Jamaica travel experts, like Robyn Hall, frequent the island on a regular basis looking for great experiences for their clients who visit. We asked Robyn for tips on vacationing in Jamaica like a local — from the most Instagrammable locations to where to get the best local food.
What’s something that would surprise most people about Jamaica — any off-beaten path things to explore?
Most people would be surprised that Port Antonio in Portland, Jamaica was the start of Jamaica’s reputation as a tourist destination back in 1905. Presently people flock to the resort destinations of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril due to the ease of transportation. However, the journey to Portland has a magic that is well worth the travel time.
From roadside stalls to holes in the wall to fine dining experiences, what are the best places to try that celebrate Jamaica food culture?
When making the journey to Portland, be sure to take the time to go rafting down the Rio Grande and stop at Miss Belindas Riverside Canteen for some of the best cooking over and open fire you’ve ever experienced. She has cooked delicious dishes including curry chicken and crayfish, rice and peas, breadfruit and fried plantain for all walks of life including celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Beyonce. Her hospitality and amazing food is unmatched. If Jerk Chicken is on your bucket list, The Boston Jerk Center is the best place in Jamaica to try authentic Jerk Chicken, and if you have a sweet tooth don’t miss out on Devon House ice cream which can now be found throughout the island at various locations.
The most Instagrammable spots in Jamaica?
Aside from the traditional “instagrammable” spots such as Dunns River Falls, The Blue Hole and Margaritaville, one of my favorite photos was taken at The Blue Lagoon which has been featured in films because of its beautiful blue color which is over 200 feet deep and fed by mineral springs.
What’s a recommended “treat yourself” (spa, massage etc) experience you should do in Jamaica?
If you want a real treat, Jamaica has some of the most amazing spas. You can get a simple body massage right on the beach by one of the many licensed professionals throughout the island. If luxury is your style there are full-service spa facilities located throughout the island. My favorite was a luxurious full body massage at The Trident Castle after spending a day visiting the nearby school and delivering a motivational speech to the 2 and 3rd graders preparing for their exams.
One guilty pleasure you enjoy on the island that you suggest to visitors?
A guilty pleasure I try to always take the time to enjoy when I am in Jamaica is to spend some on the beach completely by myself. Those quiet moments watching the water and listening to the waves help me to reflect on life and really put things into perspective. After over 30 visits to Jamaica, I leave wondering when I will be able to come back “home”.