Jamaica's pulsating capital, Kingston - the birth-place of reggae superstar, Bob Marley and home to the notorious, coffee-filled Blue Mountains. Beyond the washed-out blue peaks and the reggae jams is the true essence of Jamaica, the country and its people at its 'realest' - and here's all you need to know.
1. Trek the Blue Mountains
By far one of the biggest draws to the capital, the fading blue-hued hills sprawled out across Kingston. Visit Crighton Estate or Holywell Park in Irish Town for one of the best views in Jamaica.
2. Visit Devon House
This 127 year-old, Georgian-style house built by Jamaica's first black millionaire, George Steibel is a symbol of the country's cultural diversity and a reflection of the regions' sporadic opulence. Sample the best ice-cream and pastries in Jamaica at this majestic mansion and take a tour to learn about the country's intriguing past.
3. Stop By The Bob Marley Museum
Bob Marley's former home & recording studio on Hope Road, now a shrine, museum and the city's most-visited attraction. Take an hour-long tour through the legend's Rasta-coloured former residence, see his classic denim stage shirt, platinum record-covered walls and get a real feel for the life he lived.
4. Visit The Tuff Gong Recording Studio
Another Marley-themed attraction for reggae fans, Tuff Gong Studios in downtown Kingston is one of the largest and most famous recording studios in the Caribbean. Mirroring Bob's spirited and laid-back ways, this relaxed, family-oriented space has since seen clients such as Gwen Stefani & Sinead O'Connor. Take a 45-minute tour of the recording studio, shop and colorful, artistic grounds that inspired the songs "No Woman, No Cry" and "Could You Be Loved".
5. Have Brunch at Strawberry Hill
A Sunday ritual in Kingston, brunch with a view- and an impressive one at that, is spent mimosa in hand, overlooking the rolling landscape at Strawberry Hill. Order the tropical fruit plate to start before sampling the Jamaican National dish Ackee + Saltfish, or the house special -a spin on eggs florentine, made with callalloo and 'bammy' (a crisp cassava flatbread).
6. View The Art At The National Gallery of Jamaica
The oldest and largest art gallery in the English-speaking Caribbean, with a diverse and intriguing collection of early, modern and contemporary art. Tour around two-floors of permanent, temporary and thematic exhibitions in this beautifully wide-open, stylish space and discover it's not just musical talent that spawns from Jamaica.
7. Relax At Hellshire Beach
A top local spot with fishermen sporting their catch, colorful shacks, bars, reggae rhythms and rustic wooden canoes peppered across the sandy strip. A visit to Hellshire Recreational area is the 'real Jamaica' up close.
8. Try the Jerk at Scotchies
Authentic Jamaican cuisine is found at this casual, island-style jerk joint in New Kingston. A taste of Jamaica in one, smoke-infused, sweet-smelling place. Famous for cooking its chicken & pork over pimento tree wood to add to the spice, choose your side, grab your foil and prepare to be blow away.
9. Have a picnic at Emancipation Park
A luscious seven-acre park in the heart of Kingston, locals soak in the sun surrounded by tropical flowers and under the shade of towering palms. At the front, an 11-ft bronze sculpture of two slaves, a reminder of the country's colonial past and the deep-rooted ethos of freedom and hope.
10. Watch the Changing Of The Guards At Heroes Park
The burial site of Jamaica's cultural and political leaders and soldiers, once a celebrated horse-race track, National Heroes Park and its elegant monuments offer a glimpse into Jamaica's compelling past and an escape from the buzz of the surrounding concrete jungle.
What are your favourite things to do in Kingston Jamaica? Share in the comments section below.
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