Jamaica is literally mentioned three times in the opening verse of one of the most famous and incorrectly quoted Beach Boys songs. Jamaica… Montego… Jamaica. This song speaks greatly to what Jamaica is seen as: a hot place with nice beaches for a vacation. Most people think Jamaica, and the rest of the Caribbean, is only that: beaches, sand, colorful cocktails, and a week in ‘paradise’. But is travel in Jamaica more than that? Are there hidden gems in Jamaica that no one knows about?
Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya
Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty Mama
Key Largo, Montego,
Baby why don’t we go,
What happens when you get out of the all-inclusive resort or away from the cruise ship profit-reaping excursion?
What is travelling in the real Jamaica like? What are Jamaicans like? Surely there are not just dreadlocked people bobsledding while smoking the hash singing how everything is going to be alright? Right?
After 5 months in Jamaica, I can say with the utmost confidence that Jamaica is more than reggae and reefer. Beyond the tourist havens of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril, Jamaica is a phenomenal country, with friendly folks, delicious food, and a ton of interesting places to visit! Travelling to Jamaica is on the top of many vacation list, but I strongly recommend traveling beyond those beaches to the real Jamaica once you get here. If these offbeat attractions aren;t enough to persuade you, Tara has lots more great reasons to go on a Jamaican holiday!
8 Hidden Gems in Jamaica
Treasure Beach is just that, a beach that is a true treasure. Located on Jamaica’s South Coast, Treasure Beach is a chilled out, laid back seaside community with not a single all-inclusive in sight. Home to a range of locals, ex-pats, tourists and goats, Treasure Beach has some of the best stretches of sand in this part of the island, but the roads to get here make it off the map for many. Brave the potholes: the tour-free beaches, unique places to stay, local character restaurants, and welcoming vibes of the locals in this nook of Jamaica make it my top pick for a few days of ultimate hippie relaxation.
“Open your eyes and notice the beauty of this wonderful world”- Anonymous. Book your stay today. Visit the link in our bio for more information. (📷: @briewilliams#JakesHotel #TreasureBeach #hotel #boutiquehotel #Jamaica #Caribbean #sun #trees #nature #sea #paradise #hammock #relax #beauty #travel #instatravel #traveltheworld #aroundtheworld
Inland but nearer the South Coast, YS is a much lesser visited alternative to Dunn’s River Falls up north. The 7 tiered waterfall is gorgeous in it’s jungle setting, but it also feels great getting into that water! You can swim in a variety of spots, plus grab an onsite guide and they will take you (safely) around different features of the falls, like where you can sit and the falls will ‘massage’ your back. If you’re feeling brave, take a leap off the Tarzan swing and then chill out in the falls-fed soaking pool.
Negril’s West End
Negril may be a tourist hotspot, but if you’re not into the party scene on 7 Mile Beach (and it IS a party!), hit the West End. The restaurants and hotels in the West End, home of the famous Rick’s Café, are located up on the cliffs instead of the beach. The West End is quieter to be certain, but it offers fantastic snorkeling, cliff jumping, sunset-viewing and just as much sun as the beach end. *Bonus points for running in Negril’s yearly Reggae Marathon, rated one of the top marathons in the world! I finished the half in 2016!
This title may sound abrupt, but a trip to Jamaica is incomplete without eating jerk. As famous as jerk is around the world, only a Jamaican will tell you not all jerk is created equal, and if you want the best, you go to Portland, Jamaica’s little visited eastern parish. Portland is the jerk capital of Jamaica, host of the yearly Portland Jerk Festival very July. Pull up and be accosted by the jerk touts, but really any of the jerk shops in this small town will blow your palate away!
The Blue Mountains
Jamaica’s interior is just as spectacular as it’s coastline, really it is! The Blue Mountains are home to Jamaica’s highest peak, at 2256 meters. The region is also the hub of coffee production on the island, growing some of the Caribbean’s top rated coffee beans. As such, the hiking, coffee tours, and mountain biking are just some of the activities in the area. If you feel like conquering that summit, most people do it early morning to catch the sunrise!
Early rising does not dissapoint. #sunrise #amanecer #bluemountainsjamaica A photo posted by @livedreamnlove on
Glistening Waters in Falmouth
Though it is on the North Coast, most people don’t know about Glistening Waters in Falmouth. Glistening Waters is actually one of the more unique places to visit in Jamaica, as it is a nightly phenomenon. Take a small boat out into the Falmouth Lagoon after sunset, go for a swim, and literally, you will glisten. A mixture of the river water coming from inland and the sea water from the Caribbean, the micro-organisms in the Falmouth Lagoon combine to create light when the water is disturbed. There are only 4 places like this on the planet, though the Jamaican location is the only place where the waters glow every day, all year around. Floating while surrounded by what looks like tiny fireflies in the water, the ‘Luminous Lagoon’ is truly breathtaking.
Come see it for yourself! Daily tours start at dusk. #amazing #glow #luminouslagoon #glisteningwaters #jamaica by @mywasteofspace A photo posted by Glistening Waters (@glisteningwatersja) on
Late night swim in bioluminescence with the girls If you don’t know what these magical microorganisms you must google them. Such an amazing experience. I love Jamaica more and more everyday! A photo posted by Natasha Oakley (@tashoakley) on
Jamaican Sports Fever
Not a certain place to visit, but checking out a track meet in Jamaica is a great way to get in deep. During the season, you can find up to 5 high school track meets scattered all over the island all with incredible talent. These are the tracks that Usain Bolt grew up on, so you never know, you may be watching the next track legend! The high school Nationals are every Easter and to catch Usain and his friends, hit up the National Championships in July.
When John felt like he was awesome until he met greatest aka fire @johnsteffensen #wasntready A photo posted by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on
Little Ochie, the Best Seafood in Jamaica
Tell any Jamaican that you ate at Little Ochie and they will be very impressed! Located in Alligator Pond on the South Coast, Little Ochie is a long established seafood joint and a major favorite with the whole island. You get to pick your fish, crab, or lobster from the freezer full of fresh catch, and they will cook it up to your liking. Rustic seating is in raised boats on the beach, so the view and the ambience is every bit as important as the delicious food and the cold beer. Locals swear by the conch soup! Are you looking to get off the beaten path in Jamaica? Do you want to really experience Jamaica? If you do, the island awaits! Getting around with public buses or taxis is a cinch (though the backseats can be a little tight with too many people squished in) and guesthouses and hotels are aplenty. Find out just how special Jamaica is by exploring inland and all, and fly away with a love for this Caribbean island beyond the beach.
Home Is where the heart is ☀️ #beach #littleochie #Jamaica #alligatorpond #Sunsets A photo posted by Osshaine Clarke (@osshaine_) on
Emily Kydd is a Canadian solo female nomad and editor of the blog See Her Travel. Exploring this world to diverse countries such as Kyrgyzstan, St. Lucia, Nepal, Myanmar and Fiji, Emily loves discovering new cultures, meeting wonderful people and having a laugh while on the latest crazy adventure. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook to follow her travels!