Check out Jamaica and some of its towns! Then call today to book your next vacation to this amazing destination that has so much to offer.
It is easy to wax lyrical about the island of Jamaica in the north of the Caribbean. The glorious glow of its sunsets, the unique and engaging ways of its people, the alluring white sandy beaches and lush green mountains, the sparkling waterfalls. All can inspire the poet in anyone. The beauty of this island paradise has drawn visitors for centuries: first it was the wealthy few who were privileged to enjoy the unspoiled tropical delights of Jamaica. Today the northern and western coastlines of the island bristle with tourist resorts and 'all-inclusive' hotels, and natural attractions have been commercialized to cope with the crowds and make the most out of the tourists.
Somehow the commercialization has not spoiled Jamaica, however. It still presents a magnificent kaleidoscope of color and beauty that makes holidaymakers sad to leave, and vow to return.
The name Jamaica originates from the pre-colonial native inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, to whom 'Xaymaca' meant 'land of wood and water'. There is little left of the Indian culture: after being discovered by Columbus in 1494 Jamaica was ruled by the Spanish for 150 years, and then by the British for the next 300 years. Independence came in 1962 to the Jamaican people who are now a warm blend of different cultures and nationalities, though significantly African based because of the influence of the imported slaves, who endeavored to keep their tribal traditions alive while being forced to labor on the island plantations.
There is, however, a little trouble in paradise: the Jamaican people on the whole are poor, and very reliant on tourism for their living. Some visitors object to being harassed by vendors, unlicensed taxi drivers, hair braiders and the like. Crime is also a problem. These minor irritations however should not keep anyone away from savoring the spirit of Jamaica, which is as rich as the lilt of the local patois and the rhythms of the reggae music for which the island is famous.
The north coast of Jamaica is the island's popular 'Riviera' area, and at the centre of this resort paradise is Montego Bay, known affectionately as 'MoBay' to locals and regular visitors. The area has a sparkling 10-mile (16km) shoreline, fronted by coral reefs and aquamarine blue lagoons, backed by green hills shrouded in sugar cane, banana palms and lush tropical vegetation. Christopher Columbus was the first European tourist to step ashore at Montego Bay in 1494. Now the Spanish settlement that was founded in 1510 has grown into Jamaica's second city, but it is first choice for holidaymakers. The beaches in the area are picture-postcard perfect and visitors can choose from a variety of recreations, from bird watching to music festivals; golfing to riding a river on a bamboo raft. The MoBay area also has some fascinating historical perspectives, not all of them pleasant, that live on preserved in the legends and stories surrounding the few remaining great plantation houses belonging to dynastic families that grew rich from slave labor in past centuries. Several of these are open to the public.
Jamaica's western edge is a laid-back haven where there is little to do other than sits back, relax and enjoy the renowned gorgeous sunsets, in between beach bathing and partying. Centre of this hedonistic haven is Negril, dubbed the 'capital of casual', a sunny resort town that despite its popularity and proliferation of tourist accommodation has managed to retain the sleepy tropical charm that first seduced seekers of sun and solitude when it was 'discovered' in the 1960s.It was the hippies and flower children who first found Negril, a part of Jamaica appreciated for being different from the over-developed package tour market of Montego Bay. Negril still attracts a young crowd, and the beachfront bars and cafes are abuzz each night with reggae music and wild partying. Along with the party people, however, Negril is favored also by those just wanting to get away from it all. It sports its famous seven-mile (11km) stretch of pristine beach, encircling Bloody Bay, and five miles (8km) of cliffs, where locals and visitors alike dare each other to indulge in some extreme cliff-diving, sometimes from ropes. The coral reefs and caves along the coast make it a scuba diver's and snorkeller's dream come true, and for active visitors there is the chance to take part in just about any watersport imaginable. Adventure seekers can venture by kayak into the mysterious Great Morass (a protected area full of palm trees, exotic birds and crocodiles).
The port town of Ocho Rios used to survive on the strength of fishing and banana boats, but now it is the daily arrival of cruise ships full of tourists that keep the coffers full all along the northeast coast of Jamaica. Ocho Rios and its near neighbors Runaway Bay, Discovery Bay and Port Antonio are mainly clusters of holiday resorts and hotels, catering for package-deal holidaymakers and several celebrities who maintain their private retreats in the region.Ocho Rios cannot claim to be a genuine Jamaican experience, and is filled with tourist paraphernalia. Because of the need to entertain thousands of fun-seekers, the natural and historical attractions of the area have been commercialized and controlled. There is plenty to see and do in between bathing and sun-worshipping on the magnificent beaches, from climbing up waterfalls to horseback riding through sugar cane plantations, or taking afternoon tea at the former home of British playwright/songwriter, Noel Coward. The surrounding countryside at Ocho Rios (sited in the 'Garden Parish' of St. Ann) is lush and tropical, with fern-clad cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls, and a self-drive tour of the region to take in the scenery, like a drive through the famous three-mile vine-draped Fern Gully, is well worthwhile.Ocho Rios is a town dedicated to fun and sun, a crossroads of pleasure and leisure full of surprises and delights, in the centre of Jamaica's vacation wonderland.