In November 2018, I published an article featuring my ten favourite places in Jamaica. Back then I hadn’t seen everywhere beautiful Jamaica has to offer, and I still certainly have not. I barely feel as if I’ve scratched the surface, and I feel I’ll be singing the same tune in another year or two when I update this list again. I’ve now published 67 places and events across 11 parishes of Jamaica in three plus years, so you know I have a lot left to see, do and experience and thus this list may be entirely different in 2021 or 2022. Check out the previous list here, and compare it to this new list of my favourite 10 places in Jamaica to see which places didn’t make the cut this time, and which ones remain. Feel free to use this as a travel guide if you’re interested in seeing the best this lovely island of Jamaica has to offer. Spoiler alert: This article is FILLED with waterfalls! Shall we begin? 🙂
10. Konoko Falls
Konoko Falls is located in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, and is a lovely less-crowded alternative to Dunn’s River Falls several minutes’ away. The waterfall is nestled amongst lush green vegetation and tropical flowers, is very easy to climb and its course is closely hugged by a staircase which provides an alternative to admiring the waterfall for those who don’t wish to climb it. The waterfall is the main marketing point, but the whole place is picture-perfect from the mini zoo and affable parrots, to the Ysassis Look out Point overlooking the entire Ocho Rios bay, the lovingly-tended gardens and beautiful koi pond.
This community gem in Westmoreland stole my heart as recent as yesterday, and I’m not mad about it! Benta River Falls is less commercialized than its touristy sister Mayfield Falls up north, but they share the same river. Escape the heat from the town, admire the enchanting surroundings and lose all your troubles bathing beneath its seven powerful cascades.
An all-time favourite, Frenchman’s Cove is a Portland treasure and one of several spots in Jamaica where you can enjoy river and sea in the same location. This charming spot is one of Jamaica’s most beautiful beaches and thankfully is no longer just a playground for the world’s rich and famous. You haven’t visited unless you took a picture on its Instagram-famous swings!
7. Boston Beach
Boston is currently my favourite Jamaican beach. Warm salty water set in a delightful bay with powdery soft white sand, and next to one of Jamaica’s best jerk shacks with the best jerk pork I’ve ever eaten? SIGN ME UP! You can admire the graceful surfers or join them if you dare, as Boston is the birthplace of Jamaican surf.
Dunn’s River Falls is Jamaica’s most renowned and visited tourist attraction, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s usually pretty crowded, especially on the days of cruise ship arrivals by the Ocho Rios pier, and if you know me, you know I hate crowds at my watering holes but Dunn’s River is so beautiful that I can’t be selfish. Join the human daisy-chains of tourists climbing this beauty from the beach up into the jungle. You’ll feel tired with maybe a few aches and pains afterwards, but it’ll totally be worth it.
5. YS Falls
Jamaica’s second most visited waterfall is perhaps YS Falls, and again, it’s easy to see why. The whole property is a dream– from the jitney which transports you through a ranch with cattle and thoroughbreds, the refreshing mineral water-fed pools to the perfectly tiered waterfalls over which you can zipline if you dare. I daresay you’ll fall in love with YS Falls like I have.
4. Kwame Falls
Kwame Falls is testimony to the statement that ‘it’s not about the destination, but the journey.’ The waterfall itself was alright but the views I enjoyed on the journey? My word! Woodland, open clearings, panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea from up above until the trails dipped low enough for us to pass 2 black sand beaches. We also encountered interesting finds along the way such as the ruins of an old A.M.E. church and waterwheel from the era of slavery. Doing this hike unaided with 2 of my closest friends and a new friend I met through this blog contribute to why Kwame Falls is still one of my most precious memories even 2 years later.
Holywell is located in the tropical mist forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains and provides a refreshing escape from Kingston’s heat, just 1 hour’s drive away. Holywell is blessed with numerous pine trees scenting the cool mountain air, and at 900m (3,000 ft.) above sea level, the dip in temperature allows Holywell’s ecosystem to support a wide variety of ferns, flowers, and trees which are rarely seen in other parts of Jamaica. Holywell has five nature trails; too many to be explored in a single day, so I’d encourage you to camp over or spend the night in one of their three rustic highly sought-after cabins to fully maximize this park. Camping here is still on my list, and I hope to wake early enough to go bird-watching too and see how many endemic species I can spot.
2. Reach Falls
Are you surprised I’m still adding more waterfalls to this list? Nope, you shouldn’t be especially since Reach Falls wasn’t yet mentioned. I guess this makes it my favourite waterfall in Jamaica too, and it earns this spot because of the gorgeous Driver’s River which tumbles and cascades its way through the thick jungle-like foliage in Manchioneal, Portland. Scarcely little has been done to alter Reach Falls despite the commercialization and that’s just brilliant. There are so many little caves and tunnels hidden behind or underneath these waterfalls that I’m sure you’ll always be able to discover something new on every visit to Reach Falls.
Before I list my #1 place, here are some honorary mentions:
Well, guys, here you have it. Number #1!
All of three years later, nothing has shaken my love for the Blue Mountain peak trail. Perhaps time has romanticized the spot even further in my head, but honestly it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I was freezing cold hiking up the mountain at 3am in the morning to catch the first glow of sunrise from Jamaica’s highest point, but it was well worth it. You may be skeptical about taking a physically demanding hike at this hour of the morning but the twinkling unspoiled views of the Milky Way, the sight of Jamaica bursting alive from the mountaintops and the green earthy wonderland which awaits on the way down when there’s no longer need for flashlights is truly an unforgettable experience. The breathtaking views, pine trees, elfin woodland, mosses and lichens will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a primeval era. It’s truly a shame that more Jamaicans haven’t made the trip.
Thanks for checking out my updated favourites, and stay tuned for future articles. Here’s to good health and new adventures for the rest of 2020 and beyond. Also, if you haven’t already followed my new Instagram page @adventuresfromelle, I’d love if you could check it out now and press follow! We’re working for 1,000 by December 31!
Til next time.