Tempted by the Caribbean? Head to Jamaica for thrilling experience (even if you’re on a budget).
From breezy beaches and melodious music, to friendly folk and flavoursome food – Jamaica is a hub for anyone who wants to enjoy the pleasures of island life.
Though this tropical paradise is often seen as a relatively expensive getaway, it offers so much to those wanting to escape on a budget. With a little willingness to deviate from the confines of an all-inclusive resort, the romantic couple and even the kid-centric family can enjoy many affordable treasures hidden within this exotic destination.
Whether you’re preparing for a last minute trip or an extensive vacation, this insider’s guide is sure to help you jump start an adventure you won’t forget!
Dunn’s River Falls and Park
Slip your water shoes on, grab a helping hand, and embark on a climb that won’t fade from your memory any time soon.
The consistently self-regenerating falls, are a sight to behold! Soothe yourself from the warm climate, by plunging into one of the natural pools on your way to the top. Treat yourself to massages, freely given by the cascading waters, along the way. Don’t forget to take your waterproofed smartphone, or camera, along to snap as many scenic photos as your heart desires.
If the falls are too intimidating for you, you may look on from the specially-made deck, or relax on the beachfront. The park offers a café where you can please your palate, and lockers to store your essentials for safe keeping.
Be sure to check out the wonderful display of craft items in the designated vending market. A day spent at this serene venue is an essential Jamaican experience. Entry to the park is US$20, or $12 for children.
The Blue Mountains
Jamaica’s largest mountain range is a nature lovers dream, offering opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and even relaxing. If you’re an experienced hiker, or you’re not quite that intrepid, you’ll find an option to trail to suit you. Lush tropical forests and quaint country villages make a big difference from the tourism of the popular coastal resorts.
The region is also home to coffee plantations with some of the world’s finest coffee – a great way to recharge your batteries after a long walk. Craighton Estate is one of the best known and most popular and offers regular tours ($25 for adults) including a tasting!
Usain Bolt’s Track & Records
The moment you set foot inside the Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records sports bar, you will encounter an energy as vibrant as that of the world’s fastest man himself. With bars clad in zinc fence-like material, and a display of wooden posts, the scene is inspired by a version of Jamaica that is familiar to many locals.
Fortunately, that isn’t as authentic as it gets! Every item on the menu is infused with rich, island flavor that will absolutely satisfy famished patrons. Be a part of the game – with touch screens embedded into the tables – while you await your meal.
Stop by for lunch at any location – whether Kingston, Ochi Rios or Montego Bay – and eat for free if you are not served within 9.58 minutes. Now THAT’s record time!
Devon House is the mansion built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel who made his fortune in mining in Venezuela. The house is a fascinating museum and also a great recreational park that is well suited for picnics, walks, runs, group games, photos etc. It houses amazing restaurants and bakeries whose delicacies are to die for. It is also home to several craft shops that offer a unique array of souvenirs that your family and friends back home will be sure to appreciate.
You haven’t fully experienced Jamaican cuisine if you haven’t had some Jamaican dessert. There’s no better way to do that than to top of your day’s meals with ‘I-scream’ from the historic Devon House in Kingston.
There are many alluring flavors to choose from such as ‘Devon Stout’, ‘Rocky River’, ‘Guava’ and ‘Mango’. This infamous venue delivers some of the smoothest and yummiest locally-made ice cream.
Bob Marley Museum
For the bona fide lover of reggae music, this one-of-a-kind museum in Kingston is a pilgrimage destination. The Bob Marley Museum, once the home of the international reggae icon, reveals many of the star’s most prized possessions.
Enjoy a well-informed, charismatic guide through the pages of history on any of the three tour packages which allow patrons to see Marley’s home, and explore his record-making journeys. When you’re through, make your way to the ‘One Love Café’ for a real taste of Rastafarian cuisine.
Entry with tours US$25 for adults, US$12 for under 12’s.
Kool Runnings Adventure Park
If you’re in for a day of thrill, this is the place to revel in. This breathtaking Negril location was designed for non-stop fun – even amidst a heavy downpour.
There are nine island-themed water rides to match every level of thrill desired. It has an ‘Adventure Zone’ where you can go kayaking, go-kart racing, laser tagging, paintballing, river rafting and so much more! It also has animal shows and free swimming lessons. It boasts affordable entry rates, restaurants, and gift shops. It usually has seasonal specials that you are free to take advantage of!
Entry is US$34.95 if you’re tall (48 inches or taller), or $24.95 if you’re smaller. Visit KoolRunnings.com.
Frenchman’s Cove Beach
Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at this beautiful escape on a low budget. Located in Port Antonio, this is one of Jamaica’s most magnificent sand-filled beauties. It has a river that filters directly into the ocean, and a few swings which decorate the bank of the river.
As with much of Jamaica, beaches are privately owned and often come with an entry fee unless you’re staying at a nearby hotel. Entry is US$8 and US$4 for children under 12, but the experience is worth every penny!
If you’d rather not pay the entry fee then Winnifred is easily as beautiful as Frenchman’s Cove. As it is a public beach (with no resort laying claim to its sands) you’ll be able to soak up the sun and enjoy the sea without worrying about an entry fee.
CHUKKA Caribbean Adventures
With locations in Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Negril, CHUKKA provides a myriad of outdoor activities. The location you pick will depend on the combination of activities you are interested in. CHUKKA enables you to do some zip-lining, river tubing, river rafting, ATV Quad Safari riding, underwater cave exploring and even some horseback swimming.
You’ll find activities from around US$65, although there are often deals and discounts so keep an eye on their website. www.chukka.com
Jamaica’s fourteen parishes have so much more to offer. But who ever said luxurious adventures always has to break the bank? The island is filled with so many economical vacation selections, that the possibilities on a budget are near to endless.
This short guide in no way represents everything that this lush destination has to offer. It is merely proof that with an open mind, and a little exploration, a little can go a long way on your next trip to Jamaica.
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