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20 things you must do in Jamaica before you die

There is never a dull moment in Jamaica: the small dot on the map is a massive voice on the regional and wider global stage.

Whether you’re a tourist or have lived here for 100 years, there is NO excuse not to explore the beauty and vitality of our beautiful sun-kissed Caribbean isle, rich in cultural and leisure activities.

There’s the usually favourites ackee and saltfish, a Red Stripe beer in hand on the beach, with some Reggae music blaring in the background as jerk chicken and jerk pork grill nearby – but what else is out there?

Here’s a list of must-do activities and must-go places in Jamaica before you die courtesy of loop-lifestyle:

Curry Festival, Westmoreland

If you never do another thing in life make sure you check out the annual Curry Festival, which will be held this year on April 24, in the capital Savanna-la-Mar. Everything imaginable is curried to perfection, it’s an epicurean delight and is attended by food lovers in the thousands!

 

A fun-filled day at Kool Runnings Water Park, Westmoreland

Take your kids (as a viable excuse!) to the Kool Runnings Water Park. Complete with 10 amazing water slides, Captain Mike’s Coconut Island, diving, go-karts and bungee trampoline, go ahead and treat yourself.

 

Wildlife day at the Black River Safari, St Elizabeth

If you ever make your way to the breadbasket parish ensure that you’re been on the Black River Safari at least once. This is non-negotiable. Black River is the second longest river on the island but sustains the largest wetland ecosystem. Crocodiles are the main attraction, but the area is also popular for bird-watching.

 

Appleton Rum Tour, St Elizabeth

Jamaica boasts the region’s best rum, so why not take tour of the Appleton Rum Estate in St Elizabeth? Now owned by J Wray and Nephew, rum has continuously been made there since 1749.

 

The beauty of YS Falls, St Elizabeth

Opened to the public in 1992, YS Falls are considered by many to be Jamaica’s most spectacular waterfalls. It isn’t actually one continuous drop but rather a system of seven falls separated by pools ideal for swimming. Not a fan of the water? Towering limestone cliffs and the lush surrounding vegetation will be a feast for the eyes.

 

‘Therapeutic’ Frenchman’s Cove, Portland

Fed by cool, clear water from a natural spring, the small river that flows into the sea at Frenchman’s Cove, near Port Antonio, makes for one of Jamaica’s most postcard settings for a swim. As the tide is ebbing, let the river’s flow suck you out into the warmer sea water for what feels like a natural aqua therapy session.

 

The magical Glistening Waters, Trelawny

Get your glow on at Glistening Waters. Even if you’ve seen the phenomenon of bioluminescence before in the ocean, we’re pretty sure you haven’t seen it like this. One of Jamaica’s least publicised attractions is one of its best. Head out after dark for a five-minute boat ride from an old school marina near Falmouth, and watch the water glow bright green and blue-ish with agitated dinoflagellates (tiny marine plankton) in the boat’s wake. When they cut the engine, don’t miss the chance to enter the shallow water to swim. You’ll turn into Tinkerbell, trailing light all around you, for one of the most magical after-dark dips of your life!

 

Bob Marley Museum, Kingston and St Andrew

Home of Reggae, a visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston is bound to spark the talented musician in you! Learn about Bob’s life when not on tour and things he loved to do. The facility has thousands of memories and comes with a café and gift shop.

 

Blue Mountain hiking, St Andrew

Unlike some Caribbean islands, lush Jamaica has lots going on beyond its beautiful beaches. Take a hike and dwell high in the majestic Blue Mountains – the Caribbean’s highest mountain range – where a breath-taking view of Kingston (and even Cuba!) awaits you.

 

Blue Hole, Portland

The waters that launched Brooke Shields’ movie career are by any measure one of the most beautiful spots in Jamaica. The 55m-deep Blue Hole opens to the sea through a narrow funnel, but is fed by freshwater springs that come in at about a depth of 40m. As a result the water changes colour through every shade of jade and emerald during the day thanks to cold freshwater that blankets the warm mass of seawater lurking below.

 

Devon House, Kingston and St Andrew

Devon House stands as a beautiful colonial house. Amid the grand surroundings, the tree-shaded lawns of Devon House attract Kingstonians and tourists alike, who come here to canoodle and read. The popular former carriage house and courtyard are home to the famous Grog Shoppe restaurant, the island’s best ice cream and a few quality shops.

 

Doctor’s Cove, St James

It may sound like a rocky hole inhabited by lab-coated troglodytes, but this is actually Montego Bay’s most famous beach. A pretty arc of sugary sand fronts a deep-blue gem studded with floating dive platforms and speckled with everyone blessed to visit sighing happily.

 

Dunn’s River Falls, St Ann

These famous falls, 3km west of town, are Jamaica’s top-grossing tourist attraction. Great throngs of people can sometimes make it can seem more like a theme park than a natural wonder, but this doesn’t make the climb up the falls any less exhilarating.

You clamber up great tiers of limestone that step down 180m in a series of beautiful cascades and pools. The water is refreshingly cool, with everything shaded by tall rainforest.

 

Seafood at Little Ochie, St Elizabeth

Little Ochie is a culinary phenomenon that, despite a cult following, refuses to sell out. Set on an unkempt but romantic slice of beach, it uses the same charcoal-blackened kitchen and scribbled chalkboard menu it has for eons, although the staff has morphed from one to 30 since 1989. The secret? Fish so fresh you can catch them yourself – if you have time.

There is even a popular festival held every year (seafood lovers rejoice!).

If not, make your choice from what the fishers just brought in and then elect how you want it cooked. The jerk is always a good bet, though it can be spicy.

Grilled lobster and steamed snapper also have a dedicated following. Little Ochie is one of Jamaica’s few bona fide destination restaurants and has established itself as the No 1 attraction in otherwise sleepy Alligator Pond.

 

A historical lesson at Liberty Hall, Kingston and St Andrew

At the end of a tree-lined courtyard, decorated with cheerful mosaics and a mural depicting Marcus Garvey, stands Liberty Hall, the headquarters of Garvey’s UNIA (United Negro Improvement Association) in the 1930s. The building now contains a quite excellent multimedia museum about the man and his work, which allows the visitor to appreciate Garvey’s impact as a founder of pan-Africanism.

 

Zip-lining at Mystic Mountain, St Ann

Mystic Mountain is one of Ochi’s biggest attractions, featuring a series of zip lines crisscrossing the forest in a superb canopy tour, as well as the signature ‘bobsled’ ride through the dense foliage.

The park begins with the Sky Explorer chairlift through the forest, with views of the coastline along the way. As well as the adrenaline rushes of the bobsled and zipline, there’s also an excellent exhibition on Jamaican sport, a contemporary Caribbean restaurant and an infinity pool with water slide.

 

The haunted royalty of the Rose Hall Great House, St James

This mansion, with its commanding hilltop position 3km east of Ironshore, is the most famous Great House in Jamaica.

Much of the attraction is the legend of Annie Palmer, a multiple murderer said to still haunt the house.

Her bedroom upstairs has been redecorated, the cellar now housing an English-style pub, a snack bar, and the facility has a well-stocked gift shop full of souvenirs.

 

Historical lessons Parade Square, St Catherine

Spanish Town’s finest old buildings enfold this square (also known as Parade Sq). Dominating the north side is the elaborate Rodney Memorial, built for Admiral George Rodney, the commander-in-chief of the West Indian Naval Station who saved Jamaica from a combined French and Spanish invasion fleet in 1782. He stands within a cupola temple, with sculpted panel reliefs showing the battle scenes.

The building behind the memorial is the National Archives, with national documents dating back centuries, including the original proclamation of the abolition of slavery.

 

Earthly glory of the Windsor Caves, Trelawny

These caverns may be off the beaten track to most people, but they’re a major way-point for some 50,000 bats. Located in the Cockpit Country, you’ll pass into a large gallery full of stalactites and a huge chamber with a dramatically arched ceiling; in rainy season you can hear the roar of the Martha Brae River flowing deep underground.

 

The messy adventures of Sun Coast Adventure Park, St Thomas

Just 15 minutes’ drive east from the Harbour View Round-about. We are Jamaica’s first and largest and best Paintball facility! With that said, Sun Coast Adventure Park is much more than a Paintball field. Guests are guaranteed to have a great time, enjoying our hiking trails, maze, ropes challenge course and zip-line and of course paintball.

How many of these have you checked off your bucket-list?

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