Jamaica is one of the most beautiful places I have been. From the beach sunsets to the lush forests to the bright culture, color is everywhere you look. Add some reggae music and spicy jerk food and it’s sure to be one of the best vacations you’ll ever take.
I went to the northwest coast last May with two of my girlfriends. It’s only an hour and twenty minute plane ride from Miami, and even the flight is beautiful. Our plane flew low enough the entire time that we were able to look down and see the beaches of Cuba and the reefs below the crystal clear water.
When we got there, we took a 45-minute shuttle ride to our resort in Lucea, which is located between Montego Bay and Negril. Our resort was the biggest in the area- it was literally the size of a small town. We could’ve went the entire trip without even leaving, but after exploring for about an hour I knew I needed to get out of that Americanized resort and experience real Jamaica. We went to the lobby where the cab drivers hang out and met Locke, a local who seemed to know where all the spots to be were. He told us that for a total of $75 a day he would drive us around in his cab and show us the island.
It was possibly the best $25 a day I have ever spent. Locke picked us up each morning around 9 a.m. and would bring us back after we had watched the sun set somewhere. He took us everywhere we wanted to go, plus some of the best little spots to eat, drink and shop that only the locals know about. I highly recommend finding a legit local chauffer if you want to do those things. We loved Locke!
Here are my other thoughts and recommendations on what to do and see in Jamaica.
-Eat at the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants. They will most likely have the best food.
-I drank tap water the whole time I was there and did not get sick.
-Eat jerk everything
-Eat curried everything
-Eat the rum cake
-If you are driving, be careful. The roads are narrow, steep and scary.
-As with most second and third world countries, there is a chicken and stray dog problem. They are everywhere and often end up as road-kill. Once again, drive carefully.
-Stop and check out some of the little shacks along the roads. Some are not much bigger than a port-a-potty, but it’s a great way to buy unique souvenirs and meet some locals. Most also sell coconuts and will crack them open for you. Fresh coconut water!
-Check out the Rasta shacks.
-Go to Rick’s. Jump off the cliffs!
-For a little cash the locals will climb really high and do some pretty awesome jumps/dives.
-Next to Rick’s is also a little underwater cave that you can explore. It’s not too big and only takes about 15 minutes. Ask a local.
-Negril is where some of the best nightlife is. But it’s a little sketchy at night so be careful.
-Drive about 35 minutes up into the mountains to Jamaica Zipline Adventure Tours. They have the longest zipline in the Caribbean there.
-If you’re going to go zip lining there, I recommend doing it with a small group (don’t go through the hotel). We were the only appointment that afternoon, so had the staff’s undivided attention. They took us on an outside hike to show us some goats and a weed farm and made a pit-stop to pick, cut and eat some fresh mango and pineapple.
-If you want to do the touristy thing, Margaritaville is here and it’s on a street full of souvenir shops.
-At the end of the street is a beautiful place to watch the sunset (see below).