Discovering Jamaica by car can be a truly unique vacation experience. Here are suggestions for 5 scenic drives to help you discover all that the island has to offer.
The largest English speaking country in the Caribbean, Jamaica boasts every kind of terrain imaginable for an island in the sun. From beaches (of every colour) to cloud forests and misty mountains, jagged cliffs and lush river valleys -- there is so much more than meets the eye. Hit the road and prepare to have some of the best experiences the island has to offer.
Papine to Newcastle
A drive up this winding road from the hot and dusty flats of Kingston - about an hour – takes you to the cool and refreshing Blue and John Crow Mountains, 26,000 hectares of land recently demarcated as a World Heritage Site. Stop to take a photo or have a cup of coffee along the way, pack a picnic and visit Hollywell National Park where you can take a guided hike to a waterfall. Either way, the drive is a great way to spend a day.
Ocho Rios to Port Antonio
Discover the greener, lusher, side of the island in the parish of Portland -- of which Port Antonio is the capital. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the busy tourism centre of Ocho Rios behind, the drive takes on a more languid feel as it directs you through charmingly simple communities along the coast where notable stops include GoldenEye, the former home of James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming, and Firefly (possibly the most beautiful coastal view on island) where playwright Noel Coward not only holidayed but wrote some of his most renowned work.
Treasure Beach to Negril
About two hours in length, this road trip traverses the rugged southern coastline of the island enabling passengers to take in the varying sights and sounds of undeveloped Jamaica. See a crocodile in Black River, grab a fish and festival at Border, stop in Bluefields and pay homage to Peter Tosh or take a swim with a cold Red Stripe at any of the public beaches along the way before arriving – in time to catch a sunset of course - on the 7 miles of beach you came to visit in Negril.
Spanish Town to Ocho Rios (old road or new highway)
Now that there’s an option, everyone has their favourite. The new highway which will undoubtedly get you door to door in just over an hour is a feat in engineering cutting through the mountains, serving up spectacular views (because of its elevation) of the two sides of the island. The old road in comparison takes over two hours and winds its way through the river valleys along the Rio Grande and climbs the precarious (in nickname only) Mount Diablo before beginning a long descent towards the sea, where drivers can stop for boiled corn and soup, jerk chicken and harddough bread, various fruit and coconuts on the other side.
Norman Manley International Airport to Kingston … & back again.
An arrival at Norman Manley International Airport allows visitors one of the best - and underrated views in Jamaica – of Kingston. Set near the end of a palisade, the drive in from the airport takes in the scope of the city’s harbour, the seventh largest natural one in the world, as well as a first glimpse of the vast Blue and John Crow Mountain Range that shelter the sprawling city. Visitors driving towards the airport can add on a drive to Port Royal, once the wickedest city in the west, where pirates and buccaneers spilled out of bars, and royal officers defended the coastline from their posts at the old fort.