Maybe it’s the fact that it has a pirate past. Or, the romance of those glorious sugar cane plantations with their Great Houses, now largely disappeared. Or, it might just be the sheer beauty of the island. Whatever, Jamaica has a pull and an elusive mystique no other place can claim.
If you have been to Jamaica, you know what I’m talking about. If you have yet to go, you no doubt have a desire to. Jamaica perfectly encapsulates everything the Caribbean is supposed to be. It’s not just a place to hang out on the beach and drink rum cocktails. If you go for the beach alone, you’ll be missing a lot.
The first thing you notice about Jamaica is the light. Early morning mists diffuse into sepia tones, giving way to the sunniest of days, culminating in sunsets that are simply spectacular. Nights are balmy with a touch of sultriness. No wonder the flowers here glow with the brightest of blossoms.
You’ll be amazed by the diversity of people. Luminaries from the international community, the worlds of entertainment, business and the arts find a sense of comfort in Jamaica. And then there are the Jamaicans themselves – joyful, full of positive energy, and very hospitable.
Speaking as a tourist, one of the greatest things about Jamaica is you can almost always find a hotel or resort that suits your budget. It is here that the all-inclusive resort thrives alongside very elegant resorts and villas rented by the one-percenters.
Honeymooners, family reunions, an outing with the immediate family, or friends traveling together, can all have the time of their lives in Jamaica. It is also a great place for a destination wedding.
Montego Bay is the most popular spot in the country for tourists and there are lots of things to do in the area. Visit Rose Hall, the home of the White Witch, Annie Palmer. Make it more mysterious by visiting at night. Go rafting on the Martha Brae River. Soar above the ground in tree tops and over rivers in a zip line tour. Go horseback riding on the beach. Float on a rubber tube down a flowing stream. Not too far away is Rastafari Indigenous Village, a working Rastafarian village where you will experience Rastafarian cooking and medicine created with the use of their homegrown vegetables and spices.
Ocho Rios offers Dunn’s River Falls. You can climb to the top for killer views of the countryside. Then take a trip out to Nine Mile Village where Bob Marley, father of Reggae, was born. Moving east, spend a few days in Port Antonio. Many people say this is the most beautiful part of Jamaica. It is where movie star Tyrone Power resided in the 1950s. (He’s largely forgotten now but in his day, he was the most handsome dude in movies.)
It is quieter here but there are still unusual things to do. You won’t want to miss taking a boat ride to the Blue Lagoon. This is Jamaica’s largest lagoon in various shades of blue and it is 180 feet deep! If you feel up to it, take a swim here. You will want to do it all in Jamaica. Dine al fresco by the sea. Dance under the stars. It’s all magical.
And now a word about the rum because it is so much a part of the culture. Most resorts, when you arrive, will have a rum drink waiting for you. Wray & Nephew is a legendary company in Jamaica with its white over-proof rum, even though it is now part of the Campari Group. Appleton Rum is located on the oldest sugar estate in Jamaica and is still a favorite worldwide. Rum is for much more than drinking. Jamaicans have been known to use it as medicine. And rum cake is a big favorite.
Other interesting facts about Jamaica: Ian Fleming owned a home here, “Flyfire,” now open to visitors. Word is it’s where he wrote some of his James Bond stories. Playwright and lyricist Noel Coward was also a resident. Currently, fashion designer Ralph Lauren owns a home at Round Hill. And Jessica Kincaid and Zadie Smith, popular modern authors, are both from Jamaica.
Jamaica is not the latest “chic” island filled with celebrities but it is a place where everyone knows they will have a good time and leave with great memories. And always, lurking in the imagination, is that pirate past.
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to learn more.
The History of Jamaica
by Edward Long 1774
Jamaica –Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
by Nick Davis
Rough Guide to Jamaica. 2015 (Travel Guide)
by Robert Coates and Laura Henzell
Lonely Planet Jamaica. 2014
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