I have always been a curious traveler, and rarely go back to a same destination twice. But in the past year, I have been to Jamaica three times- and my fourth visit is due in just a few days. So clearly, I’ve become infatuated with this Caribbean island…and they say if you love something enough, you should easily be able to list ten reasons why. In no particular order, here’s why I love Jamaica:
1. THE MUSIC – this is an obvious one and it is needless to say that Jamaica is one rhythmic island where life beats to the sound of reggae, ska, dancehall, and much more… From old school icons to the newer generation to that guy who freestyles on the street corner, music is in pretty much everyone’s DNA. From my personal experience, the melodic energy is especially felt in Kingston- and if you take the time to explore, you’ll come across new talent such as The Tuff Gang, an up & coming reggae band who are currently producing some quality tunes!
The Tuff Gang, up & coming Reggae Band
And since we are on the subject… have you heard the recent release “Iyah Walk” from popular artiste Chronixx? Remember that you can always keep up with the latest and greatest by tuning into Riddim Radio– no matter where you are! And check out this video about Charlie Ace and the emergence of “mobile record shops” in Jamaica. Well worth the watch!
2. THE FOOD – Whether it’s the classic ackee & saltfish , the local leafy green “callaloo”, the staple rice & peas or the addicting fried cornbread “festival”, Jamaican cuisine is food for the soul. Hearty, comforting and topped off with a generous sprinkle of sunshine, there is something for everyone- whether you are a meat lover, fish eater, vegetarian or vegan… One of my favourite spots happens to be Kushite’s Vegetable Cuisine which offers an innovative approach to food “inspired by nature and infused by culture”. Check it out if you’re ever in Kingston. Kushite’s Vegetable Cuisine, Unit 5, 9-11 Pheonix Avenue, Kingston 10, Kingston, Jamaica.
Okra, Plaintains, and lots of good stuff at Kushite’s Vegetable Cuisine
3. THE FRUITS – I really had to include a separate section just for the fruits. At the market or straight off the trees, Jamaica is truly a tropical garden of Eden. Soursop, otaheite apples, naseberry, starfruit, papaya or the beloved mango, there is an endless choice of colourful vitamin loaded gifts of nature.
4. THE PEOPLE – A country can only be great if its people are- and Jamaicans will prove to you that they are a wonderful bunch! Uptown or downtown, everyone has been incredible and I can positively say that it is one of the reasons I keep going back!
5. THE SWAG – There’s no denying it, Jamaica has a natural flair for “being cool”. You see it in the way people dress, the colors they master so well, the art that is produced, the creativity, the music, etc.
6. THE COLORS – From the brightly colored homes, storefronts and the fashion locals wear to the backdrop of turquoise waters and lush green nature, Jamaica is a kaleidoscope of colours. Even if the sky is grey, life remains intensely hued- literally and figuratively. Not to forget of course all the street art, and the countless murals adorned with illustrations of musical icons. One of my favourite finds however is the work of Matthew McCarthy, a young talent who has left his mark on one of Kingston’s walls, namely one in particular where the lyrics of popular artist Chronixx can be found.
Street art by the talented Matthew McCarthy
7. THE DIVERSITY – For a small country, there is an incredibly fascinating level of diversity- and much of it lives among the mixed heritages, ethnicities, array of beliefs and faiths. The national motto is “Out of Many, One People” and if you keep your eyes open, you will see it in the faces of each and every person you meet. I urge you to read up on the country’s history before visiting- you will have a greater appreciation of the local diversity once there.
8. THE NATURE – Beaches with every shade of sand (white, golden and even black!), aquamarine waters and the spectacularly lush Blue Mountains, there is a precious natural beauty in Jamaica. Laced throughout are stunning flowers such as hibiscus, ixora or ginger lilies blooming on the tweets of the various birds and twinkles of the nocturnal fireflies. Go and suck in all of nature’s glory.
9. SO MANY THINGS TO DO! – Where do I even start? There is something for everyone, every age, every lifestyle. Be it hiking, lounging around, snorkeling, watersports, horseback riding, dancing, history, culture, or partying like there is no tomorrow… there is no excuse, impossible to feel bored in Jamaica.
10. THE PATOIS – Although I do not always understand every single thing in Jamaican Patois (still on the 101 level), it is one very cool sounding language. Note that the official language is Jamaican Standard English, however the one you are more likely to hear is Jamaican Patois- originally a form of pidgin which became adapted locally in the 1600s. Read up on some basics before you go, and learn some more once there!
All photos by Marianna F. Please contact the Real Jamaica team if you’re interested in this feature or would like to use any of the featured images. Thanks!