You Need to Visit These 11 Natural Attractions in Jamaica
There are a lot of great reasons to visit Jamaica, from the music and cuisine to the beaches. But did you know this Caribbean nation also boasts some of the world’s most incredible waterfalls, grottos, and swimming holes? In fact, there’s more than 4,200 square miles of lush mountains and rainforests to explore.
Since it would be difficult to visit all of Jamaica’s natural attractions* in a single trip, we rounded up a few of our favorites—and noted which regions they’re in—to inspire your next vacation. You can thank us later.
1. Dunn’s River Falls
Location: Approximately 3 miles from Ocho Rios in St. Ann Parish
Dunn’s River Falls may not be as mighty as Niagara or as tall as Olo'upena, but it’s worth visiting all the same. This stunning waterfall, located under a canopy of lush green trees, is the perfect place to seek shelter from the sweltering heat. Comprised of a series of terraces, travelers are encouraged to climb the 160-foot-high structure to swim and relax in its natural pools.
The attraction is so picturesque, you might assume it’s human-made, but rest assured—every nook, cranny, and crevice was formed by the river, which flows directly into the Caribbean Sea.
2. Blue Hole Mineral Spring
Location: Approximately 10 miles from Negril in Westmoreland Parish
If you’ve embraced the wellness travel trend, take note of this natural attraction in Jamaica; blue holes, large marine caverns composed of limestone, are said to have healing properties.
In order to reap the benefits of this particular mineral spring, you’ll need to jump from a 24-foot-high cliff (or climb down a ladder, if you’re feeling less adventurous). While swimming in the pool is enough to rejuvenate, you can enjoy an exfoliating massage for an additional charge at a nearby facility.
3. Martha Brae River
Location: Approximately 19 miles from Montego Bay in Trelawny Parish
There are two types of people in this world: the ones who seek out adrenaline-pumping activities like whitewater rafting, and the ones who take advantage of every opportunity to float down a lazy river.
If you’re part of the latter group, make sure Martha Brae is on your list of must-see natural attractions in Jamaica; it offers one of the best river-rafting experiences in the country. As you take in the view from your bamboo raft, an expert guide will educate you about the flora and fauna—and the legend of Martha Brae, a local witch who protected hidden gold from settlers.
4. Barney’s Flower & Hummingbird Garden
Location: Approximately 5 miles from Negril in Westmoreland Parish
Did you know that Jamaica is home to five species of hummingbird? Black-Billed Streamertails, Red-Billed Streamertails, Vervain Hummingbirds, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, and Jamaica Mango Hummingbirds all reside on this Caribbean island—and many of them can be viewed in their natural habitat at Barney’s Flower & Hummingbird Garden near Negril.
When you visit this quarter-acre property, you’ll get a private tour through a tropical garden and an up-close-and-personal look at some of the birds, flowers, and plants that make Jamaica so bright and colorful.
5. Green Grotto Caves
Location: Approximately 20 miles from Ocho Rios in St. Ann Parish
Sometimes, the world’s beauty is better witnessed underground. At the Green Grotto Caves, you can explore seemingly endless chambers as you make your way toward a subterranean lake. Swimming is prohibited, but the majestic stalagmites and stalactites that cover the grotto’s floor and ceiling more than make up for it.
If your claustrophobia is kicking in just thinking about this natural attraction, take a deep breath. The caves are very spacious, so you don’t have to worry about crawling or shimmying through tight spots in order to marvel at the scenery.
6. Negril Cliffs
Location: Approximately 4 miles from Negril in Westmoreland Parish
This is one of Jamaica’s most popular destinations for cliff jumping—and not just because of the gorgeous bluff that extends 40 feet above sea level. Rick’s Café, which is perched at the top, also draws quite a crowd.
Established in 1974 (back when Negril was just a sleepy fishing village), the restaurant and bar attracts travelers that enjoy diving, swimming, partying, and watching the sunset. If you want to visit a natural attraction without venturing too far from the city limits, this is the place to go.
7. YS Falls
Location: Approximately 34 miles from Montego Bay in St. Elizabeth Parish
The biggest difference between YS Falls and Dunn’s River Falls is their location; the former is on the southwest side of the island while the latter is on the northeast side. This means you’ll likely visit one or the other based on which part of Jamaica you’re staying in.
Other than that, the two natural attractions are quite alike. YS Falls is also made up of several terraces (there are seven tiers in total), making it an ideal spot for swimming and immersing yourself in nature. Remember to wear water shoes! They’ll make it easier to climb the steps next to the falls, and to reach the rope swings that hang above many of the pools.
8. Luminous Lagoon
Location: Approximately 23 miles from Montego Bay in Trelawny Parish
A trip to Luminous Lagoon, aptly named for its bioluminescent waters, is the perfect way to spend an evening in Jamaica. Boat tours in the area typically last around 45 minutes, giving you plenty of time to witness the bright-blue glow. You can even jump into the lagoon for a swim, surrounding yourself with the dinoflagellates (plankton) that are responsible for the glistening effect.**
Since this is one of only a handful of locations in the world where this natural phenomenon occurs, you’d be remiss to omit it from your itinerary.
9. Blue and John Crow Mountains
Location: Approximately 50 miles from Ocho Rios in Portland Parish
Hiking enthusiasts will love exploring the 100,000 acres of tropical, montane rainforest that make up Jamaica’s one and only national park. Established in 1993, it’s home to many of the island’s endemic plants and animals (including the Giant Swallowtail butterfly)—which you may be lucky enough to view while climbing to the summit.
We recommend starting your hike early to avoid the heat and to catch a spectacular sunrise. If you’re not much of a morning person, take solace in the fact that you can stop by a Blue Mountain coffee farm before you depart; some of the best beans in the world are sourced from these local plantations.
10. Reach Falls
Location: Approximately 86 miles from Ocho Rios in Portland Parish
What makes this waterfall different from the others on this list? While Dunn’s River Falls and YS Falls have tiers of cascading water, Reach Falls is a single rock face surrounded by a shallow river pool. At first glance, this makes it an ideal spot for soaking up the sun, but there’s so much more than that to explore.
The surrounding area is an outdoor playground, with hidden caves and shallow swimming holes to discover. Daredevils are invited to jump down the Rabbit Hole, while more timid travelers will find refuge in the heart-shaped holes that have become known as “natural Jacuzzis.”
11. Blue Lagoon
Location: Approximately 69 miles from Ocho Rios in Portland Parish
Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon may have become famous after a 1980s movie starring Brook Shields and Christopher Atkins was filmed in the location, but that’s certainly not the only reason why travelers frequent the area: it’s one of the best places on the island for swimming.
Upon arriving, you’ll immediately understand why locals once believed that the lagoon was bottomless and inhabited by a dragon. It has an otherworldly quality, thanks in large part to the fact that it changes color from turquoise to azure depending on how the sun hits the surface. But no matter what time of day you visit this natural attraction, the water will be as refreshing as it is beautiful.
Whether you’ve booked an extended vacation or are visiting Jamaica for only a few days, these natural attractions should be on your list of things to do. Many of the waterfalls, swimming holes, and mountain ranges we’ve mentioned are located near all-inclusive resorts and other local amenities, so you can experience the great outdoors—and still enjoy everything else the Caribbean has to offer.
Get in touch with Liberty Travel to start planning your next getaway!
*Entrance fees and tours vary.
**‘Bioluminescence,’ National Geographic Education, 2022.