The ice blue beaches, the soft crème colored sand and the tropical juices to savor while you dug your feet into soft sand and the rhythm of music relaxes you! How enchanting it is to even imagine this, Imagine, if you can actually live this dream! Well, if you are already planning a vacation, instead of going to all the high-end places, mark Jamaica as your next travel destination.
The Paradise Worth Exploring
The 3rd largest island of the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is a beautiful country located in the West Indies. Just 100 miles west to Haiti and 90 miles south to Cuba, the island is a popular tourist destination for those who crave to have the best beach experience. This paradise on earth is not just a magnificent tourist destination with its deep emerald green seascapes but the island holds within itself a rich cultural history. Kingston being its capital, the island also is famous for the reggae music that we all adore so much.
Besides a Travel Destination: A Cultural Haven
When Columbus first came to the island, somewhere around 1494, he tried to rename it, calling it the Santiago, but the people of this place have deep inclination with their roots and they keep its original name, the Xaymaca or Jamaica, as we know it. Unfortunately, this beautiful destination has a bleak history or slavery and the reminiscence of it can still be felt in the number of languages the natives are familiar with. Though, originally the majority are from Africa, the people who were forcefully bought and sold by the Europeans as slaves. Eventually, the country was freed from the atrocities of European colonialism in 1962.
With African slaves being their initial descendants, naturally the influence of African culture is quite evident in Jamaica, from food to music, attire to dance, everything has its inclination from the traditions of African people. The people of Jamaica believe in hearty meals, fun, music and lots of vibrant colors, one can see how brightly colored dresses they adorn and the music is spiced up with African drum beats. Even as a religion, the Revival Christianity of Jamaica is influenced by African spirituality, while the Christianity has its roots from Europe.
Jamaicans have many superstitious beliefs and many rituals are designed along them as well, for example the Stick and Stone tradition, where you avoid numbers after 3 as it is believed that duppy cannot count after 3, so you will be protected from its evil following you home. Then they have a Kumina Dance. It is spiritual, musical and celebratory in nature. The dance and music are very much similar to that of African ritual ceremonies, with heavy drumming and people in bright colored attires and creatively crafted headgears.
The Must-Go Places of Jamaica:
Anyone who is a party person and loves beaches would love Jamaica, it has wonderful destinations worth spending time and have all the nature’s luxuries within your reach. Explore marine life at Sea Life Center or have a fun educational trip with your children or siblings there. Here you could find the wonders of the sea world, from a unique parrot fish to eagle rays, nurse sharks to four-eyed butterfly fish, you can see all that and much more. But don’t worry if you are not a diver, the beaches like Ocho Rio, Montego Bay and Negril have diving schools. Depending on your skills, you can choose the one favorable to your skill set.
Apart from marine life, you can see the remains and ruins of World War II, the SS Kathryn as well.
The Dunn’s River Fall
The other travel destinations worth paying a visit are the Dunn’s River WaterFalls, the natural stairs let cool water splashes on you, one can either have a deep swimming experience or just walk the stair, cherishing the experience. For all the adventurous souls out there, you can explore the zip-lines and hanging bridges to soothe your soul.
Do you get mesmerized by those enchanting images of sparkly beaches that are iridescent at night? Well, now you can even experience it yourself at a Luminous Lagoon, off the Falmouth coast. This straight out of fairytale place can be best experienced at night as the algae, dinoflagellate, illuminates only at night when touched. You can even swim in an illuminated beach and forget the world for a time being.
Martha Brae River
If you want to have an ethereal experience whereby you can enjoy the fresh coconut while rafting on a traditional bamboo raft then you can even opt for Martha River. This 32 km bright green sea is an experience in itself.
Besides spending time at the beach, Jamaica has a lot to offer to History buffs or music zealots, visit Bob Marley Museum or enjoy year-round music carnivals to add to your knowledge of music and activism, while having the company of your friends and family and many music enthusiasts like yourself.
Fresh and Tempting: Jamaican Cuisine:
Foodies should make a huge list when going to Jamaica because certainly your taste buds will go on the journey of lots of spices, fresh fruits and freshly caught seafood. If you are a jerky chicken fan, you are bound to pay Jamaica a visit because that is where it all started.
The juicy chicken strips, tossed with original fresh spices and barbecued on coal is literally worth a trip. If you are fond of seafood, ackee and codfish should be on your Wishlist. Ackee is a fruit that is from Ghana but now it is grown within Jamaica as well. This delicious fruit, marinated with codfish and fried vegetables is a staple of Jamaica, but besides being scrumptious, it is full of nutrients as well.
Another fish savory is Run-Down which is a stew. The fish stew is cooked with spices and lots of vegetables that include onion, garlic, pepper, and tomatoes. Usually cod or mackerel are the two fish that are favored for this delicacy. Besides Jamaican tropical drinks, Jamaica is known for its rum for its strong tropical flavor of pineapple and banana. Jamaica is also known for the coffee it produces!
Where to Stay in Jamaica:
If you are already tempted to go to Jamaica, decide the kind of accommodation you want. Whether you want an apartment where you can cook for yourself or a resort to have a luxurious stay, the island has something for everyone.
To immerse into a cultural experience of Jamaica, you can visit Rastafari Indigenous Village, but they often take few people so anyone who comes has the pleasure of experiencing the indigenous life by themselves. Therefore, ensure you book a ticket in advance.
From a resort hotel in Montego to boutique hotels of Blue Mountain, Jamaica has immense options to choose from depending on your budget. If you are a solo traveler and are okay with not spending lavishly on accommodation, you can expect to find accommodation for as cheap as $50 a night. For those coming as a couple, they can have a boutique hotel if the crowd makes them edgy and they plan to have some peace. But usually these resorts are high priced.
Usually all-inclusive resorts are opted for to stay focused on the traveling goals without thinking about what to cook or eat. If you are traveling with family a decent resort can cost you around $400 a night! Many don’t choose the resorts or hotels, to experience Jamaica, the people now also go for Eco-Lodges, to live and stay outdoors in camps made from eco friendly building materials like bamboo, reed and thatch.
What To-Do and Not-Do in Jamaica:
Though the island is beautiful, safety should always be the priority. So, if you are a first timer to Jamaica remember to not
- Travel alone at night if you are not familiar with the spaces.
- travel in taxis without their number plates.
- Show off your valuables to complete strangers, you can be scammed in no time.
- Try and gel in by wearing clothes that make it difficult to find you in case you get lost.
Make sure you try and
- Travel in buses, they are air conditioned and you meet lots of native people.
- Keep a mosquito repellant or a net!
- Decide the fare of taxi or guide beforehand, you don’t want to be conned.
- Bargain when buying your family and friends back home some presents.
Time to pack your bags and make your itinerary the right way if you haven’t already but before you go remember, every space is respected and their culture, traditions and norms should be respected irrespective of your own belief system. Enjoy all you want but without hurting the sentiments of the people who are willing to welcome you into their homes and their hearts. Jamaica is beautiful with all its natural land and seascape and if you want to experience a tropical island, you surely need to give it a go.