On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:Jamaica is dotted with wonderful beaches, some private and some public. But if you’re looking for the best beaches on the island, Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you try these:
1. Seven Mile Beach in Negril. Once inhabited by pirates, Seven Mile Beach is now home to a number of high-end hotels and a few small bars and restaurants through which you can access the beach.
2. Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay. This small beach (it’s only 300 yards long) is stocked with changing rooms, showers and lavatories. There is also a bar called Groovy Grouper where you can get quick meals and drinks.
3. Silver Sands Beach in Duncan’s. Some say that the Silver Sands Beach, which is about 40 minutes east of Montego Bay, is the best in Jamaica. It is the home of some of the finest villas on the north coast of the island.
4. Turtle Beach in Ocho Rios. This public beach is swarming with activity. Head here to rent a sailboat or pick up a game of volleyball.
5. Lime Cay in Kingston. A 15-minute boat ride from the world-famous Port Royal takes you to the tiny island of Lime Cay, where you’ll find clear waters, white sands and little else. It is the perfect spot for a day of swimming, snorkeling and yachting near the big city. This public beach is open to anyone who can get there.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:They are many local souvenirs to choose from, and visitors can take their pick of wood carvings, oil paintings or Jamaican CDs. Gourmets will definitely come home with Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, grown and roasted in Jamaica. It’s a tasty coffee considered one of the best in the world that’s certified by the Jamaica Coffee Board. Some great Blue Mountain brands include: Café Blue, Coffee Traders, Country Traders, Jablum, Marley Coffee and Wallenford Blue. It’s also a good idea to pick up extra Appleton Estate rum for future summer evenings back home. Foodies can bring home a box of frozen Jamaican beef patties — a popular local snack of pastry shell filled with meat and spices. Jerk seasonings and Jamaican cookbooks also make great souvenirs.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:You’ll find every part of Jamaica to be rich in local foods that capture the flavor of the island. Here are local food experiences that Forbes Travel Guide editors say shouldn’t be missed in Jamaica:
1. Jerk cuisine. Visit The Boston Jerk Centre, ground zero for tasting the island’s famous jerk cuisine. A collection of fire pits and open-air food stalls near Boston Beach sells seafood, chicken and meats that have been spiced with a combo of Scotch bonnet pepper, pimento and cinnamon.
2. Faith’s Pen. A collection of tiny cooking huts about 30 minutes outside of Ocho Rios you’ll find the full range of Jamaica’s best comfort foods such as roast corn, curry goat, escoveitch fish and patties.
3. Ackee and saltfish. For this classic breakfast dish made from the golden ackee fruit paired with salted fish, head to Little Ochi in Alligator Pond on the southern coast. You’ll also find local favorites like steamed fish with festival (corn bread fritters) and bammy (cassava root flatbread).
4. Floyd’s Pelican Bar. Located just about a mile off shore, Floyd's Pelican Bar is one of the coolest places to enjoy a libation like roots wine, Red Stripe Beer or the Pelican Perfection, a cocktail of rum, ginger beer and lime. The rustic cafe is built in the middle of the Caribbean Sea from driftwood and tree trunks, and is only reached by boat.
5. Coconut anything. The sight of coconut palms is ubiquitous around the island and cooks use the fruit heavily. Drink coconut water – often known as nature’s Gatorade — out of a green coconut, or enjoy a dessert like the coconut tart called gizada, grater cake, or the chewy coconut candy called shamshuku.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:Some of the best nightlife in Jamaica can be found in Kingston, where most places are a five- or 10-minute drive away from the hotel areas. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest heading to The Fiction Night Club to dance (Wednesday and Friday night are popular times to go) or to Red Bones Blues Café to listen to live music. Head to Devon House to grab some drinks at The Mahogany Tree Bar or have a laid-back night at Jamaica’s only wine bar, Bin 26. If you’re staying anywhere between Negril, Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, all the major hotels provide nightly live entertainment onsite (check with the concierge if you would like to venture off the property to see what is happening close by). If you’re in the party mood while in Montego Bay, head over to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on the “Hip Strip.”
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:It’s challenging to see all of Jamaica in one day — the island’s rugged mountainous terrain means that it can take four or five hours to get from one side to the other — so it’s best to focus on just one part of Jamaica. Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend exploring the North Coast of Jamaica.
Start the day in Ocho Rios with an authentic Jamaican breakfast at Miss T’s Kitchen. Next, head to Dunn’s River Falls for a climb and have lunch 700 feet high atop Mystic Mountain (you could also grab a quick bobsled ride through the forest while there). Stop in Montego Bay and grab a delicious jumbo malt from The Pelican Grill Restaurant, which has been open since 1964. Then, take a scenic drive to Negril (it’s just over an hour away) and choose your last adventure of the day. We suggest either doing a cliff dive at the world famous Rick’s Café or sitting down for a relaxing dinner at the Rockhouse Restaurant & Bar on the cliffs in Negril to watch the sun go down.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:While Jamaica might not be known as a shopping destination when compared to its Caribbean cousin St. Barts, for example, it still boasts a healthy collection of designer retailers. The airports and main tourist areas of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios have duty-free shopping centers with jewelry boutiques from Patek Philippe, David Yurman, Chopard, Chanel, Cartier, Rolex, Breitling, Bulgari and TAG Heuer. For one-stop shopping, head to Time Square Mall in Negril; Shoppes at Rose Hall or Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay; and Taj Mahal Mall, Soni’s Plaza and Harbour Shops Plaza in Ocho Rios.
Each of these resort areas also features craft markets where you can buy a range of souvenirs, including shot glasses, wood carvings, and that sunhat you suddenly need after a long beach day. Many craftsmen will also personalize handmade items for you, engraving your name into carvings or sewing initials into a Jipijapa hat — a lightweight style that’s similar to a Panama hat. Buyers be warned — vendors might enthusiastically and sometimes aggressively pursue you in craft areas.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:In addition to family-friendly beaches and restaurants, Jamaica offers tons of fun activities for kids to enjoy. These are the best things to do with kids as suggested by Forbes Travel Guide:
1. Hike Dunn’s River Falls. A top attraction for water-loving hikers, the guided climb up the cascading, 600-foot waterfall is easy enough for the entire family. Bring a snack, bathing suit and dry socks, as the round-trip hike will take between two and four hours and you will definitely get wet. Guides are available to lead groups up the hike, which helps you avoid sharp rocks. The trailhead is just outside of the resort town of Ocho Rios, but it’s about a two-hour drive each way from Kingston or Montego Bay. Be prepared for the usual tourist experience at the end of these types of trips — requests for tips and eager vendors trying to sell their wares.
2. Visit Dolphin Cove. These attractions in both Ocho Rios and Negril are popular spots where you can interact with dolphins and mellow Caribbean sharks in their natural environment. The truly brave can even hold and feed the sharks. You can even pilot a mini boat, ride in a glass-bottom kayak or snorkel among stingrays.
3. See Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. A local woman nicknamed the Bird Lady created this habitat for birds back in 1962 in the town of Anchovy. Feed tame long-tailed hummingbirds as they light on your finger and see other wild local fowl including finches, quits, nightingales and kingbirds.
4. Explore Kool Runnings Adventure Park. A big draw in Negril, this park offers a wide range of slides and rides. The largest one is called the Jamaica Bobsled Ride — so-named as a tribute to the world famous Jamaican bobsled team. The park also includes a sport park where kids and adults can race go-carts, kayak, and play paintballing and laser tag.
5. Go on an adventure. Want a break from the beaches and water sports? A local organization called Chukka offers a range of nature-adventure packages for families with kids over 6 years old. Choose from the Dune Buggy Adventure, Horseback Ride ‘n' Swim along Papillion Cove, the River Tubing Safari on the White River, or the Zipline Canopy Tour (the minimum age is 8 years for this one, however) over the Laughlands River Gorge. From your bird's-eye view, you'll see the flora and fauna of this magnificent landscape.
On September 5, 2012Christopher Reckord answered the question:Jamaica offers something for everyone, whether you’re interested in exploring the rich culture, natural beauty, exotic food or Rastafarian music of the island. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to see and do in Jamaica:
1. Hit the beach. Jamaica’s original inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning “land of wood and water," and no visitor should without enjoying the white sand beaches along the entire north coast. Negril, on the western tip of the island, is home to a seven-mile beach and the famous cliff jump at Rick’s Café — a must for adventure-seekers. Stick around for gorgeous sunsets.
2. See how rum is made. If you enjoy the honeyed rum served everywhere on the island, head to a local distillery to learn how the best is made. The Appleton Estate has been making rum for 260 years and offers good tours.
3. Go for a hike. Just outside of Ocho Rios, head into the Blue Mountain foothills for a family-friendly hike up to Dunn’s River Falls. It’s a famous Jamaican attraction and takes two to four hours to complete, depending on your hiking speed.
4. Tour Port Royal. If you’re wandering near the capital city of Kingston on the south side of the island, visit the notorious 17th-Century pirate haven of Port Royal. A former shipping center and bawdy port city, it was once known as the "richest and wickedest” city in the world.
5. Visit the Bob Marley Museum. A must for music buffs, the museum is set in Marley’s former residence at 56 Hope Road. The museum portrays the life and achievements of the history-making Rastafarian.