This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.
With a distinctive culture and a diverse tourist market, Jamaica ranks among the Caribbean’s most iconic vacation destinations. The north coast attracts the most visitors to hotspots like Montego Bay and its nearby Rose Hall area, where a historic 18th century greathouse sits side-by-side with challenging golf courses like the famed White Witch course at The Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall. At Ocho Rios, also located on the north coast, visitors have a wealth of activities at their fingertips. Mystic Mountain is a mountaintop attraction boasting a cliffside swimming pool and waterslide, a thrilling zipline course and a unique bobsled-themed rollercoaster that zooms and twists through the lush tropical forests of its slopes. This is also where you’ll find Dunn’s River Falls, which lets daredevils climb along the slippery, 183-ft. waterfall. And the waterfront Dolphin Cove park offers dolphin encounters, nurse shark demonstrations, and swimming with stingrays. The north coast is also home to a wealth of large resorts, from luxury properties like Half Moon to all-inclusives—this is, after all, the birthplace of Sandals, Beaches and SuperClubs chains like Breezes. West coast towns like Negril, on the other hand, are more populated with boutique-style resorts and villas that appeal to the laid-back travelers who frequent attractions like Rick’s Cafe, a cliffside bar, restaurant and music venue known for the daredevils who get their kicks leaping from the top of its tall cliffs and plummet into the sea below. To the east, the Blue Mountains produce highly prized coffee at quaint plantations tucked into small villages. And beyond, on the island’s east coast, Jamaica’s capital of Kingston is the country’s cultural center, commemorating its pirate history at Spanish Town Square and paying homage to native music legend at the nearby Bob Marley Museum, the reggae star’s former home.
- Best time to go:
November to May
- Fun fact:
Ian Fleming, the author who created James Bond, lived in the north coast town of Orcabessa; and his home there has been restored as part of GoldenEye resort
- Getting there:
Delta flies from Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis and New York (JFK) to Montego Bay
- Entry documents:
Jamaica dollar (U.S. currency is widely accepted.)
- Must-try local food:
- Best buys:
Blue Mountain coffee, jerk seasonings
- Information please:
Jamaica Tourist Board—visitjamaica.com