each species.
Located: New Kingston
If you go to Emancipation Park in the late afternoon, you’ll find people jogging, walking, and making the most of their time at the park. Greenery abounds at this location where you can find the peace, serenity, and freedom that you need. There is also a 11-foot bronze sculpture, which was named “Redemption Song,” which goes along with the park’s theme, “Tribute to Freedom.”
Jamaica has some pretty neat rivers, and the Rio Grande is one of the most highly rated. When you get here, you’ll likely find tour groups waiting to go on their Bamboo raft tours, which typically last for about two hours. You’ll glide through the tropical rainforest, and take in the sights along the way. Notably, this river was first used for banana farmers to transport bananas to other areas. Now, it is free to be enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
Located: John Crow Mountain
There’s so much to do at the Blue John Crow Mountain, including spending some time exploring the waterfalls in the area, particularly Nanny Falls, which is named after a Jamaican heroine, Nanny of the Maroons. Nanny Falls doesn’t only offer spectacular views, it also offers a cultural experience, during which you can learn more about the Maroons, and other historical aspects of Jamaica. This is another site believed to have healing properties, so dive right in.
Located: The border of Portland and Saint Thomas
The best things in life are free, and places like the Blue John Crow Mountains and National Park bring this old adage to life. Here you’ll find “crisp clean air, lush terrain, and vibrant wildlife”. This is Jamaica’s only national park, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area once served as a refuge for slaves and indigenous people, most notable the Taino. There are great views in and around this location, and a host of things to do including mountain climbing (it’s about 2,256-meters long), swimming beneath the waterfalls, and exploring coffee plantations. Make a day for it, for a great Jamaican adventure.
Located: On the south Western Coast of Jamaica
There are numerous beaches in the Treasure Bay area, and most who go there say Treasure Bay beach has a less ‘touristy’ feel than other beaches on Jamaica’s west coast. Some days you will go there and be the only person there, other days, you’ll find a mix of locals and visitors, all enjoying the quietude of this beach. There are a few restaurants and bars in the area, so if you go, you’ll be in good hands.
Located: Ocho Rios
Image: View over Ocho Rios from Mystic Mountain.
The list of popular points of interest in Jamaica is incomplete without a visit to Mystic Mountain. The area allows for a varied view of Ocho Rios, amid a tropical forest. The peak of Mystic Mountain rises over 700 feet, and here you can try various excursions including the Sky Explorer chairlift, a rainforest Bob sledding tour, or a zip-lining adventure. You can also do the combination tour, which takes the adventure to a whole new level! Contact Island Routes to book your tour today.
Located: St Elizabeth
Beat the Caribbean heat by planning a waterfall day while in Jamaica. One of the best spots for this is the YS Falls. You’ll find seven beautiful falls, gardens, and surrounding areas, and the opportunity to zip-line over the falls. Yes, you heard right. This is entirely possible at YS Falls. There are also natural pools, which are great for children, or anyone who really just wants to relax and not have to think about a thing!
Tip: On site lifeguards will instruct you on the best areas to swim at YS Falls. It’s worth walking with water shoes, or purchasing a pair once you arrive. Tour companies like Island Routes offer great prices for this attraction.
Located: Ocho Rios
There’s nothing quite like Jamaican food, so you can best believe Miss T’s Kitchen is a must visit while in Jamaica. Put it high up on your list of things to do if you want to try authentic Jamaican food, in a relaxed garden setting. You’ll jam to Reggae music while sampling many different dishes, at reasonable cost. You haven’t quite tasted Jamaica food until you’ve been here, so don’t miss out.
Located: Rose Hall Estate, Montego Bay
Tee off at the 18-hole White Witch Golf Course, which was designed by the highly acclaimed course architects Robert von Hagge and Rick Baril. The course consists of 200 acres within the Rose Hall Estate. Golf aficionados will take pride in testing their game at this course which is best suitable for more seasoned players because of its rolling terrain. Even if you’re watching from the sidelines, the ocean views from this location are undeniably stunning!
You made it to the top 10 things to do in Jamaica, now it gets really interesting…
Located: Montego Bay
Promoted as “the ultimate romantic adventure”, rafting on the Martha Brae is highly recommended while in Jamaica. You’ll learn about the legend of Martha Brae, an Arawak witch who, as Jamaican history tells it, lived on the River Matibereon. The story has something to with a hidden treasure, and Spanish explorers, but much of it has been lost in translation. Nevertheless, getting to raft down the river is a treasure of an experience in itself, and you’ll have no regrets. In Rafter’s Village, the recreational facility at this location, you’ll find souvenir shops, a swimming pool, restrooms, a bar, and a picnic area.
A charming and captivating Jamaican point of interest, Frenchman’s Cove is a beautiful location where the river and sea collide. You won’t find many other spots in Jamaica like this, so whether you’re looking for a fun filled beach day or tranquil river ‘lime’, you’ll find it at this Caribbean haven.
Located: Nassau Valley, South Coast Jamaica
Appleton is a popular Jamaican rum, and an opportunity to tour the Appleton Estate is one that must be accepted at all costs. That is of course, if you’re into rum tastings, and things of that sort; part of the rum tasting tour at Appleton, you’ll learn about the history of the fine Caribbean rum, and overall, explore the process of making rum, from the 18th century until now. While at the Estate, look out for the Copper Pot Stills which are said to give Appleton rum its distinctive taste. Don’t forget to purchase a bottle or two to take home with you!
Located: Ocho Rios
Dunn’s River Falls is a highly promoted location in Jamaica, and that’s because of the satisfaction level of many of the people who decide to go there while on vacation in Jamaica. It is just as beautiful as you’ve ever heard, with multiple waterfalls, which cascade over limestone ledges, and pour into the ocean. The more adventurous can hike the falls with a guide, or choose to go without one. It takes some effort, but it is completely doable. Wear water shoes, and proceed with caution.
Tip: Bask in the natural pools at the base of the falls, which are incredibly reinvigorating!
The Dub Club in Kingston opens on Sundays, and it usually attracts visitors from all parts of the world. The love for music is what brings people together here, as well as the amazing views of Kingston by night. Here you can learn all about Reggae music and its beginnings in Jamaica, as well as about the Rastafarian culture, which is popular on the island. Expect an underground jam session and an experience that is uniquely Jamaican.
Located: Accessible from Treasure beach (by boat)
All you’ll need is a boat (or a boat owner willing to transport you there), and you’ll be set for an afternoon of fun at the Pelican Bar. It’s literally a bar in the middle of the ocean, and you’ll have an unforgettable time sipping on cold drinks, sampling the local fare, and dipping your feet into the warm surrounding waters. There are various tours that include a stop to the Pelican Bar, and it is definitely one of those items you’ll want to tick off your bucket list while in Jamaica!
Tip: Tours to Floyd’s Pelican bar are offered from Sandals South Coast. You can call the bar in advance to find out what will be on offer for lunch, or to make special requests.
Top five for a reason; Reach Falls is one of the most beautiful attractions in Jamaica. Think cascading waterfalls, fresh water pools, and a prolific forest. Here you can head out on guided tours, or plan a picnic and take in the low key ambiance. One of the highlights is the hike upstream towards the ‘Rabbit Hole’ via the Driver’s River. It’ll take a bit of courage, but it’s all worth it, and the guides help along the way.
Hidden in the mountains, you’ll find Mayfield Falls. Nature lovers will be at home here, as they dive headfirst into the peace and rejuvenation the Falls and associated mineral springs offer. There are two waterfalls at this location, 21 fresh water pools, and enough flora and fauna to set your heart at ease. As you tour the property, you’ll be able to stop and rest at various gazebos, which also serve as a great backdrop for photos.
From the moment you set foot in Jamaica, you’ll hear people talking about Seven Mile Beach. It is one of the most popular beaches in Jamaica, and arguably the best… the beach is literally miles long, which translates to an abundance of space to bring your sand, sea, and sun fantasy to life. You can make your experience there as quiet, or as involved as you wish, but you’ll surely find the perfect elements to bring together your beach day.
Insider Tip: Want unlimited cocktails on Seven Mile Beach? Consider staying at all-inclusive resort Sandals Negril (adults-only) or Beaches Negril (family friendly, includes waterpark) – located directly on Seven Mile Beach!
Located: Ocho Rios
The Blue Hole in Jamaica is paradise for nature lovers. High up in the mountains, it is described by some who go there as “a little piece of heaven”, complete with ropes swings, refreshing fresh water pools, nature trails, and beautiful water falls. It’s quite a walk to the falls, but there’s a lot to see along the way. This spot is not a touristy as many other locations in Ocho Rios, so it’s great for visitors who want to do something out of the norm. Enjoying a swim in the Blue Hole is the number one thing to do when in Jamaica!
Tip: The Blue Hole is located on a 20-minute drive from Sandals Ochi and Sandals Royal Plantation. Bring along some water shoes for added comfort.
Image: Sandals Royal Plantation, the beach resort where Tom Cruise's "Cocktail" was filmed.
Jamaica is paradise for anyone seeking an all-encompassing Caribbean vacation that leaves nothing untouched, or unexplored. You can choose from a plethora of Jamaica’s points of interest and things to do, or take it easy, and do nothing but relax while on the island. Whatever you decide, the rich memories of your vacation will last a lifetime!