Beautiful beaches, a hilly inland, tall waterfalls, relaxed rastas and reggae music everywhere: that’s Jamaica. It’s the perfect island for a great trip, by car or by bus. If you want to get to know the real Jamaica, read on for some insider tips from Ellen, our local travel expert.

Jamaica reistips

1. Go chasing waterfalls

“When it comes to breath-taking waterfalls, you can’t beat Jamaica. The island is home to dozens, and all are different. Dunn’s River Falls is the most famous and most frequently visited. But if you make sure to arrive before 9 AM you’ll have the waterfall almost to yourself. Lesser known are the Reach Falls at Port Antonio, the waterfalls featured in the movie “Cocktail”. You’re able to climb the falls and the surroundings are gorgeous. I can also recommend Mayfield Falls – you can reach them during a guided jungle trek up-stream.”

Jamaica reistips

2. Cook with a rasta family in Ocho Rios

“It’s really fun for travellers to get to know the Rastafarian culture. In Ocho Rios you can do just that by joining a local family for a cooking class on their piece of land. You’ll collect the ingredients together from their garden and cook up a local feast. Jamaica Natural Garden is also part of their property and a great spot for kids to go exploring.”

Jamaica reistips

3. Bamboo floats on the Rio Grande

“The Jamaicans call it rafting, but this is really rafting Jamaican-style: in a relaxed and leisurely pace. You can go bamboo floating on the Rio Grande at Port Antonio, and it really is magnificent. You’ll ‘raft’ through the Blue Mountains Valley, enjoying the absolute tranquility of this region. I would advise a late morning start as then you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious lunch at Belinda’s Riverside Restaurant. Belinda cooks up a feast every day on the banks of the river and is a sight to behold.”

Jamaica reistips

4. Go hiking in the lustrous nature

“If you enjoy hiking, you’ve come to the right place. A famous trek is the Blue Mountains night hike to the top of Blue Mountain Peak, but this is a pretty difficult hike. A good alternative is Holeywell Park, a UNESCO-protected nature reserve. The green mountainous landcape is stunning, full with giant ferns and orchids. You can go on a short hike by yourself or with a guide and you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic views of the Kingston valley.”

Jamaica reistips

5. Find out everything about the life of Bob Marley

“Jamaica has become almost synonymous with Bob Marley, and it’s certainly worth the effort to visit a few of the places where he lived. The most touristy of the sites is his grave nearby Ocho Rios. In Kingston you can visit the Tuff Gong factory which was home to Bob Marley’s recording studio. You can still see how singles and LPs are made. The Bob Marley museum is housed in the home he lived in once he became a millionaire. The Culture Yard is a more interesting spot: the Kingston ghetto where Marley grew up as a teenager. You’re best off catching a taxi to the area, or choosing for a guided walking tour. It will expose you to a very different side of Kingston.”

Jamaica reistips

6. Trek the unchartered paths of Cockpit Country

“Jamaica is home Maroons, descendants of the African slaves. The area where they live, Cockpit Country, is a stunning part go the country. In the village of Accompong you go on a guided tour with one of the locals. You walk through the village together, meet locals and share a meal together. A great example of community-based tourism: the tour has been set up by the locals and is not touristy in any sense of the word. Accompong can be reached from the southern coast. If you want to reach Cockpit Country from the north, you’re best off doing a tour with Cockpit Country Adventure Tours. They offer adventurous hikes through the river, jungle and caves, and accommodation in small-scale homestays. A great initiative directly from the local community.”

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