A jewel in the crown of the Caribbean is the island of Jamaica, which offers everything a holiday maker could wish for. Though a nation with a complicated past, the present sees a beautiful country with a diverse, rich culture that, even as a tourist, you can't help but embrace. In honor of Jamaica's Independence Day, here are ten reasons why you need to visit:
With miles of coastline, mountains and dense rainforest, Jamaica has no shortage of beautiful scenery. Whether you're seeking relaxation or adventure, there's something for everyone. Unwind on one of its many sandy, white beaches (cocktail in hand) or challenge yourself to a hike through the humid tropical rainforest to reach the Blue Mountain Peak - Jamaica's tallest mountain. Both are equally stunning!
Jamaica is the birthplace of 'jerk cuisine' - a flavorsome style of Caribbean cooking that you will undoubtedly taste when you visit. As well as traditional dishes like jerk chicken and ackee and saltfish, expect to taste lots of exotic fruits and locally sourced ingredients. The Caribbean Sea provides wonderfully fresh seafood and Jamaica's Blue Mountains produce one of the world’s most expensive coffees.
If you weren't already familiar with the red, gold and green colors derived from the Rastafarian movement, you certainly will be after visiting Jamaica! There is color almost everywhere you look, with even the most basic iron shacks offering some form of embellishment. In fact, you're hard-pressed to find a building that hasn't been adorned with bright colors that are as vibrant as the people themselves.
Jamaica's lush rainforest and tropical climate produce the perfect environment attracting plenty of exotic flora and fauna. The rainforest is home much of it, so keep an eye out for endemic species like the Jamaican Mango hummingbird and the Yellow-Billed parrot, which can't be found anywhere else in the world. There are also plenty of tropical fish to admire and even whales in the reef-lined Caribbean Sea.
White, sandy beaches are arguably one of Jamaica's most famous attractions, and there are plenty to choose from. Seven Mile Beach in Negril on the west of the island is, as the name suggests, a seven mile stretch of white sands and bright blue seas. This beach is ideal for snorkeling and, being west-facing, it offers prime views for the sunset-seekers.
In Jamaica, an average yearly temperature of 81 degrees means there really is no bad time to visit. The Caribbean nation is known for its sunshine and heat, which is largely unwavering. With little variation in temperature between summer and winter, it stays hot all year round. Even through the rainy season between April and October, it remains warm with bursts of thunderstorms which are more refreshing than they are a nuisance. There really is no excuse not to pack your bags, whatever the time of year!
Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Jamaica's culture actively celebrates its African heritage. Influences from Africa’s Gold Coast can be seen in Jamaican dance, food, music, art, and most notably, language. Don't be surprised to hear locals speaking in patois - a local language combining aspects of English, Spanish and West African languages. In general, the Jamaican people are warm, fun-loving and upbeat, and this vibe can be felt in the laid-back nature of the island.
In the 1960s, Jamaica became the birthplace of reggae music. Through the music of legendary artists like Bob Marley, the genre was made popular worldwide and it is still enjoyed today. The distinctive off-beat rhythm of reggae music is infectious and almost impossible not to dance to, particularly when enjoyed with some local rum! In Jamaica, live music is common along the beaches and in bars, and what better way to experience authentic reggae music than in the place it was invented?
As a country surrounded by water, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. In Jamaica, you have your pick of water sports! The west of the island is perfect for snorkeling on the reefs, whereas trade winds in the southeast provide the perfect conditions for surfing, with the best windsurfing on the northern coast. Or, if you're looking for something a bit more easygoing, try a leisurely river-rafting ride on the Martha Brae River.
The national motto of Jamaica is 'Out of Many, One People', representing the multicultural roots that make up the country. You'll find people of all races, religions, and backgrounds coming together in unity whilst maintaining individual lifestyles and social norms. Don’t be surprised to see an Asian person selling jerk chicken or a white guy with dreads. It’s this diversity which makes Jamaica vibrant and energizing – just one of the many reasons compelling you to visit!