For Jennifer Lewis of St. Anthony, a second home in Jamaica isn't just a warm-weather destination -- it's a return to her family. Her grandfather bought the property 40 years ago, and her father was raised there. The house and small farm lie in the hills near Ocho Rios, a town of about 16,000 on the northwest coast. Lewis' parents, her three siblings and her 97-year-old grandfather still go there twice a year.

The four-bedroom, four-bath house rents for $1,200 per week in the winter. Go to

Getting there: Fly direct to Montego Bay via Sun Country. Best part: The food, people, reggae music, the beach and the culture.

Worst part: Some people are afraid of the somewhat aggressive hawkers.

Area must-sees: Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, Evita's Italian restaurant and a scenic drive through Fern Gully (home to hundreds of fern species; natives sell crafts along the road).

Family traditions: Eating Jamaican foods such as curried goat or goat's head soup, a holiday favorite. At night there are a lot of roadside barbecue stands that sell jerk chicken and hard dough bread. An annual trip to the top of the gorgeous Blue Mountains for world-famous Blue Mountain coffee.

Winter fun: Hiking up the hills, tropical birdwatching and spending the day on the beach and stargazing. "We see 10 to 15 falling stars per night," Lewis said.