Jamaica

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At about 4,240 square miles, Jamaica is about the size of the state of Connecticut – small for a landmass, but big for a Caribbean island. Distances on the beach-fringed island, which is 148 miles long and 50 miles wide, seem longer than they are, thanks to the region’s rainforest-cloaked, mountainous spine, which must be driven around. The country’s 2.7 million people are divided between the cities of Kingston, on the southeast coast, Montego Bay in the northwest, and countless rural communities in between. Most visitors dedicate the majority of their time to the beaches.

Jamaica Cities and Regions

Kingston

At the foot of the Blue Mountains, the capital of Jamaica is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami. Kingston’s burgeoning music scene, as well as its cultural and historic attractions (including funky nightclubs and museums honoring Bob Marley), are receiving renewed attention from visitors in spite of the city’s reputation for violent crime. The faded old pirate town of Port Royal, coffee plantations of the Blue Mountains, and Jamaica’s first capital – historic (and deteriorated) Spanish Town, are nearby.

Montego Bay

Known as MoBay, Jamaica’s second-largest city is the premier tourist destination on the northwest coast. Despite its somewhat honky-tonk “Hip Strip,” the region offers a large choice of swanky resorts, restaurants, and world-class golf courses. Added bonus: it’s only a short drive from the Sangster International Airport.

Negril

At the island’s extreme western tip, Jamaica’s “Capital of Casual” has held its own against mass development, with low-key, low-rise resorts and inns lining the famous, palm-fringed Seven Mile Beach and the rocky, grotto-lined cliffs.

Ocho Rios

The North coast’s second largest tourist center and cruise capital welcomes hoards of tourists, most of whom clamber up 600-foot-high Dunn’s River Falls and leave. Beyond are fine inns, mountain scenery, and Nine-Mile – the birthplace and final resting place of reggae icon Bob Marley.

South Coast

The island’s off-the-beaten-track side encompasses quirky inns, farms, fishing villages, and natural attractions like Black River’s crocodile-infested wetlands and YS Falls, a popular waterfall that provides a picturesque backdrop for tubing, swimming, and picnicking.

Port Antonio

This old banana port slumbered through the late 20th century. Now, PA is stirring once again thanks to a combination of striking natural beauty (mist-shrouded mountains, rushing rivers, small coves) and new development (boutique resorts, new roads, and investments from investor and local-lad-made-good, Michael Lee Chin).

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