Jamaica’s famous landmarks are quite the varied bunch. Naturally, you’ve got the island’s beaches – but who among us needs a helping hand to snuffle out a decent sandy nook? No, you’re more likely looking for the places to visit in Jamaica that are worth doing. We’ve notched up a few of the more famous landmarks below, along with a couple of lesser–known places of interest you’ll want to check out.
Swim in the Luminous Lagoon
Full disclosure, the Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica is making the very best of the bioluminescence on its doorstep. Yes, the lagoon has been developed to make the most of your travel dollars. But. And it’s a big but. This is one of the best places in the world where you can easily see the glowing plankton – and swim among it – year round. Sold? We knew you would be. The tours last up to an hour, and, though the micro-organisms will be suitably agitated by the boat’s movement in the water, the real magic happens when nature gets involved. This is one of the few times during your stay you’ll be hoping for rain!
Cost: $25 adults / $12.50 children under 12
Tour the Bob Marley House
It’s not every day that you can swing by the former home of a reggae legend. But the Bob Marley House in Jamaica lets you do just that. All of the rooms in his Kingston home still contain Bob’s possessions and are pretty much exactly how they were when he left the property. To up the, potentially creepy, authenticity factor up a notch or two, there’s a 3D, life size hologram to peer at too. That aside, there’s plenty of scope for reverence of one of music’s greats here. Expect to see awards, outfits and treasured knick-knacks on the hour and a quarter long tour.
Cost: $25 adults / $12 children aged 4-12
Tuck into a fish fry at Hellshire Beach
We’ll keep this one short and sweet. Your destination: Hellshire Beach. Your goal: grab some fish fry from Aunt Merl’s Fish Shack. Yes, it’s probably Jamaica’s most famous food truck, but with good reason. The menu’s fairly small but who’s nitpicking over that when there’s freshly grilled lobster up for grabs. Think rustic but delicious and you won’t go far wrong.
Hike through the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
Lace up your hiking boots and prepare to trek to the top of one of the most famous landmarks in Jamaica. These mountains will beckon even the most activity-shy among us to explore – even just a little. Easy trails in the lower sections of the park come with amenities to make your foray into the wilderness a little less wild. Toilets, camping spots and picnic tables are the perfect pitstop before hitting the main trails. Though, from here you can hop on a 30 minute walk that’ll give you a glimpse at some of Jamaica’s wildlife. For the eager walkers, you’re looking at the big one.
The Blue Mountain Peak Trail takes you to the island’s highest view point – with a serious glutes and thigh workout on route. Expect to spend around 8 hours completing the trip to the top and back. It’s worth it though, if only to get some very different pictures of Jamaica at the peak.
Live your Cool Runnings fantasy at Mystic Mountain
If you’ve ever fancied a crack at a bobsleigh run, but minus temperatures aren’t your bag, Mystic Mountain has to be on your list of places to visit in Jamaica. High above Ocho Rios, the park actually has 3 adrenaline pumping, nerve jangling rides to try. But if we’re all honest with ourselves, it’s the bobsleigh run that’s going to win over a chairlift or zip line. Every. Time. Enjoy the views and, just for a moment, imagine you’re on Jamaica’s Olympic bobsleigh team.
Cost: Ticket prices vary – a bundle ticket typically costs $19.40
Down a beer at Floyd’s Pelican Bar
3/4 of a mile out to sea on Jamaica’s south coast, you’ll find Floyd’s Pelican Bar. The only drink available? Red Stripe beer. And the menu’s mainly limited to fish. The stilts holding it on the sand bar look rickety and the only way to get there is a boat ride from shore in Parottee Bay. Which really makes it the perfect place. Hang out with the genial owner, Floyd and perhaps have a game or two of dominoes while you’re there. The rope ladders used to access the bar from the boats can take a toll on your core strength. So keep access in mind. And remember, this is a bar in the middle of the ocean so there’s really no bathroom facilities.
Orbzii tip: Disappointed with Floyd’s minimal drinks offering? Our in depth look at Jamaica’s rum scene, should see you right.
Almost everyone will point you towards Dunn’s River Falls before your plane wheels have even touched Jamaica’s tarmac. A grand set of falls indeed, but they are also a crowded, slippery set of steps that can feel a little too commercial at times. By no means swerve them, but if you’re in the market for a quieter dip in the island’s fresh waters, drop by Mayfield Falls. You’ll find plenty of natural swimming holes, pools and waterfalls to enjoy – all surrounded by some rather charming ferns and indigenous plant life. These falls in Glenbrook have fewer crowds and the facilities are scant but the experience may be all the better for it.
Cost: $20 per person
Raft along Jamaica’s rivers
You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to rivers to raft along in Jamaica. Punt along the Rio Grande or Martha Brae River for dreamy river views, bird watching and a romantic drift along the waterways. Bamboo logs are all that separate you from the river water, so while your raft captain might be skilled with his punting pole, it’s best to dress for the occasion. Oh and pop your phone in something waterproof too. Just in case. A serene way to watch out for Jamaica’s wildlife.
Get superstitious in Jamaica’s haunted hot spots
How spooky do you like your old buildings? Ghost-riddled houses might not be on everyone’s radar when it comes to places to visit in Jamaica, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Rose Hall and Dubby Church are buildings at two opposite ends of the maintenance spectrum. Rose Hall is a vast, historic 18th century masterpiece and Dubby Church looks about ready to fall down. You’ll find far fewer folk wandering the crumbling remains of the church – which might be just how you like your urban exploring. If you prefer things a little more refined, drop in on the ghosts at Rose Hall.
A day tour of Rose Hall costs $23 per person, with after dark tours also an option. Dubby Church is free to visit, but it’s not recommended to go at night. Apart from anything else, the local taxi drivers refuse to stop anywhere near the church. No spoilers here, but a quick chat with your driver should soon put you in the picture.