The Caribbean island of Jamaica is one of the most idyllic holiday destinations on the entire planet thanks to its pristine beaches, turquoise waters and laid-back culture. It is a wonderful place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world, “open your mind to endless possibilities” and simply relax, rest and let the stresses of life fall away during your holiday. A great way to explore the entirety of this beautiful island is to follow the Jamaica Jerk Trail, which is a tour of jerk restaurants from Negril in the west to Kingston in the east via Montego Bay and Ochos Rios. The particular culinary technique is characterized by the salivating spiciness of the meat or fish, accompanied by rice and fresh salad. By following the winding trail along the coast you’ll not only be able to enjoy the very finest local cuisine but also stop off at some of Jamaica’s most glorious locations and attractions along the way.
One of the most famed jerk restaurants in Negril is Ossie’s Jerk Center on Norman Manley Boulevard, which has been established for over 20 years. Here the specialty is tender jerked pork loin and there is also rich, spicy curried goat and the freshest grilled fish that has been pulled from the Caribbean sea that very morning. If you are looking for an idyllic beach on which to sunbathe and swim then head for Seven Mile beach to the west of the island near Negril. The name is misleading – the beach is actually five and a half miles long – but the views north and south along the coastline are exceptionally beautiful, while the more daring tourists and locals occasionally launch themselves off of the hundred-foot cliffs and plunge down into the dark blue waters. If you are looking for a relaxed way to get around the island, you could hop on a luxury cruise from here to anyone of Jamaica’s other ports and enjoy looking back on the coastline from sea rather than out to sea from the beach. You can also explore the island from here by hiring quad-bikes, motorbikes or a car and following the coastal road, exploring what Planet Cruise describes as “the breathtaking backdrop of lush tropical jungles, fresh water caves”.
In Ochos Rios, Scotchie’s Too offers a plethora of unique jerk recipes under a thatched roof and in expansive an open-plan lay-out overlooking tropical gardens. It is the sister restaurant of the renowned Scotchie’s in Montego Bay, which last year was named number one jerk joint in all of Jamaica. While in the area, one place definitely worth a visit is the scenic resort town of Ochos Rios where you can enjoy exceptional sunsets and swim with dolphins. This is also where the theme park Mystic Mountain is located, which includes a 50 kilometer-per-hour roller-coaster-esque bob-sled ride through the rainforest along 3280 feet of track, as well as a chairlift that lifts you up and takes you on a 20 minute journey through the trees’ canopies offering spectacular views across the island. Ochos Rios is also home to the Cool Runnings Water park where there are 7 superb water slides, as well as the Great Morass wildlife park – where you can see the island’s animals living in their local habitats – and of course Dunn’s river falls. These waterfalls plummet from over 600 feet and are actually considered to be alive because they are constantly morphing and being renewed by mineral deposits. Just next door is Dolphin cove where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel with sharks and complete the ‘Seakeeper for a Day’ program which teaches you to care for marine animals.
Along with Scotchie’s in Montego Bay, there are two other outstanding jerk establishments: The Pork Pit and Jerkie’s Bar and Grill. The former is located on the hip strip and has famed chef Linda Leslie in the kitchen, while the latter opened in 2003 and specializes in grilled shrimp. And ocne night falls, Montego Bay is the place to be to experience the best of Jamaican reggae and dancehall. Rick’s Cafe is an especially popular spot thanks to its fruity cocktails and sunset views, and Mo’ bay is also where the reggae festival ‘Sumfest’ is held each year. This Jamaican celebration has been going strong since 1993 and celebrates the best of modern Jamaican music over three days and nights in July each year.
“Melissa Durbin is a freelance writer and mother of two. She took up the digital pen after deciding that she wanted to balance work and family life more than her previous job allowed. When not researching or writing, she enjoys keeping fit; of course two tireless labradors help.”