You landed in the capital of the Caribbean’s largest island nation and have no idea what to do. I tend to be completely mesmerized by the luscious mountain views, the bustling city and glittering ports. Should you feel the same you would not know where to start exploring! Lucky for you, I’ve narrowed down a sampler of Kingston from my last trip that will please your affection for Jamaica. This will likely leave you planning your next trip back before you even step foot on this beautiful island paradise.
Night 1: Our party arrived around 6 pm so on our first night we checked into our hotel- Terra Nova Hotel in new Kingston. That evening we explored the hotel grounds and met up with our family members at the lounge for drinks and a night of laughter and catching up.
Day 2: The morning begins with a delicious Jamaican spread; flavorful ackee, saltfish, johnny cakes, and callaloo. All provided by the hotel. After a filling breakfast we headed to burn off some calories at the hotel gym. Our plan was to visit Ocho Rios, but a huge downpour put a damper on our plans. At that point I declared “ Everyting Irie” and decided to explore Kingston.
For our first stop, we visited the Bob Marley House. This was the former home and studio of iconic reggae singer. We opted for the ninety-minute tour of the grounds and property, which costs about $25 USD.
The tour was very informative and gave interesting insight to the life of Bob Marley and all the magic that occurred in that historic home. Unfortunately, while in the house you are not able to take pictures, the more reason why you should definitely make this a stop if ever in Kingston. If you’re in Kingston and you don’t visit the Bob Marley museum- did you really go to Kingston?
After some three hours at the Bob Marley House, we wandered on to catch a view of Kingston from atop the hills. Then we visited a family for a traditional Jamaican fish fry.
Day 3: This day was all about a family wedding, which was the main purpose of our trip.
The wedding took place atop the magical Craighton Estate. To get there you have to travel about 35 minutes up a narrow and winding mountain road. At the entrance of the estate we were greeted by a limestone staircase that lead to a breathtaking setting.
With 150 people, and the Blue Mountain peaks as their witness the beautiful couple pledged their vows.
After the ceremony we meandered through the grounds to the great house at the estate where an eclectic matrimonial of rustic style and glamour decorated a tent and the surrounding areas.
There we celebrated the union of two amazing people and danced the night away while the starry sky shined and crickets sang along to reggae music.
Since Craighton Estate is known for their famous coffee tours and coffee happens to be one of my favorite beverages, I’d like to discover Craighton Estate on my next trip to Kingston. Also explore the Blue Mountains a bit more.
Day 4: We didn’t expect to wake up early enough but somehow Jamaica was calling, so we actually woke up with the sun.
Around 8am we were met outside the hotel by the photographer- Sean and the tour guide, Nick . (Found in the links below the article), My original plan was to visit Ocho Rios but we opted to see some hidden gems. We decided to visit St. Thomas to Cane River Falls. It is said that Bob Marley would go there to wash his locks. He even mentions this local spot in one of his songs, Trench Town.
The ride was a quick 30 minute drive up with views of Bull Bay and the surrounding mountains. It cost about $200 Jamaican Dollars per person to see and bath in the falls. If you plan to use a professional camera be prepared to pay anywhere from $50-100 USD and be sure to ask for permission beforehand.
We walked through caves and down concrete steps down to the falls. The location was definitely cozy and very peaceful as we were most likely some of the first to arrive on that beautiful Sunday morning.
The water was cool and clear and the roaring falls were gentle enough to take a nice dip. If in fact Bob Marley washed his locks here, it’s easy to see why, as the falls created a shallow pool refreshing enough to relax and enjoy scenery while washing those luscious dreadlocks.
Afterwards, we headed down to Wickie Wackie Beach where you can catch a spectacular view of the mountains and catch a nice tan on the sand.
I wouldn’t recommend this beach for swimming as the waves are tough but if you’re into surfing…
If you’re hungry be sure to stop at the restaurant right on Wickie Wackie beach for some authentic Jamaican cuisine, and hang out under this peaceful pavilion to take in the view. All I was missing in my hand was a Red Stripe beer to complete the experience 🙂
Returning to our hotel we stopped at Kingston Harbor Waterfront to snap some quick photos. Our tour guide continued the drive through Old Kingston ( downtown), passed the Coronation Market, government ministries and historic streets where musical influencers such as Prince Buster flourished. I was intrigued with the stories of prosperity and culture our guide shared with us and quickly realized that the buildings and structures in these culturally rich streets stand today as a testament of the past.
Day 5: On this day we opted for relaxing at the hotel and decompressing before heading back home on an afternoon flight.
Tips for first timers:
- Although most places will accept American dollars make sure to carry Jamaican dollars around to avoid being overcharged.
- Be prepared to barter prices especially when it comes to taxi rides- ask about the cost or expect a surprise at the end of your ride.
- If you are taking tours or hiring out taxis for long periods of time make sure to go with suggestions from your hotel, friends or family.
- For a more authentic experience be sure to check out some local airbnb’s hosted by some amazing locals.