A Local’s Guide to Jamaica

Jamaica was always a place I took for granted. I was never really excited to go there because it felt like a second home, and I would rather travel to somewhere new. Now that I am older, I feel very fortunate when I get to travel there. Especially because my grandparents have now passed away, and whenever I am there it brings back so many fond memories and helps me feel close to them. In Jamaica they have a slogan,”It is very warm here, and the weather is nice too.” This truly represents the people in Jamaica because majority of them are so friendly. 

As a child I always thought that no one really lived in the shacks I saw on the side of the road, that they leave them at night and return to their suburban homes. This came as a surprise on my most recent visit, when we were stuck in the countryside and stopped at a local “bar” to use the washroom. There was no running water and it was probably cleaner for us to just pee outside. 

Tourism is a huge industry in Jamaica. Ochio Rios and Montego Bay are the usual hot spots that tourists visit. I have done the all inclusive thing and I highly recommend it, but I would also suggest a few other must see, eat and do in Jamaica:

Visit Port Antonio

This place is by far the most beautiful place in Jamaica. I love it here. I wish I had pictures, but I haven’t been back since the age of smartphones. It is a very touristy spot, but it is definitely worth a visit. A James Bond movie was filmed there. Back when Sean Connery was James Bond. 

Eat Roadside Jerk Chicken

Although I would never recommend that you drive in Jamaica, because it is so scary…the road side jerk chicken is the way to go if you find yourself in the countryside. They have these bbqs made out of cans and it is the best jerk chicken I have ever tasted. Nothing gets more authentic than this. Be sure to get festival as a side(a type of fried bread), the corn is yucky. It is similar to the corn that is fed to cattle and it is so tough. 

Visit Lime Cay

The Last time I went to Kingston they told me that Lime Cay has closed and there is a new island where people go instead. I can’t for the life of me remember what it is called. My cousins took me there, it is basically a sand bar where people go to party. Everyone takes their boats out there and they grill up food, drink and dance all day in the sun.

Go to Negril Beach

I dream of Negril, not for the beach but for the amazing chicken lobsters and fried snapper. Yup, that is me just hanging with the fam, ready to demolish a whole snapper to myself. I don’t even really care for fish. 
 I took maybe 20 photos on my last trip to Jamaica and ten of these were of my lobster, snapper and festival fest, so It is definitely worth going. The photo below isn’t even good, I was too busy eating to care. 

Oh and in case you are wondering, here is a picture of the beach…but I mostly go for the food. 


The KFC in Jamaica is so good and not at all the same as the KFC in Canada. They have so many different flavours.The West Indes KFC has their own secret recipe. The BBQ KFC and the Extra spicy are my favorite. This is another food I dream of every time we get to Jamaica, before we head to Manor Court we stop at KFC.  

Check out the Nightlife

Jamaica is the only country I have been to, where when you go to a club it is like the scene of a movie. Everyone learns the dance routines to go along with the songs. Sure, you will definitely stand out, but it is worth seeing.I hope this young man doesn’t mind that I posted this pic. Last time I was in Jamaica at Margaritaville he was trying to teach my friend and I all the dance moves so we could follow along. 

Try a Jamaican Patty

I know that most of these revolve around food, but part of experiencing a new country, aside from seeing the sites and interacting with the people, is trying the food. Jamaican Patties are similar to our version of hamburgers,they are a good food on the go. 
An interesting note, Jamaica does not have McDonalds. It is one of the few countries I have been to where I haven’t seen one. They did come to Jamaica but they didn’t survive because Jamaicans aren’t too crazy about hamburgers. Another interesting aside as far as I know there is now Starbucks either. Jamaica is known for their Blue Mountain Coffee, and Starbucks cannot compete. 

There are so many wonderful places to visit in Jamaica. I love the view from Strawberry Hill, climbing up the Dunns River Falls, or stopping in at Rics Cafe but all these activities can be found in guide books and I wanted to give you a local perspective. 

In case I haven’t given you enough Jamaican dishes to try. Don’t shy away from oxtail stew, it is amazing. Pumpkin soup and Pepperpot soup are the other soups I look forward to eating every time I go. In Jamaica, at least in my family, it is tradition to have soup on a Sunday. It seems weird to have soup in such a hot climate, but it is said that it actually helps cool your body down. 

Enjoy visiting Jamaica. It is still at the top of my list for tropical destinations. 

Vancouver based lifestyle blogger. Visit my blog and discover travel guides, fashion tips and recipes.

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