Lured by lovely beaches and well-priced resorts, many travelers never see Jamaica beyond scenes of sun and sand. But this multi-faceted island offers so much more than the expected tropical vistas. The “Land of Wood and Water” also boasts mountains, historic architecture and unexpected adventure excursions. Check these things off your Jamaica bucket list on your next visit:
1. Devon House
One of Jamaica’s most significant national landmarks, Kingston’s Devon House is a stately 19th century mansion that was the home to the island’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. Besides striking history and decor, Devon House draws hundreds of visitor’s to its legendary I-Scream shop, considered the best on the island.
2. Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park
Shrouded in mists and rising to the island’s highest point at 7402 feet, the Blue Mountains are as significant to Jamaica’s landscape as its beaches. Combined with the connecting John Crow Mountains, the National Park is a World Heritage Site and sprawls over 200,000 acres of tropical rain forest.
3. Dunn’s River Falls
A stunning example of why the indigenous Aarawk people named the island Xayamaca; land of rivers and springs, Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most dazzling hallmarks. Flowing across more than 600 feet and one of the few rivers that flow directly into the Caribbean Sea, a climb up the falls near Ocho Rios should not be missed.
4. Bob Marley Museum
Jamaica’s most famous son inspires a host of monuments, historical sites and locations all over the island but the Bob Marley Museum, which is the Kingston house that Bob lived in during the height of his career, is an important highlight. The tour features his gold and platinum albums, studio workings and a life-sized hologram.
It should be a requirement for all Jamaica visitors to sample authentic jerk before leaving the island. The process of grilling meats over an open pit with various seasonings has been much copied but it’s not real jerk unless it’s been grilled over an open pit of sweet wood and pimento logs and few places do it better than Scotchies Jerk Centre. It’s the wood, not the sauce, that gives the meat such delectable flavor. Check out locations in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston.
6. Rafting on the Rio Grande
Thank the late Hollywood icon Errol Flynn for the unforgettable experience of floating down the gentle waves of the Rio Grande River on a bamboo raft. The rafts were only used to transport bananas to Port Antonio’s busy harbor until Flynn popularized it as an ideal way to enjoy the area’s lush scenery.
7. Rose Hall Great House
The white witch of Rose Hall is one of Jamaica’s most enduring legends and a tour through the restored 18th -century plantation house conjures up the details of Annie, the mistress of the house who deposed of three husbands and many lovers with witchcraft. Day and night tours of the Montego Bay landmark are available but be aware that many still glimpse Annie’s ghost roaming through Rose Hall.
8. Rick’s Cafe
This scenic cliff-side bar is a famed Negril hotspot that boasts awe-inspiring vistas and sunsets. Rick’s is also a popular location for cliff jumping, so there’s always something to see, no matter what time of day.
9. Mystic Mountain Jamaica Bobsled
Inspired by the legendary Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, this Ocho Rios attraction swoops down the mountain and through the rain forest driven by gravity. Mystic Mountain Jamaica Bobsled is an exhilarating ride that combines Jamaican innovation and tropical landscapes.
10. Doctor’s Cave Beach
Jamaica is covered with lovely beaches but none boast the intriguing history or prime location in the middle of Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, like Doctor’s Cave Beach. Named for the doctor who used a cave to get to the beach and its reported curative waters during the early 20th century, the beach is now a bathing club with pristine sands and a lively bar, open to the public.rative waters during the early 20th century, the beach is now a bathing club with pristine sands and a lively bar, open to the public.