You're ready to set off on an island adventure -- maybe an easy one, maybe an extreme one, probably something in between. Here are our favorites within easy (or at least not too distant) reach of both Samsara and Legends. Just pop over to the front desk and ask Jenique, Leonie, or whoever's on duty to help you make it happen.
Think Negril, think Seven Mile Beach. This is the most famous stretch of shore on the island, and Legends sits on a prime, private stretch of it – our beach guard Michael makes sure of that.
Staying at Samsara? You might know what we're going to say – you're totally welcome, just hop on our shuttle or grab a cheap cab ride over (always negotiate the fare first, like a real yardie!). Order up a frozen drink, plant yourself on a lounge, and drift away.
Of course, you're in Jamaica, so expect some traveling musicians to wander by and fill the air with some bouncy tunes now and again.
Appleton Rum Factory
Deep in the Jamaican countryside lays the historic Appleton estate, founded in 1655 and renowned for its premium rum production since 1755. Nestled in one of the island's most beautiful valleys, even the ride here is a wonderful experience. You'll drive amid lush natural fields and orchards of sugarcane, mangos, and bananas.
A friendly staff welcomes you to the estate and provides an overview of the rum production process while you settle in and taste several of their most popular varieties. You'll then head out on a tour of the grounds and be regaled with fun tales of the old ways, such as donkeys helping to squeeze the sugarcane. A highlight of the tour is a climb up the lookout tower for fantastic views of the estate, the countryside, and the limestone hills that shelter the land.
This one's an easy nature appreciation outing. Also, called the A2, Bamboo Avenue is a particularly lovely section of the coast road where bamboo grows together to form an all-natural tunnel that's a delight to stroll through.
Photo © Jamaica National Heritage Trust
Black River Safari
You're in for nonstop, jaw-dropping wildlife and rainforest photo ops aboard a comfortable Safari boat that cruises past giant Red Mangrove trees cascading from heights of over 40 feet down to stilt-like roots that disappear into calm waters. The island's largest navigable river shelters over 100 species of beautifully plumed birds and many other species, most famously the endangered American Crocodile. A healthy population of these prehistoric creatures makes its home in the Black River, along with a wide array of fish and many other aquatic species. We're not surprised at all that serious nature lovers often tell us the Black River Safari boat tour is their favorite Jamaican experience.
Ahoy, mateys – track your way along small dirt roads to a stash of pirate lore galore at the most northerly bay on the Negril coastline. In the 18th century, Bloody Bay was a haven for pirates like John Rackham, a.k.a. "Calico Jack", and his bloodthirsty pirate lasses, Anne Bonney and Mary Read, until their capture by the British in 1720.
Few tourists make their way as far as these lush, wild, legendary mountains, counted among Jamaica's most beautiful landscapes. This seriously underexplored mountain range is accessible by foot and bike – are you up for it?
Bob Marley Museum
Wander through the legendary Rastaman's Kingston home, where Bob, Bunny (Wailer), and Peter (Tosh) spent most of their time, and where they created the Tuff Gong Recording Studio. The memorabilia is spectacular, including personal mementos, numerous writings, photographs, and so much more. Get more out of your time in this region by doubling up on the icons: follow the musical legend's museum tour with an exploration of the nearby legendary wilderness of the Blue Mountains.
Just off the Negril coast, this small island (named for a tern that breeds in the area), harbors one of the most beautiful and pristine coral reefs of the Caribbean. It's so easy to reach and navigate that first-time snorkelers and divers are always right there alongside the most experienced explorers. Fun fact – the island was featured in the movie version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Love a rush? Count yourself in on this famous, traditional adrenaline boost right at Samsara. Legends guests can hop on our shuttle to come over and join in. You just need to be a decent swimmer and have an adventurous spirit. Listen to the experts and jump only where they tell you it's safe, then go for it.
Even just watching the most daring jumpers will be something you can't stop talking about when you get back home, and you can always tell a tall tale or two about your own daring nature in climbing down the cliffs to jump into the sea – okay, it's really an easy step and ladder move, but no one back home has to know that...
When you're ready to watch some professional cliff divers, head over to Rick's Cafe on the West End. 3 Dives Jerk Centre also has cliff jumping, slightly less scary, just as fun.
Photo by Facebook Fan Sarah Heon
Dunn's River Falls
Open any Jamaica guidebook and this place will be right at the top of the Must See list. Not surprisingly, the gorgeous falls are almost always crawling with human chains doing their best to scale them with some semblance of skill. The wise ones go with a guide who points out the best foot-holds. Just about 2 miles west of Ocho Rios and 3 hours from Negril, this crowd favorite is set inside a beautiful park that requires one fee for entry and another to climb the falls and/or swim in the river.
Glass Bottom Boat Rides
Can you have fun at the reef if you don't dive and don't have snorkeling equipment? Of course! Bargain for a cheap ride on a Glass Bottom Boat and cruise out to the underwater wonder. Most of the boat operators cruise along the shore, looking for customers. You only need to hang out by the water after breakfast for a little while until you see one.
You'll be provided with a snorkel, mask and flippers if you don't have them, then they show you how to snorkel, and take you on a guided tour of the reef.
Photo by Facebook Fan Caitlin Verbitsky
A 15-minute cab ride from either Samsara or Legends will land you at The Negril Hills Golf Club's 18-hole course, set amid 2,000 acres of rolling hills overlooking Negril Bay. Don't worry if you're no Arnold Palmer – players of all levels are welcome and the warm, friendly staff will set you up with everything you need, from clubs, to balls, a cart, shoes, and even a caddie. For details, call the club at (876) 957-4638, visit their website at negrilhillsgolfclub.com or head over to the front desk for some information.
Reggae Horseback Riding
This is the one you see in your fantasies. Ride a gorgeous horse along a pristine, private white-sand beach. Take a swimming ride in the sea with your horse (beyond spine-tingling!). Saunter along coolly shaded, romantically sun-dappled trails. Discover an enormous variety of plants and animals throughout 900 acres of Jamaica's most beautiful landscapes. And you don't even have to be experienced; they have outings for all skill levels, including first-timers.
Don't want to get on a horse at all but don't want to miss out? There are two delightful alternatives for you: donkey cart rides and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Rhodes Hall Plantation
Second is the Rhodes Hall horseback excursion. This amazing working plantation continuously produces – among much else – coconuts, bananas, papaya, mangoes, pineapples, oranges, and limes. Just some of the many resident animal species include crocodiles, geese, mongoose, goats, myna birds, and peacocks. Over 70 horses live here too, and are available for riding throughout 550 lush tropical acres.
Chukka Ride 'N Swim
Last but not least, the Chukka Cove Farm rides. You'll saddle up for a 45-minute ride along the Chukka Beach coast, during which the guide will entertain you with lore about the local history, culture, and residents (human, plant, and animal). When the land ride ends, you'll get 10 minutes to ride your horse while it swims in the sea, pretty much everyone's favorite part.
Kool Runnings Water Park & Adventure Zone
Negril's theme park is a playground for everyone – age is irrelevant. Adults, kids, 20-somethings, everyone comes for a great time. The water park has 7 high-thrill level water slides, an easy-going river pool float, a toddler's water playground, and a safety-harnessed bungee trampoline safe enough for kids.
The Adventure Zone includes a natural wetlands kayak tour, go-kart racing, outdoor laser combat (think paintball with lasers), actual paintball combat, a relaxing scenic "raft carriage" ride powered by guides, and a gentle raft group paddle where you man the oars.
Throughout the day, the park also hosts DJ parties, hula hoop and musical chairs contests, and more group entertainment. A restaurant, cafe, juice bar, and sports bar are also right onsite.
For more information, visit their website at koolrunnings.com or stop by the front desk.
Take an awesome drive through rugged hill country to a valley that time forgot. Just 45 minutes from Negril, the "Falls Walking" route works its way right up the slowly rushing falls through virgin rainforest dotted with natural swimming holes and cascades that you're free to splash around in – did someone say paradise?
This landmark lighthouse on Negril's west end may just be a cool place to visit now, but it was once a matter of life and death. The light warned off sailors who'd ventured too close to the reefs at night or during stormy weather. It's a favorite with photographers, history buffs, and lovers of seafaring tales.
Birth Place & Resting Place of Bob Marley
Set high in the mountains, Nine Mile is a small and friendly village tucked away in the parish of St. Ann. Bob Marley was born and laid to rest in this place, and his most devoted fans find their way here through the beautiful, tranquil Jamaican countryside to pay him homage. You might even be personally greeted by his relatives and regaled with tales of his life as far back as his childhood.
Reggae Jam Sessions/Concerts
Reggae is a combination of traditional African rhythms, American Rhythm and Blues, and indigenous Jamaican folk conventions. The synthetic style is strictly Jamaican and includes off-beat syncopations, up-stroke guitar strums, chanted vocal patterns, and lyrics often dealing with the religious tradition of Rastafari, political protest, and the 'rudie' (hooligan hero).
More commonly known is the fact that Bob Marley & The Wailers were largely responsible for the international popularity of reggae. To get you started on finding some great reggae music, we suggest visiting Bourbon Beach, Roots Bamboo, Margaritaville, and the Jungle Nightclub
Set aside a half day for this cool and beautiful place that packs 4 experiences in 1 – natural wonder, historic attraction, musical experience, spice farm visit.
The Roaring River is an unspoiled spot on the former British plantation called Shrewsbury Estate, which you'll definitely want to make time to poke around. At the river head, water gushes out of the ground and joins up with other mountain streams, and some of the water feeds off into an old stone aqueduct from the plantation days. Follow the river to a cliffside cave, which is the entrance to a subterranean passage that you're free to explore.
On a lucky day, you'll encounter locals making music with nothing but bamboo sticks and rocks -- the acoustics are amazing. And there's still more: you can take a dip in the healing waters (so says local lore) of the "Blue Hole" and visit a nearby spice farm, which certainly isn't something you see every day.
Hey – it can be an adventure if you do it right! Across the street from Legends is Jamaica's "Times Square" filled with fun and fine shops that will have the perfect souvenir for your trip. Walk just 10-15 minutes further on and you'll come across classic Caribbean open-air crafts markets where you can pick up one-of-a-kind Jamaican art.
Photo by Facebook Fan John Brinkerhoff
Set aside a whole day and make your way to the start of the "Bamboo Highway" to find these gorgeous cascading falls on a privately owned working farm. You'll take the south coast road through sleepy fishing villages, then hop aboard a tractor-tram to traverse scenic fields on the way to an easy hike alongside the falls.
Then the real fun begins – here and there you'll come across rope swings so you can swing like Tarzan and plunge into the river. Near the top is a spot where you can dive down into the water and emerge in caves that are under the waterfalls. It might be one of the coolest things you ever do, but make sure you do it with a local guide for a safe and happy ending.
Is there more? Of course! There's also a thrilling ZipLine tour that takes you careening high above the falls amid the lush tree canopy. A must-do!