On the raft in the blue lagoon

Jamaica One Week Guide

Jamaica lived up to its expectations: chill vibes, amazing people, gorgeous beaches and fun things to do. One week in Jamaica is enough time to embrace and enjoy it, but not enough time to see everything Jamaica has to offer. Prior to my trip, a lot of people warned me about getting mugged and that I needed to be careful. When I went to Jamaica, I discovered Jamaicans were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They were so chill, easy going, fun, funny and just so grateful for everything. We heard several times that a lot of people end up crying when their vacation is ending. Now I know why…

Getting there:

Fly into Kingston Airport. It’s a decent size airport. Going through immigration was easy. For some reason they sent my friend and I through a different line and we didn’t get our passports stamped 🙁 I accidentally told them I was in Mexico within the last two weeks, and they pulled me aside and talked to me about malaria. They gave me a piece of paper that stated if I get sick, I was also in another location that had malaria. There’s a cell phone store located right outside of the exit if you need to buy a SIM card. There’s also an ATM if you need to withdraw any money.

Getting around:

Renting a car is the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way to get around the island. Driving in Jamaica is a little bit crazy… but it’s doable. You just need to be aggressive. In Jamaica, they drive on the left side of the road. If you’re not used to driving on the left side, it might take some time adjusting to it, but it’s doable. Thankfully my friend is from Kenya who recently had some experience driving on the left side.

Tips:

  • If you want to leave a tip at a restaurant, you have to let them know ahead of time before running your credit card
  • The bill at the restaurant has GCT (General Consumption Tax) and sometimes a small service charge. I recommend still tipping on top of that if you liked your service
  • If you are a beer drinker, a Red Stripe is a must
  • A lot of places accept credit card
  • Carry Jamaican cash on you in case you come across places that are cash only and if you want to tip people (people are so friendly!!) Also, when we were driving around the island, we passed 2-3 toll booths that only accepted Jamaican cash

One week itinerary in Jamaica:

Day 1

Arrive in Kingston.

Where to stay in Kingston, Jamaica:

We stayed at an Airbnb in Kingston that accommodated 4 people and had a parking spot. There was a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove, and microwave where you can cook meals if you want to. You’ll need a car or a taxi to get to places though. If you don’t have an Airbnb account, you can sign up with my link to get $40 off your booking.

Things to do in Kingston, Jamaica:

Go to the Bob Marley Museum. I didn’t get to go, but I wanted to! We didn’t have that much time and wasn’t able to go.

Eat at South Ave Grill. This restaurant is a great place for vegetarians and meat eaters. The food was delicious! The ambiance is nice too. There’s outdoor seating, and a lovely pool of water.

South Ave Grill ambiance in Kingston

Party at Track and Record. If you arrive on the weekend, Track and Record is a great place to get drinks. The restaurant turns into club/bar on the weekends. During the week, it’s just a restaurant.

Listen to reggae music at the Kingston Dub Club. Kingston Dub Club is located way up in the hills. You’ll need a car to get there, or you can get a taxi there. It’s all uphill and very windy roads. Some say there’s a lot of famous reggae artists that go there. It’s a beautiful view of Kingston and they also have live music there. It was closed when we went so make sure it’s open before driving up there. You can check their website for hours of operation and events. Down the street, you can see a house that hosted Bob Marley’s kids. There’s a sign on the gate that says “Reggae Legend Villa”. That’s all you can see though. You can’t walk up to the house, but you can take a picture of it!

Day 2

The next stop is Long Bay, Portland. The drive is about 3 hours long and you can drive along the coastline. On the way to the next hotel, you can either drop off your luggage or leave your luggage in your car. The hotel is about 15-20 minutes past Reach Falls so you will have to backtrack. If you leave your luggage in the car, I suggest you wear your bathing suit, bring insect repellent, and your waterproof camera. Leave everything else in your trunk. We made the mistake of driving to Reach Falls and having to change, put our purses in the trunk, go through our luggage, and exposed all of our belongings. Our stuff was still there when we came back, but it was definitely a gamble. Our tour guide ensured us our belongings were safe, but you never know.

Reach Falls:

This was one of my favorite activities in Jamaica. It was such an amazing experience from start to finish. Follow the signs on the road to Reach Falls. You’ll see a group of people standing near the main road that are going to flag you down. STOP YOUR CAR! Talk to them and see if you can negotiate a price. They’ll take you to a spot further up the river where you’ll get more beautiful views than the actual waterfall itself. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss out on! You can do it yourself, but it’s so nice having a tour guide. We put all our personal belongings in a backpack and he wore it while we were in the water. He took SO many photos of us… it was like a photo shoot every 10 feet. He will also tell you where it is best to walk since there’s a lot of random deep spots in the river, very rocky and slippery, etc. If you skip going further up the river, you’ll just be seeing Reach Falls waterfall… which is fine, but not nearly as beautiful as everything leading up to the waterfall.

Sitting at Reach Falls looking at scenery

Climbing the waterfall in Reach Falls

Where to stay in Long Bay, Jamaica:

Stay at the Sea Cliff Resort. We booked our reservation on Expedia, but you can look up whichever website has the cheapest deal. The resort was gorgeous! It was right on the cliff, overlooking the beautiful ocean. The rooms are spacious, and you’ll have a spectacular view from your room! There’s hammocks on the balconies where you can lay, relax, and hear the waves crashing into the rocks. There’s a restaurant at the resort so you don’t have to leave to get food. The food and cocktails were really good, and there’s a nice variety. When we booked our reservation, breakfast was included in our rate. It was a very basic breakfast though, but it was a traditional Jamaican breakfast: fruit and meat.

Day 3

Drive to Montego Bay which is about a 4.5 hour drive from Sea Cliff Resort. On the way, you’ll want to stop by a few places so I recommend starting your day as early as you can. Again, I recommend wearing your bathing suit and have everything you need with you and everything you do not need in the trunk. When you park your car at the Blue Lagoon, there’s a lot of people standing around and will see all of your belongings in your trunk so you want to try to minimize going in there after you park.

Blue lagoon:

This was one of our favorite memories as well. It was absolutely beautiful. It seriously looked unreal… As you drive to the blue lagoon, you’ll also get stopped by someone. Follow him and hire a guide. If you drink beer, buy Red Stripes for the raft ride. They’ll take you on a raft (usually 1 – 2 people per raft) and your guide will talk about interesting facts and talk about the houses. We saw which houses Beyonce, Rihanna and other famous people stay at.

The first stop is monkey island. It’s a little island in the middle of the ocean. There’s a beautiful swing you can swing on and enjoy the water. It was pouring rain for a while so we hung out in the ocean and hung out under a tiny piece of cardboard for shelter. After the rain stopped, we went to a spot that had a bar and had some drinks. We hung out there and met this guy named Steven. We heard him singing earlier and told him how much we loved his voice. He started singing for us and it was just such a fun and memorable experience. Lastly, we stopped at where we started and walked to this beautiful place with another swing. It was such an amazing experience.

On the raft in the blue lagoon

Dunn’s River Falls:

We didn’t get the chance to go here because we ran out of time. However, this is another popular tourist attraction that you can stop on the way to Montego Bay from Long Bay. It looks beautiful and a lot of fun, but we simply ran out of time and heard from the locals it’s not that great and there’s too many people there.

Where to stay in Montego Bay, Jamaica:

We stayed at an all inclusive resort at the SeaGarden Beach Resort. We booked our reservation on Expedia, but you can see whichever website is the cheapest. Our rooms were facing towards the ocean so it was a beautiful view. If you want an ocean view, I recommend requesting one and also requesting to be on the upper floors. I had buildings and trees blocking my view of the ocean, but my friend’s room had a gorgeous view.

Beautiful view from balcony at SeaGarden Beach Resort in Montego Bay
Photo credit: Dot

The food was really good and there was a variety of different options to choose from. There were a lot of vegetarian options which was awesome! The drinks were also good and you can request them to make it stronger :). There’s activities during the day, live music and even a bar/club at the resort. When we went to the bar/club, there was a DJ and dance floor to have fun! They have access to the beach where your wristband can be used to get free drinks and food. It was absolutely stunning there.

Day 4 – 5

Drive to Negril – one of the most highly anticipated places in Jamaica. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Montego Bay. Negril is home to one of the top rated beaches in the world, Seven Mile Beach. It’s gorgeous and is often a top destination in Jamaica. Locals go there to vacation and a lot of people solely go to Negril when traveling to Jamaica. If you’re only staying in Negril while in Jamaica, you can read my Negril post that goes into more detail on what else to do there.

Where to stay in Negril, Jamaica:

We stayed at one of my favorite places in Jamaica, Villas Sur Mer. We booked ours on Expedia, but it looks like you can book the villa on multiple travel websites. I like Villa Sur Mer’s website though… the music on it is so peaceful and so Jamaica! Our place was beautiful. Air conditioning worked perfectly, HOT showers (I love scorching hot showers…) and the whole place was just beautiful and amazing. There were welcome drinks, a pool, hot tub, a private underground cave that went to the ocean, free snorkel gear, and so much more! I definitely recommend staying here. The staff are so nice, the place is beautiful, and the location is great!

Underground cave to the ocean  at Villa Sur Mer
Underground cave to the ocean at Villa Sur Mer
Pool and hot tub at Villa Sur Mer
Pool and hot tub at Villa Sur Mer

Top things to do in Negril:

Walk Seven Mile Beach.

Seven Mile Beach is one of Jamaica’s most beautiful beaches. It’s actually not even 7 miles long either, but it’s gorgeous with beautiful blue water and white sand coastline. There’s a lot of resorts and hotels on the beach, but if you’re not staying there, you can still enjoy the beach.

Seven Mile Beach

Jump off the cliffs, watch the sunset and party at Rick’s Cafe.

Rick’s Cafe is less than a 2 minute walk from Villa Sur Mer. You can’t bring any outside water… they wouldn’t even let me put it in my purse -_- Here you’ll see people jumping off cliffs into the ocean, a DJ, alcohol shooters, food, people dancing and a beautiful sunset. This is a fun place to party or people watch. Even if you don’t want to drink, it’s a great place to check out. I recommend going there between noon and 3 pm before it gets crowded.

Rick's Cafe in Negril

Book a glass bottom snorkeling tour.

Famous Vincent and his team were SO nice and accommodating. Famous Vincent joins everyone while snorkeling and shows you things in the ocean like sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumber and more! He’ll pick up ones that are safe to touch and let you touch and hold them! I’ve never gone snorkeling during the day with a guide showing the group sea creatures. It was such a neat experience.

Eat an amazing dinner at Le Vendome Restaurant at Charela Inn.

On Thursday’s and Saturday’s, there’s live jazz music. The music was AMAZING and the food was too. The staff were phenomenal as well. Everyone was so nice and provided excellent customer service. Everything about our experience was perfect and I highly recommend going there on a Thursday or Saturday.

Watch the sunset on a boat tour with Famous Vincent.

We loved Famous Vincent so much that we booked another tour with him! This was a beautiful experience. It was just us (3 of my friends and I), Vincent and his 2 crew members. We had music, drinks and watched the beautiful sunset. We were able to snorkel as well in a gorgeous cave. Throughout the boat ride, Vincent gave us a tour about the buildings on shore. There were several moments during this tour where I kept thinking to myself how grateful I am for this experience and for my life.

Sunset cruise

Lay at Half Moon Beach and take a boat ride to a bar on an island.

Our hotel recommended this beach. It was nice small beach and it wasn’t packed with tourists. There were comfy lounge chairs to sit on and the water and sand were amazing. There’s a guy who has a tiny boat that takes you to this island where he built a bar on. It’s absolutely beautiful and so serene.

Party at the Jungle.

When you buy your entrance ticket, you get a free drink ticket. There’s a parking lot that you can park your car, but there’s a parking fee. We got there a little too early. It started getting crowded after 1 am. There’s an inside part and an outside part upstairs with a DJ. Check it out and walk around. There’s different music playing in different rooms. It’s a fun place to go out!

Snorkel and dodge the jelly fishes.

If you’re staying at Villa Sur Mer, there’s an underground cave that takes you straight to the ocean. You can borrow their snorkel equipment and snorkel right next to the cliff. When we went, it was super choppy. The jelly fish were getting pushed to shore so we were getting stung nonstop. If it’s not choppy, then it’s a great place to snorkel for a quick dip.

Snorkel at Villa Sur Mer

Eat in a beautiful garden at Just Natural.

This was probably our cheapest meal in Jamaica. Everything was reasonably priced and there were a lot of options. It’s vegan and vegetarian friendly too! We went for lunch, but they have breakfast and dinner meals as well. The seating area is in the garden and it’s beautiful. So many plants and each table is very secluded. I recommend double checking the bill afterwards because they accidentally messed up twice on our bill. The food was very tasty though! My friend really liked his lobster omelette and I really liked the french toast. The bread and jam there is really good. It’s cash only!!

Just Natural Restaurant counter

Just Garden in Negril

Watch the sunset and eat at Ivan’s at Catcha Falling Star.

This restaurant is beautiful. It’s a fantastic place to have a romantic dinner there as well… If you go on their TripAdvisor page, view all their gorgeous photos and you’ll know why it’s a good spot to go to. It’s on the cliff viewing the ocean. It’s a perfect view for sunset and the ambiance is great. We went there when it was already dark, but the view of the moon was gorgeous as well. It might look like they are closed, but they are not. Ring the doorbell and someone will answer the door.

Day 6

Drive back to Kingston and stay at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa which is closer to the airport. We booked our reservation on Booking.com, but you can check online and book the best deal. There’s a restaurant at the hotel that you can eat at which was good.

Day 7

Fly back home and try not to cry…

The airport is easy to get around and there’s gift shops throughout the airport. If you have a Priority Pass or an airport lounge pass, the lounge is nice! There’s a variety of food to choose from and they also announce your flight on the loud speaker.

Walking on Seven Mile Beach

I hope this one week guide in Jamaica helped you out! What was your favorite part about Jamaica?

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One week guide to Jamaica

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1 Comment

  1. This is a beautifully written piece. Never been to Jamaica but it’s definitely on my bucket list. I will take up Patois classes before heading there; ti make communication with locals easier lol.

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