Jamaica Travel 101 - Page 2

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Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios, Jamaica  (Angelo Cavalli/Photodisc)

Things to Do
No matter where you stay, Jamaica has plenty of activities if you can tear yourselves away from the white-sand beaches and clear-blue ocean. If you don't get a rental car, then your front desk can always set-up tours or an escort if you want to explore off the property.

Rose Hall Great House (Montego Bay): If you love ghost stories, or maybe the idea of even seeing a ghost, then take time to visit the Great House at Rose Hall. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Annie Palmer, who is fondly now called the “White Witch,” married John Palmer, the owner of the great house and all the land below it. The story goes that Annie killed John as well as her next two husbands, along with slave lovers, and now haunts the house. How’s that for a love story?

Dunn’s River Falls (Ocho Rios): Step outside of your norm and climb 600 feet up Jamaica’s famous Dunn’s River Falls. Climbing tours start from the water (via boat) or from the parking lot. Groups of around 15 people make a human chain and then walk up the rocks of the waterfall. It is a terrifying and exhilarating experience. Be sure to take sandals with good tread or rent water shoes.

Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae River (Montego Bay): One of 85 bamboo raft guides will take you on leisurely three-mile ride down the bright teal Martha Brae River. The color comes from the limestone minerals mixing with the water, and it almost looks fake. You can wear regular clothes and take your camera, as there are no rapids on this river. The ride normally lasts 20 to 45 minutes, and the only way to get wet is if you hop off the raft on purpose. The guides are knowledgeable about local plants, trees, and animals and will tell you tidbits about the area…whether the stories are true or not is up to you to decide.

Greenwood Great House (Greenwood): This magnificent hillside house is home to one of the largest antiques museums in the Caribbean. In the 1660’s, the Barrett family came to Jamaica from London, and the Honorable Richard Barrett built this house in the 1800s as a place to entertain family and guests. Now Bob and Ann Betton own the house and have strived to keep it as authentic as possible. Around 70 percent of the house is original, and it has been open for tours since 1976. Bob and Ann actually do live in the house and have raised children there.

Catamaran Cruise (Anywhere): Plenty of tour operators, like Island Routes, offer an escape to the ocean on a catamaran cruise. Choose a day tour full of snorkeling and even activities like Dunn's River Falls, or go for a sunset cruise and watch the vibrant colors slip below the horizon. The cruise staff makes it a fun experience with music and appetizers.

Glistening Waters (Falmouth): Self-proclaimed as “Jamaica’s only natural nighttime attraction,” the luminous Glistening Waters are hard to believe unless you see it. This scientific phenomenon happens in only three places around the world. Take a boat ride that starts from the marina at sunset, and then once the sun is gone, watch as the minerals in the water start to literally light up and glisten. The weather during the day does affect the brightness, so call ahead to make sure tours are still on before driving over.

Appleton Rum Tour (Kingston): The Appleton Estate has been creating rum since 1749. Tours of the estate give an insider-look into how rum is made. Guests are able to sample the sugar cane and rum at different steps in the process.

Bob Marley Museum (Kingston): Ask any local who their idol is and 99.9 percent will likely say Bob Marley, a Rastafarian and famous Reggae musician. Visit the museum dedicated to his life achievements and full of artifacts, memorabilia, writings, and photos.

Places to Eat
Jamaica has plenty of places to eat, but here are some great places to stop in if they are along your route.

Tastee or Juici Patties (Multiple Locations): Jamaicans claim that as a country they eat more three million "patties" a day, and the population is only 2.8 million. So if Jamaica has a national "fast food" it's definitely a spicy beef patty. Patties can also come with chicken, veggies, lobster, or shrimp.

Scotchies (Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) or Boston Jerk Centre (Portland): Every visitor to Jamaica must try jerk something, whether it is jerk chicken, jerk pork, or jerk fish. Boston Restaurant in the Portland Parish is well known because this area is supposedly the birthplace of jerk. Scotchies has three locations along the north coast and is a favorite of many locals.

Chill Out Hut Beach & Grill (Long Bay): Want to have a great meal with a picture-perfect view of the beach and ocean? Then head to the Chill Out Hut and sit in old rum barrels while you soak it all in. We’d recommend the jerk barbecue chicken with a side of Red Stripe, but basically all of their food from ackee and codfish to chicken parmesan is great.

Miss T’s Kitchen (Ocho Rios): If you're looking to experience authentic Jamaican food, then head to downtown Ocho Rios. Chefs Jerkie, Shelly Ann, and Miss T use fresh ingredients from local farmers to create favorites like ox tail, Jamaican jerk pork/chicken, and curry goat.

Rick’s Café (Negril): This restaurant on the western side of the island is known for its magnificent sunsets, and the food is great, too.

Devons House (Kingston): This property was built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, but besides the history, their ice cream is legendary. People drive three hours from Montego Bay just to take the tour and get some of this frozen goodness.

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