Let me begin by admitting this post is well overdue. It’s been weeks and I haven’t been able to choose which photos to share here from the many I took. All the photos are wonderful – it’s such a photogenic island – but no amount of carefully selected photos or words will do the island justice. You’ll have to go and see if for yourself.
Jamaica is so much more than just another Caribbean island and to pick just one part of it would be a shame. I strongly recommend seeing the mountains, Montego Bay/Negril, and Port Antonio to get a real idea of what Jamaica is all about.
Here’s our itinerary and why we loved Jamaica so much:
Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa – we started out trip in the Blue Mountains just above Kingston. Strawberry Hill is a real mountain retreat with a spa to kick off the relaxation and views for miles to unwind. The Sunday brunch draws in a big crowd of trendy locals and foreigners so it’s not to be missed. I’d recommend making this a max two day quiet stop to unwind after a long flight to Kingston!
New Castle Road, Irish Town, Jamaica / +1 876-944-8400
Round Hill Hotel & Villas – following our stay in the Blue Mountains, we drove to Montego Bay and stayed at Round Hill. It’s just outside and West of Montego Bay near a town called Hopewell. This part of the island offers those serene blue beaches we dream about when setting out on the trip in the first place! Round Hill sits in a beautiful private cove and is really what I would call a little tropical community. The hotel features a small number of seafront Ralph Lauren designed rooms, surrounded by hills dotted with private villas and cottages. Mr. Lauren owns two of those himself and apparently considers Round Hill somewhat of a second home! It’s no wonder why – everyone who returns year after year seems to know each other and so the atmosphere is relaxed and family-like. If you see those RL ads set in beautiful tropical destinations, being at Round Hill feels like you’re living out that lifestyle. Each night features a different dinner atmosphere, keeping the activities fun. The spa is a stunning standalone building surrounded by serene seaside sounds. Classic and friendly, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.
John Pringle Drive, Montego Bay, Jamaica / +1 876-956-7050
Trident – on the far North East side of the island is Port Antonio and the only place you should even consider staying is Trident. Unbeatable. Firstly, Port Antonio is off the beaten track and does not draw in as much tourist interest as the rest of Jamaica so you see a completely different side to the island. Trident is a private and quiet sanctuary, with a very modern twist. The rooms are beautiful private villas on the seafront, some with private plunge pools and outdoor baths (a major win!). The seafront bordering the majority of this property has dramatic crashing waves over the cliffs, however this is drastically contrasted by the cove beach at Trident. It’s the most peaceful beach I’ve ever been on.
Anchovy, Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica / +1 876-633-7100
SEE & DO.
Drive & Roadside Swim – a top tip and yes that’s right, I said roadside swimming. The message boards telling you Jamaica is too difficult to drive in are wrong. Rent a car, have your freedom and explore the island. You won’t regret it. A key tip if you decide to drive from Montego Bay to Port Antonio or the other way around – keep an eye out for roadside swimming opportunities. They’re usually unoccupied, untouched and more stunning than most beaches I’ve seen to date!
Rio Grande Tour – an alternative to those lazy beach days, take a bamboo rafting tour down the Rio Grande in the jungle by Port Antonio. We went 8 miles down the river sipping Red Stripe and stopping for swims along the way. You end up all the way down at the sea at the end of the journey. Best activity of all – be sure to find time for it!
Organize through hotel as locations and providers vary – Port Antonio, Jamaica
Negril 7 Mile Beach – it’s one of the longest and most talked about beaches and it’s worth a stroll. That said, I’ll be honest – it doesn’t compare to the private coves at Round Hill or Trident, and not even with those amazing roadside scenic swim stops! Tick it off your list but don’t fuss if you miss it.
For access park at Cosmo’s, Negril, Jamaica
Rick’s Cafe Dive – alright, it’s touristy. I admit it. However, seeing the cliff diving (and taking part if you’re gutsy!) really is worth it. The swimming hole below is a beautiful turquoise spot that would make anyone want to jump in! Calling all dare devils…
West End Road, Negril, Jamaica / +1 876-957-0380
Scotchie’s – a Jamaican favorite, Scotchie’s is the place to go for jerk barbecue. There are several locations but we hear from locals that he Ocho Rios location is by far the best. Perfect pit stop for that coastal drive.
Drax Hall, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Rockhouse Hotel – something on the list for next time. We hear it’s a great spot for lunch or dinner in Negril.
West End Road, Negril, Jamaica / +1 876-957-4373
The Hungry Lion – another recommendation for a restaurant near Negril – looked lovely but didn’t have time to pop in for a meal. For next time!
West End Road, Negril, Jamaica / +1 876-957-4486
House Boat Grill – for an authentic dining experience when you need a night out of the hotel.
Alice Eldemire Drive, Montego Bay, Jamaica / +1 876-979-8845
Frenchman’s Cove – a pay for access smal beach near Port Antonio, if you’re keen to get out of the hotel. Often voted as one of the world’s best beaches.
Monkey Island – just off Frenchman’s Cove and absolutely beautiful (hint: see cover photo) for a swim or snorkeling session.
San San Beach – another public beach option close to Frenchman’s Cove.
The Blue Lagoon – the famous Blue Lagoon from the movies. Obviously a must see for its fame. It really is a deep blue beauty, but be warned its the most touristy of the swim spots!
GeeJam Bushbar – a hotel in the hills above Port Antonio with a great little restaurant for a drink or dinner while catching sunset! By day, it also hosts a music recording studio so you might run into the likes of Rihanna… 🙂
122 Skippers Boulevard, Port Antonio, Jamaica / +1 876-993-7000
Soldier Camp Bar & Grill – off the beaten track, this is as local as it gets for good eats in Jamaica. Tuck into some coconut curries, rice and beans and red stripe while owner Everold Daley tells you some war stories…
83 Red Hassell Road, 1876, Port Antonio, Jamaica / +1 876-451-2095
Devon House – an old mansion turned into gardens, boutiques, bars and restaurants in the middle of Kingston. Don’t miss the famous ice cream.
Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica / +1 876-926-0815
Blue Mountain Coffee Estates – while you’re in the mountains, it’s worthwhile checking out the famous Blue Mountain Coffee Estates. Craighton is near Strawberry Hill, while Clifton is further up but offers great views. We also hear Old Tavern is a wonderful family run estate to visit.
Europe In The Summer (EITS) Cafe – a wonderful mountainside cafe which I would recommend and revisit time and time again. Enjoy wine and food amongst the rastas while watching mountainside sunsets.
17 Mile Post, Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Jamaica