Leading Jamaica’s Cities and Parishes for Tourism – Their Culture, Resources, and Environment
Tourism in Jamaica had witnessed tremendous growth in the last couple of years. Gone are the days when the image of Jamaica’s tourism activities was simply summed up as a sun, sea, and sand. Tourism is the most important sector of Jamaica’s economy, earning the country the largest foreign exchange, by welcoming over 1 million visitors per year.
Jamaica is widely known for its pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and superb scenery, such as the waters of Montego Bay and the majestic Blue Mountains. The development of Jamaica’s tourism has been all-encompassing and not completely concentrated in one area; instead, some cities had served as tourist centers and played host to tourist attractions. The most popular tourist centers or resort areas had developed along the north coast because of the white-sand beaches and pleasant weather it possesses. Also, Kingston, the capital of Jamaica apart from being a major commercial and cultural center, also attracts a significant number of tourists.
Jamaica has 14 parishes which are designated among 6 resort areas, each having their unique attractions and diverse amenities. To explore Jamaica from one end to the next and to discover what each resort area has got to offer makes this writing pertinent. The major resorts and attractions are mainly situated in the following resort areas – Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril, Port Antonio. The goal of this writing is to showcase each of these resort areas so as to provide tourists with some tips to help them plan their travels, as well as select the best places to visit.
Negril is a shortened version of “Negrillo” which the Spanish had named it in 1494. Negril could easily beat any other city as the most famous place in Jamaica. It is located across the two parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover – extending from half moon bay in Hanover to Negril Lighthouse in Westmoreland. It is aptly referred to as the capital of casual. For many decades, tourists had made Negril Jamaica their destination of choice – enjoying its beauty and fun activities. The closest international airport to Negril is the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay, located about 50 miles away. Also, located on the western coastline is one of Jamaica’s finest beaches, stretching more than six kilometers along a sandbar at Negril. It is known as the “Seven Mile Beach.” There is also the Rick’s Café, which is a great place to watch the cliff jumpers or take part in cliff jumping. There are close to 25 different resorts located around the Seven Mile Beach. Negril is also renowned for its nude swimming and sunbathing on the beach with “Swimsuits Optional” signs. Negril is a great deal of fun and has a bit of everything for all types of visitors. Some of the major attractions and notable places in and around the Negril area include:
• The Lighthouse
• The Booby Cay
• The Cliffs at West End
• The World Famous Ricks Cafe
• The Royal Palm Reserve
• The Hummingbird Garden
• Peter Tosh’s Monument (At Belmont)
• The Blue Hole Mineral Bath & Hotel, and of course…
• The beautiful 7 Mile Beach
To make your visit to Negril complete, do not leave without enjoying an ocean front lunch of jerk chicken from local vendors.
This resort area is comprised of St. Ann and St. Mary parishes. It hosts some of Jamaica’s most iconic attractions and exotic gardens. Ocho Rios is located in the middle of Jamaica’s long north coast. It welcomes a wide range of visitors to its spectacular waterfalls, modern cruise ship piers, plantation beaches, beautiful tropical gardens. Ocho Rios,which used to be a fishing village, had rapidly developed in the late 20th century as a center for hotels and also as a stopover for cruise ships, with most of its guess arriving on cruise ships and docking in the large bay. It is the most accessible route to Dunn’s River Falls, Chukka Cove Equestrian Centre, Fern Gully, New Seville, Noel Cowards house, “Firefly” and Ian Fleming’s house “Golden Eye,” and the Old Fort beside the Reynolds installation that was built in the late 17th century. The Ian Fleming International Airport, near Ocho Rios, is named after the British novelist, who wrote some of his James Bond novels at his house near Oracabessa.
This is the only tourist resort area made up of only one parish. Port Antonio is renowned for its natural beauty. Lush, dense flora surrounds its sheltered coves, waterfalls and winding rivers. Port Antonio receives the highest amount of rainfall in the entire island, and this is believed to be a contributor to its natural beauty.The rise of Port Antonio could be attributed to the “banana boom”, which witnessed banana trade with the USA and England. The major attractions in Port Antonio include the Twin Harbours; Somerset Falls; Blue Lagoon; Reach Falls. The Port Antonio Marina plays host to Fishing tournaments as well as the historical tours of the town from the sea.
Kingston is the Capital of Jamaica and comprised of the following parishes – Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas. It presents visitors with the cultural hub of Jamaica, complemented surfing opportunity and tranquil scenery along the southeastern coast. The Norman Manley International Airport is located in Kingston. Kingston also attracts a significant number of tourists, however, relative to other parishes; Kingston is still miles away owing to its decreased ability to attract international tourists, owing to some social problems associated with the city. The limited attractiveness of Kingston to large numbers of tourists notwithstanding, Kingston is still one of Jamaica’s leading Parishes for tourism, playing host to the following:
• Jamaican Conference Centre,
• National Gallery,
• Kingston Crafts Market
• The spectacular St. William Grant Park.
• The Institute of Jamaica, Ward Theatre; Other points of interest are
• The National Stadium and Arena;
• The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts;
• Devon House, built in the 1880s as a millionaire’s residence and now open to tours with a popular shopping and restaurant complex;
• Vale Royal, the official residence of the Prime Minister which was built in the early 1770s;
• Hope Botanical gardens and South Coast
The South Coast resort area is made up of the Parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon. One distinct difference between the South Coast and its northern equivalent is its dark sandy beaches. Also, it is an escape into Jamaica’s countryside. So visitors can count on finding crocodiles, seaside cottages and watermelons in the part of the island.
Montego Bay is a resort area covering the parishes of St. James and Trelawny. It is known for its beautiful white sand beaches. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city, and the capital of St. James. It also has the largest number of hotels in Jamaica, with numerous tourist attractions, restaurants, and entertainment spots. It has a modern cruise ship pier, an international airport, golf courses, tennis courts, and a growing industrial free zone area. Montego Bay first became prominent in welcoming visitors who came to bathe at Doctor’s Cove for health reasons.
In conclusion, most of the resort areas mentioned above are situated on the north coast, and they all share in common fine white-sand beaches and exquisite mountain scenery that make each a popular tourist resort in its own right. There are three international airports in Jamaica. Ocho Rios, Negril, and Port Antonio have major public airstrips, and there are privately owned airstrips as well in different locations within the island. Kingston, Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay are the principal seaports, handling freighters and large cruise liners.
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