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Spotlight: What to Do in Jamaica

You just stepped foot in beautiful and sunny Jamaica. You’re prepared for a nice vacation full of plenty of R&R on the beach, a few yummy cocktails and memories to last a lifetime. On your trip, you’ll want to make sure you have a full list of things to see and do while you’re here. We’ll also throw in a few recommendations on where to stay if you’re still planning the perfect Jamaica getaway.

First, you’ll need a great resort to stay and play at while in Jamaica.

Adults Only Paradise: If you’re looking for an adults only haven with a beautiful beach, unlimited all-inclusive options and lively entertainment, Secrets Wild Orchid in Montego Bay may be just what you need. There’s a large free form pool with a swim up bar for swimming and wait staff on the beach if you’re into splashing in the waves. And with nine restaurants and 10 bars, your evenings will shape up to be unforgettable.

Adults Only Resort - Secrets Wild Orchid - CheapCaribbean.com

For the Whole Family: Do you need a place that has something every member of your family will love? Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa will do the trick. Parents can play a round of golf at Cinnamon Hill Golf Course or hang by one of three pools. The kids will enjoy the new Sugar Mills Water Park and Kidz Club & Teen Zone. There’s even an all-inclusive package that includes snorkeling, kayaking, windsailing and 1,000 feet of beach, perfect for all members of the family.

Family Friendly Resort - Hilton Rose Hall Jamaica - CheapCaribbean.com

Ultimate Rest & Relaxation: Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril is the perfect place to call home for a few days. Although not as popular as the infamous Seven Mile Beach, this resort sits perfectly on Bloody Bay Beach, where calm, clear waters meet 4-stars of all-inclusive luxury. Don't worry, just because tranquility and relaxation are a major perk of this resort, you can still enjoy the five restaurants, four bars and limitless amount of activities.

Best Resort to Relax - Riu Palace Tropical Bay Jamaica - Cheap Caribbean

Next, you’ll want to live like the Jamaicans do. This means you need restaurants to try with great local flavors and places to explore that show the true meaning of what it means to be Jamaican.

For food, it’s almost mandatory that you try some version of jerk chicken or pork, as it’s a Jamaica staple. Our recommendation for the best is Scotchies in Montego Bay. With their secret combination of spices and hours of slow cooking over sweet wood and pimento, the savory jerk chicken or pork is unlike anything you’ve ever had before. And if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, grab some sugar cane and give it a taste. This is another flavor that’s popular in Jamaica. By simply sucking on the cane and enjoying the sweet juices, you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth just how the Jamaicans do.

If you’re looking to experience a little adventure, venture out to Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. A short ride up the mountain will take you to a museum, where they pay tribute to the Jamaican sporting history. Learn all about how a Caribbean island known for its beaches came up with the first ever bobsled team and then experience bobsledding for yourself. Take a ride in a real bobsled as you zoom down the mountain and enjoy the tropical views. There’s also plenty of shopping and even a water slide on site so you can be sure to enjoy all of Mystic Mountain.

old-ford-craft-market

And when you’re looking to bring some of your trip home, don’t forget to stop by the Old Fort Craft Market. Not only can you find authentic pieces of Jamaican culture, you can walk through the old stone structure that dates all the way back to the 17th century. You’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to historic art pieces, all built by local craftsmen who’ve perfected their craft for generations. The vendors here pride themselves on selling souvenirs that are built with peace, love, respect and unity. And who wouldn’t want to bring that positivity back home with you?

Not that you needed any convincing, but it’s obvious to see that Jamaica has so much to offer anyone looking for a vacation of a lifetime. And now that you know a few of our favorite things to do and see in Jamaica, we want to know what you suggest. Share your must-dos with us in the comments below. And let’s jam in Jamaica, mon! 

Five Must-Shop Caribbean Stores by JetSetSarah

 

JetSetSarah blogs for CheapCaribbean.com

By: JetSetSarah

Got the retail itch? Step away from the three-for-$20 T-shirts and those dreadful knitted caps with the dreadlocks attached! Savvy shoppers bring home authentic Caribbean goods that look good and/or work well, and evoke happy memories every time you look at them. Here are some of my favorite souvenir-snagging spots.

Irie Life, South Hill, Anguilla 

There are T-shirts and then there are T-shirts. Irie Life sells the latter, and wearing one immediately marks you as one of Anguilla’s coolest customers (even the most stylish locals sport them around town). This store is located in South Hill and housed in a hilltop cottage painted red, green and gold. Expect trendy colors (neon Ts are current bestsellers) and styles (hoodies, burn-out textured stretch cotton), with nary a boxy crew-neck in sight.

Irie Life, Anguilla Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Make no mistake; Anguilla is notoriously pricey. Time your trip for the end of the summer, however, when shops are anxious to move leftover merchandise in advance of the winter high season, and you’ll score great deals.

Gallery of West Indian Art, Montego Bay, Jamaica

When I lived in Mo’Bay, this decades-old store secreted in a residential about 10 minutes’ drive from the city, was my go-to for Jamaican and Caribbean art and craft. Montego Bay’s, The Gallery is most famous for its menagerie of multi-colored “spotties,” hand-carved painted wooden animals stippled with white polka dots. But it is also a great find for handmade small furniture pieces and an impressive collection of colorful Cuban canvases. For more about Gallery of West Indian Art, visit them online.

Shop Smart: Don’t leave without a handmade Christmas tree ornament from the store’s year-round collection.

Olé, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Looking for the perfect Panama hat? Make a beeline for Puerto Rico and milliner Guillermo Jeffs’ tiny boutique on Old San Juan’s bustling Fortaleza Street, where you can browse more than 5,000 of them. Toppers start at a very reasonable $50 and rise to a whopping $4,000 for a hand-woven model that takes about two years to make. Whichever you choose, Guillermo will custom-fit the Panama to your head, employing his decades of experience – and a hat block and blow dryer – to ensure the perfect fit. For more information, visit Olé's Facebook Page.

Jamaica Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Ole offers more than 20 colors of hat ribbon to choose from, so instead of falling back on traditional black, get creative!

Mixik, Tulum, Mexico

I fell in love with the hand-carved wooden angels you see at resorts all over Mexico, so I was thrilled to hit pay dirt at this Tulum shop, which has a vast selection of the charming cherubs. It’s also jam-packed with locally crafted gifts, art and accessories you’ll find impossible to resist (or is that just me?)

Shop Smart: Can’t find what you want at the beachfront store? There’s also a larger location in el pueblo. Store can be reached at: 52-984-871-21-36

Zaka, Soufriere, St. Lucia

Simon Gajadhar used to be a shipwright but has clearly found his (ahem) groove as a wood carver and artist. Visit his fret-worked cottage in Soufriere, St. Lucia and you too will be enchanted by the colorful collection of masks and totems, all carved from recycled wood and old telephone poles. For more information about Zaka, visit their website.

St. Lucia Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: While the larger masks will set you back hundreds of dollars, prices for smaller pieces start at a very reasonable $20, so you can bring back something for everyone - even that grumpy woman in Accounting).

 

Jet Set Sarah, Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, is a Caribbean travel expert, award-winning travel journalist, and TV personality. Former executive editor of Caribbean Travel +Life magazine, she ventures to the beach and beyond, sharing the diverse culture, relaxed lifestyle and colorful people of the world’s favorite warm-weather destination. She is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com, where travel and shopping meet.