If you’re looking for adventure, stunning landscapes and a vibrant music and arts scene, then book yourself a flight to one of the most amazing islands of the Caribbean. Compared to some of its Caribbean neighbours, Jamaica packs a lot of awesome into its tiny 10,991 sq. km frame and this will have you itching to race across the island to fit everything in. Don’t fall into this trap, as slow and steady wins this race. This is Jamaica after all.
When it comes to Jamaica, you can never spend enough time exploring this land of culture, diversity, natural beauty and warm people. With that said, we all can’t be so fortunate so here is my recommended 5 day itinerary should you have to opportunity to explore this incredible island paradise.
You’ll embark upon this adventure from Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. If you can spare the extra cash, pick up a rental car as you’re flexibility and freedom is be greatly enhanced. Head towards Port Antonio, in the parish of Portland. The winding drive across the Jamaican countryside will take you past several small towns and villages. Be sure to stop by one of the many fruit stands to try some of the freshest fruit you’ll ever taste. The pineapples and oranges were the best. As always, every travel experience is all about the great people you meet along the way. Keep an eye out, the road to Port Antonio offers spectacular views of the Blue Mountains so have your camera ready.
Once you reach Port Antonio, allow yourself three nights to make the most of the area. On your list of things to do, Blue Lagoon, Frenchman’s Cove, Port Antonio Village and the many beautiful beaches including the famous Bob Marley Beach. The water colours are unreal.
Mornings in Jamaica are a special time. The best way to start the day off right is to fill your face with a traditional breakfast that will give you all the energy you’ll need for another day of exploration. Fried eggs, plantains, Ackee & Saltfish and of course Blue Mountain coffee. As the sun sets on this lovely corner of the globe, dinner calls. Enjoy the catch of the day in Port Antonio restaurants with the view of the bay, enjoying a cool Red Stripe to properly unwind.
Next stop is Montego Bay, Negril. Just a couple of hours drive from Port Antonio, there are hidden gems to discover along the way. The waterfalls at Ocho Rios are worth stopping for. You’ll also find pristine rainforests and a few places for some truly authentic Jerk. Jerk Chicken, marinated for several hours and smoked over pimento wood is just one of the rich and impressive culinary delights exported from Jamaica. With that said, what better place to try the varied and complex flavours than the birthplace of Jerk.
In Negril, save a little cash on accommodations and stay at Judy’s House. The views are insane and the staff so friendly you’ll instantly feel right at home. Be careful not to get too comfortable, as this place has been known to attract and trap many a traveller for weeks and months at a time. Negril offers an opportunity to pick up a souvenir or two from the local flea markets while you walk home along the reef-lined beaches where fishermen and locals meet and mingle daily.
Every night there is a ritual in Negril. Locals and travellers alike catch the sunset at Rick’s cafe. Bring your swimsuit for a little cliff diving. If the island vibes have you in maximum chill mode, then grab a rhum punch at poolside or on the terrace and mellow out.
If jerk chicken, turquoise waters, friendly people, amazing landscapes and breathtaking sunsets isn’t enough, then I can’t help you. Five days in Jamaica is just enough to get a taste for what life is like here, but believe me the more time you can spend here the better. Tourism continues to expand, but the market is not quite saturated, so make your way here while you still can.