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Occupied by plantation owners, each great house of Jamaica was always built on high ground so that it overlooked the plantation itself and was in sight of the next house in the distance. It was the custom for the owners to offer hospitality to travelers crossing the island by road. While these homes are intriguing and beautiful, it's important to remember that they represent the sad legacy of slavery -- they were built by slaves, and the lavish lifestyle of the original owners was supported by the profits of slave labor. The two great houses can be toured in the same day.

A Waterworld for Families

For years, Walter Fletcher Beach was a sunny, well-maintained beach, without too many improvements, positioned a short walk from the heart of Montego Bay. In 2004, a team of entrepreneurs added a compound of entertainment options, fenced everything in, and renamed it Aquasol Theme Park (tel. 876/979-9447 or 876/940-1344; www.aquasoljamaica.com). Its sands now bustle with scantily clad sunbathers and swimmers throughout the day. Beginning at around 8pm every Friday to Sunday, the site experiences a change of clientele, when mobs of both Jamaicans and foreign visitors hang out in the moonlight, jamming and gossiping till the wee hours. The entrance fee allows access to a watersports kiosk; a pier where glass-bottomed boats are moored; a strip of sand; a beauty salon; a bar and grill-style restaurant; a gym/health club with a private local membership; and a dance club/bar with views of the sea, a collection of caged macaws, and surges of reggae and soca. Admission is US$5 for adults, US$3 for children 11 and under. Regardless of which of the facilities you opt to patronize, the entire compound is open Monday to Thursday 9am to 7pm, and 9am to at least midnight, and sometimes, later, depending on business, on Friday to Sunday.

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.