Travel idea: A trip to Jamaica

Travel idea: A trip to Jamaica

Courtesy of Dorling Kindersley Limited Image by: Courtesy of Dorling Kindersley Limited Author: Canadian Living


Travel idea: A trip to Jamaica

Rum, reggae and relaxation
Jamaica, one of the most exciting and diverse islands in the Caribbean, has lost none of the appeal that lured the likes of Sir Noel Coward, who built a home called Firefly, and Ian Fleming, who penned his James Bond novels close by at his home near Ocho Rios. White-hot blazing beaches dissolving into bathtub-warm waters of greens and blues; sparkling waterfalls tumbling through emerald forests; tree covered mountains soaring to 7,200 ft (2196 m); these elements define Jamaica's beauty, but there is also the surprising contrast with the semi-arid, cactus-studded southwest.

From the tropical lassitude of laid-back Treasure Beach to the hedonistic idyll of Negril, each resort area has its own distinct flavour. Where you stay can define your experience. Fortunately, Jamaica is renowned both for its pampering historic hotels serving traditional English afternoon teas, and for hip boutique hotels infused with romantic ambience and contemporary décor. Many travelers prefer large-scale all-inclusive resorts while others opt for private villas tucked into coves as serene as their innermost thoughts.

Away from the hotels, clamber up Dunn's River Falls, where waters cascade down a limestone staircase to the beach. Sailing down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft is another quintessential Jamaican experience. Practice your golf swing on fairways that look over teal-blue seas or seek out crocodiles and manatees in the swampy wetlands of the Black Morass and snorkel and scuba dive amid coral reefs teaming with tropical fish. Drift along the coast on a sailboat for a rum-infused cruise, while at night you can dance to the infectious rhythms of home-grown reggae. As the day draws to a close, head to the Negril cliffsof West End to catch a live concert and watch the sun slide from view below a molten sky turned to flaming orange and plum purple.

Caribbean diary
Jamaica is the Caribbean's most exciting island, with a unique culture and cuisine, rich history, dramatic scenery, lovely beaches and superb accommodations exuding an air of romance. You'll need a minimum of one week to sample the highlights, shown at their best in January's perfect balmy temperatures.

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Excerpted from Where to go When, copyright 2007 by Dorling Kindersely Limited. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher. A week in a romantic idyll
Day 1 - Montego Bay has plenty of attractions, but depending on the time of your arrival, head to Negril, where the islands loveliest, and most popular, beach awaits.

Day 2 – Relax on the beach and enjoy snorkeling or diving in the crystal-clear waters. After a sunset cruise with cocktails, take in an open-air reggae concert.

Day 3 – Take a boat trip up the Black River to spot crocodiles and tropical birds. Treasure Beach is nearby and this fishing community is a calming place to rest.

Day 4 – Cross the crisp and scenic Dry Harbour Mountains via Nine Miles where Bob Marley was born and is buried. Arrive in Ocho Rios after a full day touring, relax with a sundowner on your veranda or hotel beach.

Day 5 – Clamber up the tiered cascades of Dunn's River Falls and, later, swim with dolphins at nearby Dolphin Cove. This afternoon, drive to Firefly, former home of playwright Sir Noel Coward.
Day 6 – Head to Chukka Cove for horse riding in the hills. After exploring Cranbrook Botanical Gardens, go west to spend the night near the Georgian town of Falmouth.

Day 7 – Take a bamboo raft trip on the Martha Brae River before transferring to Montego Bay for your homebound flight

Dos and don'ts
Refrain from trying the local and ubiquitous ganja (marijuana)! Drug possession is illegal and foreigners receive no special favors in court.

Don't make the popular all-inclusive resorts the center of a holiday. You can't discover the island from inside a hotel.

Dress appropriately away from the beach. Jamaica is a conservative society and locals in rural areas are easily offended by tourists wearing skimpy clothing.

Getting there
Jamaica is an island in the western Caribbean. It has two international airports – Montego Bay and Kingston.

Getting around
Kingston has public buses. Elsewhere local minibuses connect towns but are not for the faint of heart. Charter flights serve regional airports. Rent a car or use taxis for local journeys and trips into the countryside.

Clear and balmy with average January temperature of about 77F, with the odd cloudy day and occasional cool spells.

Time N Place, Falmouth, with a private white sandy beach; doubles from $70

Hibisucs Lodge, Ocho Rios, is a favorite; doubles from $130; tel (876) 974 2676

The Caves, Negril, is the ultimate in relaxation; doubles from $520

Eating out
Jamaica has its own cuisine, from codfish breakfast to pepperpot stew, curried goat, and mouth searing jerk. You can fill up at streetside stalls for $5 or spend $50 for gourmet fare at a fancy hotel.

Price for two
$230-260 per day including accommodations, food and car rental.

Further information

Jamaica's homegrown religious adherents are recognizable by their dreadlocks. Evolving in the arly 20th-century from the "back to Africa" movement, the faith defies Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Appropriating biblical passages to justify the use of marijuana, smoked for enlightenment, believers adopt an Old Testament lifestyle, are vegetarians, and shun Western consumerism. 

Read more:
Travel idea: Visit the Florida Keys
How to make your vacations greener
7 reasons to visit Maui

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Excerpted from Where to go When, copyright 2007 by Dorling Kindersely Limited. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.


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Travel idea: A trip to Jamaica