Famous for rum, reggae, swaying palm trees, waterfalls, beautiful beaches, Bob Marley, and fast sprinters, the Caribbean jewel packs a huge punch in terms of both scenery and a strong cultural identity.
The famous island is truly a paradise and home to upbeat, friendly locals who just want to live their best lives and on your visit, the island’s vibe and energy will definitely rub off on you! From stunning beaches where crystalline waters gently lap on soft sand to breathtaking mountains, here are my best and most beautiful places to visit in Jamaica…
1. Seven Mile Beach – one of the most stunning places to explore in Jamaica
Easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica, the gorgeous Seven Mile Beach at Negril was once the haunt of pirates. Today, it is a spectacular stretch of clear, blue coastal waters and soft, golden sand. Adventure-seekers won’t be disappointed with what is on offer.
There are so many beach activities and water sports to choose from, including water skiing, jet skis, kayaking and parasailing. Along with swimming or lounging in the sun, visitors can enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving, kite surfing and paddle boarding.
Divers will find plenty of colorful coral reefs to explore or you can enjoy the breathtaking underwater scenery from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat.
The tranquil water and warm sea breezes of Seven Mile Beach offer something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the vibrant Jamaican culture. Sample the delicious cuisine to the festive sounds of local music, or visit cute little stalls for some shopping.
Seven Mile Beach is an inviting, safe playground for all ages with calm, shallow waters patrolled by lifeguards. Enjoy a memorable end to your day with a breathtaking sunset while you relax with a refreshing rum!
2. Martha Brae River Tour – a must-do when visiting beautiful Jamaica
For a memorable adventure through Jamaica’s vibrant, tropical rainforest, take a raft trip on the scenic Martha Brae River.
You will experience a breathtaking variety of wildlife and natural attractions as you float down the turquoise river on a thirty-foot long bamboo raft. Your tour will be enriched by the fascinating local knowledge of your qualified rafting captain.
Float along the quiet waters enjoying the spectacular natural scenery and captivating birdsong, before negotiating the rapids and stopping at calmer sections of the river for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear, still water.
Only twenty miles from Montego Bay, this half-day nature-lovers guided tour is an essential experience for holidaymakers in Jamaica.
3. Port Antonio – gateway to nearby tropical jungles, mountains and waterfalls
For the traveler interested in seeking seclusion, head north and pay a visit to the remote eastern point of the island. Set in a backdrop of teeming jungles, with glorious waterfalls, soaring mountains, and idyllic beaches, you’ll find the city of Port Antonio, famous for its own unique Jamaican flavor.
One of the best places to visit in Jamaica, this exotic coastal paradise has a rich palette of attractions on offer. The township has an exciting history, with colonial ruins like the Folly Mansion, and nearby offshore islands to explore.
There are remarkable historic buildings to enjoy, including the Portland Parish Church and the Portland Parish courthouse.
For those looking for adventure, you can go bamboo rafting down the Rio Grande, explore Frenchman’s Cove or swim in the romantic Blue Lagoon.
Sunbaking and swimming are popular pastimes and for the more active visitor you can enjoy surfing, or hiking in the mountains.
4. Kingston – the buzzing capital and one of the best places to visit in Jamaica
For a truly Jamaican experience, travelers must pay a visit to the capital city, Kingston. This alluring destination delivers a cultural immersion unmatched anywhere else.
Kingston offers a wide range of engaging local experiences, including museums, galleries, fortresses and churches. Explore the Bob Marley Museum in the famous musician’s former home.
Other spectacular attractions include the Royal Botanical Gardens at Hope, and numerous urban parks where colorful festivals are regularly held.
The city is geographically exciting. It is surrounded by the Blue Mountains and Red Hills, Long Mountain, and the Kingston natural harbor protected by the Palisadoes, which is a long sand spit that leads to the international airport.
The visitor who want to take in some untouched wilderness can go hiking or picnicking in the Blue Mountain National Park, while the Strawberry Hill estate offers a Jamaican colonial escape to luxury beneath the lush Blue Mountains.
Enjoy an indulgent coconut hydro-scrub massage at their famous spa.
5. Dunns River Falls and Park – a gorgeous Jamaica beauty spot
The Dunn’s River Falls are a major waterfall attraction, just three miles out of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s northern coast.
Each year, thousands of tourists climb the stunning waterfall which cascades down a distinctive travertine formation that looks like a giant, naturally formed staircase, 180 meters high.
The unique travertine terraced formation continuously regenerates itself with the precipitation of calcium carbonate from the underground spring water, as it bubbles over the falls.
There is plenty to challenge the adventurous at this spectacular national treasure. Enjoy swimming and diving in the cold-water lagoons and climb the waterfall’s terraced steps to enjoy the view from the top.
Or simply relax, sunbathe, or go for a trek and enjoy the abundant wildlife and rainforest ambiance.
6. Devon House – a beautiful historic attraction
In the capital city, Kingston, travelers can experience some remarkable historical architecture. Devon House is one of Kingston’s most authentic examples of a bygone era. This grand, historic landmark was built in the 1880s and it is an outstanding example of Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage.
The classical Georgian mansion is typical of the plantation owners’ homes that were built by British colonials during the time of plantation slavery and the flourishing slave trade. Surprisingly, Devon House was owned by George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first non-white millionaire.
The house has been faithfully furnished with typical 19th-century style furniture and art.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the house, and enjoy the gardens and courtyard which feature little craft shops and cafes and a famous ice cream shop.
7. Blue Hole – one of the most stunning places to explore in Jamaica
Just over twenty miles from Montego Bay, near Ocho Rios, lies the secluded natural attraction of Cool Blue Hole. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Jamaica, the picturesque, deep blue mineral pools are formed from a series of limestone sinkholes.
Visitors can explore a secret pool hidden in a cavern underneath a waterfall.
For the adventurous, travelers can swing into the pools from a rope, jump off the rocks and cliffs into the pools or just enjoy a refreshing swim.
A short climb to the top of the waterfall offers the prospect of an invigorating mud spa. From there, a few minutes trek further up the river through the eco-rich rainforest, reveals more cascading waterfalls and hidden pools.
Thrill-seekers must add Blue Hole to their itinerary, or miss out on one of Jamaica’s most exhilarating hidden treasures.
8. Runaway Bay Beaches – some of the most stunning beaches on the island
Runaway Bay is on Jamaica’s north coast not far from Ocho Rios and is known particularly for the glorious beaches protected by tropical coral reefs.
Runaway Bay is mainly a resort community consisting of luxury hotel resort complexes, golf courses, and villas, dotted along the stunning beaches.
The offshore reef is a spectacular attraction, popular for snorkeling and diving while the township itself offers its own flavor of cultural attractions and interesting heritage sites.
A challenging activity is exploring a natural subterranean cave network, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, that leads down to an enchanting watery grotto.
Green Grotto Caves are the most accessible caves in Jamaica. They are the largest caves in a series of interconnected winding passages and underground chambers stretching deep beneath the Dry Harbour Mountains.
9. Reach Falls – a scenic park with a waterfall, swimming area and wildlife
For a luxurious eco-friendly experience, visitors must be sure to explore Reach Falls, secluded in the beautiful Montane Forest in the hills of the John Crow Mountain range.
The main attraction is a magnificent waterfall that cascades down a shimmering green, fern-covered rock face into cool, inviting pools in the river below.
Visitors can enjoy a guided tour up the Driver’s River that flows to the waterfall, including an exhilarating visit to a legendary cave. On your tour, you will be enchanted with the lush rainforest scenery, alive with brightly colored, exotic birds and Jamaican wildlife.
Swimming in the natural, almost heart-shaped jacuzzi beneath the waterfall is both relaxing and invigorating.
10. Doctor’s Cave Beach – a paradise-like popular beach
Doctor’s Cave Beach is perhaps the most famous of the beach destinations in Montego Bay. It provides the most facilities for the comfort of tourists.
The bustling beaches are paid-entry localities but they offer clear, turquoise-colored water ideal for snorkeling and endless stretches of soft white sand.
The calm waters and sheltered location are part of the Montego Bay Marine Park which protects the tropical coral reefs that provide a delightful experience for visitors.
Travelers can enjoy the convenience of bars, restaurants, showers and change rooms right on the beach and beachgoers can hire anything from umbrellas, chairs and towels to snorkeling gear.
Water sports include catamaran cruises, jet skis, parasailing and floating diving platforms while there is plenty of beach activities equipment for hire.
For the less adventurous, visitors can simply relax and sunbathe or swim, or perhaps take a tour in a glass-bottom boat.
11. Blue Mountains – a beauty spot perfect for nature lovers
The adventurous traveler will find plenty to experience in Jamaica’s breathtaking Blue Mountains. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Jamaica, this is the longest mountain range on the island, boasting the island’s highest peak at nearly 2260m.
The summit at Blue Mountain Peak can be reached by a walking track.
Located to the East, between Portland Parish and Saint Thomas Parish, the peaks of the mountain range are almost perpetually shrouded in a distinctive and beautiful blue mist.
Terrain higher up in the Blue Mountains is covered in dense tropical rainforest but the lower slopes were cleared by colonists for farming and cropping and Jamaica soon became the world’s leading coffee producer.
Blue Mountain coffee is still revered as one of the finest gourmet coffees in the world, which is exported predominantly to Japan. Visitors can sample its delights from some of the Blue Mountain’s local small farm holdings.
12. Blue Lagoon – a wildly popular destination to visit in Jamaica
Anyone visiting Jamaica must be sure to add this seriously beautiful attraction to their itinerary. The lagoon is located around seven miles East of Port Antonio.
This famous romantic destination is a stunning, almost land-locked cove with a shimmering lagoon of various shades of blue, fringed by tropical green rainforest.
The spring-fed Blue Lagoon is quite deep at around 180 to 200 feet in depth. The cold fresh water from the underground mountain springs mixes with the warmer saltwater entering the lagoon from the ocean beach.
It is the meeting of the two waters that creates the changing colors, ranging from all shades of blue through to emerald.
Tourists can swim in the lagoon and it is popular with underwater explorers. For visitors seeking a more relaxed experience, you can float across the lagoon on a bamboo raft. Easily one of the best places to visit in the Blue Lagoon.
13. Discovery Bay – a small, quiet town on the northern coast of Jamaica
Located in Saint Ann Parish on Jamaica’s northern coast, the town on this pristine natural harbor is also known as Dry Harbor. Discovery Bay is perhaps an hour’s drive East of Montego Bay.
It is named to commemorate the site where Christopher Columbus is believed to have first set foot in Jamaica.
Discovery Bay today relies heavily on two local industries, bauxite mining, and tourism. There are numerous popular tourist destinations close to the town, including River Rapids at Falmouth, the Pear Tree River, the Green Grotto Caves, and Columbus Park.
Other attractions include boating charters and fun-filled water sports like kayaking and paddle-boarding along the unspoiled white sand beaches.
14. Booby Cay Island – a beautiful gem situated off the coast of Jamaica
Tourists can take a tour from the coast at Negril out to Booby Cay Island. This lovely little hideaway destination is very small and visitors can easily enjoy a walk right around it.
The restaurant is famous for its large, locally caught lobsters freshly cooked right in front of your eyes.
However, the soft, sandy beaches and tropical coral reefs offer more delights for the visitor. Divers and snorkelers can enjoy viewing the vibrant marine life and colorful coral formations which can be reached by charter boat.
Popular leisure activities on the island also include swimming, sunbathing, bird watching and photography. Visitors can also explore the reef from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat.
15. Rastafari Indigenous Village – a must-see place to go in Jamaica
From Montego Bay, you can visit a purpose-built Rastafari Indigenous village. Visitors get the opportunity to learn about Rastafarian philosophies and culture.
The tour will guide you over the river, through a bamboo glade to the Rasta village where visitors can meet with local people and discover their spiritual lifestyle and cultural history.
After receiving a warm welcome, you will enjoy learning about the Rasta people and their fascinating handcrafts in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
You can sample coconut water served in a calabash and try the richly distinctive Rasta food. Before your tour ends, visitors join in on an interactive, spiritual drum ceremony with the local people in the village center. Enjoy beautiful Jamaica!
16. Falmouth – a stunning hidden-gem town that features Georgian architecture
This is a charming town and one of the most lovely places in Jamaica to visit. Falmouth has reopened its port that offers beautiful Caribbean heritage and fantastic surroundings.
If you want to explore the town whilst trying to increase your steps count, why not book a guided or self-guided walking tour where you will be able to appreciate some of the finest architecture and learn interesting facts about Falmouth’s history.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Falmouth is definitely the Greenwood Great House which was built by Richard Barrett in 1800.
This is a top antique museum that will take you back into Jamaica’s past. The house includes original furniture and a rare collection of musical instruments
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.
Hotel Reviewing Experience –Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Discover Greece, Barcelo Hotels, and Rickshaw Travel. Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos. Also mentioned as a top UK travel journalist.