Jamaica

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On an island as diverse as Jamaica, you would be doing yourself a serious disservice if you limited yourself to the reggae and rum formula (however attractive). Break free from the beaches and fruity beverages for mountain river rafting and kayaking, horseback riding in the surf, rainforest hikes, and tours of Jamaica’s historic towns and plantation great houses. Diving and snorkeling are rewarding, but not nearly as impressive as they are elsewhere in the Caribbean as over-fishing has depleted many stocks of marine life.

Things to do in Jamaica

Appleton Rum Estate

Appleton Rum Estate, nestled on either side of the Black River, offers tours of the distillery with plenty of time for samples (adults only). The gift shop overflows with rum souvenirs.

, 876-963-9215, www.appletonrum.com
Tags: things to do | tour | liquor

Blue Mountain Tours

Take a bus to the top of Blue Mountain and bike down with Blue Mountain Tours. At 7,402 feet above sea level, the peaks are spectacular, with vistas of Cuba on a clear day and fresh coffee beans perfuming the morning air.

121 Main St., 876-974-7075, www.bmtoursja.com
Tags: hiking | biking | editor pick | views | things to do | outdoors

Buy local art

From his gallery in Gordon Town at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Wayne Gallimore showcases and sells the work of over 30 Jamaican masters and intuitive artists. Private showings and tours to artists' studios are by appointment only. Alternatively, you can visit the online Jamagination Gallery (see link below), which ships art anywhere in the world.

Jamagination, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, 876-476-4417, www.jamagination.com.jm
Tags: trendy | art | things to do | gallery

Crab sellers

The ladies of Kingston gather each afternoon by National Heroes Circle to sell crab, fresh from the sea. Be sure to pick up a slab of macaroni pie and a cob of buttered corn.

National Heroes Circle,
Tags: great value | local favorite | things to do | culinary

Devon House

Devon House is an impressive example of 19th-century, Jamaican-Georgian architecture, but the property owes its real fame to George Stiebel (Jamaica’s first black millionaire), who built it in 1881. Its manicured grounds are an 11-acre oasis in the middle of the city. After touring the building and admiring the collection of hard-carved antique furniture, refuel at “Norma’s on the Terrace,” the onsite restaurant that is known as much for its convivial host as it is for its Jamaican and West Indian-fusion cuisine (876-968-5488).

26 Hope Rd., 876-929-6602, www.devonhousejamaica.com
Tags: family | things to do | culture | architecture | history

Dunn's River Falls

Experience the granddaddy of all Jamaica attractions in Ocho Rios. Marvel at the dramatic 600-foot-high falls, limestone caves, and gardens replete with orchids and breadfruit trees.

, 876-974-2857, www.dunnsriverfallsja.com
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | outdoors

Horseback riding

Riding bareback along the beach at sunset will remind you why you booked a vacation in the first place. The family-owned Braco Estates provides horses and guides for tours through the countryside and along the northwest coast of the Caribbean Sea.

Braco Estates, 32 miles east of Montego Bay, 876-954-0185, www.bracostables.com
Tags: beach | family | things to do | tour | horseback riding

Jerk cooking lessons

Sign up for a Walkerswood Jerk Country Tour, near Ocho Rios, and explore culinary traditions from field to table with jerk cooking lessons and lunch at the Nyam and Scram Café.

Walkerswood Jerk Country Tour, 876-917-2318, www.walkerswood.com
Tags: family | things to do | tour | culinary

Jerky Stands

Hiding out in the mountains to avoid capture by the British, the renegade Maroons (runaway slaves) invented the spicy jerk style of cooking, roasting meat over an open fire pit. Today, Boston Bay is the headquarters for modern “jerkers” who hawk that same fiery chicken and pork under no-frills thatched huts by the waters edge.

near Port Antonio, www.portantoniojamaica.com
Tags: local favorite | things to do | culinary

Kool Runnings Water Park

Spread over five acres in Negril, Kool Runnings Water Park is a world of family fun, with ten water slides, a lazy river, and a play area for kids and grown-ups. Discount for those under 48-inches tall (because they can't ride all the slides).

Norman Manley Blvd., 876-957-5400, www.koolrunnings.com
Tags: family | things to do | water park

Rockland Bird Sanctuary

The Rockland Bird Sanctuary, one of the oldest attractions in Montego Bay, is a tranquil reserve for many species of hummingbirds, including the tiny Doctor Bird. Bring your camera and aim to visit in the early morning when the birds are out looking for food.

near Montego Bay, 876-952-2009, www.birdlifejamaica.com
Tags: things to do | wildlife | bird-watching

Tee off

Constructed in 1868, the Manchester Golf Club was the first course to open in the Caribbean. With nine greens and 18 holes carved in the rolling hills of Mandeville, the course is nirvana for golfers and history buffs alike.

Manchester Golf Club, Negril; Brumalia Rd., 876-962-2403, www.jamaicagolfassociation.com
Tags: golf | editor pick | things to do | outdoors

The Blue Lagoon

The shimmering, freshwater-fed Blue Lagoon (made famous by the 1980 movie of the same name) reaches a depth of 200 feet and beckons swimmers, scuba divers, and those who just want to say they’ve been there.

20 minutes east of Port Antonio, 876-993-7791, www.portantoniojamaica.com
Tags: beach | editor pick | things to do | outdoors | swimming | diving

The Outameni Experience

This innovative interactive time machine chronicles 500 years of history. The Taino Indian term means “come together” and reflects the island’s motto: “Out of Many, One People.” Exhibits include a slave ship simulation, tributes to Rasta and reggae, and a tour through the historic Orange Grove Great House.

near Montego Bay, www.outameni.com
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum

Underwater tour

Jamaica’s only underwater adventure tour journeys to the bottom of the sea for awesome views of the coral and marine life. Wearing a space-age helmet, you can breathe with ease (and avoid soggy hair).

Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Doctors Cave Beach, 876-953-6699, www.chukkacaribbean.com
Tags: trendy | things to do | wildlife | diving

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