Of course, for many visitors the perfect day is a morning on the golf course, lunch, and an afternoon on the beach. But if you want to have a fast-moving but memorable perfect day in Montego Bay (the most elegant and popular resort), begin the morning with a 9am rafting trip from Martha Brae's Rafters Village (tel. 876/952-0889), 3 miles inland from Falmouth outside Montego Bay. Trips last 1 1/4 hours, and you see "Me Tarzan, You Jane" scenery rarely glimpsed by the average visitor. Bamboo rafting was said to have been popularized by actor Errol Flynn. Before the swashbuckler made rafting a tourist attraction, it was used by natives to transport bananas down the river.

Follow up with a visit to the legendary Rose Hall Great House, Rose Hall Highway, 9 miles east of Montego Bay (tel. 876/953-2323). The subject of at least a dozen Gothic novels, including White Witch of Rose Hall, the plantation house is the most famous great house on the island, dating from 1750 and built by John Palmer, a wealthy British planter. At one point the 2,640-hectare (6,521-acre) plantation employed 2,000 slaves, some of whom were said to have been murdered by Annie Palmer after she tired of them as lovers. Allow an hour for this tour.

For an offbeat lunch, head for the junction of Gloucester Avenue and Kent Road, the half-mile strip of beach-fronting boulevard also known as Bottom Road or "Hip Strip." Here you find the largest concentration of food stands and bars in Jamaica; savor jerk pork grilled over charcoal fires and served with extra hot sauce, washed down with the local Red Stripe beer. Peppery shrimp also makes a good lunch if you're not into pork.


After dinner, spend 2 hours at Doctor's Cave Beach right on the Hip Strip. A plantation-style clubhouse has changing rooms and there's even a cybercafe when you're not testing out the white sands. Beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented, and active travelers can pursue jet-skiing, glass-bottom boat rides, and parasailing.

After the beach, head for Half Moon Plaza on the coastal road 8 miles east of the commercial center of Montego Bay. Here in a series of more than two dozen boutiques you avoid the harassment and hassle connected with the Crafts Market on Harbour Street. You can buy high-quality merchandise instead of a lot of junk. From art to resort clothing, this shopping plaza has it all.

After a shower and a change at your hotel, and for some rum and reggae, head to Time 'n' Place, just east of Falmouth outside Montego Bay (tel. 876/954-4371). This funky beach bar is built of driftwood, and locals rightly claim it's the best place for a "sundowner" in the area — and so it is. A relaxed, friendly place, drawing both locals and visitors, it makes the island's best daiquiris from fresh fruit and will even cook you up some peppery jerk chicken or lobster.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.