Jamaica's major beach resorts offer a good starting point from which to explore Jamaica's sights and must-see attractions.
Jamaica’s poor roads and large distances between the major resorts and accessible regions mean it is best to sign up for a recognised tour or to hire a licensed taxi to visit attractions.
Note: Independent travelling is not recommended here because of potential crime.
Montego Bay (or Mo Bay) is the most popular tourist spot in Jamaica, offering the widest choice of accommodation on the island, a selection of fine beaches, world-class golf courses, numerous family friendly activities and a bustling ‘hip strip' along Gloucester Avenue, lined with restaurants, nightclubs and shops.
Montego Bay is also a popular port-of-call for cruise ships.
The town is divided into three regions: the hotel area, the downtown commercial area and the outlying beaches and hillside areas.
Unwind on the clean white sands of Doctor’s Cave Beach, enjoy a choice of water sports and carnival rides at Aquasol Theme Park at Walter Fletcher Beach, swim with bottlenose dolphins at Dolphins Cove or scuba dive the wall at Airport Reef in the Montego Bay Marine Park, renowned for its steep canyons, coral caves and tunnels.
On land, discover the beautiful scenery on foot, mountain bike or on horseback. Come in summer to see world-renowned performers at the Reggae Sunfest (18 to 25 July, 2010) or enjoy the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival from 24 to 30 January.
Montego Bay is located on the northwest coast of Jamaica, around 3km from the nearest airport, Sangster International Airport (also known as Montego Bay Airport).
Once a hippie haven of the 1970s, Jamaica's ‘capital of casual' Negril is less developed than Montego Bay, although it still offers a good range of accommodation options that range from low-end budget hotels to luxurious all-inclusive beachfront resorts set in lush manicured gardens.
Negril is best known for its gorgeous Seven Mile Beach, magical sunsets, clothing-optional beaches, wild parties and handful of hedonistic resorts.
Away from the beach, discover Negril's lush mountain scenery on foot, bike or horseback. Visit the mineral springs at Mayfield Falls and explore caves at Roaring River. Take the kids to the rides and carnival amusements of Anancy Fun Park. For the best vistas on the island, climb to the top of the century-old lighthouse at West End Road.
Negril is located on the western tip of Jamaica, around 89km west of Sangster International Airport (or Montego Bay Airport), about a two-hour drive.
More tranquil than Montego Bay and Negril, Ocho Rios is located in one of Jamaica’s most beautiful regions, home to lush tropical vegetation, exotic fauna, winding rivers and magnificent waterfalls, including the beautiful 180m-high Dunn's River Falls.
With its scenic beauty, craft markets, duty-free shopping areas, fine beaches and open-air restaurants, Ocho Rios is a popular port-of-call for cruise ships. Swim and sunbathe at several small beaches, go hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking and river rafting in the lush Dry Harbour Mountains that tower above the town.
Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove (adjacent to Dunn's River Falls) or see interesting tropical flora at Prospect Plantation (some of which Winston Churchill planted himself). Nearby lies Shaw Park Gardens, a remarkable botanical park.
East of town lie the quiet coastal villages of Oracabessa and Port Maria, where you can stay in Firefly, the former home of Noel Coward, now a tourist site, and in Goldeneye, the former home of James Bond author Ian Fleming, now converted into an upmarket resort.
West of town lie the smaller coastal resorts of Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay. The lush hills of Saint Ann are home to one of Jamaica's major sights – the Bob Marley Mausoleum at the singer's birthplace of Nine Mile.
Ocho Rios is located on the northern coast of Jamaica, around 111km east of Montego Bay and 73km west of Port Antonio. The nearest airport is Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, a two-hour drive away.
Escape the crowds in this sleepy seaport, which offers a glimpse into the Jamaica of old and is located among some of Jamaica’s most verdant landscape.
Stroll through this small bustling town lined with a mix of tin-roofed shacks, old Georgian houses and modern brick and concrete buildings.
Discover open-air markets crammed with local crafts, spices and fruits, and cafes filled with domino-playing locals.
Relax on some of Jamaica’s finest beaches. Check out the nearby Blue Mountains or the Rio Grande Valley – both offer great river raft and kayaking adventures along the many rivers that bisect the lush forests and canyons, as well as eco-hikes through the verdant landscape to stunning waterfalls and tropical rainforest.
Visit the Reach Falls, made famous by Tom Cruise in the movie, Cocktail; see stalagmites, stalactites, fossilised marine life and evidence of Arawak civilisation in the 1.5 million-year-old Cave of Nonsuch; and stroll among palm trees and flowers in the Athenry Gardens, while enjoying panoramic views over the island and the sea.
Port Antonio has long been a favourite retreat for movie icons such as Errol Flynn, and even today it’s popular with stars such as Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington.
Port Antonio is located on the coast just north of the Blue Mountains, around 97km northeast of Kingston.
These magnificent cascades are best visited when cruise liners are not in port, as it is one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist sights.
From 180m above, cold, clear water cascades down through a series of nature-sculpted rock pools to finally merge with the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Dunn's River Falls is located between Saint Ann's Bay and Ocho Rios.
Latest update Jamaica honeymoon destination: 7 May, 2022