Tired of the all-inclusive experience?.. Perhaps its time to embrace the real Jamaica. Many tourists catch flights to Jamaica only to spend their time on the island cocooned inside the confines of their all-inclusive complex. For those prepared to be a little braver and venture beyond the boundaries of their hotel, though, Jamaica, its people and its rich culture hold a host of hidden treasures for visitors.
Those seeking adventure have a wide variety of options to choose between, from scuba diving at the world-class reefs of Runaway Bay, to cliff jumping at the Caves Resort and river rafting on a two-hour trip down the Rio Grande on a bamboo raft.
Visitors looking to sample the restorative powers of nature should visit the world-famous mineral spring, The Bath of St Thomas the Apostle, in the town of Bath. The spring secretes both cold and scalding hot water which is high in sulphate and thought to be of great value in treating rheumatic ailments and skin diseases.
Other natural attractions on offer range from the spectacular Mayfield Falls, to the privately-owned eco-tourist attraction Cranbrook Flower Forest, a stunning tropical rainforest garden. You could even try feeding nectar to a hummingbird at the Rocklands Bird Feeding Station in Montego Bay. For those who like their wildlife a little wilder, you could go safari on Black River, home to more than 300 crocodiles and a carnivorous plant called bladderwort that eats small animals!
Tastes of Jamaica
One of the best reasons for going off the beaten path in Jamaica is to sample the delicious local cuisine on offer all across the island.
If you visit the Blue Mountains, be sure to sample the coffee produced there, which locals claim is the best in the world. Traditional Jamaican foods include slow cooked meats or ‘jerk’, ackee and salt fish, biscuits known as ‘johnnycakes’ and a starchy bread known locally as ‘bammy’. Coconut milk, mangoes, crawfish and pickled meats are other staple foods that you’ll see a lot of.
Anglers and seafood lovers alike should not miss out on a visit to Alligator Pond on the southwestern coast. Home to one of the longest fishing beaches in Jamaica, Alligator Pond is a working fishing village and a world away from the tourist-oriented resorts on the North coast of the island. Each afternoon, people line the beach in anticipation of the fishermen returning with a plentiful catch. It’s one of those holiday memories that makes the whole flight to the island completely worthwhile.
The village has many bars and fish restaurants, the most famous of which is The Little Ochie. Consisting of several huts on the beach, some made from the hulls of fishing boats with thatched roofs, the restaurant serves local delicacies, fried fish, bammy and lobster, often washed down with a can of Red Stripe lager!
About The Author: James Cave is a part-time blogger and writer and full-time Jamaica enthusiast. When not travelling, he can usually be found at home in the kitchen rustling up some of his favourite Jamaican cuisine.