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Jamaica - Sports And Outdoor Activities


   Sport is a Jamaican obsession - hardly surprising in a country that has produced so many world-class athletes. The island is also a great place to indulge your own sporting passion, with excellent watersports and top-class golfing in particular.

Many hotels have swimming pools and beaches. The best beaches for bathing are mainly on the northern coast. Surfing is also best on the north coast, east of Port Antonio, where long lines of breakers roll into Boston Bay. Most beach hotels have sunfish, sailfish and/or windsurfing boards for hire. To charter larger boats, contact the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club. Facilities for water-skiing are offered at most beach hotels and at the Kingston Ski Club at Morgans Harbour.

Jamaica has many attractions for divers, including close-to-shore wrecks, sponge forests, underwater caves and coral reefs. In some areas, visibility is exceptional, reaching 30.5m (100ft). Popular dive sites include the Throne Room near Negril, where it is possible to see corals, sponges, nurse sharks and cubera snapper; Rickys Reef, with brightly coloured fish; and the wreck of the Kathryn. There are many professional dive operators on the island; contact the Tourist Board for a list of licensed operators. Shops are equipped for rentals and offer guided snorkel and scuba trips.

Fresh- and sea-water fishing are popular. Mountain mullet, hognose mullet, drummer and small snook are caught in rivers. Deep-sea fishing charters can be arranged through hotels in main resorts. Spearfishing is permitted among the reefs. No licence is needed. Entry forms are available for the Blue Marlin Tournament held in Port Antonio during September.

Jamaica has developed some of the Caribbeans most beautiful and challenging golf courses. Montego Bay is the best area and it is not necessary to be resident at a hotel to play on its three courses. Other golf courses include Caymanas Golf Course (which hosts the Jamaica Open and Pro-Am every November) and Constant Spring near Kingston.

For those keen on mountain climbing and hiking,Jamaica-sport and activities the Blue Mountains, which reach above 2134m (7000ft), offer unspoilt scenery and a variety of flora and fauna. It is best to go hiking with a guide. Some stables for horse riding are open all year, others run schedules during the winter season and most arrangements can be made through hotels. Cricket is the national obsession and matches are played from January to August in Sabina Park, Kingston and other locations throughout the island. Probably the second most popular sport is football, which is played throughout the year. There are plenty of tennis courts, and most hotels without their own court have access to those nearby. Polo has a tradition going back over a century; matches are played all year round in Kingston. Matches at Kingston and at Drax Hall, near Ocho Rios, are played every week. Horse races are held at Caymanas Race Track, Kingston.

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