20 Feb The Ultimate Jamaica Bucket List: 5 Activities That Can’t Be Missed
Jamaica is probably synonymous to most with white beaches, a fruity drink, and delicious Caribbean food, but this tropical haven has so much more to offer! Full of unique adventures, Jamaica is a place for sightseeing expeditions, vibrant culture, history and natural wonders. If your bucket list includes amazing food, great music and unforgettable activities, heart-racing Jamaica is a must!
With sandy beaches, rainforests and everything in between, Jamaica’s natural treasures are as varied as their thrilling tourist attractions.
LUNCH AT DEVON HOUSE
Located in the heart of Kingston and conveniently around the corner from the Bob Marley Museum, this stunning heritage site is one of Jamaica’s most celebrated historical landmarks. Devon House sits quietly in striking contrast to busy city life, allowing you to appreciate the culture that existed during the late 1800s. The mansion is the architectural dream of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, constructed during the late 19th century. Furnished with a collection of Jamaican, Caribbean, English and French antiques, the Devon House is also home to an extensive collection of Jamaican art. Shops on the site contain locally made art, cigars, preserves, spices and coffee. Guided one- hour tours of the house are held regularly throughout the day. The tour guides are adorned in traditional dress and offer a short performance that includes singing traditional African-influenced songs and dance, giving you a vivid taste of local culture and history.
Lunch at Devon House is most recommended. Stopping at the Grogg Shoppe, I found that the highlight of their menu is the curry goat-a must try. It’s served with a side of breadfruit, rice, beans and salad. Are you hungry yet? Save room for dessert, because an ice cream cone at the famous Devon House’s “I Scream” is not to be missed! A household name across Jamaica, the ice cream shop sells more than 27 flavors. Fan favorites include mango, sorrel, rum raisin and Bordeaux cherry, rocky rivers, Devon stout and sour sop.
BLUE MOUNTAINS COFFEE TOUR
The Blue Mountains, which form the longest mountain ridge along the eastern edge
of Jamaica, provide the ultimate coffee growing environment. While many of us can drink Blue Mountain at Starbucks, sipping a freshly brewed cup on the very mountains where it is cultivated certainly merits a place on your bucket list.
We visited the Craighton Coffee Estate (historic coffee farm) in the Blue Mountains and tried one of the most expensive cups of coffee in the world, all while taking in the stunnig views of the mountain paradise! The one-hour guided tour takes you on an invigorating and educational hike that highlights the process in which the world’s most prized coffee is grown and harvested. We found it to be a very spiritual and relaxing place, with a quiet atmosphere and breathtaking views. You can hear the birds, see the most amazing sunrises/sunsets, smell the flowers, enjoy the fresh air and hike or ride a bicycle around the paths that lead to the top of the mountain. The historic plantation house was constructed in 1805 by George Craighton and has been linked to many notable figures in Jamaican history, including two governor-generals. The mission of the Craighton Coffee Estate is to maintain the highest quality coffee. I learned that Blue Mountain Coffee contains more antioxidants than most fruits (cranberry being the closest one).
APPLETON RUM TASTING
In the heart of Kingston lies Jamaica’s deep rum tradition. One of the highlights of our trip was participating in an official tasting that sampled rum blended by Joy Spence, the first female Master Rum Blender in the world. She received this title in 1997, and several years later two more female Master Blenders from Guatemala and Scotland joined this exclusive circle. The Appleton Estate, which is located on the South Coast, is home to Jamaica’s oldest sugar factory and rum distillery where some of the best Caribbean rum is made. Guided tours of the Appleton Estate walk you through the history of sugar cane processing and the production of rum. We also got to explore the modern factory where the Appleton Estate rums are produced and bottled. You can finish up at the estate’s restaurant, which serves authentic Jamaican cuisine.
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TOUR OF PORT ROYAL / FORT CHARLES
Port Royal is a city located at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour, in southeastern Jamaica. Founded in 1518, Port Royal’s proximity to trade routes made it a haven for pirates like Blackbeard and Calico Jack in the 17th century. The guided tour of the Ft. Charles’ museum consists of displayed relics housed in two small rooms on the site, and a walk-through of its outlying structures, including the Giddy House, which is a fun experience, even for grown-ups… don’t leave without testing the amazing effect of walking on the Giddy House’s sloping floor!
The area survived an earthquake in 1907. At present, Port Royal is a tranquil little town where fishing and limited tourism are its main foci. It also serves as the headquarters of the Jamaica Defense Force’s Coast Guard. Although it’s not exactly as it was in its days of infamy, you’ll find vestiges of its past still evident.
DUNN’S RIVER FALLS
One of Jamaica’s biggest attractions is the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. It is a very touristic area where cruise ships stop regularly and every type of excursion is available for the taking. The actual Falls Guides take you along the travertine rock route of this 600-foot climb to the top, where you can view the waterfall as it flows into the sea. The whole experience might take about an hour. Make sure to bring a waterproof camera to document your fun in the water. The views are stunning as well and are not to be missed. The Spaniards called the area “Las Chorreras” — the waterfalls or springs — and it is truly one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
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Here are a few additional popular activities the island offers: night swimming in the blue lagoon, bamboo rafting down the Martha Brae River, reggae concerts, the Bob Marley Museum, horseback riding on the beach and shopping at the Montego Bay craft market.
We truly hope that you enjoyed our bucket list suggestions and that you are already planning your own adventurous visit to Jamaica. See you shoreside!