The enchanting nation of Jamaica is only about a two-hour flight from energetic Miami, but the island has a much more laidback vibe. The weather here is always warm, and there are miles of clean, sandy beaches. Fresh food is in abundance, and the island's past is filled with the famous names of musicians, writers and explorers. Listen to lively music while sitting by the sea in Kingston or relax on a romantic getaway in Montego Bay.
In the centuries since Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus sailed into what's now known as Discovery Bay, much has changed in Ocho Rios, but much has remained the same. Once mostly sugar plantations, the region has become one of the most desirable travel destinations on the planet: Many luxury resorts now dot a landscape that was once largely rural. Montego Bay offers travelers a quiet place to relax, away from the busyness of Jamaica's urban areas.
If you'd prefer more of a metropolitan escape, head to Kingston, Jamaica's capital, where the island's tropical splendor combines with the amenities associated with an urban getaway. Clean, comfortable lodging is easy to find, as is authentic Caribbean cuisine and a vibrant nightlife.
Jamaica surely owes some of its popularity to beloved local tunesmith Bob Marley, whose tropical-flavored reggae concerts touched the world until his untimely death in 1981. Today, Marley's former home and recording studio on Hope Road is the most-visited site in Kingston. Operated by his children, the gift shop at the museum offers unique items like Bob's Honey, which is collected from a bee colony that Bob himself adopted when he lived on the property in the mid-'70s.
Operated by the Institute of Jamaica, the NGJ houses the largest and oldest public collection of art in the Caribbean. Permanent displays feature the works of Edna Manley, Barrington Watson, Albert Huie and Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds.
At the junction of Hope Road and Waterloo Road sits a stately colonial-era mansion. Built in the 1880s by the first black millionaire in Jamaica, the interior of Devon House is a treasure trove of antiques and trompe l'oeil, while the sprawling grounds are a popular meeting place for Kingston locals. Guided tours are available.
Visitors to the island, which long-ago Arawak inhabitants called “Xaymaca,” now arrive by airplane or cruise ship. Jamaica has three ports of call where cruise lines, including Princess and Carnival, drop anchor: Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Three major airports service different areas of the island.
Situated in Montego Bay on Jamaica's northwest coast, MBJ is the busiest airport on the island. Sangster's domestic terminal has regular departures to Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston, quick flights if you're looking to get around the island fast. Many hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to MBJ; to find out if yours does, ask the desk clerk when you book your room.
This is the airport to fly into if you'll be staying in Kingston, Port Antonio, Saint Thomas, Saint Catherine or Saint Mary. KIN is the hub for Jamaica Airlines. From here, you can take a shuttle to Tinson Pen domestic airport to catch intra-island flights.
This busy little airport in Boscobel was named for the one-time local resident and author of the James Bond novels. Six miles west of Ocho Rios, the airport recently underwent a $300 million renovation and now serves small jets and international arrivals. “Margaritaville” singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet was the first international passenger to be processed through customs at IFIA.
This happy island in the Greater Antilles doesn't experience four seasons the way other places do. Jamaica's location by the equator makes it hot and humid year-round. At sea level, the temperature almost always ranges from 68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can rain any month of the year in Jamaica, which isn't necessarily a bad thing—in an equatorial climate, a little afternoon rain can be a welcome relief.