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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.