Located in the heart of the Caribbean, Jamaica is a popular tourist destination renowned for its lavish all-inclusive resorts, top-rated beaches, tropical landscapes and a rich culture and history that is known world-wide.
While the capital and largest city of this island nation is Kingston, the majority of tourists and visitors looking for more of a tropical getaway than an urban experience head to the beaches, most notably the areas on the northern and western side of the island including Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. With a booming tourism industry, Jamaica is proud to play host to a wide variety of resorts and tourists attractions.
The people of Jamaica have roots tracing back to Spanish settlers when Christopher Columbus first landed on the island back in 1494 near what is now called Discovery Bay. The native Taino Indian population didn't survive the illnesses brought to the island by the European settlers. The Spanish established a capital near Ocho Rios and in 1655 the British took over control of the island. During this time, the English brought slaves from Africa to work the growing industry of sugar plantations and Jamaica soon became a place of trade and a leader in sugar production. Many slaves imported from both Spain and England escaped into the mountains and jungles, forming independent communities. The Maroons, as these people were known, eventually fought against the English until peace treaties were established. With the abolition of slavery, a new group of workers arrived in Jamaica including groups from China and East India. Today, Jamaica is proud of its national motto of "Out of Many, One People," which nods to the people's diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions.
The capital city of Kingston is located on the island's southeastern tip and serves as the country's commercial, financial, and cultural hub. The urban city is home to business centers, museums, nightclubs, and historical landmarks. Though tourists do visit this bustling city, it has had its share of cultural turbulence and the majority of vacation goers stick to the resort areas of the island.
Montego Bay is where most visitors will arrive at the international airport located here. You don't have to travel very far from the runway to be immersed in the busy tourist hub with its posh hotels, beaches, and the "Hip Strip" of Goucester Avenue, where restaurants, bars, art galleries, shops, and markets keep things lively all day and night.
Seekers of casual stays usually head to Negril for its famous Seven Mile Beach. Negril is located on the island's western-most tip and is home to an abundance of all-inclusive resorts and boutique hotels. The beaches are famously fantastic and offer plenty of activities from diving, sailing, and kayaking to more relaxing ways to enjoy the water like sunbathing and swimming. Heading east from Montego Bay along the northern coast of Jamaica is Ocho Rios, acclaimed for its waterfalls and exotic gardens. Also populated by a good variety of resorts and accommodations, this area stays lively with a cultural crafts market, shops, nightclubs, and restaurants.
Jamaica offers travelers a variety of entertaining experiences from the natural beauty of the lush jungles and gardens to the lively music found in dance clubs to the reason most people come here--to relax in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and to escape to a more enjoyable retreat found at this unique resort destination.
U.S. Virgin Islands
A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands is one of the most fulfilling Caribbean experiences a traveler can get. The three main islands, St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, offer a wide variety of activities, from historical sites to national parks, and attract two million visitors a year.
For U.S. citizens, visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands is easy. Because it’s a United States territory, U.S. citizens do not need a passport to enter. This makes the group of islands a popular cruise stop as well as a convenient location for destination weddings.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are diverse and each of the three main islands offers something different. St. Thomas attracts travelers looking for active beaches, bustling nightlife, excellent shopping and a historic downtown district. The island, which is also home to Charlotte Amalie, the territory’s capital, welcomes many travelers every year and also has the most popular cruise port in the Caribbean.
The small Caribbean island of St. Lucia is a rich composite of history and stunning natural beauty, offering the visitor a unique blend of cultures, dense rainforests, volcanic mountains, and, of course, gorgeous white sand beaches. If you get bored here, there's no one to blame but yourself.
St. Lucia is nicknamed "Helen of the West Indies," likened to Helen of Troy because of its lengthy history of dispute between the British and the French. The remnants of that long conflict are still apparent in the culture, the names, and the customs of the island, but today St. Lucia is an independent nation under the British Crown of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It′s one of the most popular Caribbean destinations, and tourism is big business here. Lavish, all-inclusive hotels lure sybarites intent on doing serious beach time, while simple fishing villages peppering the coast and the central rainforests ripe with fragrant Frangipani and orchids, offer a deeper look at the island and her people. St. Lucia is both the adventurer's paradise and the luxury hound's libation for relaxation.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a small archipelago nation south of the Bahamas. It is made up of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. Technically, it’s located in the Atlantic Ocean, not in the Caribbean Sea, but it’s still commonly thought of as part of the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos is a welcoming place for U.S. citizens – the U.S. dollar is the official currency and the official language is English. But the nation is a British Crown Colony, so U.S. travelers need a passport to travel there.
The weather in Turks and Caicos is ideal. A constant trade wind keeps temperatures comfortable and tropical, ranging from 85 to 90 degrees from June to October and 80 to 84 degrees from November to May. It also averages 350 days of sunshine a year, so travelers can feel confident that their trip will be warm and sunny almost any time they go.