Jamaica Destination Guide
Famous for super-fast sprinters, reggae and a certain herb, the island of Jamaica is definitely a study in contrasts. The third-biggest island in the Caribbean is part of the Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State and, although it shares the same idyllic tropical setting as its neighbouring island nations, Jamaica has its own unique rhythm.
The capital, Kingston, was at the crossroads of the African slave trade and the export of sugar and rum back to Europe, and no where else in the Caribbean is this connection felt more keenly than Jamaica. Add to that the Back to Africa movement in the early 20th century, the birth of the Rastafarian religion and then reggae music in the '60s and '70s, and it's no wonder Jamaicans feel a strong tie to Mother Africa.
Despite this, Jamaica is divided into counties, just like England, with decidedly British names: Cornwall County to the west which includes Montego Bay, Middlesex Country in the centre, and Surrey County in the east where Kingston lies. Many visitors to Jamaica will make the pilgrimage to see the birthplace of Bob Marley, a popular figure for many generations. The Bob Marley Museum is housed in the music star's former house and studio in Kingston and is the city's most-visited site. Fans should also make time to visit Nine Mile where Marley was born and laid to rest.
Dunn's River Falls on the north coast near Ocho Rios is the most popular attraction in Jamaica. Considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, you can actually scale tiers of limestone to see cascades and pools of refreshing water during the 30-minute climb. Ocho Rios and Runaway Bay are also ideal destinations for world-class diving in reefs. Other must-do Jamaican experiences include watching the sunset at Negril beaches, ascending Blue Mountain Peak at night to see the sunrise and traversing the Rio Grande on a bamboo raft.
Another famous Jamaican contribution to the world is jerk seasoning - a spice spread on grilled meat like a sauce and prevalent throughout the island. There's many other unique local dishes to try on holiday which you can pair with the local beer, Red Stripe, or famous Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Whether your holiday interests are reggae music, beautiful beaches, thrilling natural wonders, historic sights or spicy delights, you're sure to be 'feeling irie' if you embrace the unique rhythm of the laidback Jamaican vibe.