As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, Jamaica is renowned for its diverse tapestry of natural wonders and iconic tourist attractions.

On every corner of the island, adventure awaits, be it the misty trails of the Blue Mountains in the east, the bustling party Hip Strip in the west or the boat ride out to Floyd’s Pelican Bar on the south coast. 

Whether you crave the thrill of exploration or seek moments of serenity by the sea, one thing is for certain, you’ll never run out of interesting places to see in Jamaica.

A waterfall cascades down into a pool in an area with dense foliage
Soak up the scene of the beautiful Reach Falls, one of Jamaica's most popular waterfalls © Marlon Trottmann / Shutterstock

1. Reach Falls

Best place to enjoy waterfalls

Portland is home to dozens of natural attractions, and the very best is Reach Falls. The waterfall's centerpiece is the heart-shaped “jacuzzi,” a natural rock formation located near the base of the cascade. It was formed by the force of the water, creating a natural pool where visitors can sit and soak in the rejuvenating waters.

Adventurous souls can also explore Reach Falls by wading through the crystal-clear pools, navigating through narrow passageways, and discovering hidden grottos tucked behind the cascades.

Planning tip: The entrance fee is J$500. Be sure to bring water shoes as the rocks in and around the falls are slippery.

2. Appleton Estate

Best place to taste Jamaican rum

Appleton Estate, with roots tracing back to 1749, is one of Jamaica's oldest rum producers and the ultimate destination to witness the artistry behind the rum production process. Knowledgeable guides lead guests on 1.5-hour-long tours (US$38) through various stages, from sugarcane cultivation to fermentation, distillation and aging in oak barrels.

At the end of the tour, there’s a tasting session, where visitors can sample a selection of the best Appleton Estate rums, each showcasing distinct flavors and characteristics.

Planning tip: Appleton Estate is about 1.5 hours' from Negril and two hours from Montego Bay.

3. Port Royal

Best place for a history lesson

Known as the "wickedest city on Earth" during the 17th century, Port Royal was a bustling hub of piracy and trade, attracting sailors, merchants, and buccaneers from around the globe. Today, the remnants of this storied past can still be explored through the historic landmarks that dot the town.

Take a wander through the Fort Charles Museum, which showcases artifacts like pottery and weaponry and the impact of the infamous earthquake of 1692 that destroyed the city.

The nearby Victoria Battery and Giddy House, a tilted building from the earthquake, along with Forts Morgan, Walker and Rocky, are other archaeological sites that offer insight into the town’s past.

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Rolling green hills covered in coffee plantations
The Blue Mountains are Jamaica's top hiking destination © by Marc Guitard / Getty Images

4. Blue Mountains

Best place for hiking

Blue Mountain Peak is the highest mountain in Jamaica and reigns as the premier hiking destination on the island. At elevations of 2256m (7401ft), these mountains offer a welcome respite from Jamaica's tropical heat, providing hikers with a refreshing and invigorating climate.

The Blue Mountains boast incredible biodiversity, teeming with endemic flora and fauna. Warblers, falcons, merlins and kingfishers are among the 120 species you might spot as you make your way along the network of trails.

From a leisurely walk to the Holywell nature park to the more challenging climb to the peak, there are routes here to cater to hikers of all levels.

Planning tip: If you plan to hike in the Blue Mountains, particularly to its peak, the best time to do so is during the island’s dry season from December to April. It’s also best to use a guide, as the hike to the peak is usually over seven hours and is a challenging one.

Looking for more hiking routes in Jamaica? Here's our guide to the best

5. Montego Bay’s Hip Strip

Best place to party

There’s no party like a Hip Strip party in Montego Bay. Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, famously known as the Hip Strip, is one of the most lively streets in Jamaica, with two beaches (One Man Beach and Doctor’s Cave Beach), a beach park, a dozen restaurants and shops, and a craft market. Plus there’s no shortage of nightly activities here at any of the street’s numerous entertainment spots. 

From dusk till dawn, you’ll find the streets lined with tourists and locals bustling between establishments, where dancehall and reggae music can be heard from the outdoors, while local vendors on the street dance and entertain themselves (and their customers) to the blaring music.

Pier 1, one of Montego Bay’s most popular restaurants, turns into a top entertainment spot at night, with talent competitions, fashion shows, themed party nights, and live DJs. Its second location on the famed Doctor’s Cave Beach keeps visitors entertained with reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop music during the daytime. 

On weekdays, the party is at Lounge2727, a buzzing nightclub where everyone comes to let loose. The hookah, dispensary, a variety of liquor, a mini stage for dancing, plus DJs playing dancehall and hip-hop music into the early hours of the morning make for an electrifying experience. 

Sundays at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records means live bands all night, and Coral Cliff and Margaritaville, also have live music and DJs on some nights.

Learn more about Jamaican dancehall with our guide

6. Bob Marley Museum

Best place to celebrate a legend

The Bob Marley Museum is a tribute to the legendary reggae musician and cultural icon, Bob Marley. Housed in Marley's former residence, located on Hope Rd in Kingston, the museum's exhibits include personal memorabilia, photographs and music recordings. 

An hour-long tour provides a peek into Marley’s world by seeing his bedroom, kept as it was after his death in 1981, and the Tuff Gong recording studio. Tickets to tour the museum range between US$20–40 and can be booked in advance.

Local tip: A host of cultural activities, including a massive free birthday celebration, are held at the museum on February 6 to commemorate Marley’s birthday.

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A woman and man jumping off a footbridge into the sea in Negril, Jamaica
There are vibrant coral reefs just off the shores of Negril © Daniel Grill / Getty Images

7. Negril

Best place for snorkeling and diving

Negril's Seven Mile Beach offers serene and crystal-clear waters, perfect for snorkeling enthusiasts. Just off the shores here are vibrant reefs with intricate coral formations bustling with an array of colorful barracuda, angelfish, pufferfish and captivating marine life such as stingrays, crabs, sea turtles and more.

A brief boat ride from Negril lies the secluded island of Booby Cay, a popular destination for divers. Here, you can encounter tropical fish, conch, sea urchins, and other marine creatures.

More seasoned divers can explore sites like the Throne Room, with depths up to 21m (70ft), showcasing a stunning colony of large orange elephant ear sponges resembling a regal throne. The Arches, another nearby dive site, features the remains of a DC3 plane resting at a depth of 30m (100ft).

8. Kingston

Best place for music lovers

Visitors to Kingston should immerse themselves in the city's dynamic music scene by exploring landmarks such as the Bob Marley Museum and Trench Town Culture Yard, where some of reggae's most iconic songs were recorded. 

Music lovers can also attend popular dancehall street parties: Weddy Weddy Wednesdays at the Stone Love Headquarters and Uptown Mondays at Savannah Plaza in Half Way Tree —  where DJs set the tone for people to smoke, drink, sing along, and dance until the early hours of the morning — or the nightly dancehall events held at Club Meca, which has a similar atmosphere. 

Popular dancehall artists such as Teejay, Ding Dong, Bounty Killer, and many more, typically frequent these events.

Those interested in reggae music will enjoy the live sessions held at Kingston Dub Club, Skyline Levels and Dubwise Café.

Planning tip: Kingston is usually the place where some of the biggest concerts are held on the island. Keep a lookout for announcements on social media, street flyers and billboards, especially during the summer.

9. Mystic Mountain

Best place for adrenaline junkies

Imagine being transported to the top of a mountain and then boarding a bobsled-inspired gravity-driven ride that speeds through the lush tropical landscape on a track with the twists and turns of a real bobsled run. That’s just one of the attractions at Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios, the top amusement park in Jamaica.

Other highlights include a zipline, rock-climbing wall, Anansi’s Web rope course, and the Raggamuffin rollercoaster ride that sends you spinning in your seat.

Planning tip: Given the nature of the rides, all visitors are required to wear closed-toe shoes.

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10. Floyd’s Pelican Bar

Best place to grab a beer

There’s nothing regular about Floyd’s Pelican Bar. This rustic wooden bar, which sits perched on a sandbar in Parottee Point, St Elizabeth, offers an unforgettable view with its ice-cold beers. 

It’s only accessible by a five-minute boat ride ($5–7 per person for a roundtrip), but is typically crowded and lively. 

In addition to the drinks — have a Red Stripe, the beer of the country — and freshly caught seafood, you can also go swimming, sunbathe, or snorkel at Floyd’s so be sure to pack your swimsuit and snorkeling gear.

Planning tip: Bring cash with you (cards are not accepted) and your own unique memorabilia like your country flag, a hat or old t-shirt to add to Floyd’s wall. To dodge the larger crowds, visit on a weekday and avoid local holidays. 

A man paddles along a river on a bamboo raft
Head to Portland to paddle along the Rio Grande River on a bamboo raft © Carey Chen / 500px

11. Portland

Best place to explore natural attractions

Portland, Jamaica, boasts an abundance of breathtaking natural attractions. Somerset Falls is a popular waterfall that's much more secluded than Reach Falls. Visitors can take guided boat tours (less than five minutes) through the rainforest to reach the main waterfall, passing through caves and grottos along the way. The entry fee is US$20 and includes the boat ride.

Portland is also home to tons of beaches, including Frenchman's Cove, Winnifred Beach and Boston Bay Beach, which is popular among surfers. And let's not forget about bamboo rafting along the Rio Grande River, and the beautiful Blue Lagoon, made famous by the 1980-film of the same name starring Brooke Shields.

12. Dunn’s River Falls

Best place to explore a water attraction

Dunn's River Falls, standing at 55m-high (180ft), is among Jamaica's most stunning natural attractions. What sets Dunn's River Falls apart is its incredible natural staircase-like formation, where water rushes over terraced limestone rocks, creating a series of cascading pools and small waterfalls. 

The climb to the top can be tiring, but it's worth it to see the views of the entire falls and the surrounding rainforest from the peak.

Planning tip: The entry fee is $25 per adult and $17 per child. There’s no separate cost to have a licensed falls guide to accompany you on your climb to the top. If you plan to climb, be sure to bring water shoes as the rocks are slippery. 

13. Blue Lagoon

Best place for a freshwater swim

The mixture of spring water and seawater at the Blue Lagoon is what makes it so special, giving a distinctive azure hue that changes in intensity throughout the day. The clarity of the water is unmatched, allowing swimmers to see straight to the bottom of the 55m-deep (180ft) lagoon, where colorful marine life and submerged rock formations can be spotted.

Local tip: Boat captains offer rides from Blue Lagoon to Monkey Island, or Pellew Island, a small uninhabited island off the coast with great snorkeling opportunities.

14. Lime Cay

Best place for a secluded beach day

Most beaches across the island will be populated with locals and tourists on any day of the week. But this isn’t the case at Lime Cay, an uninhabited island off the coast of Port Royal, with a pristine white sand beach and clear turquoise waters. 

As well-known as Lime Cay is, on an average day, you’ll only run into a handful of other visitors to the island. During the week, its laid-back atmosphere makes it feel like your own private paradise.

Planning tip: It’s only accessible by boat — fishers at the dock at Port Royal do charters to the island costing between US$20–25 roundtrip per group (negotiate if it’s a solo trip). The best time to enjoy the serenity of Lime Cay is during the week. On weekends, particularly on Sundays, it turns into a hot spot for party and boat enthusiasts. Bring your own food and drinks. 

15. South Coast and Treasure Beach

Best place for seafood

The numerous top-rated seafood restaurants on Jamaica’s South Coast make it the island's best dining destination.

Every Jamaican will give rave reviews of Little Ochie, a rustic open-air restaurant in the fishing village of Alligator Pond, renowned for its jerk fish that’s cooked over open pimento wood and seasoned with green onions, garlic, and a mixture of herbs and spices.

Another popular fishing village is Treasure Beach, home to the Jack Sprat restaurant at Jakes Hotel, where the curry snapper and jerk crab draw visitors from all across the island. Fresh lobster, shrimp and conch, are also served when in season.

Local tip: You can purchase freshly caught seafood straight from the fishers themselves at the fish markets in the area.

This article was first published Jun 16, 2021 and updated May 19, 2024.

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