Thanks to Bob Marley’s legendary music, Jamaica was put on the map and we came to know about its gorgeous landscape, beaches, and colonial architecture. Its reputation as an ace holiday destination continues to hold away today. If you are eager to experience an island vacation, this Caribbean nation is where you should point your compass.
Jamaica was once the home of the native Taino who nearly went extinct after a conflict with the Europeans. Its population was believed to be decimated but a DNA study revealed that a small number had survived colonization. Today, Jamaicans continue to remember the Taino in different ways including by featuring them on the country’s coat of arms and by using herbal remedies that were first utilized by the Taino. You should try to schedule your holiday around Taino Day – held in May – for a good look at the history of the country. And, if you’ve never heard of the Taino don’t be too hard on yourself; you still use terms from the language spoken by them. Do the words hammock, barbeque, tobacco and hurricane sound familiar?
Jamaica’s vibrant culture shines through its music and delicious cuisine. Reggae (of course!), folk music rich with African rhythms, and Mento – an amalgamation of samba, tango and calypso will have you tapping your feet. The best places to enjoy Jamaican music is at the Jazz n Cabaret in the Gardens, Rebel Salute and Reggae Sunfest. You can find details of these events and more at the official tourism website.
You can’t visit Jamaica and not throw yourself into the cuisine. Its ethnically diverse society has contributed to creating food that ranges from Indian influences to those dating back to the period of slavery. The latter is what should be the first thing to eat, however, as the spicy, smoky flavour explodes in the mouth. Just ask for jerk chicken or jerk fish at any restaurant. Be sure to wash it down with a cup of Jamaican coffee, which is one of the best you will have. The bitterness often associated with other types of coffee is absent. Instead, you get a full-bodied, rich texture that titillates your taste buds.
One of the first things to do in Jamaica is to check out the beaches. The resort town of Montego Bay – and possibly the most popular spot for beach lovers – has several beaches where you can spend days lazing under the sun. Doctor’s Cave Beach, Dead End Beach and Aqua Sol are a few. About a 100 kilometres west is another resort town called Ocho Rios. The former fishing village is dotted with hotels you can stay at, giving you the chance to experience its many attractions like the dramatic Green Grotto Caves, a former pirates’ hideout, and Mystic Mountain, which you can witness by ziplining, bobsledding and ‘chairlifting’ above the forest.
Another must-do when in the country is to hike the Blue Mountains peak. It’s the highest in Jamaica and offers intrepid explorers the best opportunity to witness nature up close. The walk is long but totally worth it. You can go any time of the day but the best is at the ungodly hour of 2 am so that you can reach at 5.30am and watch the sunrise. And remember that Jamaican coffee we talked about earlier? Some of the best types are grown right here in the Blue Mountains!
There is so much more to Jamaica and you need to get here to experience it all. Pulsating nightlife, cruises, Kingston’s heritage sites – the list is endless and you’ll always find something to do no matter which part of the country you are in. Travel to one of the top islands of the Caribbean and enjoy the most of what it has to offer.
Image courtesy: Depositphotos and jamaicans.com