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From Errol Flynn to Ian Fleming, Jamaica has been drawing the great and not so good for many years, lured by its golden beaches, lush vegetation, turquoise waters, coral reefs and sunshine. It's a paradise for lovers of outdoor pursuits from scuba diving and snorkelling to horse riding along miles of sand and hiking through the jungle and mountains. It is full of fantastic wildlife and steeped in music as befits an island known as the birthplace of reggae. A great nightlife is guaranteed. And why not time your trip to coincide with one of Jamaica's many festivals? Carnival time is February.
Things to see and do
Take a canoe trip along Alligator Hole, a wildlife reserve, with its family of mannatees, crocodiles and plentiful waterfowl. Marvel at the beauty of Jamaica's many waterfalls at YS Falls, a series of eight waterfalls set against limestone cliffs and surrounded by forest, rated as the island's best by many. Swim in the pool, or try floating downstream on an inner-tube. Get an adrenalin rush with a zip wire ride through the trees 15m above the ground. Head off-road with a Jeep safari tour from Montego Bay. Take a guided tour to the beautiful town of Negril with its miles of white sand beaches. And, at the end of the day, soak up the sunset over a cocktail at the famous Rick's Bar.
Or try the thrill of bobsledding high in the rainforest on a specially constructed track in an eco park which is reached by a scenic drive along the north coast and through Falmouth. Or explore the Blue Mountains by mountain bike and experience exhilarating descents. Take in some of the island's historic sites such as Bellefield Great House, a former plantation with its grand mansion, tropical gardens and stunning views. Or Port Royal, one of the island's oldest, once home to famous pirates.
Arts and culture
Jamaica stages a range of festivals and other cultural events. These include the Arts in the Park, Blue Festival Mountain Music, Kingston Music, Week Reggae Marathon and the Jamaica International Jazz Festival. Visit the Bob Marley Museum where the musician lived and recorded from 1975 until his death in 1981. Or take the Ocho Rioz Zion Bus Tour, a sort of pilgrimage for all reggae fans. And, for art, check out the National Gallery of Jamaica, Grosvenor Galleries and Harmony Hall.
And when the sun goes down, Jamaica gets into the groove. Choose from stacks of nightclubs including Amnesia in Ocho Rios, a classic Jamaican dancehall, or the more downmarket Jungle in Negril where guest DJs from Miami and New York regularly take over the turntables in high season.
Eating and Drinking
With fewer independent restaurants than you might expect, dining out is best in daytime. Try The HouseBoat Grill, in Montego Bay, Jack Sprat in Ocho Rios, or Miss Brown's in Negril. And for a bar with a difference, try Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, a sports bar/restaurant in Kingston.
Browse Carby's Craft Village and Revolution Gallery, both in Kingston, or Silvermine in Ocho Rios.
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