How to Explore Jamaica’s Blue Mountains

Discover a little-known side of Jamaica and venture inland to explore the 7,000-foot Blue Mountains—a part of the island that few visitors get to see. Travelers who do head up to this cool region an hour northeast of Kingston find that the Blue Mountains are one of the most romantic and adventurous parts of Jamaica—with opportunities to bike, cool off in hidden waterfalls, tour Blue Mountain coffee plantations, and soak up incredible views of blue peaks against an even bluer sea.

Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Lush source of the mellow, world-famous Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaica’s longest mountain range is nature at its best, seemingly a world away from nearby bustling, noisy Kingston. In these mountains 7,400 feet above sea level, the air is cool, the views—of villages and falls across the mountains—are magnificent, and, yes, the peaks look blue. The winding narrow roads, though occasionally nerve-racking, add to the overall mystical atmosphere. A handful of hotels and cabins, including the prestigious Strawberry Hill, provide lodging. Staying in the mountains overnight is highly recommended so you can take the famous sunrise summit hike.
Morgans Pass, Jamaica
This 12-cottage luxury hotel, 3,100 feet up in the Blue Mountains, is Jamaica without the beaches. It is the Jamaica of misty mornings, cool, cuddle-worthy evenings, and a musical heritage recognized worldwide. First as a private estate belonging to music producer Chris Blackwell and then as part of his Island Outpost collection of hotels, Strawberry Hill has been a creative refuge for performers including Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, and Willy Nelson. After Hurricane Gilbert destroyed the estate’s great house in 1988, Blackwell commissioned Jamaican architect Ann Hodges, who specializes in historic reconstructions, to build the cottages, a restaurant, and a pool, which were opened in 1994. Yet despite the rock and roll history, and the hanging with like-minded souls up in the mountain mists, what guests seem to remember most is the far-below views of Kingston, especially at night, when the lights glow and sparkle from what must certainly be another world.
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Who’s got the best view up in the Blue Mountains? It’s not Strawberry Hill, it’s the Jamaica Defense Force! The view from the military barracks and training ground—a short drive up from Mount Edge Guest House—is stunning, with the peaks and the coastline stretching ahead. Too bad you can’t stay here. But you can certainly get a ride up and quickly take in the scenery and a snapshot. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the troops during a drill.
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