Jamaica is an iconic vacation destination. Few, if any, original things can be said about Jamaica, but what can be said is all complimentary—Easily the most popular destination in all of the Caribbean with a wide variety of hotels, the vibrant and unique culture makes the island a wondrous place, a location of great history and a collection of contradictions - both stereotypically laid-back and bustling with activity, white sand Jamaica beaches littered amongst urban sprawl, a population both wildly enthusiastic and tempered by widespread poverty, exacerbated by the numerous all-inclusive resorts that both celebrate and divorce themselves from Jamaican culture in equal measures.
The third largest and most populated island in the Caribbean, a Jamaica vacation is significantly different depending on which part of the island you decide to stay on, and whether you arrive by air or on a cruise to Jamaica. The ubiquities of reggae music, jerk chicken and excellent resort beaches follow you wherever you go. But despite the massive development that is found on most stretches of the island, transportation is almost invariably a headache. Not to mention that some local drivers seem as mentally deranged as those found in the busiest cities in France or Italy. But, in the end, it's the popularity of all-inclusive Jamaica resorts that plays the largest part in segmenting the country - since so many of them have everything you could possibly want on hand, what incentive is there to leave? Each resort has it"s own stretch of Jamaica beach attached, and many of the resorts are catered to specific types of people: couples, families, singles - those looking to party, those looking to relax, those looking for adventure and those looking to fit in.
Montego Bay has the largest collection of these all-inclusive Jamaica resorts, making it the most popular area of the country by default - another helpful factor is that most Jamaica travel packages and airlines use the bay as a hub. It is also the nightlife capital of the country, with discos and bar lining the edges of what is known as the "hip strip." Negril, Ocho Rios and the area surrounding the capital city of Kingston are the other popular places to stay. Each have their own peculiarities and selling points.
Negril is a bit of a hippie paradise, a bohemian nerve center despite the onset of the tourism industry. It's the city that would be a backpacker's town, if that sort of thing were more popular in Jamaica. It"s still the most inexpensive area of the country; even the Jamaica resorts found here are relatively cheap. Negril beach is the Jamaica beach you see in the postcards - the cliffs in the background, the ubiquitous azure water.
Ocho Rios is the birthplace of the all-inclusive resort, and the epicenter for thousands upon thousands of Jamaica vacations. Most popular with couples, primarily newlyweds, Ocho Rios extends along the island's northern coast, enveloping some of the most scenic Jamaican beaches, including those of the ever-popular nude variety. Nude weddings are even offered, for those who want to simultaneously express their undying love and mutual hatred of clothing.
Kingston is often overlooked as a travel destination, even though it is one of the most essential and enduring locations to experience "real" Jamaica. Many travelers are scared off, however, by the urban sprawl and the stories of violence and crime (some exaggerated, some not). If staying on the east side of the island, Port Antonio is the preferred spot. Within the city limits, world-famous traditional jerk dishes were first introduced, and now it's a burgeoning spot for up and coming reggae and dancehall bands.