Around Jamaica in 80 days!

BY PAUL ALLEN
Observer writer

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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Okay, so we didn't count the exact number of days from the time summer officially begins to when schools reopen in September, but it's about 80 days and makes for a really great headline, don't you agree?

Now that we have that out of the way, we can begin to look at some of the incredible lures that make Jamaica such a popular destination among tourists and locals looking a memorable staycation.

From Negril point at the western most tip of the island to Morant point on the opposite end, Jamaica is a traveller's dream of vibrant history, culture, natural landmarks and contemporary allusions.

Too many of us have read blogs, newspaper articles (not unlike this one) and watched social media posts of places that are within reach but which we continue to make excuses to not visit. Let's change the narrative as we explore some of what Jamaica has to offer this summer over the next 80 days!

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SEVEN MILE BEACH, NEGRIL

The Seven Mile Beach in Negril is easily one of the most breathtaking sights found anywhere in the region. The expansive stretch of white sand beach with numerous restaurants, bars and attractions activities is enough to make any day trip worth it, but wait around for the breathtaking sunset and you will see why so many people keep return. With numerous establishments divvying up the stretch into fragmented beaches, one can pick that which speaks most to what their interests are from a chill day on the sand to snorkeling, boating, horseback riding, jet skiing and more! It's truly a paradise for the water lovers among us, and perfect for families or groups of friends.

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GREEN GROTTO CAVES, ST ANN

As we leave the west and head north, the Green Grotto Caves in St Ann is one of the most striking and underrated attractions around. The complex network of caverns is not just beautiful to behold, but is also steeped in rich history charting from as far back as the first inhabitants, the Tainos, whose artifacts are often found within the natural feature. The caves were also used by the Spanish as a refuge from the invading English in the 17th century and also once served as a base for arms trafficking to nearby Cuba. No tour of the caves would be complete without viewing its underground lake, another major pull for those not willing to make the trek to solely view attractive rock formations.

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PELLEW ISLAND, PORTLAND

More than half the people reading this have likely never heard of Pellew Island but are familiar with Monkey Island. They are the same, Jamaicans are just creative (or very obvious depending on how you see it) when it comes to place names. No visit to Portland in the east can be considered complete without a trip to Monkey Island, so-called because it was once inhabited by, you guessed it, a colony of monkeys! The island is accessible by boats, which are available for hire from nearby Blue Lagoon, and features a small, scenic beach ideal for lazing about and taking the perfect #ILiveWhereYouVacation picture. It's said that the water gets so shallow at low tide that you can walk across to the island from the mainland, but we prefer to just take their word for it.

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BLACK RIVER SAFARI

The Black River is one of Jamaica's longest waterways and received the name from its dark coloration due to being heavily vegetated. It is perhaps best known for being home to the Black River Morass which supports dozens of species of wildlife including the American crocodile which is the main draw for those looking to take a tour of the river. The lofty mangroves are a great backdrop for a boat ride up the river which often includes sightings of sunbathing crocs, if done during the midday hours. It is also common to see men fishing from their boats and setting traps for crabs and other catch to sell and supplement their families' meals.


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