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Jamaica: One Love Island

Find Nirvana on Near-Empty Beaches
Jamaica: One Love Island
From limestone cliffs and jade lagoons to soaring waterfalls and dramatic mountains, Jamaica’s romantic allure is inescapable. Add sexy spas, reggae rhythms, and moonlit dinners, and you’re in for a tryst.
By Lebawit Lily Girma, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Find Nirvana on Near-Empty Beaches
    Find Nirvana on Near-Empty Beaches
    Finding quiet beaches away from the masses is possible—but it may require some extra effort. Cornwall Beach, a wide expanse of soft white sand, may be occupied by one or two other couples, but crowds and vendors are delightfully absent during the week. Couples who seek solitude, save for a few local fishermen, will find it along the eastern edge of Port Antonio. On the quiet south side of the island, Treasure Beach is as peaceful as it gets: tourist sightings are few and secluded coves are plentiful.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Jamaica’s Most Romantic Restaurants
    Jamaica’s Most Romantic Restaurants
    The Caribbean capital of street food is also well known for fine-dining establishments in atmospheric settings. In Negril, couples can opt to dine on the cliffs at Ivan's Bar, or alfresco above the caves and swirling sea at Rockhouse Restaurant. Arrive to dinner at Montego Bay's Houseboat Grill by boat to dine on a houseboat floating in the marina. From the top deck, you can watch night descend on the hills. Nearby, the Seahorse Grill is a great choice for an alfresco, starlit dinner on the dock of the Montego Bay Yacht Club. Head to the Sugar Mill for top-notch Caribbean cuisine served in a lush garden. Up in the Blue Mountains, the restaurant at Strawberry Hill hosts a popular Sunday brunch, accompanied by breathtaking views of the island from 3,000 feet above sea level.
    Photo courtesy of David Yellen/Island Outpost
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    Hidden Waterfalls and Coves for Couples
    Hidden Waterfalls and Coves for Couples
    Jamaica’s stunning waterfalls and coves have become world-famous, thanks to coverage in glossy magazines, but couples can still find a few places all to themselves. Spiral staircases from the tops of Negril's cliffs lead down to intimate coves where you can dip into clear waters and frolic out of sight. Hike around to find your favorite swimming hole at Reach Falls, the most stunning cascade on the island—the lush foliage around some of the pools offers delicious privacy.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Romantic Jamaican Road Trips
    Romantic Jamaican Road Trips
    Take the romantic drive from Ocho Rios through Fern Gully, a three-mile gorge surrounded by rain forest and oversized fern trees. The northern section of the highway passes through seaside towns and reaches colorful Port Maria, with its crescent beach. Continuing on to Port Antonio and the Blue Lagoon, the scenery grows more sublime as the road winds past towering cliffs above crashing blue waves, before ending up at the gorgeous Reach Falls for a jungle and waterfall escape.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Where to Drink as the Sun Sets
    Where to Drink as the Sun Sets
    Catch the romantic sunset from the cliffs or along the beach at Negril: As the sky turns all shades of orange and red, sip on cocktails upstairs at Rick’s Café and watch the cliff divers, or pick Ivan's Bar for a more intimate crowd. Beach lovers can go to Drifters Bar on the beach side, for some live music with a sundowner. In Montego Bay, Pier One is the best pick for a fancy cocktail with a sunset view. The most unforgettable evening view of the southern coastline is from Lovers’ Leap. Grab a drink from the bar before finding a spot on the balcony from which to gaze at the blazing horizon.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Outdoor Adventures for Lovers
    Outdoor Adventures for Lovers
    Active couples can indulge in a horseback ride, bike up in the Blue Mountains National Park at sunrise, or wind through the countryside on an ATV tour. Jamaica’s dramatic waterfalls and gardens set the mood for intimate swims or walks. The hike to Mayfield Falls requires a fun and splashy river-crossing before you reach the trio of cascades. Rafting over the Blue Lagoon’s 180-foot-deep waters is mesmerizing, as is gliding over the bioluminescent waters of the Luminous Lagoon at night. On dry land, you can take a picnic lunch to share at the river gardens of Konoko Falls and Park.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    Explore Jamaica’s Glamorous East Coast
    Explore Jamaica’s Glamorous East Coast
    Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland is the island’s most beautiful—a breathtaking region of beaches, cliffs, and roads winding through green tunnels formed by trees and leading to sights like the Blue Lagoon.  An assortment of clifftop guesthouses along the coast provide accommodations so you can choose your own daily adventure. Grab a snack at Boston Bay Jerk Centre then walk over to the quiet stretch of Boston Bay Beach for sunbathing or a surfing lesson. Or take a bamboo raft down the Rio Grande. Head to Port Royal for some swashbuckling pirate history, or hire a boat to take you over to Lime Cay for deserted island playtime.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
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    The Gift of Arts and Crafts
    The Gift of Arts and Crafts
    From red, green, and gold Rastafarian sarongs to intricate woodcarvings, it’s tough to leave without a bag full of handmade crafts. In addition to browsing at the local markets, you can find paintings and crafts at Ahhh Ras Natango Gallery, before or after a stroll in the surrounding gardens. Art lovers should also seek out Harmony Hall Gallery for a selection of works from more than 100 artists, before heading downstairs for a meal at the well-regarded Toscanini’s.
    Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma