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Your guide to Jamaica
All About Jamaica
Known around the world for its year-round sun, white sandy beaches, and love of Reggae, Jamaica is one of the Caribbean Islands’ most distinctive cultural hubs. Some people come here to dive into the bustling markets and bouncing dance halls of Kingston, the country’s capital. Others come simply to lounge by the water, taking a break from relaxation to stop by beach bars serving local favorites like jerk chicken and curried goat. Still others head inland to the lush Blue Mountains to wander amid cascading waterfalls and banana and coffee farms.
Some of the island’s most storied beach destinations are located along the west and north coasts of the island. Montego Bay boasts warm waters for swimming, coral reefs for snorkeling, and a lively nightlife. In Negril, you’ll find Seven Mile Beach, where restaurants and bars are carved into the cliff tops, offering spectacular ocean views. The former fishing village of Ocho Rios offers a more laid-back, communal feel and access to beautiful waterfalls, while tiny Runaway Bay is a hidden paradise with a secluded beach. Lucea sits on a natural harbor and is surrounded by serene, forest-covered mountains.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Jamaica
Jamaica’s tropical climate makes the country a year-round destination. The most pleasant time to secure a vacation rental is from December to April, when the days are hot and sunny for enjoying the beach and there is little chance of rain. The amount of precipitation the island receives varies depending on where you are; parts of the western half are quite dry, while the Blue Mountains in the east receive terrific amounts of rain. Overall, Jamaica’s rainy season runs from May to November, and during this time, you’re likely to experience warm humidity and changeable conditions.
During wintertime, evenings can cool off, too, so you’ll want to have a light jacket on hand. The country celebrates International Reggae Day in July, with plenty of live concerts, dancing, and food. If you’re a foodie, you might want to time your visit for Jamaica’s Food and Drink Festival — several days of celebrating and tasting Jamaican cuisine in the fall. While not a common occurrence, Jamaica can experience hurricanes, with the official hurricane season running from June to November.
Top things to do in Jamaica
Dunn’s River Falls
Just outside Ocho Rios, along the northern coast, you’ll find Dunn’s River Falls — the largest waterfall in the country. The cascades extend across 600 feet and are naturally terraced, like a giant staircase, drawing visitors to climb them. (You’ll have to wear proper footwear when climbing, and you can buy special shoes nearby.) Enjoy a refreshing swim in the beautiful pool below the falls as water cascades over you.
Located where densely forested hills meet the inviting waters of the Caribbean Sea, Kingston is home to historic buildings and an array of restaurants, art galleries, and museums, including a world-renowned music museum dedicated to the island’s most famous musician. You’ll find plenty of culinary delights to explore, from the chic restaurants of Barbican to the night market near Campion College. Coronation Market showcases locally made ceramics and jewelry, while 30-acre Emancipation Park is a scenic spot for coconut ice cream in the afternoon sun. Every evening the live music venues and dancehall bars pulse with activity.
Luminous Lagoon lies just outside the town of Falmouth, on the north coast to the east of Montego Bay. Due to millions of dinoflagellates in the water, the lagoon sparkles when disturbed, and at night there is a bright glow in the water that highlights fish and other objects. There are only four lagoons like it in the world, and this is the most accessible, with boat tours every night. Once there, you can jump out of the boat and swim in the illuminated water.