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Travel to Jamaica ... Ya Mon

by Wendy Leopold
Travel Editor, Locations, Etc. Inc.

Fortunately most visitors to Jamaica have a mental picture before they arrive; its glorious white sandy beaches, its culture of reggae, its jungles, and its wonderful all-inclusive resorts.

Jamaica is all that and much more. With some 120 rivers, mineral springs, mountains and clear waterfalls it has more land and water sports than any other Caribbean island. Some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean are here, and its varied landscape affords visitors activities not available on other islands, like river rafting, serious hiking, and some of the finest diving waters in the world.

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Jamaica, approximately the size of Connecticut, lies 90 miles south of Cuba and is the third largest Caribbean island. The island is approximately 146 miles long and 22 to 58 miles wide, mountainous, and has average annual temperature of 82 degrees.

Originally founded by the Arawak Indians, Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494. Although ruled first by the Spanish, Jamaica spent 300 years ruled by Great Britain. Independent since 1962, Jamaica is still full of a prevalent English flavor in the plantations, Great Houses and much of Jamaica's architecture.

Kingston, Jamaica
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Jamaica has something for everyone. Kingston, its capital, lies on the southeast coast and is built around the seventh largest natural harbor in the world. Kingston is known for its wealth of art and cultural activities, and is renowned as ”The Home of Reggae.”

Bicycling in Mandeville
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A trip through the southeast coast of Jamaica includes nineteenth century plantation houses and fishing villages. In Mandeville, a breezy hill-town that boasts orchids and blue lilies, cool climates and a genteel British heritage illuminate the “serene” Jamaica. There are wildlife refuges, spas and glorious trips along Jamaica's Black River, a swampy refuge for the rare, protected manatee, crocodiles, herons and snowy egrets.

Blue Mountains
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Northeast of Kingston are the famous Blue Mountains and the home of “Blue Mountain Coffee.” Botanists, birdwatchers and hikers will enjoy eco-tours along a mecca of trails full of exotic flora and fauna along with stunning mountain vistas as they pass villages with fragrant coffee plantations.

Negril, Jamaica
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7-Mile Beach. Negril, Jamaica
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Negril, truly the capital of casual, is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from Montego Bay. Negril is famous for its seven-mile beach, crystal clear water and honeycombed cliffs. Here you will find the most romantic and panoramic sunsets in the entire island. Located in Jamaica's most western point, a one-hour drive west from Montego Bay, Negril is also Jamaica's water sport capital.

Cliff Diving in Jamaica

You can dive, snorkel, sail, parasail, water ski, windsurf, kayak catamaran or ride a horse along the shore in Jamaica. Or rent a bike and explore on your own. Golf, tennis and biking are great ways to spend mornings or afternoons. Spend dinner at famous Rick's Café where you can enjoy a panoramic sunset and watch the famous cliff divers.

Sunset Beach Resort & Spa. Montego Bay, Jamaica
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Montego Bay, the country's 2nd largest city, commonly referred to as Mo-Bay, is located on Jamaica's northwest coast. It has become Jamaica's premiere tourist destination. Every type of hotel accommodation is available here, from five-star resorts, all-inclusive properties to small inns and guesthouses.

Rose Hall, one of many legendary plantation Great Houses, is here. So are many excellent art galleries to explore, and other historical endeavors in regard to Jamaica's history, slavery, and the famous pirate years.

Swim up rooms at Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay
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Montego Bay boasts many of Jamaica's top golf courses, spectacular scuba diving. In coral reefs teeming with exotic fish, and deep-sea charter deep-sea fishing.

Dolphin Cove
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Family sports and activities include spectacular water parks, the largest interactive dolphin park in the world, Dolphin Cove, and Chukka Caribbean Adventure in Sandy Bay. Chukka features a horse stable of about 100, and riding tours cover both mountain terrain and rides along the beach in the water. There are also jeep tours through the Montpelier rain forest, mountain biking, river tubing and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tours.

Bamboo River Rafting on the Martha Brae River
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Shopping at the Crafts Market and duty free shops on Harbour Street, a trip down the arresting Martha Brae River, popular weekly-themed musical events, at the restaurants and bars of Gloucester Avenue, and world-famous Margaritaville are all here in Montego Bay. From reggae to rock, From spicy jerked chicken at Margaritaville to the classic elegance of Round Hill Resort's seaside terrace restaurant, it's all here. Including a sunset cruise to end that perfect day.

Dunn's River Falls. Ocho Rios, Jamaica
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One of the world's most famous waterfalls is in Jamaica. Dunn's River Falls, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is climbed each year by thousands of tourists of all ages. Fringed with lush gardens and a sandy beach, Dunn's River Falls climbs 600 feet. At first daunting, thousands of tourists find the climb doable. Surrounded in lush trees and the sound of the waterfall, strangers lock hands and which helps everyone balance on the rocks and pull each other up the levels. Dunn's River Falls is an easy destination - the tour guides are fun and engaging; you can rent rock-climbing slippersand if you are staying at The Sunset Grande Hotel it's only 10 minutes away!

The Sunset Grande Hotel is the sister property to Montego Bay's Sunset Resort. The Sunset Grande Hotel is an all-inclusive resort that boasts 6 restaurants, 5 pools and endless amenities. It is ideal for singles, couples, families, and for wedding celebrations.

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort. Ocho Rios Jamaica
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