Known as the ‘birthplace of reggae’, Jamaica boasts a wealth of natural jewels and a colorful African vibe. golden beaches; lush, green mountains; turquoise seas; Coral reef; rainforests; and rivers are just some of the island’s enviable assets. Nature lovers can do everything from hiking and birdwatching in the jungle to scuba diving or snorkeling the reefs in the rim. Jamaica is also known for its many historic plantations where you can enjoy tropical fruits and visit the grand grand houses. It is also home to some of the Caribbean’s most luxurious all-inclusive resorts.
Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril and Port Antonio are the main tourist centers. Bustling Montego Bay is one of the most popular resort areas, Ocho Rios is the main port of call for cruise ships, and Negril is known for its long and lazy beach filled with clear water and coconut palms. Ecotourists love peaceful Port Antonio, thanks to its proximity to the spectacular Blue Mountains. In Jamaica’s edgy capital, Kingston, you can explore the former home of reggae legend Bob Marley and explore the city’s museums and historic sites. Full of diverse attractions, no wonder Jamaica enjoys a reputation as a Caribbean hot spot.
Read also: tourist attractions in Ocho Rios
1 Negril Beach & de Negril Cliffs
Also known as Seven Mile Beach, Negril Beach is one of Jamaica’s finest stretches of white sand and aqua sea, gracing the list of the Caribbean’s best beaches. The beach stretches from Bloody Bay to Long Bay and the Negril Cliffs south of the city. Nestled in groves of coconut palms, the resorts stretch along the coast, from large all-inclusive resorts to smaller boutique hotels. Water sports are plentiful, and snorkelers will find schools of fish swimming in the clear waters. Be prepared for persistent hawkers prowling the beach.
South of the beach, the Negril Cliffs rise above the coral-fringed coast, providing a popular spot for sunsets and cliff jumping. Some of Negril’s most luxurious resorts line the cliffs, including The Caves and The Cliff Hotel.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Negril
2 Editor’s Pick Rafting on the Martha Brae River
Rafting with the Martha Brae is one of the most popular things to do in Jamaica. At Martha Brae Rafter’s Village, you can sail down a picturesque stretch of the river on bamboo rafts pooled by local guides. This relaxing trip is a great way to soak up some of the tropical scenery and a number of guides will entertain, sing or share information about the flora and fauna along the way.
3 Dunn’s River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most famous natural attractions, boasting 600 feet of terraced falls. The falls tumble over rocks and limestone ledges into the sea. You can climb the natural layers to the top of the waterfall with the help of a guide and cool off in the refreshing pools at the base. It’s a good idea to wear water shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Also, try to plan your visit around the cruise ship crowds.
For a fun day trip, try a Jamaica Combo Tour: Dunn’s River Falls and Bob Marley’s Nine Mile. This tour stops at the village of Nine Mile, the birthplace of Bob Marley, then heads to Dunn’s River Falls for a guided hike to the falls and a slide or swim in the natural pools. Hotel pickup, entrance fees, lunch, and a guide are included.
You can also take a Jamaica Catamaran Cruise to Dunn’s River Falls from Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. Snorkel over coral reefs, enjoy an ocean cruise, and relax and play in the water at the waterfalls. Round-trip hotel transfers are included.
4 Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
In 2015, the spectacular Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich natural and cultural heritage. Once a haven for former slaves and the native Taino, who fled here to escape slavery, this pristine natural area offers breathtaking scenery. Within its boundaries, you can explore jungle-clad mountains; waterfalls; lush rainforests; coffee plantations; and exotic plants and animals, including 800 species of endemic plants, more than 200 species of birds, and the second largest butterfly in the world. The roads and trails are rough – especially after rain – so 4WD vehicles and/or experienced guides are strongly recommended. A highlight of a visit here is the hike (or mule ride) to Jamaica’s highest peak, 2.Blue Mountain Peak . This two-day trip offers exciting views and on a clear day you can see all the way to Cuba.
Official Site: https://www.jcdt.org.jm/
5 Port Antonio
Nestled between mountains and a twin harbour, Port Antonio exudes the relaxed charm of a sleepy fishing village. Once a center for banana exports, the area is clearly less commercial than the other seaside resorts. Popular things to do include hiking jungle trails, rafting the Rio Grande , taking a tour to Reach Falls , and snorkeling and diving the coral reefs. A favorite swimming spot is the beautiful 60-meter-deep Blue Lagoon , fed by freshwater springs.
Other area highlights include the British 18th-century stronghold of Fort George and pretty Frenchman’s Cove , where a fish-stocked river flows into the sea. The beaches here are a beautiful mix of white sand, shallow water and lush outcroppings of land. Nearby, Daniel’s River plunges through a natural rock canyon in a series of cascades and pools known as Somerset Falls .
Located between the two harbors of Port Antonio and accessible by ferry, Navy Island was once owned by movie swashbuckler Errol Flynn. Today, the island is a favorite for picnics and day trips.
Jamaica’s spicy “jerk style” of cooking originates in the region, and some of the best can be found on Boston Beach east of Port Antonio.
6 Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay
One of the best beaches in Montego Bay, Doctor’s Cave Beach is an attractive strip of white sand surrounded by clear water that has contributed to the fate of this popular tourist town. In the early 1920s, a famous British osteopath stated that the water had healing powers after swimming here, a claim that began to attract visitors from all over the world. Hotels sprouted up, and the area became a popular tourist destination. The cave for which the beach is named was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932, but the beach is as popular as ever and is often packed with cruisers.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Montego Bay
7 Blue Hole, Ocho Rios
High in the rainforest-cloaked mountains outside of Ocho Rios, the Blue Hole (also called Island Gully Falls or the Irie Blue Hole) is a series of picturesque waterholes fed by gushing waterfalls. Guides lead you through the area where you can explore the falls and jump off cliffs into the refreshing pools below. The adventure involves scrambling over slippery rocks, so suitable water shoes are recommended.
8 Rose Hall Great House, Montego Bay
Built in 1770, Rose Hall is a restored mansion with stunning ocean views. Legendary Annie Palmer (the White Witch) ruled here with ferocity and met a violent death. Today, her home is adorned with period furnishings and you can choose between a day trip or a spooky candlelit evening tour topped off with tales of ghost sightings.
9 Rio Grande River
Expert guides pool bamboo rafts through an impressive stretch of tropical rainforest along the Rio Grande River on a two-and-a-half-hour tour. Rafting here dates back to around 1911, when banana farmers in the Rio Grande Valley transported their bananas down the river. Less crowded than the Martha Brae River , the Rio Grande offers beautiful scenery and gentle rapids.
10 Black River Safari Boat Tour en YS Falls
Crocodiles and more than 100 species of birds, including herons and snowy egrets, are among the critters that make their home along the mangrove-lined Black River – the longest in Jamaica. You can explore the river on guided boats and enjoy a running report on the ecology and history of the area.
A short drive away and often combined with the Black River for tours, the beautiful YS Falls are Jamaica’s largest and least commercialized waterfalls. Some of the seven waterfalls flow into peaceful natural pools, which are great for a dip on a hot day. You can also play Tarzan on the rope swing and take a dip in a paddling pool fed by natural springs. Ziplining and river tubing are also available.
Official site: https://ysfalls.com
11 Reach Falls
Tucked away in the Montane Forest of the John Crow Mountain Range , Reach Falls are among Jamaica’s most beautiful and tranquil waterfalls. A gentle walk through tropical rainforest takes you to the top of the waterfall where a lifeguard patrols. You can stand under the rushing waterfalls, explore underwater caves and swim in the fern-fringed waters surrounded by rainforest. Water shoes are recommended.
Official site: https://www.visitjamaica.com/reach-falls
12 Mayfield Falls
Nestled in the mountains, Mayfield Falls & Mineral Springs is a nature lover’s paradise, about an hour’s drive from Negril through rainforest villages. Here you will find two beautiful waterfalls; 21 natural pools; and an abundance of ferns, tropical flowers, and other rainforest flora. Butterflies and birds flit through the lush foliage, and thatched riverside gazebos beckon for pit stops.
You can choose between a guided walk along the river or you can wade through the cool waters, scramble over slippery boulders, jump off cliffs and relax under the waterfalls. Be sure to bring a camera and wear water shoes and swimsuit.
Surrounded by sugar plantations and ranching land, Falmouth is one of the best preserved Georgian towns in the Caribbean. Once a leading port city, the city boasts excellent examples of 19th-century Georgian architecture, including a faithful restoration of the courthouse. Greenwood Great House is a major tourist attraction in the area. Built in 1790 by Richard Barrett, a relative of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the great house is now a museum with antique furniture and a rare collection of musical instruments and Wedgwood china.
Other popular things to do include exploring Good Hope Plantation , an old coconut and sugar plantation built in 1755, and basking on Red Stripe and Burwood Beach . East of Falmouth is the Luminous Lagoon , named for its marine phosphorescence.
Locatie: Falmouth, Trelawny Parish
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Falmouth
14 Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain, Ocho Rios
At Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the sea on the Sky Explorer , a chairlift ascending to the mountain. The more adventurous can zoom down the mountain of Bobsled Jamaica, take a single-track rollercoaster ride through the forest, or glide through the treetops on ziplines. Other attractions here include guided nature walks, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and an infinity pool and slide. Book a bobsled tour on Mystic Mountain in advance. For visitors arriving by cruise ship, free pick-up from the port is included in this tour.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ocho Rios
15 Zipline Adventure Tours
Outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers can test their kayaking and ziplining skills as they explore the Great River. Two-hour tours take guests kayaking through rolling rapids and calm waters or ziplining above the river for a bit of adrenaline-soaked adventure. A guide provides a safety and equipment briefing and offers insight into the wildlife and vegetation along the river. The Jamaica Zipline and Kayak Adventure Tour, departing from hotels in Negril and Montego Bay, includes hotel pickup and drop-off, lunch, equipment, guide, and basic instruction. Participants must be at least six years old.
At the foot of the Blue Mountains , Jamaica’s bustling capital offers a cosmopolitan contrast to the island’s relaxed pace. Coarse and rough around the edges, Kingston can be intimidating, but you can see some of the city’s top tourist attractions on organized tours. The Bob Marley Museum , in the former home of the reggae superstar, is one of Kingston’s most visited attractions and reggae fans can also visit Trench Town Culture Yard Museum in the ghetto where reggae music was born.
Tours will also take you to explore mansions such as the historic Devon House , as well as museums such as the excellent National Gallery and the Natural History Museum . Music concerts are often staged in Emancipation Park , a palm-studded green space in the middle of the city, and National Heroes Park features statues of leading players of Jamaican history and independence. At the tip of the peninsula surrounding Kingston Harbor is the community of Port Royal , the focus of British fortification in the late 17th century.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Kingston
Must see destinations in Jamaica
See our Montego Bay and Ocho Rios pages for more information on top tourist attractions and things to do near each of Jamaica’s major beach towns. These cities offer easy access to lush mountains; waterfalls; plantations; and a myriad of thrilling tropical adventures from ziplining to rafting and river tubing. If you’re looking for a quieter Jamaican vacation, visit our page on the laid-back beach town of Negril and discover the beautiful palm-fringed beach, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Some resorts in Jamaica also make the list of top luxury all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. For inspiration on the most popular beach holiday destinations, see our page on the best tropical vacations.