Jamaica, often called a ‘jewel of the Caribbean’, is perhaps the most evocative island of the West Indies; an emerald of rainforests interspersed with hidden waterfalls, a sapphire in the famous coffee-producing Blue Mountains, spanning some twenty-eight miles of the island’s eastern side, and a ruby of a bright and vibrant culture, rich with music and flavoursome food.
Say ‘Jamaica’ to those who haven’t been, and the first thing they will mention is likely to be Bob Marley, who was born here in the now famous Nine Mile Village in St Ann Parish. Indeed, the reggae-infused spirit is one of the joys of Jamaica, emerging in food, music and way of life equally. However, once you get out and explore the wonders around you, you will truly understand the island’s motto – ‘out of many one people’. Once here, you will learn the true diversity of Jamaica; how beyond the beautiful beaches there is a miraculous rainforest eco-system, a deeply entrenched history and a ruggedly beautiful landscape, beckoning those with adventurous souls.
The capital city of Jamaica is Kingston, and it is here you can experience the bubbling mixing pot of Jamaican culture. Music, politics, history and contemporary life create a muddle of excitement, and it is here you can see the old sights of the Parade area, with many tributes to the island’s social activists, or enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Uptown, with a fantastic Bob Marley Museum and a beautifully restored Great House. While here, you might find it difficult to leave without sampling some street-style food – tantalising to all the senses, the waft of Caribbean and African spices from kitchen windows is resistible to few.
There is a healthy number of famous names connected to this island, other than Bob Marley, too. Ian Fleming was one of Jamaica’s greatest admirers, and GoldenEye, on the north coast, has a private villa once owned and lived in by the James Bond author himself. It is now owned by Jamaican-raised Chris Blackwell, known for founding Island Records, a major player in the music industry since its roots in 1959 through to today. Errol Flynn also fell for Jamaica, claiming it was “more beautiful than any woman I have ever known”, and, in his wake, a trail of Hollywood legends followed, including Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly, and Winston Churchill visited here too. You might also come across the English playwright Noël Coward’s home, built on an old pirate look-out spot, and offering magnificent views.
From the stunning, rugged landscape of the Ocho Rios and Blue Mountain region on the east side of the island, to the peaceful beaches on the north and the lively capital city of the south, Jamaica is as diverse as it is lively. Ideal for those looking to completely relax in a laidback atmosphere, or branch out and discover their adventurous side, it can all be found at this wondrous, culturally historic destination. Iconic in many ways, it is one of those places we recommend seeing for yourself, as you truly will be delighted at all it has to offer.
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Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
The beaches of Jamaica are the strongest attraction for many of those looking to relax. The carefree vibe of island life here lends itself fantastically to letting your hair down, and spending endless hours sipping on rum punch in a gently swinging hammock as the waves softly lap at golden, sandy shores. All our featured five-star luxury hotels have beachfront locations, and, from Round Hill on Montego Bay to GoldenEye in Oracabessa, the beaches along the northern shore are all beautiful.
Kingston, which is approximately a two-hour drive from guests staying at GoldenEye and Jamaica Inn, is located on the south east side of the island. It is worth venturing out for an authentic cultural experience, and to get a feel for contemporary life in Jamaica today. Here, in the uptown area, you can visit the Bob Marley Museum in the old, wooden Colonial-style house in which he lived and recorded his records between 1975 and his death in 1981. Devon House is another worthwhile visit when in Kingston, which is a stately mansion with a fascinating history as the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel.
There are countless ways to explore the Jamaican landscape, and excitement is never too hard to find. Dunn’s River Falls is one of the most beautiful natural spots of Jamaica, and was featured in the James Bond film, ‘Dr. No’, since Ian Fleming himself famously loved and lived on the island. The falls drop 600-feet, and, while it can be busy at times, Jamaica Inn offers guests the option to see the falls by boat, accompanied by their knowledgeable guides, Tony and Marvin, who know all the best vantage points and will stop off for guests wishing to snorkel in the magical waters below.
The Blue Mountains is the most mystical landscape, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and natural value. The lush rainforest and cascading waterfalls are stunning, and its thriving eco-system makes it home to thousands of endemic plant, bird and insect species. Hiking and bicycle tours can be arranged here by hotel concierges. The area is also still inhabited by the Windward Maroon people, who maintain their own distinctive language, music and heritage, an important part of Jamaican culture. You may also wish to see the tumbling rapids and lagoons of White River Valley, or, after a scenic drive through the verdant three-mile canyon of Fern Gulley, you will find Harmony Hall Art Gallery, with a trove of contemporary art pieces to admire.
As a former colony of Spain and England, there are plenty of 17th and 18th Century remnants to see for those with historic interests. From Round Hill Hotel and Villas, guests can take a tour around Rose Hall Great House, a beautifully restored mansion said to be haunted by the notorious Annie Palmer, also known as the ‘White Witch’. A fascinating story tells of how she was accused of practicing voodoo witchcraft, and killing her many husbands and lovers, before she herself was killed by a powerful medicine man.
You may also wish to see Greenwood Great House, where the original library of the Barrett family, known for their depiction in Rudolf Besier’s play ‘The Barretts of Wimpole Street’, still remains, along with a collection of rare musical instruments. Guests staying at Jamaica Inn will be a short twenty-minute drive to the house of Noël Coward, the famously witty English playwright, where he welcomed guests including Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth I. The house has been left exactly as Coward left it, and the hotel can arrange for a picnic basket to accompany guests on their visit.
Bob Marley is one of the biggest prides of Jamaica, and music fans will be overjoyed with the chance to walk in his footsteps. The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston will be of great interest for those happy to make the drive into the capital, though there is plenty to see for those wish to stay put on the north coast, too. Nine Mile, in St Ann’s Parish, was the artist’s birthplace, and is now where you can find the Bob Marley Mausoleum. Managed by members of his family, his guitars, awards and photographs of his life can be viewed by the public. Also nearby is the unusually rasta-coloured ‘rock pillow’, where Marley would lay his head when seeking inspiration, while real enthusiasts may be interested in staying at GoldenEye – owned by Chris Blackwell, Marley’s producer and founder of Island Records, who went on to sign acts such as U2, Grace Jones and Amy Winehouse.
Reggae is not just about music, it is also about food. An exciting prospect for any foodie, this beautiful setting is also home to a buffet of juicy plates, stacked high with street-style jerk-spiced chicken, glazed roasted pork and spicy goat curries. But this is just the start of your culinary journey. With a bounty of freshly home-grown ingredients, Jamaica produces a healthy number of acclaimed local chefs, and on gourmet menus you will find many skilfully crafted fusion dishes.
Reggae Sumfest is a festival held every July to celebrate music, the heart of Jamaica, with people attending from across the globe to experience the excitement of a Friday night beach party, to commence the four-day festival. Ocho Rios Jazz Festival is also celebrated on the island, being one of the best mainstream jazz festivals in the Caribbean, during ‘Jazz Week’ in June. Over thirty events are held across the island, attracting many tourists, jazz-lovers and locals, creating an incredibly spirited atmosphere.
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Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.
James Bond enthusiasts amongst you will be thrilled to know that you can stay at the place in Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned fourteen of his famous novels. The beautiful resort of GoldenEye is home to just twenty beach and lagoon cottages, suites and villas and is the perfect choice perhaps to begin your own literary masterpiece.
Witness the wonderful sight of hatchling turtles making their passage to sea at Jamaica Inn. Either on the property itself or at a nearby location, an average one-hundred turtles per nest make their way into the world between the months of August and October.
Guests staying at Round Hill Hotel and Villas can be transported to the famous Tryall Golf Club in Montego Bay, one of the most celebrated courses in the Caribbean, designed by Ralph Plummer and host to the Johnnie Walker World Cup Championship. Other courses nearby include Half Moon Course, Cinnamon Hill Golf Course and White Witch Golf Course.
Half Moon, a Rock Resort is the only resort in Jamaica to proudly offer the opportunity to swim with dolphins. With its own large ocean lagoon and trained handlers, encounters can be arranged for children and adults, including private swims and the opportunity to spend the whole day learning from a dolphin trainer.
From GoldenEye, join a local fisherman first thing in the morning, and bring your catch back to the hotel chef to have it cooked for you that day, a fantastic way to experience farm-to-table cooking for yourself.