7 Hidden Gems in Jamaica
Before arriving in Jamaica, I was told several negative things about the island; the biggest thing being that it was dangerous. Fortunately for me, I chose not to believe the negative stigma and chose to form opinions of my own. Now, after spending a year in Jamaica as a Volunteer, I can honestly say that Jamaica is one of the most spectacular places I have ever stepped foot on. I became familiar with the top tourist destinations such as Negril, Ochos Rios, and Rick’s Cafe, but even more importantly, I discovered Jamaica’s most precious hidden gems. These gems may require a little digging, but trust me they are well worth it.
1. Treasure Beach: In contrast to the lively beaches such as Negril and Montego Bay, Treasure Beach is the perfect place to experience the ocean away from tourists and beach vendors. Known as “Jamaica’s best-kept secret,” this hidden gem will offer you the laidback Jamaican vibes that Bob Marley always stood for. The temperature of the water tends to feel like that of a warm bath, and the beach is made up of both white and black sand.
If you’re hungry, take a stroll up to Frenchman’s Reef, a beachside bar and restaurant that offers tasty traditional Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken and curry shrimp, as well as a variety of smoothies. Also from Treasure Beach, you can take a 10-minute boat ride to Pelican Bar, which takes us to hidden gem #2.
2. Floyd’s Pelican Bar: A ½ mile into the Caribbean waters and made completely out of wood is Jamaica’s Pelican Bar. Surrounded by turquoise blue waters and the distant view of the mountains, you will feel as though you are in a dream. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even spot dolphins. The bar itself offers traditional Jamaican dishes such as rice and peas, grilled fish, and impeccably cooked vegetables. Sit back, relax and enjoy Jamaica’s finest Red Stripe beer while you tan on the bar’s dock and take intermittent swims in the ocean.
3. Lover’s Leap: Located east of Treasure Beach is a cliff with one of the most sweeping views of Jamaica. Legend has it that two 18th-century African slaves, Mizzy and Tunkey, fell in love Romeo and Juliet Style. Realizing that they could never be together because of their slave owner’s forbiddance, the two lovers held hands and jumped off the cliff to their death. As haunting as this tale may be, the cliff offers a magnificent view of land and sea from 1,700 feet above.
4. Alligator Pond: A quaint fishing village on the southwestern coast of Jamaica, Alligator Pond offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy nature and swim in the river. As well as try freshly prepared seafood from restaurants such as Little Ochie and Oswald’s Seafood. Both restaurants may be a bit more pricey, but if you’re craving seafood than it will surely hit the spot.
5. YS Falls: Located on the South end of Jamaica in a parish called St. Elizabeth is another one of my favorite places to explore. YS Falls is a scenic allure consisting of seven different waterfalls surrounded by lush, green gardens. Fun activities such as rope swinging and ziplining are always available for tourists. This is the ideal tourist attraction to go to as a day trip with friends or family.
6. Devon House: For this gem, you may have to wait in a long line, but trust me it will be worth it. Devon House is known for making the best ice cream in Jamaica. Rum and raisin, grape nut, cherry, and guava are some of the classic Devon House flavors. The ambiance of the Devon House property is another reason why you would want to choose there to enjoy a real Jamaican meal or to have your ice-cream. Friendly, open space with nice fresh air, beautiful flowers and lovely people to mingle with. You cannot come to Kingston and St Andrew Jamaica without visiting Devon House to have your favorite ice-cream, view the House or have a meal.
7. Shwimp: This particular hidden gem is one you have to go out of your way to find. Located only in Middle Quarters, you can find ladies on the side of the road selling what the Jamaicans call “shwimp.” When first arriving at Middle Quarters, there may not be a sign welcoming you; instead, you will see ladies waving you down with bags of shwimps in their hands trying to get your attention. Shwimp is Jamaica’s succulent peppered shrimp packed full of flavor like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. Keep in mind that you can try to bargain for a lower price for the shwimp. Don’t settle for the first offer you get!
Still not convinced? Then it’s the Jamaican people themselves that will convince you to visit their island. Jamaican people are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Out of natural curiosity, they will ask you who you are and where you’re from. But don’t be put off by their forwardness. Keep an open heart and open mind and you will meet extraordinary people who will make your experience in Jamaica all the more worthwhile. Jamaica is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Take it from someone who lived there for a year, you will want to witness the popular tourists sights such as Negril and Rick’s Cafe, but it will be the hidden gems that will stay with you forever.