For an authentic, laid-back Jamaican experience, VitaminDaily.com's Montreal editor Christine Laroche left the crowds behind and headed to the South Coast. It's just a scenic two-hour drive from Montego Bay but trust us: It feels like worlds away.
Jake's is the polar opposite of a cookie-cutter resort. Upon arrival, we were instantly smitten with the warm feel of the colourful and bohemian boutique property. Plus, it's a family affair: The resort was built and designed one cabin at a time by Sally Henzell, is now owned and operated by her son Jason and Jason's wife Laura runs Driftwood Spa and teaches daily seaside yoga classes. Besides the casual feel and eclectic look, we love Jake's commitment to community through support of non-profit organization BREDS as well as local farmers. Rooms from $79 876-965-3000, www.jakeshotel.com
Speaking of local farmers: Both on-property restaurants, The Restaurant at Jake's and Jack Sprat, serve delish dishes made from locally sourced produce and seafood. The former features a menu that changes daily while the latter is a popular hangout for hotel guests and locals alike. Three words to remember? Jerk. Sausage. Pizza.
Tucked in the Nassau Valley in the parish of St. Elizabeth -- a site that just happens to be the perfect micro-climate for growing sugar cane -- is the legendary Appleton Estate. Take a Rum Tour to learn about the brand's history, visit the factory and, of course, sample some rum punch. 876-963-9215, www.appletonestate.com
splash Dunn's River Falls is one of Jamaica's biggest attractions, which often means big crowds. The alternative, the South Coast's YS Falls, is frequented by locals and in-the-know tourists. A quick tractor ride whisks us off to seven-tiered waterfalls, stunning scenery, a thrilling zipline course and a gorgeous natural spring pool. 876-997-6360, http://www.ysfalls.com