Relaxing to Reggae in Jamaica

Winter time on the Cloud can be cold. That’s why I pack my bags and head to Montego Bay, Kingston and Negril on the luscious island of Jamaica. Life in Jamaica has its own tempo that beats to the music of reggae, dub, ska and dancehall!

The original inhabitants of Jamaica were the native Arawak and Taino peoples when Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1494. The native peoples had no immunity to European diseases, so they quickly died out almost to extinction. When Columbus landed, he thought he was in the spice islands of India. When it was realized that the New World was not the Far East, Jamaica was quickly planted with sugarcane, spices and similar commodities coveted in Europe. Because there was little available manpower, Spain imported slaves from Africa to work in the plantations.

Sunset in Jamaica: Time to Party!!

William Penn (father of the founder of Pennsylvania) and Robert Venables (a famous English Civil War general) conquered the island for England in 1655 and renamed it “Jamaica” after the Arawok name “Xaymaka” – meaning “the land of wood and water”. The English held Jamaica as an outpost in the midst of Spanish territory and often had to fend off Spanish attacks. To provide protection, the governor licensed “privateers” to attack Spanish shipping and Jamaica became an open port for pirates included Henry Morgan. Jamaica is proud of its rebellious and free-spirited heritage!
In 1838, England abolished the slave trade and emancipated all slaves. The need for manpower continued to be acute, though, so indentured labour was imported from China and India. This mix of Africans, Indians, Chinese and Europeans gives Jamaica its distinctive ethnic mix today. The Jamaicans developed their own unique culture and even religion (Rastafari). Perhaps its most famous cultural export is its world-renown Reggae music!

Jamaica has a population of just 2.9 Million but receives more than 4.3 Million tourists each year. Although there is mining, agriculture and other industries on the island, tourism is, by far, the largest industry and is responsible for about half of its annual revenues. This means that Jamaicans offer a friendly, welcoming culture open to peoples from foreign lands. Tourists visit Jamaica to soak up the sun, play in the warm waters, enjoy its scenic beauty and to experience its vibrant culture.

There are some really cool places to see the wonders of nature in Jamaica:

  • Blue Mountain Peak – the highest mountain in Jamaica at 2,256 meters (7,401) is famous for its gourmet-quality coffee.
  • Scuba and Snorkelling – the underwater beauty of Jamaica has captivated visitors since the very beginning! There are many exciting places to experience this special attraction whether you are a novice or expert.
Blue Mountain Peak grows excellent coffee

Blue Mountain Peak grows excellent coffee!

  • Blue Hole – this is a water-filled sink hole near Ocho Rios which is a beautiful colour.
  • The Luminous Lagoon – at night the microorganisms in this bay glow through bio-luminesces as you swim through. It is an enchanting sight!
  • Dunn’s River Falls – a scenic 55 meter high (180 feet) and 180 meters long (600 feet) series of waterfalls that features in many photos of the island.

Bob Marley - Reggae in Jamaica

Bob Marley is a hero for all Jamaicans!

Here’s a pro-tip: Jamaica is the birthplace of Bob Marley. Make sure to visit famous sites associated with the great Reggae artist and don’t miss the Bob Marley Museum. The music will put you in a party mood!

Jamaica has three international airports. The largest airport is Sir Donald Sangster International Airport serving the resort areas around Montego Bay. There is also the smaller Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel, St. Mary’s Parish. Most of the business in Jamaica is in the capital served by Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Taxis are readily available and inexpensive but make sure to agree on the fare at the beginning of your journey.  There are currently no ride-sharing services, however, given the rather leisurely approach to trips, routes and prices, I recommend that you arrange transport from your hotel. Hotel cars are nicer and more reliable.

Here’s another pro-tip: Kingston’s airport and the historic settlement of Port Royal are on the Palisadoes Tombolo, a strip of sand that was formed when a powerful earthquake uplifted the seafloor in 1692. In less than five minutes, most of the pirate haven of Port Royal was buried in the sands and is now being excavated with spectacular finds from the doomed settlement. It is well worth a visit and there are cool restaurants and bars which uphold the rebellious reputation of the site!

In Kingston, I recommend that you stay in the Terra Nova Hotel; an excellent, welcoming and comfortable property. I also like the Knutsford Court because it has fabulous gardens and a great bar close to its swimming pool! Try some authentic Jamaican spicy food at the Chelsea Jerk Centre; just remember not to order the hottest version as it may hurt you!

In Montego Bay, I recommend the Sandals Royal Caribbean resort. Sandals is an all-inclusive Jamaica-based hotel chain that offers comfortable properties around the Caribbean. Its premier property in Jamaica is very welcoming with fabulous service. In Montego Bay, my favourite restaurant is The Sugar Mill which offers fantastic Jamaican recipes and the freshest seafood imaginable.

Relaxing to Reggae in Jamaica

Jerk Chicken – Spicy and very Tasty!

In Negril, I love the relaxing vibe of The Cliff Hotel. It is perfect as a base for seeing the local sites and it offers fabulous ocean views. When I’m in Negril, I always go at least once to Fireman’s Lobster Pit which is a relaxed venue with excellent food!

Here’s a final pro-tip: If you want to feel like James Bond, consider checking into one of the guest houses at GoldenEye, the former home of writer Ian Fleming who wrote the Bond novels. The author’s property is beautifully situated with stunning views and the guest houses are relaxed and inviting!

GoldenEye: It’s great for “Bonding” with friends and family

GoldenEye: It’s great for “Bonding” with friends and family!

I hope you visit Jamaica and enjoy one of my favourite island paradises!

 

Love,

Isabella

 

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Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: The Luminous Lagoon, Blue Mountain Peak and the Bob Marley Museum (https://www.jtbonline.org, https://www.bobmarleymuseum.com)  

Where to stay: Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, The Cliff Hotel in Negril and Knutsford Court in Kingston (https://www.sandals.com/royal-caribbean, https://www.thecliffjamaica.com, https://www.knutsfordcourt.com)

Where to party: Anywhere! Jamaica is one big party! 

Where to eat: The Sugar Mill in Montego Bay, Fireman’s Lobster Pit in Negril and Chelsea Jerk Centre in Kingston (https://www.halfmoon.com/dining/restaurant/sugar-mill, https://www.pepperwoodjamaica.com)

What to buy: Blue Mountain Coffee and Jamaican Spices

Enjoy the island paradise of Jamaica!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: The Luminous Lagoon, Blue Mountain Peak and the Bob Marley Museum (https://www.jtbonline.org, https://www.bobmarleymuseum.com)  

Where to stay: Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, The Cliff Hotel in Negril and Knutsford Court in Kingston (https://www.sandals.com/royal-caribbean, https://www.thecliffjamaica.com, https://www.knutsfordcourt.com)

Where to party: Anywhere! Jamaica is one big party! 

Where to eat: The Sugar Mill in Montego Bay, Fireman’s Lobster Pit in Negril and Chelsea Jerk Centre in Kingston (https://www.halfmoon.com/dining/restaurant/sugar-mill, https://www.pepperwoodjamaica.com)

What to buy: Blue Mountain Coffee and Jamaican Spices

Enjoy the island paradise of Jamaica!

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