Vacation Loading — These Are The Best Areas To Stay In Jamaica

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With a Jamaica vacation around the corner, you might be busy trying to sift through the many attractive options to find the best places to stay. We understand completely that making a decision like this is easier said than done! While for one person, the serene beauty of Negril's beaches might lure them in that direction, for another, the bustling energy of city life in Kingston might be irresistible. Perhaps it's a family-friendly atmosphere you seek, in which case, the Runaway Bay area can be just right. Before making a decision, though, there’s a lot to keep in mind.

For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that a decision on where to stay in Jamaica can really shape your vacation. This can impact what you’ll have access to, the price you’ll pay for your vacation, and your access to certain attractions. This is why it's important to try your best to get it right.

If you’re still unsure, no worries! Join us as we explore the diverse regions of Jamaica, uncovering the ideal accommodations to ensure your stay is nothing short of extraordinary.

Expert tip: If you want a hassle-free vacation that includes just about everything you’ll need, all-inclusive resorts like Beaches Resorts should be at the top of the list. More details later on in this post!

The best areas to stay in Jamaica

1. Negril: the best area to stay in Jamaica for first-time visitors

There's a certain effortless charm that Negril exudes that makes it one of the best places to stay in Jamaica. First-time visitors can look to Negril for some of the best all-inclusive resorts, including Beaches Negril and Sandals Negril. This part of Jamaica is known for great diving, thanks to the Negril Reef, located about two miles off the coast of Seven Mile Beach. Negril is also known as one of the best places to watch the sunset in Jamaica, particularly on the south side.

Here’s what you can expect from a Negril getaway:

  • The marvel of Seven-Mile Beach: Some of the best beaches in Jamaica are located in Negril, including Seven Mile Beach. This beach got its name due to its size, but interestingly, part of these seven miles stretches across into another beach, Bloody Bay. In any case, Seven Mile Beach is one of the most fun beaches to explore in Jamaica, as there’s always something going on. The beach has graced the face of many postcards and offers a range of water sports.

  • Beaches Negril: If you’ve got your heart set on Negril, Beaches Negril offers exciting possibilities. This all-inclusive resort offers a chance to have a truly indulgent vacation. Inclusions at Beaches Negril include 11 restaurants, seven bars, including swim-up bars, and a host of activities for all ages. This resort is located on the beachfront, which means easy access to water sports. There’s also a water park on the property, the Pirates Island Water Park, which kids of all ages love.

  • Great local attractions in Negril: In Negril, you can visit places like Rick’s Café, a well-known cliffside spot. Not only can you look forward to exceptional sunset views here, but on most days, you’ll be treated to a cliff-jumping show. Locals and visitors alike spend their time at this spot, jumping from the cliffs into the alluring blue seas below. This can be fun to watch or participate in (if you’re brave enough!). Aside from this, you’ll be well-positioned to enjoy some diving and visit some of the best restaurants in Negril.

Good to know: There are quite a few resorts, restaurants, and bars located along Seven Mile Beach in Negril. You’ll also be able to try water sports, including snorkeling, diving, and parasailing. On most days, you’ll hear reggae beats coming from nearby beachfront bars, adding to the ambiance.

2. Ocho Rios: The best place to stay in Jamaica for families

For a vacation that puts you right in the heart of adventure, Ocho Rios is an excellent choice. This is one of the best places for families to stay in Jamaica, as you can find a range of accommodation options, beaches, and activities for all ages. This part of Jamaica is naturally beautiful, and so it can be the ideal backdrop for creating unforgettable memories.

Here’s what you need to know about staying in Ocho Rios:

  • Ocho Rios adventures: From The Blue Hole, Dunn’s River Falls, and Yaaman Adventure Park, there’s just so much to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica! This is a great place to stay in Jamaica if you want a vacation that includes lots of time outdoors. You can start off by visiting Dunn’s River Falls if you really want to kick off your vacation on a high note. Next, you can visit Mystic Mountain, which offers zip-lining, bobsledding, and a scenic chairlift ride. If your kids will be coming along, these activities are sure to be a hit!

  • Beaches Ocho Rios: You'll find enticing options for all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios, including Beaches Ocho Rios. This resort offers guests a wide range of quality inclusions starting with airport transfers. Beaches Ocho Rios has seven restaurants and six bars (including swim-up bars), sleek accommodations, day and night entertainment, land and water sports, a water park, a Kids Club, and so much more. There are even professional nanny services available for parents who need a breather.

  • Nearby attractions in Ocho Rios: Although there’s more than enough to do in Ocho Rios, you can still spread your wings a bit and explore nearby attractions like Dolphin Cove during your vacation. Here you’ll have a unique opportunity to swim with dolphins and get up close to other marine life. A trip down Fern Gully, a winding road that takes you right into the midst of a lush rainforest, is also not to be missed.

3. Runaway Bay: The best place to stay in Jamaica for snorkeling and scuba diving

Runaway Bay is located on the northern coast of Jamaica. If you want a more laid-back vacation that includes diving, this can be a great place to stay. Some of the best beaches in Jamaica are located in this coastal town. Choosing to stay in Runaway Bay can be ideal when traveling with children, thanks to the variety of hotel options available, ranging from budget-friendly to more upscale. Additionally, Runaway Bay offers a fantastic array of family-friendly activities for a fun vacation.

Runaway Bay Jamaica Aerial

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Here's what else you can expect:

  • The serene ambiance of Runaway Bay: Most of us want a vacation that’s filled with peaceful moments. While this isn't always guaranteed, you can make a point of staying in an area where serenity is part of the ambiance. Runaway Bay is a great place to do this as it is more on the tranquil side compared to some of the other popular destinations in Jamaica. Though you’ll find many attractions here, most of the time, the crowds aren't as thick.

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving in Runaway Bay: You can find quite a few places to snorkel and scuba dive, including the reefs, starting right off the shore. Expect to see a diverse range of marine life here, such as barracuda, stingrays, lionfish, and sea urchins.

  • Things to see in Runaway Bay: One of the most visited attractions in Runaway Bay is the Green Grotto Caves, an underground cave system. On a guided tour of the caves, you can learn about their cultural, historical, and geological significance. Cardiff Hall Beach is another well-loved attraction in Runaway Bay that’s great for a family beach day.

4. Montego Bay: The best place to stay in Jamaica for nightlife

Montego Bay is the go-to destination for incredible beaches in Jamaica, but there’s so much more to look forward to here. This is a popular place to stay in Jamaica, much due to the convenience and the opportunity to explore the best of Jamaican culture, history, and entertainment.

If you’re considering staying in Montego Bay, here’s what you need to know:

  • Tourism hub: Montego Bay caters to international travelers, and is easily accessible via the Sangster International Airport. This means that if you choose to stay in Montego Bay, you can jump into your vacation as quickly as possible.

  • Sandals Montego Bay: If you stay at Sandals Montego Bay, you’ll have the freedom to unwind by the beachside throughout your entire vacation. With very diverse offerings, this resort appeals to both travelers who love socializing and those who prefer a more intimate vacation. In addition to easy beach access, you can look forward to a host of dining possibilities with 12 restaurants, and six bars, including swim-up bars. There’s even an overwater bar!

  • Attractions in Montego Bay: Montego Bay is probably most famous for the Hip Strip, one of the liveliest stretches in Jamaica. Here you can find nightlife that includes some of the best clubs, restaurants, and bars on the island. Montego Bay has some of the best beaches in Jamaica, including the historic Doctor's Cave Beach. The story behind how Doctor’s Cave Beach got its name is reason enough to explore this area, and the soft sands and clear water top it all off.

5. South Coast: Pristine natural landscape and authentic Jamaican living

Vacationing in South Coast, Jamaica, means making a conscious decision to get away from it all for the sake of a tranquil and rejuvenating escape. This location is ideal for a vacation where you can be in harmony with nature while indulging in the best accommodation Jamaica has to offer.

Here’s what you can expect from a vacation on the South Coast:

  • Untouched natural beauty: There’s hardly a better choice in Jamaica if you want to stay in a location where there’s an emphasis on natural beauty. From the beaches to the landscape and the excursions, you can engage with every aspect of the beautiful surroundings while at South Coast. Make a point of embracing the serenity of your environment, immersing yourself in the local culture, and savoring the flavors of the island’s cuisine.

  • Sandals South Coast: The all-inclusive Sandals South Coast is an entirely beachfront resort featuring rooms and suites scattered along a 2-mile beach. The accommodations seamlessly blend classic and modern elements with tropical touches The resort also offers charming Overwater Bungalows arranged in a heart shape and overlooking the stunning ocean. If you’re interested in booking these, do so as early as possible before your vacation, as these rooms tend to sell out quickly.

  • South Coast, Jamaica attractions: There are quite a few attractions in and around South Coast, including YS Falls. This waterfall has its own natural pools that you can take a dip in to cool off. The Black River Safari is another fun excursion that includes taking a boat tour to explore the captivating wildlife and lush landscapes along the Black River.

6. Port Antonio: A laid-back destination good for surfers and outdoor activities

Port Antonio is a highly-rated fishing town known as one of the most photographed areas in Jamaica. There’s much to look forward to if you choose to stay here for your Jamaica vacation, such as sports fishing expeditions, great beaches, waterfalls, surfing sites, and authentic Jamaican food.

Port Antonio Jamaica Frenchmans Cove Jamaica

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There’s much more to anticipate as well:

  • Lush landscapes: The landscapes in Port Antonio are so lush and vibrant that they have been featured in some notable films. Far away from the hustle and bustle and surrounded by natural beauty, you may finally be able to actually switch off here. While exploring the area be sure to taste some local fruit and get photos of the Blue Mountains in the backdrop. Even if you plan to stay elsewhere in Jamaica, it can be worth visiting the beaches here at least once.

  • Attractions: Spending time at the Frenchman's Cove Beach is highly recommended while in Port Antonio. This beach is nestled between cliffs and promises a secluded retreat. Reach Falls can be your next stop, as this waterfall has several natural pools to help you beat the heat. Boston Beach is a favorite for those who enjoy surfing in the Caribbean. It is also said to be the spot where Boston jerk chicken was invented.

7. Treasure Beach: Where to stay in Jamaica for rustic relaxation

A world of history and a deep dive into history await you at Treasure Beach, Jamaica. The ‘Treasure Beach’ moniker is actually an umbrella term that combines four small coves: Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay, and Great Bay. Located on the south coast of Jamaica in St. Elizabeth Parish, Treasure Beach might be considered a bit off the beaten path. However, this area can be a cool place to stay in Jamaica.

Treasure Beach Jamaica Shore Boats

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Here’s what you need to know about Treasure Beach:

  • Local community vibes: Each of the coves in Treasure Beach has its own personality, and most include a surrounding community. There are several restaurants, bars, and hotels in the area, all of which welcome visitors open-heartedly.

  • Treasure Beach attractions: Exploration will be the order of the day in Treasure Beach. One spot you won’t want to miss out on is Lover’s Leap, a cliffside lookout with exceptional views. Also, don’t miss a chance to take a casual walk through the fishing village to see what day-to-day life is like for the locals.

8. Falmouth: A historic town with a modern cruise port

The charming town of Falmouth in the parish of Trelawny can be an intriguing locale for visitors. Steeped in a rich history, Falmouth preserves its stories through Georgian-style buildings, its vibrant community, and its cherished traditions. Among the top activities in Falmouth are exploring its pristine sandy beaches, discovering hidden caves, and experiencing the magic of bioluminescent lagoons.

Cruise Port Falmouth Jamaica

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Here’s what else you can look forward to in Falmouth:

  • Historic significance: Falmouth is on the north coast of Jamaica, about 18 miles from Montego Bay. The town was founded in 1769. During this time, sugar and rum trades were soaring in Jamaica. The architecture of Falmouth, as well as some aspects of its history, have been well preserved, giving you something exciting to look forward to.

  • Attractions in Falmouth: While in Falmouth, you can pay a visit to the Good Hope Estate for a peek into Jamaica’s history. At this location, you can do tours of the Great House and other fun activities. This can be an interesting stop if you’ll be traveling with children or just want to learn more about the history of Jamaica. The Walking Heritage Tour is a good way to get to know more about the area. You’ll see the old courthouse, which was built in 1815, among other attractions.

9. Mandeville: Where to stay in Jamaica for ecotourism

A Mandeville vacation in Jamaica is best if your vacation plans don't revolve around the beaches. If you'd prefer to spend your days on this island learning about its culture and delving into the ecotourism side of things, then you will be right at home here. You can have a low-key vacation getting to know the locals, being immersed in nature, getting close to wildlife, and appreciating the tropical flora of Jamaica.

Black River Safari Jamaica

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There’s plenty more to see and do in Mandeville as well:

  • Refreshing climate: Mandeville is located in the west-central hills of Jamaica, so the climate tends to be slightly cooler. The mountain setting here really adds to its appeal, particularly when it comes to the views. This is one of the things that really sets this area apart.

  • Attractions in Mandeville: In Mandeville, you can visit places like the Mandeville Market for a dose of local culture and shopping in Jamaica. Purchase a range of local produce, arts & crafts, and enjoy the lively atmosphere. For recreation, visit the 18-hole Manchester Golf Club, which stands out for its stunning scenery. Other attractions and expeditions you can consider in this area include Apple Valley Park, Marshall’s Pen, and Black River Safari.

Good to know: If you plan on visiting Mandeville, Jamaica, you should check out the Manchester Shopping Centre, sign up for an Appleton Estate Rum Experience, or experience the High Mountain Coffee Factory for an extra dose of sophistication.

10. Kingston: The capital and cultural centre of Jamaica

Kingston has been the capital of Jamaica since 1872. Located on the south-east coast of Jamaica, this city is the commercial and business hub of the island. The city is vibrant and offers opportunities to get to know more about Jamaica’s rich culture through various tours and attractions.

Devon House Kingston Jamaica

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Here's what you need to know if you’re considering staying in Kingston:

  • The cultural significance of Kingston: In addition to being a commercial and business hub, Kingston is the hub of Jamaican music, including reggae and dancehall. This area is rich in history, and popular landmarks, including the Institute of Jamaica. If you look closely, you’ll see the city’s cultural diversity reflected in its art, cuisine, and vibrant street life. Overall, this city is a melting pot of music, history, and art.

  • Attractions in Kingston: If you want to stay in a busy city with lots to do, then Kingston can be a great choice. Some of the top attractions here include the Bob Marley Museum, Devon House (a beautifully preserved mansion), and the vibrant local markets, providing a dynamic blend of history, culture, and genuine Jamaican vibes.

The best places to stay in Jamaica, revealed…

Jamaica is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean, and its diversity, particularly when it comes to places to stay, reflects that. Although there are lots of different areas to stay on the island, the best choice will ultimately depend on your preferences. If you’ve got an idea of where you want to stay, the next step will be booking your accommodations. This should be done as early as possible, particularly if you plan on visiting during the high season.

For a family vacation, Beaches Resorts has two excellent all-inclusive properties to choose from in Jamaica, Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios. Either of these resorts can be a solid pick if you want to stay somewhere where everyone with you will be able to have the time of their lives!

Expert tip: Now that you’ve got an idea of the best places to stay in Jamaica, here are some Jamaica travel tips that you can get familiar with ahead of your vacation.

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!