From lively festivals and nightlife to fascinating tours and attractions, there are so many things to do in Jamaica. One of the largest and most diverse Caribbean islands, it really does offer something for everyone.
Jamaica’s main appeal lies in the fact that there’s so much variety. One day you’ll be scaling the Blue Mountains or rafting along the Rio Grande, the next you’ll be lazing on the beach or partying with the locals. It can be as lively or as laid back as you like. Another plus is that Jamaica is so much fun to explore, either on your own or through the many tours on offer.
In addition to the regular Caribbean offering of snorkeling trips and sunset cruises, Jamaica has captivating cultural and historic attractions. There are visits to famous landmarks and estate houses, tours around working coffee plantations and day trips to places like the Bob Marley Museum, the reggae legend’s former home.
This list of things to do in Jamaica includes a wide variety of fun options for all kinds of vacationers. Whether you’re beach buffs or adventure seekers, prefer it busy or quiet, looking for luxury or on a tight budget, you’ll find something to suit.
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Things to do in Montego Bay
The best-known tourist destination on the island, Montego Bay boasts the majority of Jamaica’s vacation resorts. Located in northwest Jamaica, it’s a great place to relax, and when you want to explore you’ll find plenty of things to do in Montego Bay.
Tour a haunted house
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Jamaica, Rose Hall has a history that has fascinated generations of visitors. Local legend holds that the house is haunted by its former mistress, the ‘White Witch’ Annie Palmer. As the story goes, Annie was a cruel practitioner of dark magic and murdered her three husbands at Rose Hall. Today, there are tours and a museum that showcase Rose Hall’s history and antique splendor. Visitors can also take spooky nighttime tours that focus on the ‘White Witch’ legend.
Soar through the treetops
Relatively new on the scene in Jamaica are several zip-line adventures through the copious forests. Some even offer thrilling vertical descents from suspended platforms as well as the standard gently-angled descents. Chukka Caribbean Adventures offer a variety of exciting zip-line tours as well as all-terrain vehicle tours and horse-rides on land and in the sea.
Tee off on a top golf course
Golf enthusiasts will be happy to hear that Jamaica is home to numerous championship courses. Montego Bay is a popular choice with golfers, especially at Rose Hall which has several top-notch courses including Cinnamon Hill, Half Moon and the White Witch (look out for that ghost!). Further down the coast are other great courses like the exclusive Tryall Club.
A number of resorts in Jamaica offer complimentary golf course memberships included in the rates.
Go river rafting
The antithesis of white-water rafting, river rafting is a relaxing way to spend a while soaking up the scenery. Jamaica Rafting runs tours down the Martha Brae River from Rafter’s Village, just outside Montego Bay. Thirty-foot bamboo rafts are boarded from the pier and the ride is operated over a scenic 3-mile stretch. Once on board, your guide will paddle you along and tell you all about the local history. The tour, which takes around an hour, finishes at Martha’s Rest which has a souvenir shop, bar and restrooms.
Play at an oceanfront theme park
Watersports, go-karting, tennis and live music are all on the itinerary at Aquasol Theme Park. Located right on Walter Fletcher Beach, you can ride around the waters on a banana boat, rent snorkeling gear or sail on a glass-bottom boat for a great view of the marine life. Jet skiing, wave running and parasailing are all available for the more adventurous visitor. If you just want to kick back and relax, rent a sunbed and hit the beach which is patrolled by lifeguards.
Explore a snorkeling paradise
With its vast variety of tropical fish and thriving coral, Montego Bay Marine Park is a snorkeling paradise. Watersports are prohibited in this idyllic area that stretches west from from Bottle Beach to Rum Bottle Bay. Within the official zone are sandy beaches, protected reef, mangrove forests and scenic islets. Visitors can embark on a number of tours including snorkeling, glass-bottom boat trips and canoe excursions.
Have a night out on the town
You’ll find some of Jamaica’s liveliest nightlife on Montego Bay’s Gloucester Avenue. Also know as the ‘Hip Strip’ it runs for 3 km and is lined with all sorts of restaurants and bars. By day you can browse the shops and craft markets and buy local souvenirs like wood carvings and beads. By night it’s the restaurants and reggae bars that rule this region. Open until the early hours, they’re popular with vacationers and locals alike.
Stay somewhere amazing
Jamaica isn’t just packed with fun things to do, it’s also home to some seriously impressive places to stay! Perfect for honeymoons, families or special occasions, these amazing properties are packed with cool features like huge pools, exciting game rooms and private access to the beach. Many villas also come with attentive in-villa staff. Your butler will serve you drinks by the pool, your chef will cook you delicious romantic meals and your housekeepers will keep your villa immaculate throughout your stay. How cool is that?
Things to do in Negril
A popular region in western Jamaica, Negril is known for its miles of sandy beaches and calm turquoise waters. Whether you’re in search of action or relaxation there’s no shortage of great things to do in Negril.
Watch death-defying feats
Rick’s Cafe in Negril is one of Jamaica’s most famous hangouts. It’s a restaurant and bar, although many people go for the adrenaline-pumping cliff jumping. Located at the top of a 35-foot high cliff, it boasts some of the best sunset views on the whole island. Aside from those, your attention will be on the people (both locals and visitors alike) performing the death-defying feat of jumping off the cliff or even from up in the trees down into the rocky waters below.
Walk Seven-Mile Beach
One of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach in Negril is the perfect place for a sunset stroll. Soak up the sights of the serene blue waters and silky white sand, or for something a little more adventurous check out the activities and attractions. There are catamaran cruises, banana boat rides and glass-bottom boat tours, as well as a variety of watersports like jet skiing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. You can even explore the beach on horseback. Various bars and restaurants dot the beach offering cold drinks, spicy Jamaican cuisine and plenty of reggae music.
Ride white-knuckle slides
Ideal for all the family, Kool Runnings is Jamaica’s largest water park. It offers more than five acres of exciting rides, slides and water-based fun. The stars of the show are Captain Mike’s Coconut Island, designed especially for smaller children and featuring paddling pools and water games. If you’d rather take things up a gear there are white-knuckle attractions like Kick Puppalick which sees you shooting down a sheer drop, and the Duppy Conquerer which winds you down a 32-meter drop. When you’re ready to refuel there’s a handful of cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch or a quick snack.
Spot exotic birds
Beautiful and well-maintained, Barney’s Flower & Hummingbird Garden is the perfect place to spot exotic hummingbirds. Not only do you get to soak up the sights of the colorful gardens and birds, you also get the opportunity to feed them using small feeding bottles that are provided. It’s not uncommon to see woodpeckers and parakeets on your journey, as well as butterflies, geckos and lizards.
Climb a lighthouse
Standing proudly on the on the very westernmost tip of Jamaica, Negril Lighthouse is one of the island’s most famous tourist attractions. Built in 1894, it was the first concrete lighthouse to have been built in Jamaica and it’s also the highest structure in the parish. In the daytime you’ll get panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and surrounding countryside from the upper gallery. The on-site manager will gladly lead the way up all 103 stairs.
Things to do in Ocho Rios
A lively port town on the north coast, Ocho Rios has a cruise ship harbor and a busy beach bay lined with shops, restaurants and attractions. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Ocho Rios itself, as well as in the surrounding parish of Saint Ann, home to rainforest, rivers and waterfalls.
Sled down a mountain
Buckle up and enjoy stunning scenery and high-speed thrills on an amazing bobsled ride. One of the most popular attractions in Jamaica, Rainforest Adventures at Mystic Mountain offers a variety of exciting adventures. Its signature bobsled features a 100-metre-long gravity drive through the rainforest and down the side of the mountain on a high-tech bobsled. In addition, the park is also home to a state-of-the-art chairlift and a thrilling zip-line.
Be shaken and stirred
Anyone looking for the best things to do in Jamaica should head to James Bond Beach where the blockbusting movie ‘Dr No’ was filmed. Surrounded by crystal-clear water and with an amazing backdrop of lush mountains, it attracts James Bond fans from across the globe. For cool things to do, go on a guided wave-runner tour past the famous Goldeneye villa where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels. The beach is also home to local and international concerts that take place throughout the year.
Eat jerk chicken
Jerk chicken is an essential part of Jamaican cuisine and a delicacy that is enjoyed not just on the island, but all over the world. A great place to sample some is at the Ocho Rios Jerk Center which serves barbecued jerk chicken, pork, fish and conch. The restaurant is open air and has a casual, relaxed vibe where the food is served to you at your table. It’s also a good place to hang out and enjoy a couple of drinks while listening to local music.
Scale a waterfall
Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios is one of the most famous natural attractions in the world. Often seen on the front of glossy vacation brochures, clear mountain water cascades 1,000 feet down its naturally terraced steps. Part of the fun is getting in the water and climbing right to the top. Group tours are run by experienced guides and everyone is encouraged to climb to the top. Don’t worry if it sounds too daring – you can walk alongside the falls if you prefer. Whichever way you get there you’ll be able to snap some great photos from the top.
Treat yourself to a relaxing cruise along the crystal clear waters of White River aboard an inflatable swim tube. You’ll go on a voyage along the 3-mile stretch passing limestone riverbeds, lush rainforest and historic plantations as you go. You can take a tubing tour, or combine with other attractions like zip-lining and dune buggy safaris.
Swim in a blue lagoon
Hidden among the mountains to the south of Ocho Rios is the Blue Hole, arguably the most beautiful attraction in Jamaica. Shrouded in a canopy of swaying trees, its turquoise waters beckon you to jump in and enjoy a refreshing swim. Also known as Secret Falls, this 20-foot deep lagoon boasts a large main pool, several small pools, a mud bath, a waterfall and numerous secret caves to explore. Entry to the Blue Hole starts at $15.00.
Get up close to dolphins
If you’re looking for things to do in Jamaica, what could be better than getting up close to friendly dolphins? At Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios you can do just that. Visitors of all ages can take part in a number of exciting interactive programs including swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat. You’ll also get the chance to interact with other marine creatures like stingrays and sharks. Back on land, the Jungle Walk Trail is home to iguanas, snakes and a variety of birds.
Things to do in Kingston
Located on the southeastern coast, Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica. Tucked between the Blue Mountains and the world’s seventh largest natural harbor it’s packed with exciting things to do.
Check out a coffee plantation
Spend a day among nature and stop off at a popular coffee plantation on the Blue Mountain Coffee Tour. A local guide leads the tour, pointing out native flora and fauna along the way. You’ll stop at the Blue Mountain Plantation and sip on some rich and fragrant cups of the notoriously good Blue Mountain coffee. The factory here processes a colossal 1.4 million pounds of coffee beans every year! Afterwards you’ll visit Catherine’s Peak, one of the mountain range’s highest points.
Visit Bob Marley’s home
No list of things to do in Jamaica would be complete without mentioning the Bob Marley Museum. Located in the parish of St Ann, the legendary reggae musician was born and later buried there. Visitors can tour the house as well as the adjoining music studio where some of his most famous music was recorded. All the furnishings are original and in the garden you can see the ‘meditation spot’ – Marley’s favorite place to sit and write songs.
Take a city tour
Jamaica Cultural Enterprises offer fascinating bus tours through the city of Kingston. You’ll journey through the capital learning all about its culture and heritage, stopping off at an array of attractions along the way. Tours typically start at National Heroes Park and include stops at Trench Town Museum, the University of the West Indies and Devon House Mansion. During the tour you’ll also visit beautiful parks, vibrant markets and real Kingston communities.
Sail to a tropical island
Around 15 minutes by boat from Port Royal is the beautiful tropical island of Lime Cay. From Morgan’s Harbour Marina, a shuttle or boat rental for the day can be arranged – and for intrepid explorers, a small fee should convince a fisherman to sail you over. There are no facilities on Lime Cay so go prepared with drinks and snacks. The airport is close by, so expect to see low flying aircraft from time to time.
Other things to do in Jamaica
Sample the local rum
Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth offer short tours that take you through the estate and rum factory. You’ll get to the see the sugarcane plantation, as well as the factory equipment and production processes. If the historical element doesn’t interest you, then it helps to know that there are rum tasting before, during an after the tour – just saying!
Bathe in a hot spring
Located in the southern parish of Clarendon, Milk River Bath is a spa fed from a hot spring that bubbles up at the foot of Round Hill. Attached to the Milk River Hotel, it’s open for public and private baths, with therapeutic massages and body scrubs also available. Around 200 meters north of the spa is the open-air Milk River Mineral Spa Swimming Pool where you can swim for a small fee.
Along Jamaica’s south coast is Black River, Jamaica’s longest river and a fantastic place to see crocodiles. Explore Jamaica Tours offer safari tours departing from the Grand Palladium and cruising on a scenic excursion along the Black River. The tour is led by a knowledgable guide and includes a delicious lunch. Visitors will get up close to some of the area’s largest crocodiles, and also have the opportunity to visit the crocodile nursery to see and even hold baby crocs.
Drink at the coolest bar in the world
Built on a sandbar literally in the middle of the sea, Floyd’s Pelican Bar is often referred to as the coolest bar in the world. Perched on stilts with a driftwood deck and a thatch roof, it sits around three quarters of a mile offshore from Parottee Point in Saint Elizabeth. The only mode of transport to the bar is an exciting 10-minute boat ride from the shore. Once you’ve arrived you can drink a few beers, enjoy some fresh seafood and socialize with locals and visitors alike.
Soak up stunning views
Known for its sweeping views (1700 feet above sea level!) Lover’s Leap in St Elizabeth is definitely worth a visit. Legend has it that two star-crossed lovers once leapt from this clifftop spot to escape the clutches of an evil slave master. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction with a lighthouse, a restaurant and an observation deck. Visitors can take guided tours of the area and join in with special celebrations held on Sunday nights.
Discover the Jamaican Maroons
The Jamaican Maroons (descendants of escaped slaves) and their legacy make up a significant chapter in Jamaican culture – and Accompong in Cockpit Country is the largest maroon village on the island. It was here in 1739 that runaway slaves signed a treaty with the British to establish a free and independent community. To this day, its residents live an autonomous life separate from mainstream Jamaican culture. Sun Venture Tours offer guided tours of the village from all of the major resorts.
Tempted to visit Jamaica?
Top Villas offers a wide range of condos and villas in Jamaica. Book with us and not only will you get beautiful accommodation at great prices, you’ll also benefit from amazing round-the-clock customer service plus access to a wide range of travel extras such as car hire, airport transfers or help with arranging a special experience.
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