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Caribbean

Where to go, what to do in Jamaica

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

GETTING THERE

Air Jamaica offers nonstop flights from BWI Marshall to Montego Bay for about $450 round trip. Connecting flights on American, US Airways and other carriers start at about $370; fares to Kingston are in the same range.

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GETTING AROUND

Island Car Rentals: Montego Bay and Kingston airport terminals, 866-978-5335, http://www.islandcarrentals.com. Convenient, professional and inexpensive car rental service. For example, daily rate for a Toyota Yaris is $27, plus insurance. Remember, Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road.

STAYING THERE

Strawberry Fields Together: Off the North Coast Highway in Robin's Bay, 876-994-0135 or 876-999-7169, http://strawberryfieldstogether.com/home.aspx#. Secluded cottages and villas with a private beach and on-site dining. Rates from $90, plus $27.50 for Jamaican breakfast and dinner, or $35 for three meals. As part of the owners' Village Inclusive Plan, guests can visit a local school and explore the coast and mountains by ATV or horse, among other tours.

Zion Country Beach Cabins: Long Road, Portland Parish, 876-993-0435 or 876-451-1737, http://www.zioncountry.com. Four charmingly rustic cabins set among tropical plants and steps from the water, where manatees live. Doubles cost $50 and include breakfast. Drinks and dinner (fish, chicken or vegetarian) also available for $7-$8. Ask Free-I, the Dutch owner, for bar and restaurant suggestions, as well as information on climbing nearby Reach Falls.

Polkerris: 13 Corniche Rd., Montego Bay, 305-722-3567 or 876-877-7784

http://www.polvista.com. An elegant yet homey B&B overlooking the Caribbean and up the hill from Montego Bay's Hip Strip. Doubles cost $110, including a lavish breakfast.

WHERE TO EAT

Reggae Pot Rastarant: 86 Main St., Ocho Rios, 876-422-4696. Sample the Rastafarian cuisine called Ital, such as stew, rice and peas, and healthy juice drinks. Plates cost less than $4.

Mama Joice Cook Shop: Long Road, Portland Parish. Mama Joice prepares home-cooked Jamaican cuisine in her simple restaurant (four walls, no art). Dinner comes with very lively conversation from the chef. About $4.

WHAT TO DO

Green Castle Estate: Tower Road, Robin's Bay, 612-986-4709, http://www.gcjamaica.com. Tour the country's largest organic farm and learn about coconut oil production, allspice berries and the history of the estate. $20.

Port Antonio Market: The sprawling market in the center of town is crammed with produce, clothes, souvenirs, spices and crafts, such as woodcarvings by artist Rock Bottom.

Meet the People: The tourist board matches visitors with locals who share similar interests. Free. Fill out a request form at http://www.visitjamaica.com/about-jamaica/meet-people-programme.aspx?terms=meet*+the*+people*.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Jamaica Tourist Board, 800-233-4582, http://www.visitjamaica.com.

-- A.S.


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