Seven Mile Beach
There’s hardly a bad beach in Jamaica, but this one is a star among stars: calm waters; soft, powdery sand; excellent restaurants; and that painfully beautiful ombré of blue that matches sea to sky. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, this is not your spot. Instead, save Seven Mile for when you’re feeling social. This is where tourists and locals reliably like to meet up.
26 Hope Rd., Kingston
The nineteenth-century home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire is now a National Heritage Site, a house museum, and a center for the best local shopping and desserts. The ground level is inhabited by independently owned specialty stores that celebrate Jamaica’s rich, local flavors through gourmet delicacies. Not to be missed: Devon House Bakery’s selection of beef, chicken, fish, and vegetable patties and the fresh fruit smoothies and coconut water served in its shell from CocoRaw. For your sweet fix, grab a box of truffles made with local cocoa at Chocolate Dreams and try a scoop of tropical ice cream—coconut, guava, and mango are all winners—from the beloved Devon House I-Scream.
“Blue” is hardly an apt descriptor for the perfectly still surface of shimmering turquoise that undulates to cerulean and navy as you float along this three-hundred-meter-wide lagoon. A tour by boat or bamboo raft takes you to a small beach, but that chameleon-esque water is less welcoming than it seems—it’s thirty feet deep and surprisingly cold. Still, visitors get a thrill from swinging off of one of the nearby trees and plunging into the water.
Road View, St. Peter
Cobblers Cove reminds us of a tropical country club: Keep the pastels, vintage florals, and starched white linens of a Slim Aarons photograph, but add in the warmth of a friendly staff, a gorgeous sea view, and a stiff rum punch. The 1940s mansion has drawn guests through its powder-pink walls for decades, thanks to the impeccable service and a restaurant often hailed as the best on the island. The charming room décor includes white bamboo seating, Egyptian cotton bed linens, goose-down pillows, and an absence of televisions. Stimulation comes the old-fashioned way: a jaunt on the easily accessible beach, where snorkeling reveals turtles darting among coral, or an indoor game of chess or checkers inside the wood- and leather-accented dining hall. Time dinner to catch the sunset, when the golden light illuminates the walls of the Camelot restaurant, where Bajan chef Jason Joseph grills the catch of the day to perfection.
Between the rocks of a jaw-dropping cliff, the flicker of torches and candelabras, and the sound of crashing waves, it’s hard to believe anyone remembers what’s actually on their plate when they dine here. But chef Paul Owen does an impressive job of reminding the guests—with his seafood-ruled menu of shrimp ravioli with pesto and tomato fondue, crab cakes in coriander cream, and fresh catch of the day.
Skeetes Hill, Bridgetown
There are breathtaking sea views all over Barbados, and still, the one at Champers feels special. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows lining the dining hall, waves practically crash on the floor. The food, a mix of seafood and meat infused with Caribbean flavors, includes shrimp and mango salad, crab crepes, and an upscale take on the local classic, Bajan fried flying fish. Don’t miss the art gallery upstairs, which features a selection of pieces for sale from the island’s local talent.
317 Fortaleza St., San Juan
Iowa native Peter Schintler has attracted culinary praise in restaurants across the globe, from New York City to Singapore. But over the past decade he has put down roots in Puerto Rico, where his restaurant Marmalade checks every box of the perfect dining experience. The service is informative but unobtrusive, the atmosphere offers a balance of romance and comfort, and the innovative farm-to-table menu features paella sushi, shrimp tossed with popcorn and avocado salsa, and a lobster risotto that melts in your mouth. Do not underestimate the tiny white bean soup, Marmalade’s signature, topped with black truffles and guaranteed to have you singing Schintler’s praises before you reach the entrée. And although water damage from Hurricane Maria forced Marmalade to temporarily close its doors, its liquid gold—an impeccably curated wine collection—was thankfully preserved.
FieldSpa at Goldeneye
Oracabessa Bay, St. Mary
There are just two facials on the menu at this quaint cottage-spa that’s perched on a serene lagoon (you can paddleboard right up to the entrance), and both are fantastic. Inspired by traditional Jamaican recipes and made with healing herbs and roots cultivated at the property’s own farm, the facials incorporate tension-relieving acupressure, cleansing muds, smoothing algae masks, and glowifying wild-harvested seaweed treatments.
The Spa at Strawberry Hill
New Castle Rd., Kingston
The view alone will send you into raptures—the spa overlooks the Blue Mountains of Jamaica—not to mention the heavenly foot soak you get upon arrival. As you soak, an aesthetician determines the best treatment for your skin. They’re experts at tension-relieving face massage, deep pore detoxification, and revitalizing tired skin with island plant essences and unique lymphatic drainage acupressure techniques.
The Ocean Club Four Seasons
One Ocean Dr., Paradise Island
Every corner of this resort and spa on Paradise Island (yes, exactly) is beautiful.