A Gap Year in Jamaica

Why go backpacking in Jamaica?

Backpacking in Jamaica may not be that common – many visitors come from the USA or elsewhere in North America to stay in fancy resorts – but it’s well worth your consideration.

Welcome to Jamaica, a Caribbean country bursting with catchy music, colourful culture, lush landscapes, and delicious food! While Jamaica is mostly remembered as the home of the late, great Bob Marley and the origin of jerk chicken, it also holds potential for so many more adventures.

Should you choose to go backpacking, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Reach Falls, explore the vibrant art scene in Lifeyard, and even embrace your inner animal lover by feeding hummingbirds at the Rocklands Bird Feeding Station. There’s no shortage of excitement and novelty to be had in a place like Jamaica!

Although it’s unlikely that you’ll have any problems, some areas within Jamaica have been known to have high crime rates, so make sure to follow government advice and take safety precautions when travelling.

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Cities in Jamaica

Kingston, which encompasses much of Jamaica’s economy and culture, is a vital part of any gap year in Jamaica, and where you’re likely to find plenty of budget accommodation. Composed of two opposing halves—a historic Downtown and a stunningly modern Uptown, Kingston represents the full picture of Jamaica’s past and present. Kingston hosts the National Gallery of Jamaica, whose art captures not only the creativity of the nation, but also the entirety of its history, from slavery under the British and up through the modern, realist, and abstract styles of contemporary artists. If you’re not much of a visual art lover, the Trench Town Culture Yard is a historic spot for all music lovers. It’s been home to artists like Bob Marley and served as a party destination for the Rolling Stones. In addition, it’s often credited as the birthplace of genres like ska, reggae, and rocksteady.

Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach is a buzzing center of bars, restaurants, and water sports. Although it’s actually only four miles long, the Seven Mile Beach is still beautiful and is a great stop for a night out. Montego Bay is also a great destination, home to the Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica’s largest reggae festival, as well as Houseboat Grill, a restaurant located on a converted houseboat, known to serve up an ever-changing, deliciously innovative fusion menu.

Countryside in Jamaica

Away from the city, Jamaica’s south coast and central highlands serve as a secluded respite from the clamor of the main beaches and attractions. Treasure Beach, located along Jamaica’s south coast, offers a resort-free environment that provides a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere that refuses the intensity and noise of the tourist areas. Unlike other Jamaican beaches, Treasure Beach is shielded from rain for most of the year, creating a more desert-like terrain, defined by rocky shorelines and private coves.

Lover’s Leap, where the Santa Cruz Mountains take a 500m dive into the ocean, is a perfect photo-taking opportunity, especially around sunset. For years, the site has been surrounded by a tragically romantic myth of star-crossed lovers, jumping to their deaths to escape separation. If you’re feeling brave, there’s a long trail that leads down to the beautiful, but rocky, Cutlass Bay down below.

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