Jamaica Vacation: 10 Things to Do | Islands

Jamaica Vacations: 10 Things to Do

Planning a Jamaica vacation? Don't miss these 10 must-see spots.

The entire island of Jamaica is one lush vision of crumpled verdant mountains dropping to slick blue seas. But you’ve got to know where to go to make the best of a Jamaica vacation. Follow our lead to 10 favorite spots for sampling the island’s unique beauty, decadent digs and rich culture.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Booby Cay Island

Booby Cay Island

Terry Ward

Have a lobster feast at Booby Cay Island

Negril’s famed Seven Mile Beach is a golden-hued beauty that teems with tourists. We suggest escaping by boat (check out Sunbaby Glass Bottom Boat for an afternoon to nearby Booby Cay, a tiny island just off Negril’s eastern end. Snorkel in the shallows to spot rays and waving purple sea fans then settle in on the beach for a delicious lunch of fresh lobster grilled over an crackling fire.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Frenchman's Cove

Frenchman's Cove

Terry Ward

Swim at Frenchman's Cove

Fed by cool clear water from a natural spring, the small river that flows into the sea at Frenchman’s Cove, near Port Antonio, makes for one of Jamaica’s most postcard settings for a swim. As the tide is ebbing, let the river’s flow suck you out into the warmer sea water for what feels like a natural aqua therapy session during your Jamaica vacation.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Glistening Waters

Glistening Waters

Matt Holden

Get your glow on at Glistening Waters

Even if you’ve seen the phenomenon of bioluminescence before in the ocean, we’re pretty sure you haven’t seen it like this. One of Jamaica’s least publicized attractions is one of its best. Head out after dark for a five-minute boat ride from an old school marina near Falmouth, and watch the water glow bright green and blueish with agitated dinoflagellates (tiny marine plankton) in the boat’s wake. When they cut the engine, don’t miss the chance to enter the shallow water to swim. You’ll turn into Tinkerbell, trailing light all around you, for one of the most magical after-dark dips of your life.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Spa at Half Moon

Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon, a Rock Resort

Courtesy Half Moon, a Rock Resort

Indulge at Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon, a Rock Resort

Spa treatments are all the more decadent when you can listen to the rustle of real waves while your knots are being kneaded into submission while on your Jamaica vacation. And the two overwater spa bungalows at the legendary resort, Half Moon, offer just that. Your body will feel particularly molten when a warm rum treatment is drizzled over your back during the Fern Tree Signature Massage. Trust us, you deserve this.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Snorkel at Rockhouse

Rockhouse

Courtesy Rockhouse

Snorkel the cliffs along the Rockhouse

The limestone cliffs on Negril’s West End are lined with hideaway hotels overlooking a sapphire sea that teems with tropical fish. But no place mixes luxury with that Robinson Crusoe feeling of discovery as smoothly as Rockhouse. It’s worth splurging on one of the standalone premium villas here, made from timber and stone with thatched roofs, to maximize privacy and sunset views on your Jamaica vacation. Two more words to tempt you: outdoor showers.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Lime Tree Farm

Lime Tree Farm

Rodger Bolton

Get high at Lime Tree Farm

Unlike some Caribbean islands, lush Jamaica has lots going on beyond its beautiful beaches. You’ll dwell high in the hills of the Blue Mountains –the Caribbean’s highest mountain range - when you stay at the lovely Lime Tree Farm, a working coffee plantation surrounded by 7.5 acres of the famous Blue Mountain beans. The eco-friendly property has four guest cottages, yoga and a local chef on hand to prep divine Jamaican food during your Jamaica vacation.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Solider Camp Bar and Grill

Soldier Camp Bar & Grill

Terry Ward

Feast on river crayfish at Soldier Camp Bar & Grill

You’ll need a local escort or an exceptionally well-drawn map to help you find this hideaway restaurant in Port Antonio, where Everol Daley (a Jamaican who formerly served in the US Army) serves up delicious Jamaican meals cooked over coal-fired flames in his simple kitchen. Call ahead (876-451-2095, no website) to be sure he’s stocked with fresh crayfish plucked from the nearby Rio Grande River. Sweet and spicy at the same time, these little bugs are as tasty as shellfish get.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Jamaica Regga

Listen to The Jolly Boys perform mento music

Predating both reggae and ska music, mento is a Jamaican original celebrated for its unique acoustic sounds (note the rhumba box, which musicians sit atop to play). One of the most reliable places to see mento performed live is at Geejam hotel in Port Antonio. Every Friday night, The Jolly Boys — a legendary Port Antonio band that first got together back in 1945 — take to the alfresco stage at the Bushbar for one of the area’s most celebrated music nights.

Keith Ross

Best things to do in Jamaica | where to eat in negril

Zimbali Retreats

Courtesy Zimbali Retreats

Taste farm-to-fork eats near Negril

“You have to go where the food grows,” says American Mark Swainbank, referring to the agro-tourism retreat he operates in the rolling hills outside Negril with his Jamaican wife, Alecia. Tour Zimbali’s beautiful land on your Jamaica vacation, where everything from sorrel and callaloo to lychee and bok choy grow. Then settle in at the convivial bar for a five-course meal prepared before your eyes by two talented Jamaican chefs, with things like curried shrimp and coconut sushi on the menu.

Best things to do in Jamaica | Geejam

Geejam

Andrew Grey

Soak in a hot tub high over Port Antonio at Geejam

Jamaica has some seriously decadent hotels, from Negril to Ocho Rios. But it’s worth trekking further east still to the hinterlands of Port Antonio for a stay at Geejam, a boutique property with just five cabins and suites perched high in the jungle. Drum & Bass is our favorite suite, with a sprawling terrace and a private hot tub shaded by tree ferns overlooking the sapphire sea far below.

where to stay in jamaica

Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort

Courtesy Jewel Resorts

Choose your favorite all-inclusive resort

From the family-friendly Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort (home to the Jewel Lagoon Waterpark) to the adults-only Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa, these properties raise the bar when it comes to service. Both all-inclusive resorts feature a swim-up pool concierge with fresh fruit and fragrant-infused water, evening Dive-In Movies, made-to-order smoothies, and the signature Gem of the Day cocktail. Championship golf is even included. A must do: dinner right on the beach to top off your Jamaica vacation.

Latest


More Stories


Videos