Jamaica’s diverse capital city Kingston is a positive melting pot of cultures, people and heritage. Channelling the “Spirit of All Right”, the city moves to its own rhythmic beat, bringing colour and life into the streets like in no other city on Earth.
Kingston is Jamaica at its most authentic, where you will find stunning baroque mansions only feet away from destitute slums, all baking together under the Caribbean sun in the shadow of the stunning Blue Mountains.
Jamaica’s complex past and its battle for independence and emancipation have left scars on this beautiful country, which is still as divided by class distinctions today as it was hundreds of years ago. The swanky uptown district of ‘New Kingston’, where the majority of the cities hotels and flash restaurants reside, is the hub of the city’s tourist industry, only 6 kilometres, yet worlds apart from downtown Kingston, with its shabby streets and ghetto living quarters.
With stunning beaches, ornate gardens and a wealth of historical sites to explore, to experience the multi-faceted character of Kingston is to experience the good vibes of Jamaica in its truest form.
Although getting some down-time on the beach isn’t typically top of the to-do list in Kingston, catching the rays is an option with a spectacular selection of palm-fringed beaches along Jamaica’s southeast coast.
The real wealth of Jamaica’s culture lies in its people, and its history. The country is awash with national heritage sites and monuments which stand testimony to the country’s long battle for freedom and independence. In Kingston in particular stands the sublimely preserved Devon House.
Constructed in the 19th century by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. The colonial mansion, set in 11 acres of beautifully sculpted gardens, is a popular tourist attraction in Kingston; offering guided tours of the premises, as well as a unique shopping experience in the grounds. Home of the Devon House “I Scream” ice cream brand, rumoured to be among the best in Jamaica, this is not to be missed out on!
Of course, when thinking about Jamaica, not everybody immediately considers its history, for many, the figurehead of Jamaican culture is the late legend, Bob Marley; the pioneering Rastafarian who united Jamaica through music and dance, and brought reggae and good vibes to the world.
His former recording studio in downtown Kingston has been converted into a museum in his memory, where visitors can see some of his personal artefacts as well as the studio where some of his iconic tracks were recorded.
Before Levi Roots brought Reggae Reggae sauce to the world’s attention, the only place to find incredibly authentic Jamaican food, was Jamaica! Otherwise known as ‘Soul Food’, Jamaican cuisine combines a mixture of cooking techniques founded in West Indian/Caribbean culture, creating spicy, flavoursome dishes, best enjoyed al fresco.
Jerk sauce is a common fixture in soul food cookery. The sauce, made from a mixture of local spices, onion, garlic and the fiery scotch bonnet pepper, is used to marinade meat, (traditionally chicken or pork) and then grilled on a barbecue made from an upturned oil drum. Obviously this cooking method is not mimicked in the uptown restaurants, but on the downtown streets and on the beach, this is the only way to cook Jerk BBQ!
Dating back to the naval capture of Jamaica by the British, Jamaica’s association with rum production is a proud part of its heritage. A by-product of the sugar cane industry in the Caribbean, rum comes in various forms. Where the white rums are widely used in cocktail making, the dark and spiced rums are drank neat over ice.