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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Whether it will be your first time in Jamaica or your vacation here every year. I am sure there is somewhere you have yet to explore.
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None of the 6 resort areas in Jamaica provides the same experience, they all offer something new and exciting. Maybe I can help you decide where to visit first.
Let’s start with somewhere familiar as I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it. Montego Bay is a tourist city in every sense. Montego Bay has everything from lavish all-inclusive hotels along the stunning coastline and hundreds of gift shops to a buzzing nightlife.
Where to stay - I won’t be able to list all the hotels, villas, bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs and other forms of accommodation in Montego Bay.
But if you are searching for family options, Hyatt Ziva, Royal Decameron, Half Moon Golf Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn, Jewel Resort and Sea Gardens are some of the best. Jewel and Half Moon are the most expensive while Sea Gardens and Holiday in are great budget-friendly options.
Adults have way more options; Breathless, Secrets, Sandals Resorts, Hyatt Zilara, Riu Palace and Iberostar all cater to adults only.
One of the advantages of staying in Montego Bay is that you can skip the long commute to and from the airport. Most hotels in Montego Bay are no more than 15 minutes away from the airport.
What to do - You should visit:
What to eat: Everything from delicious street food to fine-dining restaurants is available in Montego Bay. Most resorts have incredible restaurants, such as the Sugar Mill at Half Moon. But, if you would like to venture off the resort. These are some great options as well.
Mystic India, Uncorked and Lucca’s are some of the fine dining restaurant options in Montego Bay that are not heavily focused on Jamaican cuisine and if brunching is a pastime of yours, here are some good places to visit.
Falmouth is slowly becoming a resort town on its own and not just an extension of Montego Bay and it is well deserved. This is due partly to the new Falmouth Cruise Port and the fact that more rural towns are now being visited by tourists who want to have as authentic a trip as possible. The “Yam country” definitely provides that.
Where to stay - Staying at a hotel in Falmouth gives you the best of both worlds. You are far enough away from Montego Bay, that you can have a secluded, vacation but not so far away that you won’t be able to enjoy the city if you so wish.
Some hotels in Falmouth are:
What to Do - Falmouth has many historical sites and water activities to choose from.
A favourite of many people is the Falmouth food and history tour. We have done it, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in Jamaica's history and try some of our favourite foods. The horse-drawn buggy tour is also an exciting way to experience the town.
What to eat - Because of Falmouth’s location, it has many options to try local dishes. Yash Bowl has the best Jerk and Spicy Nice is the go-to spot for a hot, flaky patty. These are some of our favourite restaurants in Falmouth. But ensure you save space for some of the yummy street food all over town.
Ocho Rios is not the capital of St. Ann the garden parish, but it is also known as the “capital of adventure” in Jamaica. With that being said, you can expect beautiful scenery while having some of the most adrenaline-filled experiences of your life. Close your eyes for a second and imagine ziplining above the Dunn’s River.
Where to stay - Much like Montego Bay, you will never run out of options. Pick your favourite from the many hotels, resorts and villas in Ocho Rios. No matter what you are searching for, affordable family resorts, secluded couples-only hotels, boutique luxurious options are all located in “Ochi.”
What to do -
Where to Eat - With a healthy mix of opulent restaurants and homely Jamaican cuisine, you will have the best of both worlds. L’Escargot, Stush in the Bush and Ms.T’s are just some of the top restaurants to visit. Here are others.
As the capital city of Jamaica and the business hub of the island, you might not think that there is much to do on vacation in Kingston. But, if what you are looking for is the history of Reggae music, historical sites, museums and more restaurants than you will ever be able to visit in this lifetime, then Kingston does not disappoint.
Where to stay - You won’t find all-inclusive hotels here at all. Most hotels cater to businesspeople who wouldn’t be at the resort to enjoy all-inclusive amenities anyway. And, if you have your heart set on a beach, I sure hope a pool will suffice.
But, Kingston resorts range from comfortable and cosy to luxurious high rises with the best views of the city you could ever imagine. The Strawberry Hill Hotel in the Blue Mountains is a perfect way to escape the otherwise busy metropolitan.
What to do -
What to eat -
There are so many options for food in Kingston, we have to curate multiple lists. Who knows, you might find your new favourite restaurant here. There are some impressive restaurants in the Blue Mountains such as EITS Cafe and Cafe Blue’s Irish Town location.
Portland is one of the most naturally beautiful places you will ever witness and with no intention of disturbing the unspoilt coastline and rugged landscape it will remain for quite some time.
What was originally known as the playground of the rich and famous, Portland has managed to maintain its charm and appeal for those who would love a relaxing vacation far away from the otherwise buzzing city life in nearby Kingston.
Where to stay - Again, all-inclusive resorts and large hotels are not on brand for Portland. Instead, its villas, boutique hotels and eco-friendly accommodations that are in the hundreds. Kanopi House is by far one of the most impressive accommodations on the island as you will quite literally be sleeping in a treehouse, but a luxurious one.
What to do - Portland has the cult favourites like Blue Lagoon, Frenchman’s Cove, Winifred Beach and the like. But there are also some lesser-known gems like Turtle Bay that are a must-visit. Hiking, biking or camping in the Blue Mountains is also a favourite for many.
The town also has many sites and buildings of historical importance. Be sure to add a few to your list of things to do.
Where to Eat - Boston Jerk definitely! The cluster of Jerk stalls in Boston Bay are known for having exceptional dishes. But this isn’t the only restaurant here, try the other top restaurants in Portland.
The south coast is made up of parts of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland. The mostly rural areas have many attractions and restaurants that provide an authentic Jamaican experience.
Where to stay - Hotels are not common in these areas, guest houses and villas will most likely be your accommodation. The villas in Treasure Beach are quite impressive though and they can usually fit a large group comfortably. You can see the options for villas in Treasure Beach here.
Whitehouse is just the same however, if you would love to stay at an all-inclusive resort then Sandals South Coast is an option. But the villas and guest houses are quite impressive too. Luna Sea Inn and Ivy’s COve are two of the best.
What to do -
Where to eat -
We will also end with somewhere I’m sure you know. It might even be the place you most want to visit of the 7 resort areas in Jamaica, and I can’t say I blame you. If you are used to a fast-paced life, Negril will be a complete 180 in the best way possible.
Where to stay - Negril has clothing-optional, adults-only and family resorts ranging from budget to luxurious options. Not to mention villas and guest houses scattered only on the white sand coast or on the cliffs above the pristine Caribbean Sea.
What to do - From casual strolls around the Times Square Shopping Centre to a day of adrenaline-inducing activities at the JamWest Adventure Park you won’t be bored ever in Negril.
If all of these sound like way more than you would like to do skip it and head for the beach whether the Seven-Mile, Fisherman’s Friend or Bloody Bay (Don’t worry it’s only in the name), in West End.
I’m sure you now realise that there is way more in Jamaica to do than you originally anticipated and this barely scratches the surface.
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Resort Areas In Jamaica | Written: November 21, 2022
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