Jamaica has loads going for it but its beautiful beaches are only the start. One of the largest Caribbean islands, it plays home to a strong music culture, amazing food and the beautiful misty Blue Mountains. If you happen to visit and can peel yourself off its dreamy sands for a day or two, consider checking out one of these top things to do, beyond the beach.
5 Things to do in Jamaica Beyond the Beach
1. Visit a bar in the middle of the ocean
If you have never been to a bar in the middle of the ocean, things could be about to change. Floyd’s Pelican Bar, located on a sandbank, a mile off the west coast of Jamaica was built out of driftwood by a fisherman named (you guessed it) Floyd in 2001 and it’s quite possible, one of the most magical experiences in the Caribbean. Once a secret spot for locals, the bar has become very popular with tourists who come here to kick back with a Red Stripe from the bar and enjoy a fish lunch, just plucked from the ocean (yes they have electricity here!).
The bar is covered in memorabilia, flags and souvenirs from visitors from all over the world and you’ll be mesmerised as you spot rays and pelicans in the ocean around you.
Top tip: Do your research before you book a trip to Floyd’s Pelican Bar. Many hotels offer organised catamaran and boat trips here from many locations on the island but it may be cheaper to book independently – and you may be able to avoid the crowds. Get a taxi to Parotee Point and see if you can book a boat transfer yourself. Or for an independent tour group, try JuJu Tours. If you are staying in Treasure Beach, Jakes Hotel will organise a boat for you.
2. Explore the musical heritage
We can’t talk about Jamaica without mentioning the legendary reggae star, Bob Marley. If you’re keen to gain a deeper understanding of the island’s musical heritage, there are various ways to do this. The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston occupies the late singer’s original recording studio and is open to visitors to explore the various memorabilia and possessions. In the parish of St Ann, in the north, you will also find the Bob Marley Mausoleum, the resting place of the reggae artist and the site of his childhood home. It’s very touristy and prepare to be approached by lots of people offering you ‘herb’ but if you’re a die-hard fan, it’s worth joining the many visitors to pay your respects.
Top tip: If you’re keen to explore more of Jamaica’s reggae artists, consider visiting during Reggae Sumfest. It’s one of the biggest festivals on the island and is held in Montego Bay in July.
3. Visit a waterfall
Jamaica is lucky enough to have several spectacular waterfalls. One of the most famous is Dunn’s River, where you’ll find loads of tour groups queuing up to scale this tumbling curtain of water. YS Falls are a great alternative where you’ll be taken on a short ride through pretty countryside paths to the falls which occupy a stunning leafy setting. You can spend several hours here, climbing the many steps, dipping in the natural pools and playing on the tarzan rope. There are also some gorgeous swimming pools surrounded by sun loungers and filled with natural spring water.
Top tip: If you want to avoid the crowds and experience Dunn’s River at its quietest time, visit on a week day and take a cab to the falls as soon as it opens then swiftly drop your bags and pick up your rock shoes (or bring your own) and make a bee line to the falls pronto.
4. Visit the Appleton rum distillery
Appleton’s rum is the tipple of choice in Jamaica. So why not take a day trip to see where this historical spirit is made? You’ll be offered an insight into the rum-making process, the various distillery stages involved in making the various rums and you may be able to try out the rum yourself. The drive here offers the perfect chance to take in the countryside scenery.
Top tip: You’ll find the Appleton Rum Estate in St Elizabeth, the same parish as YS Falls. So if you are not staying in this part of the island, it’s worth tying in these trips into the same day.
5. Take a farm-to-table dining experience
If you are looking to explore the parish of St Elizabeth even further, book in for a Farm-to-table dining experience via Jakes Hotel in Treasure Beach. This parish is named the ‘breadbasket region’ of Jamaica as it is where much of the island’s produce is grown. A visit here offers a fascinating insight into the agricultural industry and local life beyond the busy beach resorts. At the Farm-to-table dinner, you’ll meet a local farmer and dine on a delicious organic meal in the grounds of his farm.
Top tip: Take your camera. The farm-to-table dinner is held up on the hillside of the Santa Cruz mountains and is timed perfectly so you capture the best sunset photos before dinner.
Travel tip shared by The Travel Journo