If you have never been to Jamaica, I strongly encourage to think about it. “BrandJamaica” or rather #brandJamaica is so strong right now, more than ever. And I mean to visit Jamaica and enjoy our culture, beautiful beaches, food, music and people is something you have to write on that list if you have never made it happen.
While all inclusive resorts with everything you need at your fingertips is really a lovely way to relax and let your hair down for a week, I hope you are able to come back and see some more of what Jamaica has to offer on your next visit. I hope you try to experience the “authentic” Jamaica that delves a little deeper into the history and culture of my beautiful country. Get out the hotel and do some wonderful and fun tour of the country, eat in the community nearby to your hotel or villa, and get to meet some people along the way. You won’t regret it. There is so much more to us, than just a beautiful beach!
In the last six months I have been very fortunate to be able to re-discover my own island in the sun, via hosting press trips and Journalists and seeing places and new “haunts” that I have never been to, and vow to keep going back to. I am so happy to share some of these scenes with you.
The Blue Mountains of Jamaica is one of the most beautiful locations on the island. It is hard to imagine you are still in Jamaica when you are up there. The smell of pine, the cool air and the vegetation all becomes completely new. Strawberry Hill, part of Island Outpost, is located in Irish Town and about 3,100 feet up.
Go much further up to explore the Coffee Houses and Farms, and to to hear more about the production of the best coffee in the world. You will see all the coffee plants literally on the side of the mountain as far as the eye can see. A visit to David Twyman’s Estate is a treat to see how the very best coffee in the world is grown and roasted, as well as if you have an “innings” to check out Clifton Mount (Coffee Traders Farm and old Plantation House) with Jamaica Tour Society.
Places to stop by…
Try Eits Cafe when you visit the Blue Mountains, short for “Europe in the Summer” – such a cool stop for a meal. They are open for breakfast and lunch up to 6:00 p.m. and have an organic garden where the fresh arugula and lettuce is grown for the famous salads (try the shrimp pesto salad, the dressing is to die for good) – the “green goddess” salad dressing is so good people will travel from Kingston on a Sunday to order a salad and the famous ‘barrel roasted chicken’ or one of their other divine dishes.
Have one (or more!) of the EITS Mojitos, with the mint just picked from the garden, and definitely just make sure you take a few hours to sit and enjoy the view, the music, the people — it is really an eclectic and lovely setting. The owners are lovely people willing to sit and chat about anything.
Kingston and Kingston Tours
Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and many people tend to shy away from the city thinking it is riddled with crime and bad news. However over the years Kingston has gotten a bad rap. It is a metropolitan, fun place to visit especially when you want to learn more about our culture, music, art community and food. If you link up with a really great tour guide like Jamaica Tour Society, or Vibzen, you will be able to customise the type of fun tour you would like to experience – it could be a strictly “music” tour – or a combo of music and foodie, mixed in with culture, you get it!
In Kingston, you can have various tours set up, and we did a combo of Downtown and an “other” interesting finds…we started at Devon House for the famous and most yummy Jamaican patties and coconut water…Devon House also has the best ice cream in Jamaica, which you need to have (I wish I could tell you more, but I literally have to be disciplined on these trips – food wise…lol or my Trainer will hold me accountable 🙂 )
…And then headed to Downtown, where we checked out Paint Jamaica at Fleet Street – a street that has massive painted murals on the walls done by the children who live in the area, as a community project that continues. We then went to LifeYard, run by true Rastafarians who are taking the time to harvest an organic garden right in the middle of two buildings on Fleet Street…so interesting! They will also let you sample some of their wellness natural juices (very yummy.) We visited Nick Davies who is a huge pioneer in his own right – making the most divine dark chocolate with cocoa beans grown right here in Jamaica. That’s right, we make chocolate too! And right after that we visited the famous Coronation Market.
None of this is considered luxury or anything you would find on your typical vacation here in Jamaica, but it is certainly worth doing if you want to find out more and delve a little deeper into our rich culture and heritage. Having a wonderful guide like LyndaLee is an asset and the way to go too. She will give you a run-down on the history and culture of each stop and the communities.
Next time you are in Jamaica, go a little deeper, discover more, learn about our Music – the history of reggae, stop off at the Bob Marley Museum…taste some real “ital fare” — go up to the Blue Mountains and see how the most famous coffee in the world is grown….pick up a bag of the best coffee while you are there…visit an Art Gallery in Kingston – we have so much more to do than just sit on a beach (which is all good too!) – however there is so much more to discover.
Love, Neenie xo