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Jamaica - Music, Sun and No Worries

“Jamaica, mon!” That’s where the music is! Everyone knows this island is the home of reggae, but it’s also the origin of the musical genres known as ska, mento, dub, rocksteady and dancehall. So when you visit, be sure to enjoy the nightlife, especially one of the open-air reggae beach shows in Negril. If you’re really into the beat, then plan your visit around one of the numerous music festivals on the island, like International Reggae Day usually celebrated in July, Carnival the week before Easter, or Jonkanoo – Jamaica’s island-wide Christmas celebration. Just be prepared to book your reservations far in advance for these popular events, and be prepared for crowds.

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Long Bay, Negril, Jamaica
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But Jamaica is much more than just the music. It’s an idyllic tropical island with all of the beauty and romance that comes with that. There are numerous gorgeous beaches scattered around the island, but the loveliest and most popular is the seven mile stretch of golden sand at Negril, on the northwest tip of the island. It’s often counted as one of the best beaches in the world. Take note, for those with more conservative values, that topless sunbathing is very common here and there are several resorts that offer “au naturel” beaches. Another popular feature of the Negril beach is the cliff area toward the south which offers some decent snorkeling right offshore. Keep an eye out for cliff jumpers, especially at Rick’s Café – it may look fun, but it’s also extremely dangerous. So let the locals do the jumping and just enjoy the spectacle.

Also on the northern side of Jamaica, but a couple of hours east of Montego Bay, is the beautiful old fishing town of Ocho Rios, informally referred to as “Ochi”. Ochi is known for its popular couples only resorts for those looking for a romantic getaway. The town does get overwhelmed with tourists when the cruise ships pull into port, but on other days it can be a wonderful Jamaican experience. Ocho Rios is the home of the famous “must-do” Dunn’s River Falls, where you climb up the limestone “staircase” through pools and cascades. Another fun day trip from Ocho Rios is to the Cranbrook Flower Forest where you can have a quiet picnic away from the crowds as you enjoy the beautiful orchids, begonia and more in the botanical reserve. You can follow that by a hike along the Laughlin’s Great River through the shady forest up to some small waterfalls and mountain pools where you can take a refreshing dip in the cool, fresh water.

If you spend part of your stay in or near Montego Bay, then make time for an evening bamboo raft trip on the Martha Brae River. As you raft into the lagoon where the fresh river water meets the salt waters of the Caribbean, you will see the amazing sight of seemingly “glowing” water. This is the famous Luminous Lagoon where a rare phosphorescent microbe lives and lights up the waters – one of only four places in the world known for this natural phenomenon. Your raft will usually take a break to allow you to swim in the warm shallower waters of the lagoon and enjoy the water glowing all around you.

Wherever you go in Jamaica, there will be the ubiquitous music and the friendly “How’s evert’ing, mon?” You can find plenty of interesting activities to fill your days or you can just kick back and enjoy the laid-back culture as you sip on some native-grown Blue Mountain coffee or maybe the indigenous rum and let your yourself float away on the favorite local philosophy of “no worries, mon!”



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