Senior Travel to Jamaica

Feb 22nd, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

I have friends who are soon heading off for Jamaica. I would guess that most of us do not know a lot about the island. For a geography class I took in college, I wrote a paper on the island and still remember some of its features. It is a great place for seniors to spend some time. I have a surgeon friend who goes their yearly on a medical mission to provide health care to the poor in a city called Black River. You may have heard of Montego Bay and Kingston due to the reggae songs by its famous islander Bob Marley. This YouTube video on the island has had nearly 5 million visitors.

Jamaica means the “Land of Wood and Water”, or the “Land of Springs”. Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it became an English, and later a British, colony, known as “Jamaica”.

The major cities are Kingston, called the “Heartbeat of Jamaica, Ocho Rios, the “Centerpiece of Jamaica, Montego Bay, the “Complete Resort” and Negril the “Capital of Casual.” I appreciate travel videos and the one on Kingston calls the city the epicenter of Jamaica’s arts and cultural landscape. Kingston seems to be always abuzz with a robust vibrancy befitting the island’s political, economic and social capital. Ocho Rios is known for the natural beauty of its waterfalls, rivers and beaches to the grandeur of its all-inclusive resorts, “Ochi” is a favorite destination for all types of travelers, including eco-tourists, families, sports buffs, beach bummers – even rock stars like Keith Richards.

 Montego Bay enjoys a “Hip Strip” booming with shops, restaurants and clubs, championship golf courses on lavish resorts, and legendary Colonial great houses.  Montego Bay’s juxtaposition of natural beauty and man-made luxury make it a beloved destination. This city is the second largest city in Jamaica and is the gateway to tourist activity on the north coast. The city sits in a bay with mountains rising in the background. It is a hub of shopping and dining, and the beaches are lined with all-inclusive resorts.

Ocho Rios is the cruise capital of Jamaica. The bay is sheltered by lush garden-like mountains and protected by reefs. Ocho Rios hums with markets, shops, restaurants, and discos. Many tourists bypass the largest English-speaking city in the Caribbean due to the bad publicity and crime associated with it. It is the cradle of Jamaican culture, however and contains many historical sites and botanical gardens. The first English capital city — Port Royal — was built just across from Kingston in the 1600s and was later destroyed by an earthquake and tidal wave.

Negril is the “newest” resort destination on the west coast was discovered in the 1700s by rowdy pirates. The 1960s and 1970s saw the sleepy little town invaded by hippies from North America. Today, people are being drawn in even greater numbers to its famed seven-mile-long sandy beach and its spectacular sunsets. Negril is a favorite destination for families, honeymooners and spring breakers, Negril’s picturesque coast, lined with towering cliffs and bustling beaches, is home to many world-class all-inclusive resorts, as well as nightlife hotspots.

Mandeville is located at 2,000 feet in elevation, the city has one of the best climates on the island. The English built the city to escape the “hot tropics” of the coastline. It is a charming town and is a great home base for birdwatching, caving, or to branch out and explore the mountainous regions or the south coast.

No matter which beach you may choose to visit, you are sure to have a positive experience. The crystal blue waters and white sand make a visit to the beach a delightful experience. Jamaica is full of ecological treasures, from limestone cave labyrinths and gushing waterfalls to mineral springs with curative powers. Jamaica has hundreds of spring and rivers, both above and under ground. Over the years, the country has developed extensive water treatment and supply systems island wide, so all drinking water in Jamaica is purified and filtered by modern methods.

Jamaica Tourist is a nice website loaded with adventures, shopping sites, dining help and events and nightlife for seniors. Discover Jamaica continues with good information on Port Antonio, St. Elizabeth and Mandeville. The geography and history site gives tourists information on why Jamaica is such a draw for 1.701 million visitors per year from all over the world. Lastly TripAdvisor will fill in all the gaps and answer all the questions you might have on the island. Lonely Planet’s map will show where each major city is located.

U.S. Citizens traveling to and from Jamaica must present a valid passport when leaving and or re-entering the United States. All visitors are required to travel with a return ticket or onward ticket for entry into Jamaica. Jamaica is well connected to the rest of the world. Direct international telephone service operates in all areas 24 hours a day, and telephone operators will gladly facilitate collect, third-party or credit card calls. International faxes, cables and telegrams can be sent from most hotels and post offices. E-mail and Internet access is available too, usually at hotels and parish libraries, but also at local Internet cafes. Jamaica has food which is strictly its own. Characterized by the use of pungent herbs and strong spices, Jamaican food is of worldwide interest. And, by golly, I’ll bet that their rum is not too bad either. Enjoy Jamaica. jeb

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