Jamaica Itinerary: Best Way To Spend a Week in Caribbean Paradise

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With its vibrant culture, tantalizing foods, and friendly locals, Jamaica should be on all travel bucket lists. The island is quite small, but is packed with interesting things to do and places to see. You could spend weeks here and never run out of new and exciting discoveries. 

This 7-day itinerary travel guide is here to help you get the most out of a week in Jamaica. Let us help you plan a vacation to Jamaica and ensure you get the most out of your time in this Caribbean paradise

air jamaica plane landing

Getting to Jamaica

You can get to Jamaica by air or by sea, depending on where you’re coming from and which method you prefer. There are well-run international airports on the island. 

These are found in: 

  • Kingston (KIN – Norman Manley International)
  • Montego Bay (MBJ – Donald Sangster International) 
  • and the newest in Ocho Rios (OCJ – Ian Fleming International)

The larger and more popular of these three is Montego Bay, and this is where most visitors to the island will land. 

Where to stay on your Jamaican trip

We suggest you base yourself in Montego Bay. This city boasts some of the most affordable resorts. The city is lively and energetic, and it’s not hard to see why it’s the tourism capital.

Take a look at a few of the Jamaica vacation rentals on offer, and pick one that suits your budget and style. 

VW van painted jamaican colors with bob marley photo

Getting around Jamaica

One week in Jamaica is going to see you traveling between the cities and smaller towns quite a bit. The locations are a bit far to walk, so here are various transport options.

Buses 

Buses in Jamaica offer an affordable way to get from point A to B. They’re often crowded, and can sometimes be used by pickpockets, but they provide a real look into local Jamaican life. 

If you’re going to take public transport, be sure to check schedules and maps. It can be a bit disorientating once you’re on the bus so plan your routes beforehand and know where you’re going. 

Taxis

Taxis are a great way to get around the island. They’re quite affordable and are driven by knowledgeable locals who know the roads. 

Just be sure that you only hire licensed taxis. These are recognizable by their red license plates which all have ‘PP’ on them. 

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Car rental

Car rentals are easily available on the island, if you’d prefer to drive yourself around. However, be warned that driving in Jamaica is not easy for everyone. 

Locals drive quite aggressively and often speed, and the roads are not always well-maintained. Driving in Jamaica can be tricky, as the roads are not marked well. And if you plan on having a sunset cocktail, know that the alcohol limit is extremely low, so have a designated driver. 

waves gently rolling on a Jamaican beach

One week itinerary – best of Jamaica in 7 days

Here’s a suggested itinerary for spending your time on the island. 

Day 1 – Montego Bay

Explore the surroundings of your home base before heading too far out. 

Head to the beach

There are some great beaches in the city. Top options include Doctor’s Cave Beach, Tropical Bliss, and One Man Beach. 

Do some snorkeling

Montego Bay is the best place to go diving or snorkeling. Marvel at the blue lagoons and the world of natural wonders beneath the surface. 

Enjoy the nightlife

This is what Montego Bay is best known for. Go out, have a drink or two, and mingle with the locals. 

Day 2 – Negril

A scenic 1.5-hour drive from Montego Bay will see you in Negril, a coastal town best known for its stunning ocean waters. It’s the perfect place to head out to sea on a boat tour and enjoy the ocean air. 

Walk down Seven Mile Beach

This pristine beach offers miles and miles of clean sand and turquoise waters. Take a slow stroll and enjoy the views. You can grab a Jamaican patty or ice cream from one of the local vendors and enjoy a quiet morning, 

Take a glass-bottom boat tour

Take advantage of Negril’s clear and calm waters and head out on a transparent glass-bottom boat. You’ll catch sights of the fish and coral beneath the surface, which really is a sight to behold. 

Head to Rick’s Cafe

There are many reasons to visit Rick’s Cafe while in Negril. From the Jamaican food and drinks to the live band music accompanying your meal. It also has the most breathtaking views of the Caribbean sunset. 

And, if you’re brave enough, join the hordes of adventure-seekers as they jump off the restaurant’s cliff face into the warm waters. 

Day 3 – Nine Mile

The birthplace of Bob Marley, Nine Mile is around 2 hours from Montego Bay. It’s a small town, though, so you can easily explore it in a few hours.

Bob Marley Museum

This is the main attraction in the tiny village, and it welcomes thousands of tourists each year. This is one of the most important historical places to see in Jamaica, and the tour guide inside the museum will share all of their knowledge about Marley and his legacy. 

For the rest of your trip, simply enjoy the town and its sights. The drive is picturesque and the village offers a quaint look into Jamaican history.

Small vendor cart saying Joe's shell shack

Day 4 – Kingston 

The capital city is about 2.5 hours from Montego Bay, but it’s a must on any Jamaica itinerary. 

See the museums and galleries

There are quite a few in the city, so make a list and explore Kingston’s highlights. The Bob Marley Museum, Devon House, and the National Gallery of Jamaica are some unmissable options. 

Rockfort Mineral Bath

The mineral baths on the outskirts of Kingston offer a revitalizing visit. Spend up to 40 minutes in one of the several pools and see for yourself if the rumors of healing powers are true. 

Learn about pirates at Port Royal

An hour from Kingston, you can visit this tiny port. There’s a museum and other landmarks that show why this town was once known as ‘the wickedest city in the world’. As well as Jamaican naval history. See cannons, fort remains, and many items recovered from the sea. 

Day 5 – Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios is arguably the most beautiful place in Jamaica. There’s a ton to do here, so it’s a good thing the drive will only take about 1.5 hours. 

Walk the town

Once you’ve arrived, spend an hour or two seeing what the town has to offer. There’s an art gallery, a craft market, and many other local gems. You can also visit one of the city’s beaches for some sea air. 

Lunch at Scotchie’s

This spot is famous for its jerk chicken, making it the obvious choice for a lunch break while exploring Ocho Rios. 

Turtle River Falls

This 15-acre tropical garden offers a welcome spot to catch your breath and take in the serenity around you. Enjoy the waterfalls, tropical swimming pool, and variety of tropical bird species found in this area. 

Dunn’s River Falls

On your way back to Montego Bay, we’d highly recommend a stop off at Dunn’s River Falls to enjoy the view and natural beauty. There is an entrance fee, but it’s worth it. 

tourists climbing Dunn's river falls

Day 6 – Discovery Bay

Believed by some to be the place that Christopher Columbus first landed, Discovery Bay is just an hour’s drive from Montego Bay. 

Columbus Park

This open-air museum is a must-see, especially for history and archaeological enthusiasts. Spend some time wandering through the historic items, such as a cannon, an old water wheel, and a corn-husker. 

Puerto Seco beach park

Take some time out of sightseeing to enjoy this fun beach park. This is great if you have kids, or if you’re a big kid yourself. There’s an inflatable water park, clean pools, and ample space to laze in the sun. 

Green Grotto Caves

Located between Discovery Bay and Runaway Bay, this underground site offers a geological and historical lesson. The caves were used by the Spaniards to hide from the invading English, but today they’re a popular site for tourists. 

Day 7 – Falmouth

Drive about 40 minutes from your accommodation, and you’ll reach Falmouth, the picturesque port town located in between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. 

Heritage Walk

The best way to get a feel for the town is to go on a heritage walk. Book a local for a guided walk, or head out on your own with Google as your guide. Find historic landmarks and points of interest, and learn more about the town. 

Lunch and shopping at the port

One of the cleanest ports in Jamaica, Falmouth’s port deserves a couple of hours’ worth of exploring. Browse the shops, find souvenirs to take home, and then take your pick of restaurants to sit down and enjoy a traditional meal. 

Optional: Martha’s Brae Bamboo Raft Trip

Before heading back, take a 10-minute trip to Martha Brae Rafting Village. Here, you’ll be taken on a bamboo raft down a calm river. The ride is about 1 hour long, and you’ll hear the story of The Legend of the Martha Brae as you go.

small island of the coast of falmouth

More Jamaica day trips

If you’re looking for more easy and relaxing places to spend the day, here are a couple of day trip options from Montego Bay.

Boat to Booby Island

Just a short boat trip from Negril, this is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Come here to enjoy the waters, go snorkeling, or have a lobster barbeque. This is probably best done with a group of locals who can show you around. 

Black River & YS Falls

Travel along the south coast of Jamaica to Black River, one of the country’s longest rivers. Visit YS Falls, swim in the natural pools, and take a river safari to see some of the natural splendor along the riverbanks. 

Take a guided river cruise to see some of the fascinating bird species and alligators that live in and around the water. 

man on the street in a jamaican hat

Quick travel tips before you plan a trip to Jamaica

With your itinerary sorted, you’re almost ready for your week in the Caribbean. Here are a few more tidbits of information to take with you. 

3 foods to try in Jamaica

Jamaican cuisine has many influences, including Indian, Chinese, Spanish and British. This makes for an interesting selection of local foods. Aside from the country’s well-known and expensive coffee, here are some meals and snacks you should look out for. 

1. Jerk chicken

This is a local favorite and can be found almost everywhere in Jamaica. To make it, chicken is dry-rubbed with a spicy mixture and then smoked to create a divine meal. 

2. Ackee and saltfish

This may be strange for some tastes, but this dish is actually served at breakfast. It’s made up of salted codfish and the ackee fruit. They’re sauteed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and spices to make an interesting flavor. 

3. Jamaican patty

Much like a turnover, this snack consists of a flaky crust and a mouthwatering filling. The traditional filling is beef, but nowadays you can choose to have chicken and fish, among others. 

small river town in jamaica

3 phrases you’ll hear on the streets

English is Jamaica’s official language, but the locals definitely have a different way of saying things at times. Here are some sayings that you may not understand – even if they are being spoken in English. 

1. ‘Small Up Yuhself’

This is likely to be heard in the buses or other cramped spaces. It simply means that the person is trying to move past you and is asking you to ‘small up yourself’ and give them space. 

2. ‘Weh Yuh Ah Seh’

Loosely translated, this means ‘what you saying’, but it’s used more as ‘how you doing?’ So if you hear this from a local, they’re not asking you to repeat yourself, they’re just asking how you’re doing. 

3. ‘Ya Mon’

This is one of the best phrases to learn for your 7-day trip to Jamaica. It’s the equivalent of ‘no problem’ in English and often used as an agreement.

sunset on a resort in montego bay

Final tips for your Jamaica trip 

Jamaica’s culture is rich, and its history runs deep. From slaves and pirates to notable people in history. It’s now a fascinating tropical island, attracting loads of travelers from all over the world. 

There’s no doubt that whether you’re in Jamaica for a day or a week, the island will make you fall in love with it. So, pack your bags and get ready for a memorable trip.

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots at As We Saw It travel blog. “Photography is unique in that it captures light in all forms, and since the Bible says YHVH (God) is light, photography captures Him in many forms.”

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