Jamaica Travel Guide

Jamaica has long been favored as a Caribbean vacation destination, known for beautiful beaches with a large variety of resorts and hotels. The main locations for tourists on the island are Montego Bay, Ochos Rios, and Negril, each with something a little unique to offer. Apart from the beaches, popular past times on the island include golfing, scuba diving, hiking, horseback riding, and shopping.

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Montego Bay is very much a resort town, with golf courses, restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries, and of course, hotels and resorts lining the beaches. This is a lively area with reggae music and all kinds of entertainment day and night. Montego Bay is home to some splendid colonial architecture and a few prominent historical sites. One of the biggest attractions in the area is the Rose Hall Great House, a former plantation with an accompanying legend. Some noteworthy buildings are the 1770s Court House, the restored Bellefield Great House and Gardens, which offers insight into the sugar plantation days, and the Burchell Memorial Church, built in 1824. Shoppers may want to stop by the craft market or take a stroll along Gloucester Avenue or Harbour Street.

The Ocho Rios area is the island's major port of call for cruise ships. This is a much quieter town than Montego Bay but there are several famous excursion that draw tourists off their resorts for a little fun. The biggest attraction in the area is Dunn's River Falls, a great family outing. This is a series of waterfalls that can be climbed with a guide, and has natural pools for swimming. The Coyaba River Garden and Museum offers a little history in a lovely garden setting, with Mahoe Waterfalls as a central feature.

At the western end of Jamaica is the laid back town of Negril, with a fabulous stretch of beach, mega resorts, and small hotels and inns. Negril Beach is the area's main draw, with 7.5 mi/12km of soft white sand lining the coast as it meets the calm turquoise colored ocean. It is also called seven mile beach. Those who want to venture off the beach can take a walk through the Royal Palm Preserve in the Great Morass, to see the towering Royal Palms, a variety of birds, and other wildlife.

There are various guided tours available, many of which include bird watching, hiking and climbing. Depending on the time of year and location there may also be a festival taking place. Two of the most popular are the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay in July, and Carnival which is celebrated throughout Jamaica.

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