Jamaica’s Cool Runnings

This Caribbean island nation is exactly what the winter orders

THE DULCET TONES of Bob Marley’s vocals never sound better than when they’re coming from a live band rather than the elevator’s Muzak station. Swap your white shirts and red pen for white sand and Red Stripe beers on a winter getaway to Jamaica. Then do yourself one better by picking spots that keep you away from the typical tourist crowds.

> Where to Stay: Serenity by the Beach This four-bedroom, four-bathroom villa (pictured) 20 minutes from Montego Bay airport comes complete with a butler, maid, security guard and cook to keep you comfortable and give you plenty of space to lounge. All four bedrooms look out over the saltwater sea and you’re steps from a virtually untouched white-sand beach. On site you’ll find a tennis court, basketball hoop, kayaks, a private pool and more. www.jamaicavillas.com/

> Where to Eat: Gloria’s Rendezvous, Port Royal For a taste of the local life spend at least a day in Kingston. Jamaica’s capital city has plenty to offer in terms of sights and sounds and Gloria’s Rendezvous — a fresh seafood restaurant on the Port Royal coast — is one of the area’s most popular dining spots. Fish (fried or steamed), lobster and shrimp (you must try the honey jerk; it’s delicious!) are among the favoured picks, but you can also choose from a long list that includes soup and chicken options. Don’t expect to see tourists (or tourist prices) at this spot to which locals flock on weekend nights, but do reserve a table in advance to make sure you’ve got a prized seat high above the sea. www.jamaicatravelandculture.com/

> What to Do: Island Gully Falls, Ocho Rios The crowds will head for Dunn’s River Falls; don’t follow them. Island Gully Falls offers a calmer and less crowded experience, but it doesn’t skip on the opportunities for thrills. Families with smaller children and those who have less than stable knees will appreciate the guides (and lifeguards) on hand to help you up and down the slippery rocks. Spend an hour or an afternoon, but don’t forget your waterproof camera. Guides are happy to snap the photos while you explore the falls.

Heather Greenwood Davis is a lawyer and National Geographic Traveler contributing editor. Reach her at heather@globetrottingmama.com.