Andrew Zimmern's Guide to Jamaica
There are 3 major airports in Jamaica. Norman Manley International Airport is located in Kingston, the island’s capital. To reach destinations in the northwest corner of the island, travelers can fly into Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The third and final choice is Ian Fleming International Airport, just east of Ocho Rios, a city located on the island’s north central coast. Car rentals, taxis, shuttles and buses are available to take you where you need to go.
By Car: Public transportation is sometimes unreliable, so it pays to rent a car when exploring the island. Unfortunately, car rental prices have skyrocketed. Avoid potential scams and rent with companies, including Hertz, Budget or Island Car Rentals. Most car companies offer unlimited mileage; if the company you’re calling doesn’t, switch to one that does.
By Taxi: Some taxis don’t have meters, so agree on a price before you get in the car or before booking. Avoid pirate or unlicensed taxis. Not only are they not metered, but they are illegal and rarely carry insurance.
By Moped and Motorcycle: The front desk of your hotel can usually arrange the rental of a moped or motorcycle. The daily rental rate can range anywhere from $45 to $70. Be aware that a deposit of $100 to $300 is generally required, depending on the vehicle rented.
Sightseeing in Jamaica 12 Photos
Couples Tower Isle ResortLocated on the coast of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Couples Tower Isle resort is an all-inclusive boutique resort with a private white, sandy beach. Enjoy a game of tennis, snorkeling among the reefs, a round of golf, windsurfing on the waves or sample the farm-to-table cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs. We recommend guests relax in the Zen-like tranquility of the Oasis Spa -- named “Best Spa in the Caribbean” by Travel + Leisure,. 960 1280
The CavesIn Negril, The Caves has attentive guest service, easily making it one of Jamaica’s best all-inclusive resorts. Plan an adults-only escape and stay in one of 12 unique, private cottages and suites tucked along lush garden paths and dramatic seaside cliffs. The Caves serves up high-quality, locally focused cuisine, and it also has a top-shelf bar. Although there is no beach nearby, guests are encouraged to take early-morning dives into the water from the cliffs. 960 1280
Grand Bahia Principe JamaicaEnjoy your all-inclusive stay at the Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica, located on Runaway Bay. Guest perks include unlimited drinks at the hotel’s 9 bars; 3 dinners at any of the hotel’s a la carte restaurants (per week of stay); and 1 hour daily of windsurfing, tennis, snorkeling, kayaking, biking or spending time on a catamaran. Stay in one of 840 rooms -- all junior suites -- with hydro massage tubs. And why not visit the spa for a relaxing Jamaican massage with ganja oil? 960 1280
Sandals Whitehouse Village & SpaThe all-inclusive Sandals Whitehouse Village & Spa blends the exotic allure of the Caribbean with the refined elegance of Europe. Italian piazzas and fountains are surrounded by gardens. Guests can stay in any of 3 European-inspired villages -- Italian, French and Dutch. All rooms or suites have views overlooking the 2-mile-long beach. Scuba diving, evening entertainment, a fitness center, 3-level amphitheater and 9 restaurants serving a variety of cuisines are available at this luxe resort. 960 1280
Secrets Wild Orchid Montego BayAt Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, each guest suite features a king-size bed or 2 queen-size beds, whirlpool tub and private balcony. At this resort, Unlimited-Luxury means gourmet dining at 9 on-site restaurants, as well as 24-hour room service, your mini-bar refreshed daily, unlimited premium drinks at 9 bars and lounges, full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, and access to theme parties, the open-air theater, fitness center and more! 960 1280
Grand Hotel Rose HallOne of IBEROSTAR’s elite adults-only, all-inclusive resorts, Grand Hotel Rose Hall is tucked away between the sea and mountains, just 14 miles from Montego Bay. In addition to free-of-charge access to its gym, golf lovers have access to the Rose Hall Golf Association and the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, an 18-hole course on Jamaica’s northern coast. Must-see sites: Rose Hall Great House; the home of country music legend Johnny Cash; and movie locations from the James Bond film Live and Let Die. 960 1280
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf ResortWhat do guests get at this all-inclusive resort? Perks at the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort include all meals and snacks at 6 restaurants, daily activities and entertainment, unlimited premium drinks at 5 bars, weekly dive-in movies, fitness center, 4 lighted tennis courts, complimentary green fees at the 18-hole championship Runaway Bay Golf Club, 3 epic pools with swim-up bar and pool concierge service. And don’t miss an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate at the full-service Radiant Spa. 960 1280
Couples San SouciIn Ocho Rios, Couples San Souci has a tranquil environment that allows guests to melt away stress by taking a dive in their natural mineral springs. Stay active and take a complimentary tennis lesson; go swimming in the resort’s 4 pools; take a tour of Dunn’s River Falls; explore the coral reefs in a glass-bottom boat; go nude sunbathing on a private beach; or play a round of golf. 960 1280
Sandals Royal PlantationBuilt in the 1950s, the Sandals Royal Plantation, in Ocho Rios, is set on 2 private cove beaches and provides guests with Jamaica’s only champagne and caviar bar. All rooms and suites at this resort include butler service, over-the-top luxurious baths and an en-suite bar stocked with top-shelf liquors and wines. In addition to the resort’s 4 restaurants, Sandals allows its guests to dine around at neighboring Sandals Grande Riviera and its 15 restaurants. 960 1280
Sandals Royal CaribbeanEnjoy Montego Bay’s shops, restaurants and nightclubs when staying at the Sandals Royal Caribbean. A major perk in staying at this resort is that guests are just a boat ride away from a private offshore island inspired by the Orient. Enjoy a private cabana, savor authentic Thai cuisine and attend chic parties. It’s 2 island getaways in one. 960 1280
Jewel's Dunn's River Beach Resort & SpaLocated in Ocho Rios, the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort located near one of Jamaica’s top attractions, Dunn’s River Falls. Sit by the pool while the pool concierge offers you skewers of fresh fruit and a cooling mist of eucalyptus-infused water wherever you are. Watch romantic films poolside while snacking on delicious treats like Jamaican Jerk popcorn. And once a week, guests will be treated to a 5-course candlelit meal served on the pier. 960 1280
All-Inclusive Resorts in Jamaica 11 Photos
Dunn's River FallsDunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular attractions. Cold, clear mountain water splashes 600 feet down on stone steps, flowing into the warm Caribbean. Donned in swimsuits, tourists get the full experience of the waterfall by climbing the slippery stone steps. An experienced guide is recommended. 960 1280
Seven Mile BeachDunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular attractions. Cold, clear mountain water splashes 600 feet down on stone steps, flowing into the warm Caribbean. Donned in swimsuits, tourists get the full experience of the waterfall by climbing the slippery stone steps. An experienced guide is recommended. 960 1280
Pelican BarWelcome to Pelican Bar in Jamaica’s St. Elizabeth Parish. This rustic wooden bar is located on a sand bank between the Black River and Treasure Beach. Unplug and unwind by spending a day sunbathing, drinking a couple beers, eating fresh fish and swimming the shallow waters. 960 1280
Dolphin CoveSurrounded by 5 acres of tropical rainforest, Dolphin Cove is the place to be if you want to get up close and personal with dolphins and other wildlife. Snorkel with stingrays, swim with the dolphins, feed the sharks and interact with exotic birds, snakes and iguanas on the Jungle Trail walk. Guests can also hop on mini-boats and explore the coast or take a glass-bottom kayak ride to see the fascinating marine world below. 960 1280
Rick's CafeRick’s Café is one of Negril’s hottest attractions. It’s the perfect spot to talk to the locals, grab a cocktail, listen to a live reggae band and get a breathtaking view of the sunset. You can’t miss watching the young cliff divers jump from the tops of trees located on the highest cliff (35 feet up). 960 1280
Strawberry HillJust outside of Kingston, Strawberry Hill is a stunning location to have lunch or dinner while surrounded by spectacular views of the city and the countryside. Entrees include curried shrimp, coconut-crusted snapper, and curried goat and chicken. All ingredients come from local farms. We recommend pulling up a chair and sitting at the bar, which features a piano and fireplace to stay cozy when it gets chilly in the Blue Mountains. 960 1280
Devon HouseVisit Devon House, one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist attractions. Located in Kingston, this mansion was built by George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire. George and 2 other wealthy Jamaicans constructed elaborate homes during the late 19th century at the corner of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road, which was known a Millionaires Corner. In 1990, Devon House was declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. 960 1280
Canopy TourExplore the lush tropical forests in Jamaica and go on a zip-line adventure. Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Falmouth are the best areas to go zipping by the canopy of trees. We recommend Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Ocho Rios because they offer other kid-friendly activities, and the view of the Laughlands River gorge is amazing from above. 960 1280
Emancipation ParkIn Kingston, relax in the solitude of Emancipation Park, which features a jogging track, walking paths and stately fountains. The $4.5 million statue Redemption Song, by Laura Facey Cooper, has become a controversial centerpiece in the park. It depicts a nude slave couple gazing at the heavens … and sometimes elicits comments due to certain larger-than-life physical attributes of the figures. 960 1280
James Bond BeachLocated just 20 minutes from Ocho Rios, James Bond Beach has beautiful beaches surrounded by crystal clear water on 3 sides and the lush mountains of St. Mary as an amazing backdrop. The beach is well-known for the fresh seafood served at the 2-storey Moonraker “Jamaican” Bar & Grill. Guided tours are offered to see popular attractions like GoldeneEye, where author Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels. 960 1280
Jimmy Buffett’s MargaritavilleHead to Montego Bay’s “hip strip” -- Gloucester Avenue -- to enjoy the lively entertainment, food and cocktails at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Danny Glover, Cindy Crawford, P. Diddy, Tiger Woods, Uma Thurman and Gabrielle Union are just a few celebrities who have converged on this hot hangout. At night, Club Ville becomes a nightclub with in-house deejays and theme nights, including Glow, Bare as You Dare and Ladies Night. 960 1280
The Blue LagoonThis 176-foot, turquoise blue hole was made famous by the movie Blue Lagoon, featuring actors Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. Before the movie, it was known as The Blue Hole, but its name was permanently changed to The Blue Lagoon after the popularity of the 1980s flick. Located in Port Antonio, it is truly one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Jamaica. Some locals believe the lagoon is bottomless and that a dragon lives there. 960 1280
Mystic MountainAdventurous travelers can board the Rainforest Sky Explorer, a chairlift that runs through the rainforest to the top of Mystic Mountain. At the top, the Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica ride and Rainforest Zipline Canopy ride provide tourists with fun ways to explore the area. Alternate, less intense ways to have fun on Mystic Mountain include strolling in and out of some of the arts and craft shops or grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant with amazing views of Ocho Rios. 960 1280
Things to Do in Jamaica 13 Photos
Where to Go:
Discovery Bay: Andrew headed to Discovery Bay in St. Ann Parish to hunt for lionfish with local fishermen, but it’s a great place just to view the island’s natural beauty. It’s also said to be the first place Christopher Columbus landed when he discovered Jamaica.
Dunn's River Falls and Park: Climb these falls in Ocho Rios as part of a human chain led by an experienced guide, and explore one of Jamaica’s natural treasures.
Kool Runnings Adventure Park: Have a fun-filled day with the kids at Kool Runnings, a water park in Negril that's equipped with 10 amazing waterslides. Families can also experience its Adventure Zone, which is packed with exciting activities, including laser tag in the Kombat Zone, jamboo rafting and go-karts.
Rastafari Indigenous Village: This village in Montego Bay introduces visitors to authentic Rastafarian philosophy and culture.
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Where to Eat:
Cherry's One Stop: Andrew follows Route A1 to an area just south of Ocho Rios known as Faith’s Pen, where he tries some of Jamaica’s most interesting foods. The area is lined with rows of shacks selling snacks.
Angela's Shack: After eating at Cherry’s, Andrew moves down the row at Faith's Pen and eats at Angela’s Shack for 2 more Jamaica favorites — mannish water and goat curry.
Aunt Merle's Fish Shack: Andrew goes to Hellshire Beach, where fishermen come ashore to sell their catch. There are little stalls called fish shacks, where Andrew tastes some fresh seafood.
Bog Walk Gorge: Farther along Route A1 in St. Catherine, Andrew stops at Bog Walk Gorge, where the street is lined with fruit vendors. He tries a Jamaican apple, a star apple and a custard apple.
National Heroes Park: Andrew’s friend Jacqui takes him to this park in Kingston, where families serve their own versions of Caribbean staples at makeshift food stands.
Scotchies: Andrew and 2 reggae musicians go to this spot in Ocho Rios, where he learns how to make real Jamaican jerk. Pit master Max Miller shows Andrew how to prepare pork with jerk seasoning.
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Video: Andrew's Food Crawl in JamaicaAndrew samples street food and traditional Jamaican food with a Chinese twist.
Where to Stay:
GoldenEye: This resort in Oracabessa Bay was originally built by James Bond author Ian Fleming. It features a variety of villas and cottages, as well as a 4-acre lagoon.
Jamaica Inn: An intimate hotel in Ocho Rios, the Jamaica Inn is perched on a beautiful private beach on the Caribbean Sea.
Round Hill Hotel and Villas: Round Hill in Montego Bay caters to both couples and families with 36 oceanfront rooms and 27 private villas.
Spanish Court Hotel: Amid the excitement of Kingston, the Spanish Court Hotel features luxury suites and a Sky Terrace with a lap pool and bar.