Where to go and what to do in Jamaica.
If someone told you to close your eyes and picture a tropical paradise, chances are you would imagine something pretty close to Jamaica’s palm-lined sands, pristine sea, wild waterfalls and verdant mountains.
But the way that most people experience the land of wood and water for the first time is through a package holiday at an all-inclusive resort – and while choosing this option means that you’ll probably lounge in the lap of luxury, it won’t afford you an authentic taste of what this amazing island nation really has to offer
Provided you plan ahead, it’s perfectly possible to travel off the beaten path in Jamaica, stay safe and have a life-enhancing adventure. With that in mind, here are three tips for a terrific Jamaica trip.
Hire a car
There is a public transport system in Kingston in the form of the big yellow coaches you’ll see roaming around town and they’re backed up by numerous private cabs and coaster buses – but this doesn’t constitute the type of efficient network that most European or North American cities offer, and services are sparse in rural areas.
All said, provided you drive carefully, it’s best to hire a car if you want to explore the island – in recent years the roads from the Jamaican capital to major tourist towns like Montego Bay and Ocho Rios have improved considerably and it’s the most efficient mode of transport for exploring the breath-taking beauty of the Blue Mountains.
Tip: hire a car from Enjoy Travel at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport and hit the road.
Attend Accompong Maroon Festival
The Jamaican Maroons are descended from runaway slaves who, in the 17th Century, fought a successful guerrilla war against British forces in the Jamaican interior and won a semi-autonomous status which they still fiercely defend to this day – Maroons pay no taxes and answer to no earthly authority other than their traditional tribal leaders.
This proud people have retained some traditions which are lost to their African homeland and at the Accompong Maroon Festival held each January in the Cockpit Country, you can experience their unique culture for yourself.
Tip: browse the visit Jamaica site to read more about Accompong.
Stay at Zion Country
Many Jamaicans will tell you that subtropical Portland is the most beautiful parish in Jamaica – less developed than many neighbouring locations, it boasts countless idyllic spots.
When Holywood star Errol Flynn sailed his yacht into its capital Port Antonio in 1946, he declared it ‘more beautiful than any woman’ he had ever known and decided to stay there for good. If sustainable travel floats your boat, the best accommodation option is probably Zion Country eco cabins in the tiny Long Road community. Run by Dutch-born Free-I, you’ll enjoy sumptuous meals cooked by master chef Owen, sleep in a hammock and spot manatees from the private beach – bliss!
Tip: check out the Zion Country website for more information.
That’s our list! Tell us your favourite Jamaican spots in the comments section!
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