This Week’s Destination: Jamaica
Population: About 3 million
Where: In the Caribbean, South of Cuba
Things to do: Here’s where I’d love a little help. We just booked a family trip to Jamaica, but I’ve never been before, and I’m looking for suggestions of unique things to see and do. Obviously we’ll be hanging out at the beach and pool, but what can we do in Jamaica that’s different than other places in the Caribbean? At least 3.5 million people visited Jamaica in 2014, so someone must have some ideas for me. Here’s what I found with a little internet searching:
Tour a Rum Distillery: It’s no surprise, but rum is Jamaica’s national drink. Appleton Estate in St. Elizabeth provides guided tours of its unique copper pot distillery and oak barrel aging house while educating visitors on the history of the estate and Jamaican rum production. Yes, the tour includes samples. Guests can also buy the Appleton Estate Exclusive Blend, a rum not available for purchase anywhere else. Hours: Mon-Sat 9-4.
Go Bird Watching: Interested in unique birds? At least 305 species call Jamaica home, and 28 of those are found nowhere else. Conde Nast Traveler recommends two essential items: the Birds of the West Indies field guide and a pair of binoculars. That’s a lot easier to pack and haul through the airport than a set of golf clubs. Winter provides the greatest variety of species. I suppose that’s because of the snow birds. And I don’t mean the featherless ones who arrive by plane. You can hire a local guide or book a group trip through Jamaica Birding which offers single and multi-day tours.
Bathe in a Big Blue Hole: Take a 25 foot plunge (or climb down a ladder) into cold, crystal blue water at Blue Hole Mineral Spring, about 5 miles southeast of Negril. For about $10 you can soak until your skin is soft as a baby’s bottom. Don’t confuse this with another place called Blue Hole which is a “secret” waterfall and river tubing area near Runaway Bay, although that sounds fun, too.
Interesting facts: Remember these and impress your friends next time you’re drinking rum and/or listening to reggae.
Ian Fleming created James Bond while in Jamaica, at his house named “Goldeneye.” Fleming went on to write 10 Bond novels on the island. Considering that, I wonder why the spy’s signature drink isn’t something rum based.
Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean and was the first to gain its independence, in 1962. It chose to remain a part of the British Commonwealth, like Canada.
Jamaica’s Olympic credentials (home of the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt and the first tropical country to enter the Winter Olympics) are fairly common knowledge, but did you ever notice that Jamaica is one of only two countries in the world with a flag that shares no colors in common with the U.S. flag? The only other country with that distinction is Mauritania, maybe the site of a future Friday Escape.
How to get there: As they say in Jamaica, “no problem, mon.” Take one of the many daily flights from the U.S.
Deal: The Hilton Rose Hall near Montego Bay offers all-inclusive fun for families, including a large waterpark, at reasonable rates. We’ll be staying at the Jewel Resort in Runaway Bay, so I’ll fill you in on that after our trip. Reach out to me if you want details or to check out other options.
So, fill me in! Let us all know about your favorite “must sees” in Jamaica!