Photo Credit: Maxwelid

Jamaica is both part of the Caribbean island group and completely distinct from it. Though the ivory sands and sparkling seas are essential Caribbean holiday material, Jamaica also boasts lush inland scenery and some startling native wildlife. It’s famed the world-over for its flavoursome street foods, locally-grown coffee and of course, rum. But there’s another side to Jamaica that brings in the crowds, particularly around the New Year: it’s the island that likes to party.

Visit Jamaica at any time of year and you’ll find a flamboyant programme of events but if you’ve booked your Jamaica holidays over New Year, it may be worth staying on for the Rebel Salute and Jazz festivals in January. Even if you can’t stay that long, many of the island’s beaches like Negril and Montego Bay have a reputation for their nightlife throughout the seasons. In a country where relaxation is a priority, there’s always an excellent array of laid-back watering holes as well bars belting out live music until the early hours.

As far as Jamaica is concerned, New Year is an excuse for a whole month of celebrations and many visitors head straight for the western resort of Negril. By day, the coral reefs explode with colour in one of the country’s top diving spots and you really have to admire the view from the cliffs south of Long Beach as the sun sets. Try Sandy Resort for its popular New Year bashes, with music, dancing and midnight fireworks right on the beach. Alternatively, head to holiday favourite Rick’s Cafe in the West End.

Ocho Rios on the north coast is also a favourite for end-of-year celebrations. This picturesque old fishing village has transformed into a busy port in recent decades, with boatloads of cruising holidaymakers alighting for the New Year season. The 600-foot Dunn’s River Falls are one of the major draws here and the nearby resorts host spectacular parties every December. As an alternative, the classic tourist haunt Margaritaville is also a good bet for a New Year’s party.

New Year’s Eve festivities are taken seriously in Jamaica and there are many more options, from the grand ball in capital Kingston to a few quiet drinks in the quirky Pelican Bar at Black River. Houses are decorated with flowers, families get together and even the local cuisine gets turned up a notch, with plenty of rice, red beans and goat’s head soup to go around.

Whatever your plans for the night, it’s sure to be a memorable one.