Source: Unsplash | Sébastien Jermer
Jamaica’s sublime sun, sea and sand pigeonhole it as a typical tropical tourist getaway.
But add wild waterfalls, majestic mountains, rebellious history, reggae culture and feisty locals into the mix, and you might begin to understand why the land of wood and water is truly unique.
Take a package tour to Jamaica where you seldom venture far from the high walls of your compound resort and the closest you’ll get to experiencing The Rock in true living colour is returning home with a tan and a few tacky tourist trinkets.
However, provided you plan ahead, there are plenty of ways to experience this idyllic and inspirational island nation in a much more immersive and enriching manner.
So without further ado, here are four of Jamaica’s most beautiful best-kept secrets.
1. Reach Falls
Fancy splashing around in the same sumptuous waterfall where Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue filmed 80s classic Cocktail?
Then take a few minutes to watch this Knotty Maria Reach Falls video and you’ll understand why a trip to these romantic waterfalls in the John Crow Mountains is a must-do.
Clamber up the natural stone staircase to the main falls, slide into the rabbit hole at the top of the porous bread loaf rock and then chill out in the pool below – brilliant!
2. Trident Port Antonio
When he first sailed into Port Antonio, the late lothario Errol Flynn declared that it was more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen.
And perhaps the best way to relax in rarified luxury near the capital of Jamaica’s stunning Portland parish is by booking into Trident Port Antonio – an elegant white castle complex that perches on a promontory overlooking the cool Caribbean sea. Reserve your exclusive villa at thetridenthotel.com.
After enjoying huge success on stage and screen, English polymath Sir Noel Coward liked nothing better than entertaining Hollywood Royalty at his house at Blue Harbour in St Mary parish.
However, check out this film of his second home at Firefly and you’ll understand why he kept this nearby private pad spot largely to himself.
Gaze out across islets in the the Spanish Main from the hillside spot where Sir Noel took his postprandial stroll and it’s obvious why this is one of Jamaica’s most desirable wedding locations.
In the 18th Century, a group of rebel runaway slaves called the Maroons fought a series of (largely successful) guerilla wars against the British Empire, with the results that some of their descendants still live in autonomous communities deep in Jamaica’s interior.
One such settlement is Accompong in Cockpit Country and it’s well worth a visit if you want to learn about the proud traditions of a great underdog people who took on an empire and, thanks to guts, guile and guerilla tactics, won against overwhelming odds. Find a tour at undiscovered-destinations.com.
Find direct flights to Jamaica from main London airports at kayak.com and if you’re getting there in your own vehicle, book airport parking at Looking4.com for Heathrow, Gatwick and elsewhere.
That’s our list! Share your own Jamaican travel tips in the comments section.