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  • shaun.ringwood@thomson.co.uk'

    More of us than ever before are heading to Jamaica, thanks to its fabulous climate and chilled-out vibe. For such a small island, it sure packs in a heck of a lot. Here’s why it’s such a winner…

     

    According to new stats from The Jamaica Tourist Board, the number of holidaymakers from the UK increased by 16% in the first half of 2015 compared to the previous year. And frankly, we’re not surprised. In fact, Jamaica’s surging popularity is the very reason we’ve upped our number of flights and added 5 new hotels to our Jamaican portfolio as part of Launch Week.

    But while we’re all familiar with the island’s legendary bobsleigh team, reggae and the fastest man alive, it’s easy to forget how small Jamaica really is, and how much bang it gives for your buck.

    There are just 2.7 million people living there (the lucky things), which is less than a third of the population of London. Somehow though, it defies the odds, and continues to produce extraordinary people and products.

    Here are 11 offerings which show why Jamaica is ‘feeling irie’ right now…

    1. Usain Bolt

    The speediest man on the planet holds world record times in both the 200m and 100m races. Even more remarkable, it was another Jamaican – Asafa Powell – whose record he broke in the latter of the two. There’s clearly something in the water.

    2. Bob Marley

    Another legend born from Jamaica’s tiny shores, Bob Marley’s timeless reggae hits still fill airwaves around the world today, despite his untimely death 34 years ago. If Bob and his Wailers never fail to get you humming along, you won’t want to miss our excursion to his home and burial place.

    3. Rum

    a glass of rum

    Speak to any bartender and they’ll tell you that Jamaica knows how to do rum. Appleton Estate is still made on the island, and it’s shipped around the world. Have it on ice, in a cocktail, or even on your cornflakes (OK, maybe not that). You can visit the estate here.

    4. Looks

    Jamaica has not one, not two, but three former Miss World winners. They scooped victory in the beauty contest in the 60s, 70s and 90s, proving it’s not just the beaches that are good looking. What’s more, April Jackson from the current series of The Apprentice is a former Miss Jamaica.

    5. Coffee

    coffee cup on jamaican flag

    Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee does exactly what it says on the tin (or packet). It’s grown 7,000 feet up in the Blue Mountains, where the climate and rich soil make for an excellent cup of joe. But don’t just take our word for it.

    6. James Bond

    007 author Ian Fleming loved Jamaica – so much so that he wrote it into a number of Bond’s adventures. Fleming’s estate on the island was called ‘Goldeneye’, and scenes from Dr No and Live and Let Die were filmed nearby. And who bought the estate 12 years after Fleming’s death? Bob Marley.

    7. Boxing

    There are quite a few hard-hitters that have Jamaican heritage. Chris Eubank, David Haye, Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and Audley Harrison ALL have family connections here. We’re not sure who’s the toughest, but we wouldn’t really want to upset any of them.

    8. Bobsledding

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    Everyone and their dog has heard of Jamaica’s bobsleigh team, but that doesn’t make it any less of an achievement. For an island notoriously devoid of snow and ice, reaching the Winter Olympics was a special moment. You can have your own Cool Runnings moment on a bobsleigh run in the mountains, and there’s even a café where the team’s actual sled is on show.

    9. Music

    Bob Marley aside, there’s plenty more jammin’ to be had from Jamaica. Famous for ‘dodging the blame’, Shaggy is just one of music’s well-known faces from the island. There’s also Grace Jones, Busta Rhymes and Sean Kingston. If none of these take your fancy, there’s really no pleasing you.

    10. Beer

    Hooray, beer! That’s what Red Stripe said when they brought their tasty lager to the UK. This stuff has been brewed in Jamaica since 1938 and we love having a taste of the Caribbean in good ole’ Blighty too. Red Stripe has even sponsored the aforementioned bobsleigh team in the past.

    11. Sport

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    We can’t let Usain hog all the limelight, even if he is quite good. Jamaica has a history of great cricket players – Chris Gayle has captained the West Indies and Courtney Walsh is one of the fast bowlers to have scared a batsman senseless. Derby County fans will have fond memories of Jamaican forward Deon Burton, and Wimbledon trio Jason Euell, Marcus Gayle and Robbie Earle all hail from this titchy island, too.

    Inspired? Find out where you can stay in Jamaica – we’ve got more options than ever before.