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The Best of Jamaica

The Best of Jamaica

by Anders Elmgren

A colorful history, a reggae soundtrack and picturesque Caribbean beaches are why Jamaica ranks among our favorite destinations. If you want more out of your Jamaica vacation, we've got a cool must-do list that will have you making your plans right now!

Every Caribbean vacation must include a beach, and Jamaica beaches are second to none. We love Negril, Discovery Bay and Seven Mile beaches, but if you get out and about, you'll discover this island has more terrific stretches of sand than most. It's hard to pick our favorite Jamaica beaches since there's almost 200 miles of sandy shores!

Jamaica's colorful history offers plenty of fascinating sightseeing. Port Royal, Jamaica was once known as the 17th century's wickedest city in the world, thanks to resident pirates and other bloodthirsty outlaws. Drop by St. Peter's Church to see its interior, and stop by the churchyard for Lewis Galdy's tombstone, with its tale of his survival of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed much of the town. Continue on to Fort Charles and then Giddy House if your senses can handle the 35 degree tilt. The historic buildings help bring the legends of Port Royal and Jamaica to life.

On the other side of the island, Dunn's River Falls is Jamaica's top attraction. Best of all, the 600 feet of cascading waterfalls are interactive, as guides are on hand to help you climb all the way up to the top. Bring a waterproof camera to capture the beauty of the falls and the pools. And don't miss the Green Grotto Caves when you're on the way up the coast to stunning Discovery Bay, said to be where Columbus first went ashore when he visited the island.

If climbing waterfalls isn't your cup of tea, then check out the historic homes that dot the island. There's the 200-year-old Greenwood Great House, once owned by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's family; Rose Hall Great House, which is said to be haunted by the notorious and deadly White Witch, Annie Palmer; and Firefly, which belonged to the playwright Noel Coward who entertained stars there, including Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Queen Elizabeth II.

But no matter what you do while you're in Jamaica, reggae, the island's infectious beat, will have you in a vacation state of mind in no time. From the beaches to Port Royal and Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica is the quintessential vacation playground, and maybe best of all, it comes with its own fabulous coffee, the peerless Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. So pour a cup, and make your plans now!