With an intoxicating cocktail of natural beauty, seaside resorts, vivacious nightlife and friendly locals, Jamaica has earned legions of adoring fans who return year after year in search of their own tropical paradise. Year-round sunshine and plenty of flights are also appealing to Canadians.
“Jamaica is one of the most diverse vacation destinations in the Caribbean,” says Philip Rose, regional director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). “Canadians enjoy a unique experience each and every time they visit the island.” www.visitjamaica.com
1. About an hour before sunset, adventure kicks into high gear at Rick’s Café in Negril when spectators gather to watch divers as they plummet gracefully off the cliffs. The green flash visible on cloudless nights is believed to bring good fortune to anyone lucky enough to see it. www.rickscafejamaica.com/
2. The exhilarating ‘Bit Timba’ in Montego Bay is a daring zip line through the rainforest along the mighty Great River. Reaching speeds up to 64 kilometres per hour, the tour also includes a ride in a six-wheel military troop transport vehicle. www.ziplinejamaica.com
3. Eco-astute and a whole lotta fun, Mystic Mountain is the heart and soul of the rainforest with bobsled rides, canopy zip lines and infinity edge pool. High above sea level, it also boasts a Butterfly Garden and Lookout Tower for panoramic vistas of the island. www.rainforestadventure.com
4. The only dolphin attraction, and the most visited marine attraction, Dolphin Cove at Treasure Reef is an interactive meet, greet and swim with Bottle Nose dolphins, sharks and stingrays. Dolphin Cove in Negril hosts weddings where the gentle mammals hold the rings in their mouths while love-struck couples exchange vows. www.dolphincovejamaica.com
5. In the winsome town of Anchovy, Rocklands Bird Sanctuary is home to thousands of hummingbirds like the Doctor Bird, Jamaica’s national critter. Open since 1954, the birds are tame enough to fly down from the trees and eat millet seed from your hand.
6. Rose Hall Great House has appeared in at least a dozen Gothic novels. Built in 1790 when more than 2,000 slaves worked there, it was Annie Palmer, wife of the builder's grandnephew, who was the topic of local gossip about her belief in witchcraft. Fascinating tours by knowledgeable guides are offered by appointment only. www.jnht.com/
7. Port Antonio is the Jamaican road-less-travelled where mist-shrouded mountains drop down to the sea, the movie-famous Blue Lagoon shimmers to depths of 60 metres and gliding down the Rio Grande River on a bamboo raft is the stuff of grand vacations. www.portantoniojamaica.com/
8. A seashell away from the cruise pier in Ocho Rios, Island Village is a theme park, beach and shopping mall rolled into one. Reggae Explosion is a terrifically entertaining salute to Bob Marley, while the water sports centre and cyber café are big hits with families looking for a day away from the resort.
9. Spread over two hectares in Negril, Kool Runnings is a watery world of fun with 10 slides and a river ride that snakes through waterfalls and under bridges. www.koolrunnings.com/
10. And for the ultimate chill-out, Red Lane Spa at Sandals Whitehouse Resort is a hip haven for rejuvenation. Fan favourites include the ‘Bamboo Polish’ for a sun-kissed glow and saunas infused with the soothing scent of eucalyptus. For spa-philes, the jewel on the south coast is offering massage credits with bookings through December 27. www.sandals.com