BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
The initial response when I told my friends and family that I was headed to Kingston, Jamaica were reactions of well wishes, envy, skepticism and most importantly expressed concerns for my well being, with many reminders to be careful and to stay safe. It’s enough to make anyone travelling alone a little bit nervous, heading to a country that I had little knowledge about, with people I wasn’t even acquainted with.
I was familiar with the Caribbean islands, with my parents being from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, but I had only heard stories of Jamaica’s beauty without ever having the opportunity to experience it for myself. Many tourists who come to experience Jamaica end up going to the all-inclusive resorts out in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios for the beautiful turquoise waters and white sand beaches. They completely bypass the capital city of Kingston; wary of what interesting attractions it could possibly have to offer.
In reality there is much that Kingston has to offer the travelling explorer. It has been underrated and not as heavily marketed as it’s all-inclusive counterparts, however if you are looking to experience the roots of what brings Jamaica alive Kingston is the place to see.
Jamaica has a lush landscape of mountains, rainforests and reef-lined beaches. With its British colonial architecture filled with culture and history, Kingston is a treasure trove, for experiencing the arts, entertainment and heritage of the Jamaican people.
Throughout Kingston there is much to see and explore. For those interested in learning more about the vast history of the island, a trip to the National Museum of Jamaica or the Institute of Jamaica is definitely top of the list. The Jamaican people have been working hard in their efforts to preserve and educate people about their heritage and culture to ensure that it will live on in the years to come. The National Museum of Jamaica takes you back in time to learn about the Taino’s the first inhabitants of the island, while a knowledgeable guide provides lessons and explanations to their lifestyle. Here you can also learn about the Rastafarian culture, how it traces back and was integrated as a belief system recognized in the world today.
Known throughout the world as the birthplace of reggae, Kingston is the home of the Bob Marley Museum, Bob’s house preserved from the time when he resided there, allowing tourists to experience the space which inspired him to write many of his legendary hits. Another famous house in the area set amongst appointed, luxurious landscaped gardens spanning eleven acres is the Devon house, one of Kingston’s most visited attractions where you can sample one of the most famous desserts in the world, Devon House Ice Cream.
Kingston offers a unique take on the arts; with theatres you can visit to catch live and entertaining plays put on by the locals. While we were there we got to experience ‘Baby Scam’ a comedy featuring Jamaican actors and actresses putting on a hilarious performance you won’t want to miss. There is always something happening in Kingston, with a wide selection of concerts and music festivals to attend especially in the upcoming year. Some notable events taking place in the next couple of months is their annual Reggae Festival, complete with Bob Marley celebrations from February 1-6th.
If you are looking for a more scenic route Jamaica offers many tours of its beautiful landscape and exotic regions such as Forres Park with its picturesque and lush surroundings, and Dunn’s River Falls a 600 ft. climb through cool and refreshing water as it cascades over a natural limestone terrace. If you enjoy hiking the Blue Mountains and Strawberry Hills presents the opportunity for bird watching and coffee plantation tours while immersing yourself in Mother Nature.
The Jamaican Tourist Board offers lots of insight and advice for those looking to experience the authentic flavors of heritage and culture that Kingston has to offer. Their knowledgeable guides will point you in the right direction or offer to help take you around wherever it is that you want to go. It is most important to mention that the entire time we were there wasn’t a time where I didn’t feel safe. The reputation that Kingston has for being dangerous, should be taken with a grain of salt, as we experienced many precarious situations no matter where we visit in the world. Head down to Kingston, Jamaica and experience a new perspective; educate yourself and you just might find that you like what it has to offer.