10 Things You Really Should Experience While in Jamaica

One of the largest islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica has something to offer just about everyone. From its beautiful beaches to its lush green mountains, travelers to Jamaica can find a variety of things to see and do. Although experiencing all of Jamaica could take quite a long time, if you’re only there for a short vacation, there are a few things that you just shouldn’t miss and in our opinion, these are a few of them.

Eats:
Jamaica has a wide variety of cuisine choices from traditional Jamaican fare to modern plates, but there are a few dishes we think you should search for:

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Steamed Snapper and Shrimp

1. Fresh fish and seafood
From Red Snapper, Lobster, Shrimp, Conch, Eel, and Squid to Shark you can find savory choices that are grilled, steamed, roasted or prepared ala escovitch. The savory tastes are something you won’t soon forget. One of the places best known in Jamaica for seafood is Little Ochie, located on the islands south coast.

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Jerk Chicken Pizza

2. Jerk
A style of cooking native to Jamaica. Traditionally, jerk seasoning (a mixture of Scotch Bonnet peppers and allspice and can also include other spices such as nutmeg, thyme, garlic, cloves or cinnamon)  is dry-rubbed or marinated on chicken and pork. Today you can also find the seasoning used on dishes such as fish , beef and lamb. You can find jerk seasoned dishes in most restaurants in Jamaica, and Scotchies with 3 locations in Jamaica is known as a good place to try some authentic jerk.

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Ripe ackee on the tree

3. Fruit
Jamaica is a beautiful and fertile island and in addition to some of the better known tropical fruits such as banana, papaya, mango and pomegranate, the island bountifully grows such interesting fruits as ackee (the national fruit of Jamaica and can be poisonous until it ripens), breadfruit, sorrel, soursop, stinking toe, naseberry, jackfruit, hog plum and mammy. 

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Fresh fruit stand in the mountains

Fresh fruit stands and local vendors can be found selling their freshly picked goods and will even tell you how to prepare the fruits or look for many of them in local restaurants.


Drinks:

You’ve got to have something to wash all of that wonderful Jamaican food down with and here are a few very good choices.

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Rum punch made with Appleton Rum

4. Rum
Rum. Yum. Home of some of the best rums in the Caribbean, be sure to sample any of the local rums – some of which can stand on their own (Appleton Reserve, 12 and 21 Year) and others that are best in a mixed cocktail (Wray and Nephew Overproof). If you’re a fan of rum cream, be sure to enjoy some Sangster’s Jamaican Rum Cream. Heck, you might want to bring home a bottle too.

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Tasting the molasses at the Appleton Rum Factory Tour

And – if you’re a real fan of Appleton Estate Rums, or rum in general, you might want to consider a tour of the Appleton Rum Factory. The estate is not easy to get to, but you get to see the beautiful Jamaican countryside on the way along with fields and fields of sugarcane – and you get to sample many of the rums in the Appleton Estate Family.

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Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee

5. Blue Mountain Coffee
Grown at 5,500 feet about sea level in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, the coffee beans grown for Blue Mountain Coffee are nurtured by a constant mist and nutrient dense soil. The coffee is rich and smooth and is served in many Jamaican establishments, including resorts and hotels. You can also buy beans in local shops to take home.

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Seven Mile Beach, Negril

6. Seven Mile Beach
Jamaica is a large island and known for beautiful beaches. 
If you only have the time to see one beach while in Jamaica, you should consider Seven Mile Beach in Negril. Yes, Seven Mile Beach is dotted with hotels, bars, restaurants and sometimes has a good amount of beach “vendors” who try to sell you everything from jewelry to fruits (and other crops), to services such as parasailing, but most times a polite “no thank you” will do if you are not interested.

Seven Mile Beach is, however, nearly seven miles of soft, white sand with crystal clear, calm water that can enjoyed while walking, wading, swimming, floating, paddleboarding, and kayaking.  Seven miles of beautiful.

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Live music at the Bob Marley Nine Mile Tour

 7. Live Music
Most of us are well aware of the reggae roots in Jamaica, but Jamaicans have been a powerful source of other types of World Music as well. Although many of the resorts offer live music events and some restaurants and bars as well such as Alfred’s in Negril, be sure to watch for any festivals and street dances that may give you the opportunity to experience live roots, jazz, blues, dub, folk, and more.

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YS Falls

8. Waterfalls
With lots of moisture and mountains, you’re bound to get some waterfalls and Jamaica has several great ones to explore. Dunn’s River Falls, close to Ocho Rios, is the most popular waterfall in Jamaica and can get quite busy with cruise shop excursions – so, if you have the time, you might want to wander a little further to YS Falls or Mayfield Falls to experience the beauty without the crowds.

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Rick’s Cafe, Negril

9. Bars
You’ve heard of some of Rick’s Cafe and Floyd’s Pelican Bar and the Margaritaville’s in Negril, Ocho and Mo Bay, but don’t overlook some of the great local and not so famous bars in Jamaica that are great places to mingle with the locals as well and other tourists and perhaps get a taste of the real Jamaica. Find them on many of the beaches or in some of the smaller towns you may pass through.

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Jewel Runaway Bay All-Inclusive Resort

10. All-Inclusive Resorts
Some people absolutely love the all-inclusive vacation concept and if you’re one of them, Jamaica is one of the islands that excel in All-Inclusive Resort offerings such as Jewel Runaway Bay. From opulent to budget minded, there are resorts geared to make your vacation as stress free as possible by including food, beverages and watersports in your accommodation packages.

Enjoy your Jamaican Vacation!

 

Check out our Jamaica Map for locations of things to see and do in Jamaica

To see more posts on Jamaica and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

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Comments

  1. Dunn’s River is the only thing I haven’t gotten to yet! All the more reason to get back there, I suppose!