When most people hear the word "Jamaica," a number of things come immediately to mind - beaming sunlight, beautiful beaches, reggae, dub and dancehall music, thick patois speech and strikingly green forests. All of them are entirely true characteristics of the island nation, to varying degrees.
"Jamaica has so much more to offer than reggae and sun-soaked beaches."
But the average visitor can easily miss a number of absolutely stunning attractions if he or she sticks to the tourist-friendly basics. There is so much to see in this entirely unique place. Before you start seeking out deals on cheap tickets to Jamaica, let's take a closer look at some of the wonders you'll find so long as you're sure to stray off the beaten path:
The tranquil joys of Treasure Beach
Located along the southwestern corner of the Jamaica coastline, Treasure Beach actually encompasses four smaller communities on the shoreline: Great Pedro Bay, Billy's Bay, Calabash Bay and Frenchman's Bay. It is an idiosyncratic and ethnically diverse place, with a strong focus on conservation and sustainability among its local population, according to Lonely Planet. This makes it an excellent choice for those interested in an ecotourism vacation.
A considerable number of its inhabitants are expatriate artists and writers from all over the globe, making for an unpretentiously high-cultured atmosphere. But what's perhaps most enticing about Treasure Beach is its relative lack of tourist traps. There's plenty of lodging available but none of it is the generic, garish resorts you'll see in the most packed parts of Kingston. It's laid back and uncrowded, particularly on its stunning beaches. The travel blog Journalist On The Run noted that the journey to Treasure Beach involves traveling on rough roads, but it's worth it.
Climbing the Blue Mountains
Hiking along the face of rugged peaks is not what one readily thinks of Jamaica, most likely. Thus, although the Blue Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they don't attract as much attention as other natural wonders in the country, like Blue Lagoon. But if you're a hiker or lover of the great outdoors, make time in your vacation schedule for a trip to these peaks.
The summit that gives this range its name is the country's highest point, according to The Culture Trip, at an elevation of 2,256 meters (approximately 7,400 feet). Dense trees and greenery blanket these eastern Jamaican mountains, and if you make it to the top you'll be treated to one of the clearest views of the island. Established trails abound, and can be traversed on foot or via mountain bike.
Mouth-watering jerk in Portland
Jamaica's counties, like in the state of Louisiana, are called "parishes." Portland, located on the northeast coast, is known for its mastery of jerk chicken. Jerk cuisine isn't hard to find in Jamaica, but you're unlikely to find it made any better outside of Portland parish. Surprisingly, according to Journalist On The Run, it's not a magnet for Jamaican neophytes, leaving more jerk chicken for you to enjoy!
The Glistening Waters of Falmouth
This shallow lagoon on Jamaica's north coast, just east of Montego Bay, isn't just a wonder of the island. It's one of fewer than five places worldwide where the water literally glows a neon-like blue-green shade at night whenever it's jostled by swimmers or large fish. Millions of tiny bioluminescent life forms called dinoflagellates live in the Glistening Waters, causing this phenomenon, according to Atlas Obscura. Tourists do come here, but not in quite the numbers you'd think - you're just as likely to see marine biologists conducting field analysis of the Waters' microorganisms.