30 May 2018
Think Jamaica and you’ll probably imagine white-sand beaches, wave-jumping and waterfalls, but this is an island rich in flavour too. From the world-famous native jerk chicken or pork (a spicy dish that originated with African slaves,) to the mild coffee grown in the Blue Mountains and the sugar cane that is not only Jamaica’s biggest export but also the prime ingredient in the country’s legendary rum.
Combine a tour of some of Jamaica’s best food and drink sites with its equally compelling historic venues and you have the basis of a wonderful holiday with memories that go beyond the beach to the very heart of Jamaican culture.
Rum Factory Tours
Visit Hampden Rum Factory or the Appleton Estate to learn how the island’s famed rum is made and to taste it too. A Jamaican lunch is usually included in the price, and some tours include a complimentary bottle of rum to take away with you.
Prospect Plantation in Ocho Rios runs tours of its bananas, cassava, sugar cane, coffee, allspice and other crops, during which you’ll learn about the estate’s colourful history as well as get the chance to feed ostriches, visit the beehives and butterfly house and take a horse-and-carriage ride. You’ll also see the Great House with its antiques and its defences against privateers and buccaneers, as well as White River Gorge, the site of Jamaica's first hydro-electric power station. Much-welcomed free drinks are on hand to cool you down after your explorations.
Alternatively, Sun Valley in the south of Oracabessa is an organic farm with owner-led garden tours teaching you about bananas and sugar cane, two crops that have been crucial in the area’s development. There’s also the option of visiting the groves of coconuts – the main crop today – along with other tropical fruits and medicinal herbs.
Cooking and Food Tasting Tour
Gain hands-on experience in cooking authentic Jamaican dishes yard-style from scratch in the company of an experienced chef who will let you in on the secret ingredients involved, then sit down to feast on your creations.
Blue Mountains Discovery
A Blue Mountain Highlights and Picnic excursion takes you deep into this majestic range for brunch and coffee tasting in an open-air restaurant 750m above sea level. You'll also get a guided tour to learn about the indigenous herbs and plants growing around you, a picnic-style lunch served in a calabash bowl at Asafu Culture Yard, and the chance to join in with locals singing, drumming and dancing. There are stops at local markets and historic sites en route, as well as the chance to cool off with a dip in a secluded river.
Once the Caribbean’s biggest city before becoming partly submerged as a result of earthquakes and tsunamis, this once-infamous pirate-base near Kingston is now a part-authentic fishing village and part museum. Explore the relics of Fort Charles, including the ‘Giddy House’ – the former royal artillery store, named for its 45° tilt – during a tour with a Jamaica National Heritage Trust tour guide. Then refuel at popular Gloria's Rendezvous with fried, stewed or steamed shrimp, lobster and other seafood, all accompanied by sea views.
Rose Hall Plantation Tour
Said to be haunted by the ‘White Witch’ Annie Palmer who was cursed for turning her magnificent plantation into a living hell for both her slaves and her three husbands, this vast Montego Bay estate includes the gorgeously restored colonial Great Hall with its tropical garden and Cinnamon Hill Great House - the last-surviving home of country music legend Johnny Cash. Try an interactive Haunted Night Tour for the full-on spooky experience. All Great Hall tours, day and night, include a serving of ‘Witches Brew’ – recommended to steady your nerves!
Greenwood Great House
Also situated in Montego Bay, this mansion survived the slave rebellion of Christmas 1831 unscathed and now houses an extensive collection of Jamaican antiques, as well as rare musical instruments and plantation library books. This time you can conclude your 45-minute with a cold beer in the quaint on-site pub.
To find out more about and book your holiday in Jamaica, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor.