Jamaica in 7 days: Stunning coastline and vibrant culture

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Planning a trip to Jamaica? Look no further than this comprehensive 7 day Jamaica itinerary, which showcases the stunning coastline and vibrant culture of the north coastal region.

There are many beautiful islands with sandy white beaches all over the world, but few come close to the unique flavours of Jamaica. The pulsating music, the locals saying ‘ya mon’ casually, the local food and culture, the natural beauty, all make this country a popular destination in the Carribean. Exploring Jamaica in 5 to 7 days makes for a lovely vacation. This Jamaica itinerary for 5 or 7 days is focussed on the northern coastal part of the country, starting with Negril in the west and ending at Port Antonio in the east. I wish we had made time to visit Kingston for its music scene and architecture for a day in our Jamaica itinerary in 7 days.

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Jamaica is what tropical island fantasies are made of.

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Getting to Jamaica

Jamaica has 3 international airports: Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios. Jamaica is the largest island in the Carribean and well connected to US, Canada and European cities.

Montego Bay airport is the primary point for most tourists and we landed there as well to start our one week in Jamaica.

Jamaica offers a vibrant culture and stunning coastline to explore in just 7 days. With its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and historical sites, there’s plenty to see and do. Travelers can experience the local culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and relax on the beach. Discover the magic of Jamaica in just a week! So, if you’re wondering how many days in Jamaica, 7 days is the perfect amount of time to soak up its beauty.

Getting around in Jamaica

Airport transfer from Montego Bay to our resort in Negril was pre-booked. We rented a car at Negril to do a road trip all the way to Port Antonio and back to Ocho Rios. The highway route on the north coast makes for a scenic trip with lovely ocean views.

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The northern coastal rooute.

Driving in Jamaica is on the left, so there was no change for us. We took the flexible approach that locals take to road rules in our stride and had a fun time exploring the island by car. It is easy but expensive to rent a car with a driver, but you can consider that for a short excursion.

Public transport is a bit limited on the island. There are minibuses with no timetables that ply between cities. You can take a shared taxi, or a ‘route taxi’ on busier routes, used extensively by locals. Taxi rates are quite inflated on the north coast.

Jamaica Itinerary for 5 days

This Jamaica itinerary for 7 days is perfect for exploring the stunning coastline and vibrant culture. If you are short on time, focusing on the north coastal area, this itinerary can also be adapted for a 5-day trip.

Most folks come to this country to relax on the white sandy beaches and sip on rum cocktails. But there are more than 100 waterfalls, rainforests, natural trails and unique architecture to explore on this island. Jamaica has enough adventures for couples and also fun activities to do with kids. We planned this trip ourselves, but many people use Carribean travel agents for an all-inclusive getaway.

Negril or Montego Bay

When you plan your Jamaica itinerary for 5 days, one decision would be between Negril or Montego Bay on the west side. This is Jamaica, so everything is beautiful.

Negril has the famous Seven Mile Beach. It has both 5-star luxury and boutique romantic atmosphere, whatever you may wish. We chose Negril for its laid-back atmosphere. It is about 1.5 hours from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

Montego Bay is a tourist hotspot with its own international airport. Luxury resorts, bars and fine-dining restaurants are in abundance in Montego Bay or ‘MoBay’. There is some duty-free shopping, and beach hopping.

Day 1: Relax at the beach resort in Negril

Our first day in Jamaica started with a pre-booked airport transfer via a bus from Montego Bay to Royalton Negril resort. This all-inclusive resort is located on the Negril Beach, close to the famous Seven Mile Beach. Sandy beach area and swimming pools, 9 restaurants and 7 bars, a splash pool for kids, a plethora of water activities, a fitness center and a spa: you need not leave the resort for a couple of days.

We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the beach.

The first day of our Jamaica itinerary in 7 days was spent recovering from the long flight from India via London. All we did was relax at the beach and try one of the many restaurants at the resort.

Private Airport Transfer – Book car transfer from Sangster International Airport to your hotel in Negril

Day 2: Top Things to do in Negril

Rick’s Cafe

One of the most popular spots in Negril is Rick’s Cafe. It is a bar and a restaurant located on a 35-foot high cliff. We hired a local taxi courtesy the hotel concierge for transport to and from Rick’s Cafe on Day 2 evening of our Jamaica itinerary.

This spot has become famous for its uninterrupted sunset views over the ocean. Plus for all the daredevils who come come here for cliff-jumping.

You have to go in the early part of the evening to get a table with a view (no later than 4 PM). Drinks and food are pricey. But before the sunset, it is amazing to see all the thrill-seekers go to a height of 35 feet to jump into the sea from there. They made it look easy and cool, but I am sure it is difficult. I would rather sit sipping a cold beer or a cocktail and watch them dive!

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Popular spot in the evenings.

It was a cloudy evening when we visited so the sunset wasn’t as spectacular as I would have expected. But with live music, sipping on a cold drink, swaying in the breeze; it was a great Jamaican vibe. This popular spot has day tours from both Negril and Montego Bay.

Tour to Rick’s Cafe – This 3.5 hr tour combines a catamaran cruise, snorkelling excursion, and sunset stop at Rick’s Cafe.

Walk down Seven Mile Beach

Stunning ocean views and bright blue sky. The Seven Mile Beach will fulfil all your desires of a tropical beach setting.

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Seven Mile beach is free with many public access beaches for all to enjoy. You can rent a range of water sports equipment, from jet ski to kayaks to banana boats. There are snorkelling, diving excursions, catamaran cruises with pulsating music and even horseback riding tours on the beach. There are a number of restaurant and bars that line up over the beach, so no dearth of food and drink options.

Book This – You can opt for a catamaran cruise that includes a visit to Rick’s cafe, the Seven Mile beach and snorkelling within a full-day tour.
Also check out – ATV Off-road adventure and Zipline combo in Negril

Day 3: Relax at a beach resort in Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios is a port town that lies between Negril / Montego Bay on the west and Port Antonio on the east. Ocho Rios has luxury beach resorts, boutique hotels, adventure activities and more. We had rented a car to explore Jamaica’s stunning north coastline. Our stay in Ocho Rios was at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort.

Tropical family vacation.

Beaches Ocho Rios is a family resort. The area is home to several adult-only resorts including the fabulous Sandals resort. Beaches is spread over a large area, it has a private white sand beach, 5 swimming pools, 7 gourmet restaurants and everything else that makes for a great family beach getaway.

We settled in our room and spent the day relaxing at the beach and the main pool area.

Day 4: Attend a beach wedding

Did I mention that this Jamaica trip was primarily to attend a family wedding? Jamaica is the topmost destination for beach weddings and bachelorette parties in the Carribean. The white sandy beach, the rainbow over the cloudy skies and the blue ocean made for a perfect evening wedding.

Beach Wedding.

Day 5 of Jamaica Itinerary: The most visited attraction in Ocho Rios

Climb Dunn’s Falls

Dunn’s River Falls is truly unique. This is the most famous amongst all waterfalls in Jamaica. It is one of the top attractions in Jamaica and climbing the falls is a super-fun activity. We had booked a trip to Dunn’s Falls from our resort. The area has a large car park, onsite restaurant, rest rooms, and a gift shop. You can visit the area and see the falls, even bathe in the natural pools.

The 180-feet Dunn’s Falls was called “Las Chorreras” by the Spaniards, an it is one of the only travertine waterfalls in the world.

To climb Dunn’s falls, you first go down to the beach area. There is both a wet climb and a dry climb option. The dry climb leads you along the falls to the summit. The fun option of course is the wet climb, where you directly get in the falls and climb from there to the summit. A guide is compulsory to do the wet climb. You should put on a swimsuit or dry-fit clothes and sturdy sandals / shoes that won’t slip on the wet rocks.

Dunn’s River Falls gets crowded during peak season.

Our guide told us the best route to climb the falls. The water was cold but refreshing. There were points where the guide instructed us to hold hands and climb together as a human chain. And a couple of places where the water was high enough to reach my shoulders. It took about an hour and a half to do the climb. What a fun adventure!

Book in advance – Visit 2 of the most popular attractions during this half-day tour from Ocho Rios: Blue Hole and Dunn’s River Falls.

Jamaica Itinerary for 7 days

We spent about 7 days in Jamaica. It was my first experience with all-inclusive beach resorts. And they are great for a family getaway with all possible amenities. But they also keep you away from the more authentic part of life on the island. So if you have more time to spend in Jamaica, make sure you get to Kingston and Port Antonio. We spent 2 days in ‘Portie’ after Negril as part of our Jamaica Itinerary for 7 days.

Like I mentioned before, we had booked an airport transfer from Montego Bay to our Negril resort. And then taken a local cab to get us to Rick’s cafe and the Seven Mile beach. We hired a car for the next 3 days to head to Port Antonio independently and further to Ocho Rios. We didn’t need a car after we arrived at our beach resort in Ocho Rios. The airport transfer for the flight out of Jamaica was arranged by the resort.

Private Airport Transfer – Book car transfer from Sangster International Airport to your hotel in Negril

Day 1 & 2: Negril is the first leg of Jamaica in 7 days

Spend the first 2 days in Negril as per the Jamaica 5 day itinerary given above.

Day 3: The coastal route to Port Antonio

The north coast is just stunning. Our road drive from Negril to Port Antonio was lovely. Deep azure waters on one side, straight roads, and tiny towns en route. We were booked at the iconic Geejam Hotel for our time in Port Antonio (or Portie as it is known locally). It is a secluded, stylish boutique property at the foothills of Blue Mountains. Our treetop cabin made for the perfect jungle hideaway with all possible amenities including a jacuzzi on the deck.

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Our daughter had fun in the lovely hotel pool.

There is a tiny beach on the other side of the road across the hotel. There are paddle boats to take out on the calm sea, if you want. All we did was relax at this spot.

We stopped at the Errol Flynn Marina on the way to the hotel. The Errol Flynn Marina is a testament to Port Antonio’s Hollywood heyday. We had ice cream at Devon House (the Kingston shop is a favourite amongst locals) and walked around the harbour area.

Day 4: Things To Do In Port Antonio

There are many things to do in Port Antonio including a trek in the Blue Mountains, visit to some of the waterfalls (Reach Falls and Nanny Falls are famous). The area has many famous beaches like the secluded Frenchmen’s Cove and the Boston beach, the birthplace of jerk. We made time for 2 bespoke excursions.

Rafting down the Rio Grande

River rafting.

One popular activity to do in Jamaica is river rafting and learning a bit about the history of the area. You can do this on Martha Brae river as well, a popular excursion from Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. We got a similar experience rafting down the Rio Grande. This involved a car ride from the hotel to the town. Then came the long wooden raft and a 2.5 hour sojourn in nature.

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We all tried our hand at handling the oar. It is really difficult to manoeuver the raft in water using the long, heavy oar. The best part of the trip was the lunch at Belinda Riverside Restaurant. Belinda runs a small eatery under a rustic-looking palm frond roof with bamboo supports and cooks the most delicious Jamaican food you can have.

Book This – Rio Grande on a bamboo raft (this includes round-trip transportation from your Port Antonio hotel).

Blue Lagoon magic

We went to this spot thinking it made Brooke Shield’s career! We rented a boat to take us across the 200 feet deep hole. This part is royal blue water surrounded by lush green vegetation. The water in Blue Lagoon is a mix of fresh water and salt water and also has changing colours with the sunlight streaming in.

This tiny island was part of our boat excursion.

But then you go to more shallow areas in the ocean. We had fun chasing turtles from the boat and snorkelling here. The boat excursion ended with a swim at a tiny island close to the Blue Lagoon.

Check out – Blue Mountain Coffee & Sightseeing Tour (with a stop at Devon House)

Day 5,6 & 7: Fun at Ocho Rios

The trip to Portie made for a good break between the 2 beach resorts in Negril and Ocho Rios. We ended our 7 days in Jamaica relaxing and exploring Ocho Rios as per the itinerary given above.

Detour to Noel Coward’s Firefly House

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You get uninterrupted views of the coast from Firefly House.

On our drive from Port Antonio to Ocho Rios, we stopped at Firefly House. Firefly was the home of British Playwright Noel Coward. Noel Coward is buried in his favourite spot here.

The route to the house is via narrow lanes that get steep in parts. There was a caretaker at the property when he reached. We negotiated and paid the caretaker some cash to get in. There are expansive lawns in front of the house with remarkable views of the north coast.

Travel Tips for Jamaica

General Safety:

Areas such as Kingston and Montego Bay tend to experience moderate-to-high crime rates. Avoid traveling outside of resorts unless it is an excursion. Exercise caution at all times. Be careful when traveling at night. Never travel alone and be sure to travel in groups, even during the day.

Local cuisine: Do try the local food dishes with the famous jerk seasoning. Some of the local food to try includes jerk chicken, ackee and salt fish for breakfast, Blue mountain coffee.

Tropical weather: Some vaccinations are recommended before your Jamaica trip. Make sure you have the following vaccinations: Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Rabies, Measles, mumps & rubella (MMR), TDP (tetanus, diphtheria & pertussis), Pneumonia.

Like any tropical country, Jamaica has a large number of mosquitoes, especially during the wet season. To prevent mosquito bites, wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved clothes, and use your mosquito repellent of choice.

Jamaica makes for a perfect beach holiday for adults and families alike, especially if you live in the USA or Canada. But it is far from Asia. We had been invited for a family wedding and built our 7 day Jamaica itinerary around the occasion. For those living in Asia, I would recommend beach spots closer to home.

Beach Destinations closer to Asia:

Maldives for everyone: Best beach resorts in Maldives

Philippines Islands: Which is the perfect island getaway for you?

Beach + History + Food +Nature: 4 awesome reasons to visit Central Vietnam

Tropical paradise alert! 5 of the best luxury resorts in Mauritius

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Author: Shweta Singhal

Hi! I am Shweta, the zest behind this blog . I play several roles – parent to a 6-year old, adventure enthusiast, travel blogger, generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, I love books and theatre and art. I would love to hear from you; do drop a comment. Join me on Instagram / Twitter @zestinatote.

10 thoughts

  1. Great blog! Jamaica looks perfect for those who love beaches. The forests and waterfalls make it even a more attractive place to visit. Rafting down the Rio grande looks interesting. I have not been to Jamaica yet, but adding it to my bucket list now.

  2. I’ve been considering Jamaica this winter. This itinerary is perfect for a Caribbean getaway for 5 or 7 days!

  3. I love the look of Rick’s! Rustic but with that fantastic view. My friend keeps bugging me to come to Ocho Rios Sandals for a relaxation holiday – maybe I will after seeing how lovely it is!

  4. I loved this very informative post with fab pics! So cool that you went there for a wedding! I love the Caribbean and I’ve been to many different islands over the years ( I lived in NYC for years so always great for winter getaways) but some how I never made it to Jamaica. My brother loves it though and who doesn’t like the music? 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos, I’ve been wanting to visit Jamaica for so long and I think this post has finally convinced me to book it!

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