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Regions of Jamaica
This is the number-one destination for all of Jamaica, appealing to the widest
possible range of visitors. "Mo Bay," as it's known, has the best golf in the
West Indies, and four of the largest resorts on the island; and duty-free
shopping as well. This is about as far from rural Jamaica as you can get: The
tourist dollar drives its economy. But it also boasts several attractions in its
environs, including former great houses of plantations, decaying old towns such
as Falmouth, and daylong adventures into remote Maroon Country.
near Jamaica's relatively arid western tip, Negril's Seven Mile Beach is one of the longest
uninterrupted stretches of sand in the Caribbean. That beach, its
laidback lifestyle, and its wild parties are the main attractions in Negril.
South Coast: The
little-visited South Coast, lying east of Negril along the A2 (the road to
Kingston), is undiscovered Jamaica, although it is becoming better known all the
time. In contrast to the island's lush, tropical image, this area is dry and arid.
Hotels are few and far between, and they are frequently small, family run
establishments. The chief draw is Treasure Beach, tucked away on the secluded
Located in south-central Jamaica, Mandeville is the country's highest-altitude
town and is built in a style strongly influenced by the British. It is now the
center of the island's noted coffee cultivation; a sense of slow-paced colonial
charm remains a trademark of the town.
This region's primary natural attractions include its steeply sloping terrain,
the setting for panoramic public gardens and dramatic waterfalls. Set on a
deep-water harbor easily able to accommodate cruise ships, Ocho Rios boasts a
dense concentration of resort hotels and other vacation spots. Its surrounding
area contains a
number of Jamaica's premier attractions, including Dunn's River
Falls. What the area offers in abundance, are some of the grandest resorts in the Caribbean
Directly west of Ocho Rios is the satellite town of Runaway Bay, which boasts a
handful of resorts opening onto some good beaches and has the distinct advantage
of not being as populated by tourists as Ocho Rios.
Port Antonio: The hub of eastern Jamaica, Port
Antonio still basks in nostalgia. Frequently photographed for its
Victorian/Caribbean architecture, it offers a change of pace from Negril, Ocho
Rios, and Montego Bay. Beaches such as San San are among the most alluring in
the country, and this is also a base for exploring some of the major attractions
in Jamaica's eastern region, including rafting on the Rio Grande River.
Kingston & Spanish Town:
Located on the southeast coast, Kingston is Jamaica's capital, largest city, and
principal port. It is a cosmopolitan city with approximately 750,000 residents
in its metropolitan area and serves as the country's economic, cultural, and
government center. Residents proudly call it the world's reggae capital, as
well. Twenty minutes west of Kingston by car is Spanish Town, a slow-paced
village containing the Cathedral of St. James.
an infamous hideout for pirates and renegades.
A land of soaring peaks and deep valleys with luxuriant vegetation, the Blue
Mountain range rises to the north of Kingston. Mountain roads wind and dip, and
are in bad repair. Tours from Kingston are a safer bet. You can book tours
throughout this region of coffee plantations and rum factories. Maintained by
the government, the prime part of the mountain range is the 192-acre Blue
Mountain-John Crow Mountain National Park.
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Book with your hotel tour desk or 876-952-3692
Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday through Thursday
Appleton Express is an air-conditioned bus that travels from Mo Bay to the
Appleton Rum Distillery on the south side of the island. (If you traveled to
Jamaica a decade ago, you may remember that the Appleton Express was formerly a
train that took day-trippers across the island.
is a tour of the distillery, and every visitor gets a complimentary bottle;
children get soft drinks. The tour also makes a stop at Ipswich Caves.
Plantations & Great Houses
876-952-2382, fax 876-952-6342
â€śBarnettâ€ť and â€śJarrettâ€ť are names well known on the island. Still among
Jamaicaâ€™s most powerful families, the Barnetts and Jarretts were plantation
owners and have owned land for many generations. Today, a visit to the Barnett
Estate offers a look back at the past to the days when this land grew
everything from sugarcane to coconuts. You can take a one-hour horseback tour of
the estate or a guided tour by a costumed docent. This plantation tour is one of
the islandâ€™s best.
Belfield Great House
Hours: daily, 10-5
restored historic house is open to visitors, with guided tours available before
or after dinner. Located on the 3,000-acre Barnett Estate near Montego Bay, the
site is also home to the Belfield 1797 restaurant, operated by Elegant Resorts
876-956-7310 in Montego Bay
876-957-4171 in Negril
Hours: 10-4, Monday-Saturday
back at the plantation days with this heritage tour. Belvedere was one of the
first estates to be burned during the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, so today most of
the sites on the plantation are ruins or reconstructed. The uprising brought
about the end of slavery in 1838.
include a look at the ruins of the great house, dating back to the early 1800s,
the ruins of a sugar factory, a horse-drawn sugar mill and herb garden.
Belvedere is staffed by many craftspeople in period costume. Visitors can watch
a blacksmith at work, see a bakery using a clay oven, talk with an herbalist in
a wattle and daub house and see a canoe-maker carving the trunk of a cottonwood
tree. Also on site is the Trash House Restaurant and Bar (where the sugarcane
trash was once stored). Lunch is served daily and visitors can picnic on the
Inaccessible Cinammon Hill
Cinammon Hill on the North Coast Highway is presently the home of country singer
Johnny Cash, who spends quite a bit of time on the island and has done
charitable work in Jamaica. Cinammon Hill, located near Greenwood Great House,
was the birthplace of Edward Moulton Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browningâ€™s
Croydon In The Mountains
miles into the interior near the town of Catadupa
in St. James (take B6 out of town)
daily; tours from 10:30-3:30
132-acre working pineapple and coffee plantation offers half-day estate tours.
The property was the birthplace of Samuel Sharpe, a national hero on this
island. Sharpe led a slave rebellion in 1831 that helped bring about the
abolition of slavery. You can learn about the preparation of coffee, honey,
pineapples and more.
Greenwood Great House
North Coast Hwy., 15 miles east of Montego Bay
Hours: 9-6 daily
was once the home of the Barrett family (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning).
Tours include a look at the finery enjoyed by the plantation families. Like Rose
Hall (below), Greenwood is a reminder of the turbulent period in Jamaicaâ€™s
history when wealthy plantation owners lived in luxury thanks to the profits of
the slave labor used to power sugar plantations.
Hours: 9-6 daily
Hall is the best-known great house in the country and is an easy afternoon visit
from Montego Bay. This was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better
known as the White Witch. Guided tours take you to the ballroom, dining room,
and Annieâ€™s bedroom and grave. The gift shop displays photographs of what many
believe are ghostly apparitions in the bedrooms of Rose Hall.
The White Witch
story goes, Annie was born in 1802 in England to an English mother and Irish
father. At the age of 10, her family moved to Haiti, and soon her parents died
of yellow fever. Annie was adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess and became
skilled in the practice of voodoo. Annie moved to Jamaica, married, and built
Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with over 2,000 slaves.
According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and her slave
lovers. To learn more about the tales of Rose Hall, read the novel, The White
Witch of Rose Hall, which youâ€™ll find in gift shops around the
North Coast Highway
Hours: 10-6 daily
new attraction features a 68-seat theater where you can watch a documentary on
the life and works of reggae great Bob Marley. The film runs several times
daily. The largest part of the attraction is a huge shop filled with Marley
memorabilia â€“ CDs, books, T-shirts. The shop claims to have the largest
collection of Marley gifts in the Caribbean.
Bay has the best collection of golf courses in Jamaica; most take full advantage
of the cityâ€™s location, offering gorgeous views of the sea and hills. Fees
include golf cart and clubs. Caddies are mandatory and will cost an additional