Jamaica: Island in the Sun
|Turtle Beach in Ocho Rios is one of Jamaica's many stellar beaches (DigitalVision)|
Nestled deep in the heart of the Caribbean just south of Cuba, the island nation of Jamaica lures heat-seeking visitors with its sapphire waters, unspoiled beaches, lush hillside coves, and warm hospitality. Resorts line the edges of the island, while flora and fauna carpet and cruise the interior terrain. Jamaica casts a spell over visitors, freeing them of their worries with its leisurely pace and lilting reggae rhythm.
Whether wishing to get active by hiking through the Blue Mountains or just yearning to laze on the beach and enjoy side-by-side massages, Jamaica is the kind of country with the best of all worlds. The island's resorts boast golf, tennis, spas, beaches, and water sports. The city centers tempt visitors with an abundance of musical venues and Jamaican culture, and the country's verdant interior lures you away from your beach towel with cooler temperatures, authentic cultural experiences, and activities such as mountain biking, rafting, and hiking.
Options on where to bed down are as plentiful as the myriad activities offered in Jamaica. If you want to avoid the partiers and kids, check into the Couples Negril resort. As one of the best-rated resorts in Jamaica, Couples has banned both singles and children from the premises, making it the ideal location for spending quality time together.
The pride of Montego Bay is 440-acre Half Moon, which features two crescent-shaped beaches, more than 50 freshwater pools, an 18-hole championship golf course, the renowned David Leadbetter Golf Academy, 13 floodlit tennis courts, an equestrian center, fitness center, water sports, a dolphin lagoon, and a shopping village. Each of Half Moon's 419 elegantly appointed guest rooms feature ocean and/or garden views. Those craving rejuvenation will find the Half Moon spa a welcome haven.
As far as dining, follow your whims and choose gourmet Italian one night and a sumptuous beach barbecue the next. Or you can leave the resort and head into town for a taste of authentic Jamaican street food. If you're hearty of stomach, hit Kent Avenue and try the spicy jerk chicken or the seasoned spareribs chased down with a Red Stripe.
For something entirely secluded and out-of-the-way, retreat from the beach and head up into the Blue Mountains where you'll be seduced by the serenity of Strawberry Hill (Irish Town, St Andrew). The airy and romantic rooms and cottages are designed in the Georgian style reflective of Jamaica's former British ties. Overlooking Kingston, Jamaica's capital, many of the rooms offer spectacular views of the city, the mountain range, and, of course, the Caribbean Sea. To complete the vision, Strawberry Hill features a meticulously designed Aveda Concept Spa.
Reggae fans can take a guided tour of the Bob Marley Museum (876.927.9152, www.bobmarley-foundation.com) in Kingston. The museum's famous address is 56 Hope Roadwhere he lived and recorded most of his music. For a lively, dance- and song-soaked Jamaican holiday, head straight to Negril where the discos are packed and the crowds like to party.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication