Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Jamaica

With its slow pace, long sandy beaches, great music scene, lush rainforest and stunning waterfalls, the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica is the perfect location to escape the stresses of everyday life.

The first place to explore is its capital, Kingston. Jamaica is famed as the birthplace of reggae music and Kingston is home to the Bob Marley Museum. Dedicated to the famous singer, the museum is actually the house where he lived and worked between 1975 and 1981. It is full of treasured memories and mementos with a lot of his favourite clothes, costumes of his backup singers and a number of his gold and platinum records which he received from all around the world.

Stay in the capital and go to the National Gallery of Jamaica. Established in 1974, the National Gallery of Jamaica is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean. It was founded to showcase the excellent talent of the Jamaican art scene. This sent a message to ex-colonial powers that Jamaica was also capable of creating masterpieces to depict Jamaican history. Today its collection consists of early modern and contemporary local art.

Now it’s time to explore more of the island. First off, the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are the biggest mountain range in Jamaica and are home to mountain villages, coffee plantations and some of the island’s best hiking trails. During the times of the slave trade, the mountains were once a place of shelter and settlement for the Taino slaves and Maroons (enslaved Africans) who had escaped captivity and formed communities there.

We then recommend going to the Green Grotto Caves. There are over 1,000 caves in Jamaica and some of the most famous ones are the Green Grotto Caves. These limestone caves are full of huge stalactites and stalagmites as well as a few bats and even snakes (so beware!) These caves were once used as a hideaway for Spanish settlers in the 17th century who hid here when the British invaded Jamaica.

Next stop is the Blue Hole near Ocho Rios. It is a popular tourist spot which has some of the most scenic tropical waterfalls and swimming holes in Jamaica. You can jump into the swimming holes from diving boards or rocks up to 12 metres high.

Stay in Ocho Rios and visit the Sun Valley Plantation to learn about the island’s history from the slave trade to the present day. Go on a tour and see how they grow coffee, bananas and tropical fruits and learn how the plantation works on a day-to-day basis.

From here, go to the Dunn’s River Falls. They are a series of waterfalls which tumble down over 55 metres and span 180 metres across. They are a fantastic spot for some hiking and you can even swim in the azure pools at the bottom of the falls.

One of the best things to do to learn more about Jamaica is to go to the Rastafari Indigenous Village. You will learn about the Rastafari way of life, their history, life experiences and skills of their people as well as have a tour of the gardens, listen to live music and eat their cuisine. An unforgettable experience.

If you fancy a spot of birdwatching, go to Cockpit Country. Known for its birdlife, Cockpit Country has 150 resident species of bird including the Black-Billed Parrots, the Jamaican Blackbirds and Blue Mountain Vireos.

We would highly recommend going rafting on a bamboo raft down the Rio Grande River. This is one of the best ways to see many of the caves and waterfalls which are hidden away across the island.

Your penultimate experience is to the Luminous Lagoon. The Luminous Lagoon is home to million of luminescent plankton. When they are disturbed, they give off this neon glow of light. It is said to be the largest and most brilliant of four Luminous Lagoons in the world – a must do!

To finish off your tour of Jamaica, walk along the Seven Mile Beach in Negril, swim, sunbathe, snorkel and do lots of water sports. It’s a great way to end your Caribbean adventure.