Jamaica 2018 Carnival: Quick trips around Kingston for revelers
Want to combine your trip to Carnival with seeing a bit of what Jamaica has to offer? Look no further – here’s Loop’s selection of some of the best things to do in and around the Kingston area.
(Image: Clockwise from top left Devon House, Barack Obama visits the Bob Marley Museum, Hope Gardens)
Bob Marley Museum
Take a couple of hours to see the colonial-era wooden house where reggae legend and Jamaican cultural icon Bob Marley lived from 1975 until his death in 1981. The museum showcases some of his personal treasures, including his gold and platinum records, as well as photos and footage from his life.
National Gallery of Jamaica
The National Gallery of Jamaica, located on the waterfront in downtown Kingston, describes itself as the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean. It has early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica and regular temporary exhibitions.
A beautiful old colonial house in the heart of Kingston, Devon House was built for Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. The house is filled with antiques and the gardens have a lovely array of flowers. Next to it there’s also a collection of interesting gift shops, cafes and restaurants around a lovely courtyard.
Hope Gardens are Kingston’s largest green space and a great place to walk around. The gardens, framed to the north and east by the Blue Mountains, were established in the 19th Century and are home to all kinds of plants, colourful flowers and birdlife. They’re the perfect place for a quick recharge. If you have surplus energy, there’s also a zoo.
Strawberry Hill (lunch or spa)
Heading further afield and if you fancy treating yourself, Strawberry Hill hotel is one of Jamaica’s oldest and finest. Nestled in the Blue Mountains about 40 minutes from downtown, it has a fantastic view down over Kingston and its harbour. Try popping up here for lunch or maybe indulge in a massage at the spa.
The Blue Mountains are famous around the world for the high-quality coffee that grows in the region. Some of the coffee estates offer tours where you can see how the beans go from plant to cup – try the Craighton Estate or the Clifton Mount Coffee Estate. There are also a couple of excellent cafes in Irish town, on the road from Kingston, where you can enjoy a good brew.
(Image: Clockwise from top left Port Royal, Lime Cay, rum, Hellshire Beach (courtesy of Dubdem Sound System via Flickr))
Some forty minutes from Kingston past the airport at the mouth of the harbour lies Port Royal, once known as the wickedest city on Earth. It used to be a pirate hub but was badly hit by an earthquake in 1692. Several buildings remain that point to the town’s historic maritime heritage, however, including a fort and a “giddy house”, a former weapons storehouse that sits at an angle after another quake in 1907. It’s also home to one of Kingston’s best-loved restaurants, Gloria’s.
From Port Royal you can head to the beach – pick up a boat and make the 15-minute journey to Lime Cay, a tiny island which boasts white sand and clear seas. You can snorkel here and make sure you bring some refreshments.
Another beach not too far from Kingston is Hellshire, famous for its great vibe and fantastic food. Several beach-side restaurants sell fresh fish, and it’s a great place to relax, swim and experience some of the Jamaican capital’s best seafood.
Appleton Rum Tour
No visit to Jamaica could be complete without a chance to sample some of its rum, and the Appleton Estate is a good place to do that. Located about a two-hour drive from Kingston past Mandeville, the estate offers tours of its distillery and a chance to taste a variety of its liquors.