November 30, 2018
The home of Bob Marley was always going to have spirit. These once in a lifetime experiences reflect the unique Jamaican vibe that draws tourists from all over the world. From a jaw-dropping landscape to the King of Reggae himself, our picks will ensure you see the very best this island has to offer.
The United Nations has just added reggae music to its list of international cultural treasures worthy of protection and promotion. Even more reason for reggae fans to pay homage to the genre’s best known artist (and his favourite guitar) at his tomb. The recipient of Jamaica’s third highest honour, the Order of Merit, rests six feet off the ground in the village of his birth, Nine Mile. You can also visit the modest two-room house where he grew up, filled with photos and memorabilia.
With white-sand allure, this impeccable cove is secluded, pretty and packed with appeal. Gin-clear waters, fed by the freshwater flow of Priestman’s River, are wonderful to swim in and at some point, someone strung a knotted rope over the water to allow kids (and grown-up kids) a swinging time against an exotic backdrop of tropical blooms and mountains. The beach is open to the public from 9am until 5pm, and a beach bar serves jerk chicken, fried fish, burgers and drinks. Stay until dusk and you might see the waters illuminated by shimmering fireflies.
One of our favourite Jamaican experiences is the exhilarating view from the inter-connecting canopy of zip wires in the bird-filled rainforest of Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. Take the Sky Lift Explorer chairlift 700 feet up to the top of the mountain, from where the zip-line, or ‘Tranopy’ descends over thickly forested slopes of almond and pimento trees. Alternatively, make your way down via Bobsled Jamaica, inspiration for the 1994 hit movie Cool Runnings. With white-knuckle thrills and adrenaline surges like no other, just be sure to hold on tight.
For an ecological Jamaican experience, we recommend exploring the marshy ecosystem of the island’s wild South Coast, home to vine-tangled mangrove swamps, the peat-rich Black River, waterfall cascades and the rare Jamaican crocodile – plus over 100 species of butterflies and birds. One of the largest wetlands is the Lower Black River Morass. The most enjoyable way to soak it all up is via one of the pontoon boat river tours departing from Black River town.
If like us you’re a novice in the saddle, but want to go horse riding in Jamaica, then help is at hand. In Trelawny (approximately 32 miles east of Montego Bay), the family-run Braco Stables offers gentle tours for beginners of all ages. A thorough briefing equips riders with enough basics to clip-clop sedately towards a sandy shore in order to swim bareback with horses on a beautiful, private beach. The Braco Estate dates from the mid-17th century, when the property had its own sugar cane factory. Today old pimento fields, lime orchards and leafy trails ensure a resplendent setting in which to befriend the stable’s horses.
Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Montego Bay in Jamaica from London Gatwick.