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What to see and do in Jamaica - a guide to the best attractions and landmarks

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Whether you're an avid adventurer, a music buff, or simply looking to relax and unwind, the country of laid-back luxury will allow you to achieve whatever it is you are looking for in an island break. 

Robert Stephens

My Destination local expert on

Jamaica

The mention of Jamaica conjures images of sugary sands and azure waters as far as the eye can see. And this is very much the case along the miles of unspoilt coastline that encloses the island. But once the wonders of the shore and the salt encrusted hair begin to tire, (unlikely) Jamaica offers a plethora of fresh water marvels to feast your eyes upon.

 

Dunn's River Falls & Somerset Falls

 

The well-known Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios are the ultimate tourist trap. The terraced waterfalls are interspersed with endearing blue lagoons creating a truly idyllic setting. Guides offer to lead tours across the terraces, with tourists climbing, often with some difficulty, across the rushing water walls to the top for the best views. If you're craving some peace from the hordes of tourists however, Somerset Falls in Portland offers a similar experience, slightly off the beaten track and rather more tranquil.

 

Bob Marley Museum & Marshall’s Pen

 

In order to get a real taste of the island's culture, you have to take a step back into the historical past. For many, the name Bob Marley encapsulates everything about Jamaica and the namesake museum is the capital's most visited site. The stars former home and studio remains exactly as it did when he died in 1981, with the walls painted red, green and gold and adorned with Rastafarian murals and platinum records. The hour tour gives a truly moving insight into the singer’s life and the history of the reggae movement in Jamaica and across the globe. Another popular historical sight is Marshall's Pen in Mandeville in the south west of the island, which manages to incorporate the entirety of Jamaican history, from colonialism, abolition, independence and through to modern day. The 120 hectare grounds surrounding the stone and timber house have a fruitful history and now display historical artifacts as well as being one of the best places for bird watching for miles around.

 

Horseriding at the Braco Stables

 

For something a little different, the Braco Stables in the north west offers a horseback riding tour with a twist. After finding your equine soulmate, you'll amble through the idyllic countryside, all the while being given the history of the island by the charming and comic guides. Once you reach the shoreline and indulge in a barbecue lunch, you'll be given the chance to swim with your horse. That's right, sitting bareback you'll glide through the shallow turquoise waters and indulge in the perfect opportunity for a holiday snap that will shock the family. As if that wasn't enough, your horse, who by this point will be a firm friend, will end the tour, frolicking with you through the tropical gardens brimming with bougainvillea and pimento trees. Dreamy.

 

The Blue Mountains

 

Before you leave, to satisfy your inner adventurer, the Blue Mountains to the north east of Kingston is an absolute must. With its exhilarating downhill cycling tracks, and challenging hiking routes you'll feel truly at one with nature. Named after the turquoise haze which settles around its peaks, the Blue Mountains rise up to the highest point on the island, offering a breathtaking panorama and ethereal views of the sunset. If you're craving the scenery but don't fancy donning your walking boots, then why not follow the Farm Hill Trail, crossing rivers and following a simple path at your own pace. And if that leaves you feeling parched, the area is home to the best hot beverage on the island; the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Popular all over the globe, it is renowned for it's mild flavor and is also used as the base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur, so you could always treat yourself to something a little stronger.

 

Although the island is brimming with places to see and things to do, sometimes, the best way to truly engage with the Jamaican way of life, is to grab a sun lounger, some local rum, and truly relax on one of the country's most breathtaking beaches. Why not?