Many tourists arrive in Jamaica with a set itinerary in mind that takes advantage of Jamaica’s “Greatest Hits.” In other words, they come ready to see and experience the activities and adventures that the tourism sites, travel guides, and their friends who have visited recommend.
Even we highly recommend certain very popular Jamaican activities, like Dunn’s River Falls, to name one (by far Jamaica’s most popular activity).
And, of course, popular Jamaican activities are popular for a reason! However, we also recommend getting to know the real Jamaica with a few off-the-beaten path experiences that replace more traditional options with something a bit more fun, funky, and, well, different.
Have a look at these 3 very popular tourist options in Jamaica, and what off-the-beaten-path experiences you can try instead.
Typical Tourist Choice: Spa Day
Unique Alternative: Have a Mineral Bath
A luxury spa day on the beach is a wonderful thing. But slipping into a mineral bath can offer even more relaxation and rejuvination than your typical spa experience.
Natural hot mineral springs boast healing properties for everything from inflammation, fungi, skin disorders, joint pain, and arthritis. And the island of Jamaica has three major mineral springs where visitors can soak away their aches and pains.
A little less than two hours away from Ochos Rios in Clarendon Parish is the Milk River Bath, which is a spa that takes advantage of naturally occurring radioactive waters. Though dipping into radioactive water sounds like a bad idea, in this case you are mostly submersing into water that contains sodium, calcium, sulphate and magnesium in higher-than-average concentrations.
At Milk River Bath, the claim is that the bath’s healing properties are heightened because the waters are more radioactive than others on the island and rated top in the world. A little over an hour in Kingston you’ll find the Rockfort Mineral Bath which has both a pool as well as private rooms with water from the nearby mineral springs.
Typical Tourist Choice: Shopping at a Coastal Shopping Center
Unique Alternative: Linstead Market
Getting away from the tourist-centric coastal shopping centers and experiencing the true culture on your Jamaican vacation can be a little tricky. Many of the shopping centers in Jamaica cater to tourists (particularly cruise ship traffic) and have a cookie cutter feel.
But for folks looking for a traditional Jamaican flea market with local color, the Linstead Market may be the perfect destination. Head inland towards Linstead about 45 minutes and you’ll find a market where farmers from surrounding towns bring their fresh produce to sell to locals.
Even better when your accommodations have a kitchen, as we do at Jamaica Ocean View Villa! Procure some fresh produce and create a delicious meal from local ingredients.
However, it’s worth consulting with your Ocho Rios villa rental host or other local sources before making the journey to Linstead Market, just to ensure that you’re going during the right season and at the right time.
Typical Tourist Choice: Dunn’s River Falls
Unique Alterative: Black River
Dunn’s River Falls too crowded?
To see lush greenery, rare birds, and sometimes crocodiles, a trip to the Black River is a must. If you want more of a learning experience, consider taking the Black River Safari Tour. Seasoned captains guide boats down the beautiful river and offer fascinating information about local vegetation and wildlife. It is likely that you’ll spot some creatures such as egrets, and the majority of visitors will spot a crocodile or two!
Even better, your guides are pretty friendly with the local crocs and you may get lucky enough to take a selfie with one of the more friendly aquatic reptiles. While you’re in the area, check out the Appleton Rum distillery—they offer tours and tastings. You’ll get to see the stills, lean about the fermentation process, and check out the oak barrels in which the rum is aged.
For other neat “off the beaten path” places to visit in the area, check out other blog posts in this series or contact us, your Ocho Rios local experts and Jamaica Ocean View Villa hosts!