On the Caribbean coast, at the base of rolling mountains, is Jamaica’s distinctive capital, a place that has seen a turbulent history but where life is mostly lived with laid-back attitude.
Kingston is Jamaica’s lively capital in the southeast. Nestled between the Blue Mountains and the sea, this city has a truly unique feel to it. From the uptown wealth to the poverty in the shantytowns, Kingston also offers an authentic insight into Jamaica’s diverse past and population, which you don’t get to see in the beach resorts and rural areas.
Begin your visit at Halfway Tree, Kingston’s main hub with its shopping, eating and cosmopolitan vibe. Then head to Bull Bay, also called Nine Mile, to mingle with one of the largest Rastafarian communities on the island.
The Bob Marley Museum offers a distinctive insight in life during the ‘70s, some of Kingston’s most turbulent days. The iconic Bob Marley spent his adult years here and before that he lived as a young boy in one of the poorest neighborhoods, Trench Town. He made his people proud by becoming the most influential reggae musician of all time, with his lyrics addressing the politics, social issues and religious culture of Africans in Jamaica.
Marley’s modest roots stand in stark contrast to the wealth of another historic figure, millionaire George Stiebel. Check out his 19th-century home with manicured lawns and Victorian antiques. For other impressive gardens, wander through the Royal Botanical Gardens or head to the public botanical gardens in Castleton.
Out on the harbour, on the Palisadoes, step back in time at this notorious 17th-century haven for pirates. The historic district of Port Royal was destroyed in 1692 by an earthquake, but you can still see ruins and firing cannons at Fort Rocky and the rubble of Saint Peter’s Church. At Port Royal Head, hop on a boat to the impressive sweep of white sandy beaches at the low-lying Lime Cay.
To get to Kingston, fly into the Norman Manley International Airport or the Tinson Pen aerodrome or book a cruise. Getting around the city is easy thanks to a bus system, mini buses and taxis that operate throughout the city. Be streetwise when walking through some of the poorer areas.