Jamaica is an island kingdom in the Caribbean Sea and is a part of the British Commonwealth. It is an exotic country attracting with its unique culture and amazing landscapes. To the northwest are the territorial waters of Cuba, to the east – Haiti, to the south – Colombia. If there is any place on Earth, where no man has ever set a foot, it is on Jamaica. Solitude, union with nature, a combination of sound of waves and unobtrusive musical rhythms – all this ensures a wonderful holiday.
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The state is 225 km long from west to east and 35 to 82 km long from north to south, with a total area of 10991 km². Jamaica is divided into three counties: Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey, which in turn are divided into parishes (counties). According to the latest figures, the population is 2.8 million.
The de facto ruler is the British monarch (currently Elizabeth II). In the absence of the Queen, the Governor-General represents the power in the country.
The main income comes from services, including tourism. It’s no wonder: the island attracts unique natural riches as well as unique Jamaican culture which is a mix of African, British and Caribbean notes. It is here that the reggae music style emerged and the religious movement of Rastafarianism and the subculture of Rasta, which emerged from it, spread more widely than anywhere else.
View of the Caribbean Sea Robins Cove
Cities of Jamaica
Jamaica has a tropical monsoon climate. Accordingly, winter and summer temperatures are almost the same – on the coast from 24 ° C to 35 ° C, and in the mountainous areas from 17 to 27 ° C. Thanks to the sea breeze, the heat is easily tolerated. The water heats up to 24 ° C … 26 ° C above zero. From May to October lasts the rainy season, during this period hurricanes are possible. The best time to visit Jamaica is in winter.
The southern coast of Jamaica is heavily indented, with good harbors that once served as a refuge for pirates, but is fringed by reefs. The northern coast of the island is rocky, in its central part is a narrow strip of beaches – the so-called Jamaican Riviera. Much of Jamaica is occupied by a hilly limestone plateau, in the east of the island rises the Blue Mountains (Blue Mountains), a height of up to 2256 meters. Along the southern and western coasts are extensive low-lying plains. Jamaica is highly seismically active. Earthquakes are not uncommon. Two earthquakes, in 1692 and 1907, were catastrophic. In 1692 the old capital of Jamaica, Port Royal, was completely destroyed and the surviving inhabitants moved to nearby Kingston. But in 1907 the new capital, Kingston, suffered the same fate. True, the city was later rebuilt.
Jamaica has many rivers that originate on the slopes of mountains and hills. The largest of them – Rio Grande, about 100 km long, begins at Mount Denham in central Jamaica and flows into the Caribbean Sea in the south of the island, near Cape Portland. Jamaica’s rivers are used for rafting.
This is Jamaica, baby! Bananas Growing in the North Jungle Plateau of the Blue Mountains National Park
Jamaica’s greatest natural treasure is bauxite. In terms of their reserves, this small country is the fifth largest in the world. Altogether there are more than 100 deposits in Jamaica, the largest of which is Williamsfield in the central part of the island. The bauxite industry is the main branch of the national economy.
What you absolutely must do in Jamaica
The opportunity to immerse yourself in the pristine world of the tropics, to set aside all worries and cares, adopting the motto of life Jamaicans “No problem” – this is what more and more holidaymakers come to the island for. So, what is worth doing once you get here?
White water raft on a mountain river
Hearing about rafting, experienced tourists immediately imagine rapids, just looking at which the blood ran cold in the veins … In Jamaica, it is completely different: rafting on the river – a leisurely journey on a bamboo raft among the picturesque scenery. The most popular places are the Great River near Montego Bay, the Black River near Ocho Rios and the Rio Grande near Port Antonio.
Bridge over the Great River Mangroves Black River Rio Grande
Visit the Bob Marley Museum.
At 56 Hope Road in Kingston is the home of Jamaica’s most famous Rastaman, Bob Marley. Opposite the courtyard entrance is a monument to the singer, just as he is remembered by his many fans – in bright clothes and with his unchanging dreadlocks. Nearby is a house, the interior of which has been preserved as in the life of the musician: not only drawings can be seen on the walls, but also bullet holes that were left after the attempt on the King of Reggae. In the gallery, housed in a former recording studio, visitors can see a short film about Bob Marley’s life and work, examine his stage costumes and gold and platinum discs.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Sunday off. Admission costs about $20.
Bob Marley House Museum.
Conquer the Waves of the Caribbean Sea
Jamaica is famous for its waves, which although not as big as, for example, on the Pacific coast, are also great for surfing and windsurfing. You can rent all the necessary equipment in specialized companies. Most are on the northeast and southeast coasts, and Bailey’s Beach, Burwood Beach and Silver Sands are the most popular choices for sailing with their strong, even winds.
Crescent Cove at Silver Sands’ Burwood Beach
Swim in the Blue Lagoon
One of the most beautiful places in Jamaica is the Blue Lagoon. The clearest turquoise sea, the tropical thickets that come up to the very coast – all this creates a sense of fairy tale. It is worth coming here just for the spectacular views, but do not limit yourself to this: it is said that the water here has rejuvenating properties.
Port Antonio, where the Blue Lagoon is located, is best reached by car or sightseeing bus, but you can also take a regular shuttle from the station Tepple Lane in Kingston.
Blue Lagoon Dolphin Cove in Jamaica
Swim with dolphins
There is probably not a person who would not admire the intelligence and agility of dolphins. In Jamaica you can not only see these animals up close, but also touch them, swim beside them or hold their fins and even dive with them on the bottom. All this is offered at the three Dolphin Cove parks near Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril. In addition to dolphins you can see sharks, rays, and other marine life.
Swim in the Shining Lagoon
Near the port town of Falmouth, at the confluence of the Martha Bra River into the Caribbean Sea, is one of the most popular places in Jamaica, the Glow Lagoon. It gets its name from the tiny microorganisms that live in the water and emit blue-green light as they move. Their huge clusters create an amazingly beautiful spectacle. It is difficult to describe the sensations of what you see, it is necessary to experience it yourself.
The Glowing Lagoon in Jamaica
Visit the Appleton Estate rum factory in Montego Bay
This production facility is the place where the famous Jamaican rum is born. By booking a tour, you can learn the history of this truly pirate beverage, see the making process, taste several varieties, and buy a bottle or two as a gift. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To book a tour, visit http://www.appletonestate.com/en/.
Appleton Estate Rum Factory in Jamaica
Hand-feed hummingbirds at Rockland’s Bird Sanctuary
Rockland’s Bird Sanctuary near Montego Bay is a jungle area once purchased by Lisa Simon who decided to devote her life to taming birds. Her work was successful – hummingbirds are not afraid of people at all and dare to sit on their hands. There is peace and tranquility here, scents of exotic flowers are in the air, trills of feathered inhabitants of the Park sound.
Open every day from 10:00am to 5:00pm, Rocklands Rd, Wiltshire.
Watch the sunrise at the top of Blue Mountain Peak
Blue Mountain Peak is the highest point of the namesake mountains in a ridge in the east of the island. It’s a sight to see the whole island at 2,256 meters above sea level, and it’s considered the best place to see the sunrise. To see the first rays of the sun, you need to start climbing after dark. It is worth saying that the night walk through the jungle itself – an amazing adventure. Tours are organized at the Whitfield Hall Hotel, located nearby.
Dawn on Blue Mountain Peak Flowers on the summit of Blue Mountain Way to the summit Abandoned house on the summit
Take a boat ride on the Black River
Extreme enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to ride the Black River near Negril. The highlight of the trip is the opportunity to see Jamaican crocodiles in their natural habitat. Chickens serve as bait for the animals, and even the most inveterate skeptics are silent at the sight of how the jaws of the reptiles close on the carcass. Tourists will also be offered a swim in the upstream river, where predators do not swim…usually.
Black River in Jamaica
Explore the underwater riches of the Caribbean Sea
The area is famous for its diverse underwater world, so it’s no surprise that divers from around the world come here. For diving they usually choose the most picturesque objects on the coral reef and the neighborhood of the sunken Port Royal.
The underwater world of Jamaica
One of the most interesting attractions on the south coast is the Cashoo Ostrich Park in Lakowia. Here you can not only feed these amazing birds, but also ride them. The best way to get here is by car – 1.1km from Crane Road in a southeasterly direction at Slipe. The park is open daily and admission is chargeable.
History of the country
Civilized society learned about the existence of a rich natural island inhabited by the Arawako Indians in 1494 thanks to Christopher Columbus. Initially it was planned to name Jamaica after the royal couple Ferdinand and Isabella, but the idea did not take, and everyone quietly returned to the indigenous version – Haimaka, which means “land of springs.
British ships off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1922
As a result of the aggressive policies of the colonizers, almost the entire native population, used as cheap labor, became extinct. The cause was disease brought in by the Spaniards and hard labor. In order not to reduce the rate of sugar cane production, slaves from Africa began to be brought to the island.
In 1655, the British seized control of the island. Soon Jamaica became the main center of piracy, and Port Royale became its harbor as Tortuga’s flibusters moved here. In 1692 the city, by then infamous for being the most depraved place on the planet, was destroyed in an earthquake.
Bob Marley at a concert in the ’70s
In the 17th and 18th centuries. Jamaica was a major sugar producer, but harsh working conditions forced slaves to revolt. As a result, a large community of runaway slaves, the Maroons, formed on the island and were the first to achieve autonomy. In the 19th century rebellions became more frequent and widespread, resulting in the abolition of slavery in 1838. Jamaica’s economy faltered, but American investment corrected the situation.
In the early 20th century, the first trade unions and then parties began to appear in Jamaica. During World War II, the U.S. was based on the island. After its end there was a wave of strikes, which led the British government to grant the island internal self-government in 1959 and independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962.
The population of Jamaica is nearly 3 million people, 78 percent of whom live in cities. The coastal areas of the island are the most populated. Negros among Jamaicans constitute more than 75 per cent; the remainder are mulattoes of varying degrees of mixture. During slave times the mixed Jamaican population was divided into several groups according to the proportion of Negro blood: mulattoes – descendants of a white father and a Negro mother, quarters – with 1/4 of Negro blood, musties – with 1/8, musties – with 1/16 (descendants of the latter by marriage or connection with whites were already considered white by law). Jamaicans are employed predominantly in agriculture, mining, commerce, and service industries, with most of those employed in service and commerce being involved to some degree in the tourist business. The welfare of Jamaicans depends largely on the influx of tourists.
People on the streets of Kingston
In addition to Jamaicans, the island is also home to significant numbers of Indians and Chinese. The Indians and Chinese are the descendants of laborers who were contracted to work on the plantations in the mid-nineteenth century, after the abolition of slavery. At present most of the Indians are engaged in agriculture and live in villages in the west of the island; there are also many natives of India in the capital. The Chinese are largely engaged in petty trade, almost all of them living in the larger towns of Kingston and its merger with St. Andrew. A small number of Englishmen, Cubans, Americans, and Germans also live in the cities.
Jamaican schoolgirls go home Music is everywhere in Jamaica!
The mass emigration of Jamaicans as a result of the landlessness of the peasants began at the end of the last century. Jamaican blacks made up a large part of the labor force in the construction of the Panama Canal, in the banana plantations of Central America, and in the sugar plantations of Cuba and the United States. The flow of emigrants increased even more after World War II. During this period they went mainly to Great Britain, and after 1962 (when Great Britain passed strict immigration laws) – to Canada and the USA. Today almost a third of all Jamaicans live abroad, mostly in Great Britain, the United States, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
The official language of Jamaica is English. However, the spoken dialect of Jamaicans bears little resemblance to literary English. It contains many words from various African languages and the pronunciation is very far from English. Therefore, the Jamaican dialect is sometimes considered a special Creole language. The Chinese and Indians also widely use the Jamaican dialect of English, but use their own languages in everyday life.
Religiously, most of Jamaica’s population is Protestant, but there are also a small number of Catholics. Some African cults, such as the obia cult, are also prevalent among part of the population.
Jamaican art and architecture blend European, mainly English, influences with African traditions. Remained from the 17th-18th centuries are single-storey stone and brick buildings (mainly in the former capital, Spanish Town). Since the mid-19th century dominated the two-storey wooden houses with verandas and iron ornaments – the so-called architecture of the colonial style. In the 20th century modern-style buildings were built (University of the West Indies near Kingston, hotels).
Spanish Town Baba Marley’s face carved out of wood
Traditional Jamaican folk crafts have retained much of the spirit of African culture. Jamaicans do mostly wood carving and metalworking, and make jewelry as well. African folk traditions are particularly strong in Jamaican carved wooden figures.
Jamaica is often called the best resort in the Caribbean. This is due in no small part to the sheer number of attractions.
History buffs and connoisseurs of the beautiful will admire the Belvedere Estate. Here everything is stylized under the 17th century – in those times the slave system reigned on the island. In Belvedere you can see the dam, built by the hands of slaves more than 300 years ago. Tourists can also access the sugar cane plantations where slaves once toiled for the British crown. A tour of the estate includes a traditional Jamaican lunch and live musical entertainment.
Spanish Town Parade Ground
Also noteworthy is Spanish Town. The architecture of the city is in the style of the 17th century. Even the new buildings here are built in the old manner, so they do not stand out. Spanish Town is home to the Rodney Memorial, which has a fascinating history associated with it. In 1792, a joint French-Spanish invasion of Jamaica was planned. But the British army, led by Admiral Sir George Bridges Rodney, was able to defend the colony in a lengthy naval battle. In 1801 an Italian marble memorial was carved in honor of Rodney’s victory. On the sides of the memorial are cannons, from which a salvo is fired each year to commemorate the victory. Legend has it that these guns were taken from the French as a trophy in that very battle.
St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Kingston
St. Catherine’s Cathedral, one of Jamaica’s oldest architectural monuments, is very popular with visitors. The cathedral has been preserved since the Spanish domination of the 17th century. Despite the building’s considerable age, it has perfectly preserved wooden carvings as well as clay moldings.
Rose Hall Mansion
The Rose Hall Mansion beckons with its mystique. It’s known as the home of the legendary Anya Palmer, often referred to as the White Witch of Jamaica. By the way, the epithet “white” is associated exclusively with the color of the woman’s skin. Legend has it that Palmer, who wielded voodoo magic, murdered her husband to become the sole owner of a huge estate. She then began seducing her slaves, whom she killed immediately after passionate nights of lovemaking. It is said that she also killed the housekeeper, whom one of her slaves had fallen in love with. This girl’s grandfather strangled the White Witch. Anya Palmer’s body is buried in the east side of the mansion. In 1965, a married couple bought the house and turned it into a museum. Museum officials say that at night the ghost of a white woman wanders through the house and screams and slamming doors are heard.
Entrance to Fort Charles A house built on stilts at a 45° angle A ship aground near Port Royal
Adventurers can visit the old town of Port Royal, known as a pirate base. Here you can find the Maritime Museum, the defensive Fort Charles, and a unique structure – a house standing on stilts arranged at an angle of 45°.
The 20 Best Sights in Jamaica
Jamaica is the perfect place for vacation and adventure. There are beautiful places with wildlife, rivers and caves, pristine beaches with azure waters and colorful sea life. Films and documentaries about the underwater world are made in Jamaica, and tourists swim with dolphins and raft down rivers on bamboo rafts.
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Who Should Come to Jamaica and Why?
Jamaica attracts surfers, diving and sailing enthusiasts with its beautiful clean water beaches. Its coral reefs are home to beautiful tropical fish and crabs.
Beach lovers and families with children can swim here with dolphins, ride horses on the shore and visit one of the many national parks.
Bob Marley fans come to Jamaica to visit his home, which has become a museum, to soak up the reggae atmosphere at one of the many beach parties, to walk through the neighborhood where the idol of millions grew up.
Seven Mile Beach in Negril
White sand, incredibly clear turquoise-blue water, and stunning sunsets are Seven Mile Beach. Conveniently located just over an hour’s drive from Montego Bay, it is Jamaica’s most popular attraction. The beach is protected by one of the Caribbean Sea’s largest reefs – the water is always calm and there are no big waves.
In addition to beach recreation and swimming at Seven Mile you can kayak or boat, snorkel and take a closer look at the inhabitants of the coral reefs. When you’re out of the water, ride horses on the beach or relax in the sand sipping coconut milk through a straw.
Located in Portland, Reach Falls and its scenic surroundings draw crowds of tourists every year. The bright blue water falls from a height of 36 meters in a cascade of seven steps. At each level, the water gathers into small lakes where you can bathe.
Nearby there are recreation areas with tourist infrastructure. Fans of extreme sports are offered a ride on a rope road or a bungee jump. By the way, not far from the waterfall there are rock caves, in which runaway slaves used to hide.
A jungle of tropical plants and colorful birds surround the lagoon with crystal clear water. It used to be called the Blue Hole – a more poetic name this magnificent place got after the release of the movie of the same name.
Fresh water from the mineral springs flows into the salty water from the Caribbean Sea, filling this lagoon. Its color changes from sapphire and royal blue to turquoise, depending on how the sun’s rays fall. You can take a boat or bamboo raft around the lagoon, or snorkel to see the beautiful underwater life.
Dunn’s River Falls
The waterfalls near the town of Ocho Rios are surrounded by a national nature park. The tropical forest is populated by colorful jungle birds and animals, and is dotted with outlandish flowers.
A walk through the reserve ends with 180-meter waterfalls flowing down straight stone ledges. They resemble a ladder in the rock, and every tourist tries to climb its stone steps to the top.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
This is the best beach in Montego Bay and a favorite destination for locals and tourists. However, the cave that gave it its name was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932. Not far from the beach is a marine park. If you borrow a canoe from the tour desk, you can enjoy a walk through the wildlife of the reserve and watch the birds and animals.
One of Jamaica’s most famous beaches with blue clear water, white sand, a river that flows directly into the sea, and swings set on its banks. The cove resembles a postcard that came alive. A local restaurant offers snacks, drinks, and national dishes of fresh seafood.
Martha’s Brae River
Martha’s Brae is one of the best rafting spots in Jamaica. Tourists can take a relaxing bamboo raft ride down the river with an experienced captain while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding area.
The trip ends with a swim in the beautiful jade water. Afterward you can relax at the Martha Brae River Ranch, listen to local tales and legends of the river while sipping refreshments.
This is one of the highest mountain ranges in the Caribbean. The chain of peaks spans four counties: St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, and St. Mary’s. They offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The mountains are climbed to see the fiery sunset and breathtaking sunrise. From the highest points on a clear day, you can even see Cuba and Haiti. The Blue Mountains are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site in their own right.
Fern Gully Road.
The road through tropical evergreen thickets inhabited by exotic animals and colorful birds stretches for 5 kilometers. The tree branches close over it, creating a natural tunnel lined with flowers and ferns. The journey starts in the town of Ocho Rios and gives a lot of pleasant experiences.
Entertainment, Museums and Sports
The home of plantation owner John Palmer has a reputation for being a spooky and sinister place. The Georgian-style mansion frightened locals for over two centuries until it became a tourist attraction. And it’s all about the legends of the White Witch.
The mansion was built in 1770 by a planter and was named after his wife – Annie Rose Palmer. The young Englishwoman was raised in Haiti, and her parents were also planters. The girl learned voodoo magic from the slaves and was quite successful at it. As soon as John brought his newly minted wife to the estate, the peace in the house was over. Within months, slaves began to die and the mistress was nicknamed the White Witch.
Today Rose Hall is a haunted mansion of tortured slaves and a “witches’ lair” visited by those who like to tickle their nerves or have a seance.
Mystic Mountain Amusement Park
People flock here for the amusement park and cable car ride to admire the city’s beauties from above, the bobsled run, and the saltwater aqua park.
A unique place to swim with dolphins, see sharks and crocodiles. The natural cove, surrounded by wild tropical forest, is inhabited by marine animals that man has been able to tame. The inhabitants of the bay are very friendly, so guests can walk along the bottom of the bay wearing a special helmet and look at the stingrays and fish.
Winnifred Beach in Port Antonio
The golden sandy shore against a backdrop of lush greenery has been given by the city to a business cluster to develop tourism infrastructure. That’s why Winnifred is perfectly equipped. Here you can enjoy freshly caught fish and other tasty dishes at the waterfront restaurant, relax in the shade, go scuba diving or join in a fun game of soccer with the locals. And on weekend afternoons, the beach turns into a party spot.
Surfers love the bay and its adjacent comfortable beach. There are excellent high waves here that are perfect for conquering and sailing. Boston Bay will appeal to both beginners and professionals. Those who wish will be able to take advantage of the help of instructors.
Sir Noel Coward House Museum
History buffs, art and literature fans will enjoy a trip to the home of the late Sir Noel Coward, the famous English playwright, composer and actor. Coward was a great admirer of the island, and in 1948 he even bought a house here.
He hosted parties, entertaining Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery and other movie stars who came to visit his villa. After the owner’s death, the house was donated to the people of Jamaica and is in the care of the National Heritage Foundation.
Notable Cities and Architecture
The main city of Jamaica is the birthplace of Bob Marley, the progenitor of reggae music. Kingston is steeped in music and has a vibrant nightlife. During the day you can visit Bob Marley’s house museum and recording studio.
Of architectural interest in Kingston will be Rockfort Fortress, Devon House, St. Thomas Cathedral and other buildings. Local cuisine is sampled at the Jamaican market, coastal eateries, and cafes.
Falmouth is a well-preserved colonial settlement that later grew into a sophisticated city. Technological progress made great strides here, even introducing running water earlier than in the U.S.
The old city’s buildings are Georgian in style. Falmouth’s enormous harbor was built recently as part of a program to boost tourism. Now giant cruise ships call into the local harbor, and the city is flooded with tourists.
Port Royal is a sunken city which has sunk into the sea like Atlantis. It used to be a pirate port where flibusters brought their loot from the ships they captured in the Caribbean.
The city defended its borders from five forts that stood on the shore. The forts, equipped with cannons, long prevented government forces from taking the corsair city and eradicating the evil. Still, the pirates have fallen into oblivion, and now their city is going under.
This is one of the areas of the island’s capital that was built as a picturesque neighborhood. But the plans were not destined to come to fruition. It was in this neighborhood that the legendary Bob Marley, who became the ancestor of a new musical trend, reggae, was born.
A large number of crimes are committed in Trench Town. But travelers are not the least bit embarrassed, because here you can see life on the island from the inside.
The house belonged to Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stibel. Devon House is an English colonial-style estate surrounded by a picturesque garden. During his lifetime, the first owner began collecting antiques, which today form the basis of the museum’s exposition. You can also learn the life history of Jamaica’s famous citizens.