Jamaica has always enjoyed a reputation of being one of the hippest Caribbean destinations.
With its beautiful beaches and as the origin of reggae music, one easily gets the impression of a laid-back paradise by day, and a party hotspot by night.
However, not many people know that Jamaica is also a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
From hiking through mountain ranges cast in blue mist, to zip-lining through a flower forest — you’re in for wonderful surprises when you join these activities in Jamaica.
Explore this beautiful island-country with this Jamaica bucket list.
Top 9 Places You Should Visit In Jamaica
Travellers who want to avoid the hustle of Kingston or the crowds in popular coastal areas like Montego Bay would love the rustic and charming Port Antonio.
Located in northeastern Jamaica, Port Antonio is both for the laid-back and the adventurous.
The white sand beaches with their clear blue waters are ideal for a relaxing stroll, snorkelling, or diving in the coral reefs. For those who prefer freshwater, you may find the nearby Daniel’s River with its natural rock gorge, cascades, and pools known as Somerset Falls.
Port Antonio is situated between mountains and a double harbour and is noticeably less commercial than the other popular Jamaican cities.
It is the preferred destination for budget travellers because of its diverse attractions, laid-back vibe, and safety.
Port Antonio is also a must-visit for its take on the jerked meat dishes that are said to be among the best on the island.
Dunn’s River Falls
The stunning terraced waterfalls known as Dunn’s River Falls is easily one of the top places to visit in Ocho Rios, on Jamaica’s north coast.
Spanning 180 meters, these waterfalls cascade into rocks and limestone that then flows into the sea.
More than a sight to behold, Dunn’s River Falls allows adventurers to climb the natural tiers with the help of a guide, or take a relaxing dip at the base.
Apart from the waterfalls, another way to experience this natural wonder is by joining guided tours.
These tours take visitors to nearby attractions such as the village of Nine Mile, the birthplace of Bob Marley. There are also night cruises on offer, as well as cruises through the rest of Ocho Rios and even Montego Bay.
Adventurers who want to get away from the water and the beach crowd would appreciate a fun hike up the Blue Mountains.
Situated in the eastern part of the island, the mountain ranges span 45 kilometres (28 miles) and are usually partly covered in bluish low-hanging mists.
Its highest peak is towers at about 2,255+ meters (7,400+ feet), where trekkers are rewarded with amazing views.
On a clear day, one can even see all the way to Cuba and Haiti.
More than the views, the Blue Mountains offer a lush and scenic respite from the sunny beaches.
Walk among the rich, vibrant colours of wildflowers, or see if you’ll be lucky enough to witness a Jamaican bamboo in bloom. Look up to see the many species of birds flying among tree branches or soaring through the skies.
Be on the lookout for the Papilio homerus butterfly, the second-biggest butterfly on the planet.
When in Jamaica, a visit to the Blue Mountains is a definite must!
Considered to be among the most “Instagrammable” places in Jamaica, the Rockhouse Hotel is not to be missed.
In between lounging at the beach, hiking through lush forests, or taking a dip in waterfalls, squeeze in a few hours to see this stunning hotel.
Located in the western tip of Negril, Rockhouse Hotel is uniquely perched on the edge of limestone cliffs. From its windows and terraces, one can enjoy views of the sparkly Caribbean.
If the sea becomes too irresistible to just look at, there are staircases that lead right down to the waters.
A camera is definitely a must here, as the hotel itself is a magnet for photo opportunities.
Made with timber, stone, and thatched roof, the pretty villas also feature outdoor showers.
Apart from the aforementioned staircases, Rockhouse has a maze of rock walls and pathways that along with the thatch-roofed buildings, create a truly unforgettable sight.
Cranbrook Flower Forest
How about exploring a colourful flower forest via zip line? Jamaica is truly more than fabulous beaches and reggae; it is also a haven for nature lovers.
In the southern region of Jamaica is one of its most beautiful nature parks — the Cranbrook Flower Forest. Known as the country’s tropical heart, the area abounds with flowers and hidden pools.
Cranbrook Flower Forest encompasses 130 acres of working nursery where 40 acres have been landscaped to create scenic gardens.
Here, visitors can stroll through lush and colourful gardens or zip-line through the forest canopy.
There are also hiking trails along with the one and a half mile River Trail, as well as cooling pools for those who want to enjoy a relaxing dip.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is also located in Port Antonio, but it surely deserves a separate visit.
This is where you literally escape to paradise, with lush foliage surrounding crystalline waters. Easily one of Jamaica’s top places to visit, this area was formerly called the Blue Hole.
The name was changed after the 80s film Blue Lagoon was shot here.
Known for its fresh waters that come from mineral springs, this place is perfect whether you’re up for a scenic boat ride or a relaxing swim.
One distinct feature of the Blue Lagoon is how the colours shift from sapphire to royal blue or turquoise, depending on how the sun hits the waters.
Whether on a boat or bamboo raft or right in the waters for a swim, those changing colours alone make the Blue Lagoon a memorable place to visit when in Jamaica.
The idyllic and postcard-pretty Frenchman’s Cove is easily one of Jamaica’s most famous beaches.
In spite of its popularity, however, this area in the Portland countryside has kept its natural beauty mostly untouched.
The Frenchman’s Cove is where the river runs right into the sea, and where you can enjoy strolls along its pristine white sand beach.
You may also enjoy the views from the swings set up by the riverbanks, which is also among the cove’s most photographed areas.
From the fresh river water to the sparkling sea, the Frenchman’s Cove gives visitors a taste of paradise without the crowds.
When in Jamaica and looking for a place to just relax, this is the place to be.
Seven Mile Beach (Negril Beach)
The Seven-Mile Beach in Negril is easily the quintessential Caribbean beach, with its gorgeous white sand, sparkling blue waters, and unforgettable sunsets.
It is also one of the top places to visit in Jamaica for those looking for a fun yet relaxing time at the beach.
Situated just an hour away from the more tourist-heavy Montego Bay, the Seven-Mile Beach also offers a variety of water activities such as boat rides, kayaking, horseback riding, scuba diving, and snorkelling.
The beach in itself is irresistibly pretty, and ideal for morning strolls or sunset walks.
There are seaside bars and eateries where one can enjoy some beer or rum along with a plate of a Jamaican jerk chicken, but Seven Mile retains its chill vibe and allows visitors to just take in the stunning views and relax.
The South Coast
When planning a trip to Jamaica, make sure that your itinerary isn’t just about the top beaches or the popular cities.
The island has plenty to offer and among the top places to visit in Jamaica is its South Coast. Rugged and still not filled with tourists, the South Coast is all about laid-back nature trips.
Take a dip in healing mineral spring waters, or admire the stunning seven-tier YS Falls.
A fun way to explore the coast is on horseback, a must-try when on the South Coast.
For unique views of the Caribbean, head towards Treasure Beach and hike around to see the towering cliffs, where you can enjoy views of the sparkling blue sea down below.
Stay at a rustic yet cosy inn for the night to fully appreciate the South Coast’s chill and intimate vibe.
Christine is a full-time traveller and a travel writer managing several travel websites. She loves chocolates, ice cream, and photography.
Travelling since 2009, she has been to over 50 countries and lived in 4 continents.
Check out her adventures at Exploring Caribbean.