Jamaica is an island of beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes of rivers, waterfalls and jungle-clad mountains, as well as some of the world’s friendliest locals and Caribbean sun that shines all year round.
From relaxing on a postcard-perfect beach to soaking up the nightlife buzz, and from diving with colourful marine life to tucking into tasty beach barbecues, Jamaica really does have something for everyone.
This attractive island is also inextricably linked with iconic figures from Bob Marley to Usain Bolt and the world’s most famous spy, James Bond – author Ian Fleming lived in Jamaica and created this legendary character here.
Mr Bond has never really gone away, but he’s right back in the spotlight thanks to the landmark 25th Bond film, No Time To Die, which arrives in cinemas in April. This film, Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, is partly filmed in Jamaica - a fitting tribute to the island’s long-standing Bond legacy.
Unsurprisingly, Jamaica offers numerous picturesque beaches. You’ll also find gushing waterfalls and lush, tropical hills and mountains - Jamaica is more naturally diverse than you may think.
Trek to the top of Blue Mountain Peak or Dunn’s River Falls, and meander along winding waterways on a bamboo raft. Snorkel and dive in crystal-clear waters and visit the Luminous Lagoon, a cove with glowing bioluminescent waters – swim here at dusk to experience one of the few places in the world where you can literally glow in the dark in the water.
Jamaica’s most famous son, Bob Marley, needs no introduction, and this island honours his legacy in style, from colourful murals to buzzing reggae bars. There’s a jam-packed calendar of music events and festivals which see the streets come alive with music and dancing. Visit Marley’s former home in capital Kingston, now a museum filled with treasures and iconic sounds, as well as the One Love Café.
In Jamaica, feast on tasty jerk chicken (another Jamaican invention) and juicy tropical fruit plucked straight from the trees, and enjoy lazy beach barbecues of grilled fish freshly caught that day. The national dish of saltfish (cod) and ackee (fruit) combines these two abundant ingredients.
Sample the best of Jamaica’s cuisine in the bars and restaurants on Montego Bay’s bustling Hip Strip and the seafood restaurants of Ocho Rios.
Those with a sweet tooth can cool down from the heat with some world-renowned Devon House ice cream.
To drink, enjoy a cup of Blue Mountain coffee in the morning, and later in the day drink rum cocktails infused with the taste of the Caribbean sun – you can never stop at just one.
Top five things to do in Jamaica
1) Eat Pepperpot at Belinda’s
This fiery Jamaican stew is made with beef, ginger, garlic and Scotch bonnet chillies. Eat it at Belinda’s, a legendary local spot where Belinda prepares hearty feasts in huge pots over the fire. Belinda’s is only reachable via a raft up the Rio Grande – the journey is part of the fun, and once you’ve arrived, you can tuck in on the waterfront.
2) Run like Usain Bolt
Yam - another staple of Jamaican cuisine, and rich in fibre and carbohydrates – is what Usain Bolt claims has made him run so fast (and he can’t be wrong!). The Trelawny yam is grown in the north-west part of Jamaica, where Bolt was born, and locals believe it has medicinal properties.
3) Drink a GoldenEye cocktail
The signature GoldenEye cocktail is made with Jamaican rum, pineapple juice and lime. Best drunk on the beach at sunset.
4) Have your own Cool Runnings adventure
The heartwarming journey of Jamaica’s first bobsled team to the 1988 Winter Olympics featured in the cult film Cool Runnings. Have your own bobsled adventure at the Mystic Mountain adventure park in Ocho Rios, which has a 1,000m-long tree-lined track twisting through rainforest down the mountainside.
5) Go snorkelling and diving
Jamaica has some fantastic snorkelling and diving spots, from snorkelling in secluded bays of coral reefs and tropical fish to diving around rocks with sharks and rays.
Where to stay
Live like a film star at the kind of luxury hotels that you’ll never want to leave, fringing golden sands and offering exceptional accommodation and facilities from blissful spas to a range of water sports in the balmy sea.
If you’re a Bond fan, follow in the footsteps of Ian Fleming and Bond and stay at GoldenEye.
Set on James Bond Beach, GoldenEye is where Fleming lived and wrote the famous novels that made his name. As his former home is now a hotel, this is an ideal opportunity to find out for yourself what gave him inspiration for this iconic character. Just as Bond is no ordinary spy, GoldenEye is no ordinary hotel. Its luxurious private beach retreats line the sands, and you can sip a classic cocktail perched above the aquamarine lagoon.
In 2020, enjoy a luxury Bond experience at GoldenEye, including private visits to Fleming’s villa and to Bond filming locations, and a private guided snorkelling experience at one of Fleming’s favourite snorkelling spots, alongside cocktails and champagne.
Jamaica Inn is a boutique retreat by one of the best private beaches on the island. Elegantly timeless, it has been a magnet for the rich and famous since it opened its doors in the 1950s, and combines the best of old-world glamour with 21st-century style. Indulge in the spa, nestled in the cliffs, and dine with the sand between your toes, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Run by the same family for decades, Jamaica Inn’s owners were friends with Fleming, and he mentions Teddy’s Bar in his first Bond book, Dr No. The hotel is also offering a special Bond package in 2020, giving guests the chance to visit locations where classic Bond movies were filmed, enjoy a martini-making masterclass and watch an outdoor screening of a Bond film.
S Hotel Jamaica
The S Hotel Jamaica is an exciting newcomer on the island’s hotel scene, offering something a little fresh and unique on the shores of the famous Montego Bay, where guests can relax on a private section of Doctor’s Cave Beach.
With an attractive ‘Mykonos meets Miami’ vibe, it is unmistakably modern, yet characteristically Jamaican.
The rooms feature striking works of art by local artists and turntables spinning Bob Marley tracks. Visit the Jamaican-fusion Tracks and Records restaurant, right next door, which is co-owned by Usain Bolt.
This magical Jamaican Blue Mountain retreat consists of 13 white cottages boasting four poster beds and verandas to capture the ravishing views and the twinkling lights of Kingston far below.
Guests can relax in the infinity pool, savour the flavor of the Caribbean in the Veranda Restaurant, take a mountain hike, tour the world’s best coffee estates, cool off with a dip in a waterfall or indulge in a spa therapy.