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Negril Beach

Jamaica: reggae, reefs, rare views and so much more!


| 6 mins read

By Joseph Francis

Blessed with picture-perfect beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, thumping steel drum tunes to the iconic reggae of Bob Marley and so much more, Jamaica is a bucket list destination if there ever was one. With Jamaica tourism more alive than ever before, here's a handy guide of some of the top experiences and draws the island has to offer.

Sample the flavours of the Caribbean

Offering an explosion of flavours like few countries on the planet, the Jamaican kitchen bursts with spicy marinades, plantains, jackfruit, fresh mangos, saltfish, concoctions of rice and pulses, uber-fresh Carib seafood and plenty, plenty more. That means foodies hitting the island are in for a real treat. Unquestionably the most iconic Jamaican dish has to be the jerk chicken, found sizzling and crackling on barbeques from the backstreets of old Kingston to the trodden strips and bar streets of Montego Bay in the north. Some of the most famous jerk holes-in-the-wall are the makeshift eateries of Scotchies (a real staple of Mo’Bay and now with outlets in Ocho Rios and Kingston too) and the 3 Dives Jerk Centre, which occupies a breathtaking spot on the cliffs of Negril (expect some fine sunset viewing!). Other culinary gems on the island include the lobster-mad Xtabi in Negril, Juici Patties of Montego, and Zimbali’s on Canaan Mountain.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Hit Jamaica’s James Bond beaches

No trip to this paradisiacal corner of the Caribbean could possibly be complete without a lengthy excursion to the beaches that have made it the fodder of so many tropical holiday brochures. Ivory-white and powdery, the stretches of the northern shore are amongst the finest on the menu. They start with the sloping sands of Doctor's Cave Beach, which draws big crowds with its shimmering shore waters and calm waves (a small entrance fee is charged). Further along and the exclusive coves and crevices of the coast that cluster around Ocho Rios are the stuff of James Bond films, while Boston Bay Beach pokes out of the north-eastern end of the island, boasting some of the best surf spots in the Caribbean, oodles of lean-to jerk shacks, glowing turquoise waters and rugged cliffs to boot. And then, of course, there’s the iconic Seven Mile Beach of Negril. Uninterrupted as it runs along the western coast, this pearly stretch of sun-splashed sand comes complete with loungers, ceaseless reggae tunes and swaying coconut trees aplenty.

Ocho Rios Beach

Partying – Jamaican style!

There’s a reason why Jamaica has shouldered its way to the top of the menu for American Spring Breakers, standing alongside the likes of Cancun and Puerto Rico. Just take a look at the booming resort towns of Negril and Montego Bay, which pulse with the likes of Margaritaville, the Twisted Kilt Pub and chic Pier 1. Of course, the hedonism kicks in early along beaches like Seven Mile, which come littered with bamboo shack drinkeries touting Red Stripe and mojitos all day long – check out Ivan’s Bar and Drifter’s for some of the top spots. Also legendary on the cocktail and drinks scene is Floyd's Pelican Bar, which can only be reached by boat in its position above the aquamarine waters of Saint Elizabeth. There are also some dedicated partying resorts like Hedonism II, which are not for the faint-hearted and offer sleepless, endless nights between their countless bars and poolside shot joints.

Pelican Bar, Jamaica

Taste real luxury in the country’s uber-resorts

Jamaica is famed as the home of some of the most luxurious hotel resorts in the world. For the most part, these string their way along the coast from Negril to Ocho Rios, offering travelers everything from private beaches to butler services to seafront cabanas and all-inclusive cocktails. Amongst the most opulent on the island are The Caves of Negril, which cascade down the cliffs of the western shore, Beaches in Ocho Rios, spilling out onto the shimmering sands with private yacht jetties and sun terraces galore, and the GoldenEye Hotel and Resort, built over the erstwhile home of James Bond author Ian Fleming. There’s also luxury to be had in the jungles, in spots like the Geejam Hotel of Port Antonio, which just pokes above the coconut palms a little back from the shore.

Poolside Palm Trees Resort

Get loose to those Jamaican tunes

As the home of reggae and ska, Jamaican jazz and the deejay toasting craze, it’s hardly surprising that this lively Caribbean enclave boasts some of the best live music joints in the region. In fact, travellers usually find that their whole day is set to a distinct Jamaican rhythm: steel drums beating on the beachside by morning, Bob Marley echoing out from the bars by afternoon, and jazz wafting through the sultry evening air and into the jerk joints. For some of the top live music around, be sure to make a beeline for the capital city of Kingston, where the iconic Redbones Blues Café still ticks over to regional jazz bands each evening. Also nearby is the appropriately-named Reggae Bar in Stony Hill, while in the north, Montego Bay’s so-called Hip Strip is positively brimming with places to enjoy shows.

Bob Marley Band

Explore the Carib wilds in the mountains

Of course, Jamaica isn’t all five-star luxury and pearly beaches, reggae towns and jerk chicken. No sir, its interior is a world apart from the much-trodden sands that line its shores; a land of thick forests and rugged ridges that boasts some seriously adventurous and adrenaline-pumping hiking and exploration. Head to the soaring Blue Mountains that occupy the highlands on the eastern end of the island. Not only is this the place where Jamaica tour guide services offer the country’s most coveted hiking and trekking excursions, but it’s also the veritable home of adventure sports in Jamaica. Yes sir, travellers who make their way to this less-explored section of the island can enjoy calypso rafting trips on the White River, zip lining, treks to the 2,200-meter-high top of Blue Mountain Peak (the highest in the country), coffee tasting (for something a little more soothing), jungle tubing, waterfall hopping and plenty, plenty more!

Montego Bay Jamaica

Joseph ‘Rich’ Francis is a freelance travel writer who has travelled extensively in Asia and Europe. He particularly enjoys the jazz bars of Poland, the ski slopes of Austria and the beaches and cities of India.

Image Details and Licences: (Naotake Murayama, CC BY 2.0), (Patrick, CC BY-NC 2.0),, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), (Richard Feliciano, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), (NELO Mijangos, CC BY-NC 2.0), (Jim Larrison, CC BY 2.0)