I was given the task of introducing 2 first-time visitors to the capital city of Kingston, Jamaica for 2 days… Challenge accepted. Kingston has 1 of 2 major airports in the country and has been dubbed a city buzzing with Jamaican music, gastronomy, and culture. Even with all of this, I don’t believe it is seen as big of a tourist hot spot when compared to the second city, Montego Bay, or other destinations such as Ocho Rios and Negril. With constant development underway in various areas throughout the capital, this multi-faceted city I’m sure will climb the ranks in the coming years as a local destination of choice. With 2 almost-full days not being nearly enough time, I opted to show them a glimpse of the mountains, river, beach, and food offerings.
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Historic Port Royal
We ventured to Y-Knot just outside the entrance of the historic town of Port Royal. to be carried via boat to the islet of Lime Cay off the coast. During the ~10-minute ride at sea, I provided my guests with a brief background of the once ‘richest and wickedest city in the world’ we were upon. On the boat, significant sites such as the Old Naval Hospital, the Grand Port Royal Hotel & Marina, Fort Rocky and Fort Charles could be identified. The sea can become rough and unpredictable; we had quite the adventure holding onto our seats (literally) as waves left the boat briefly suspended in the air to crash against the water below.
After reaching the strip of land in the middle of sea, designate a spot to lay out on the sand before taking a dip into the beautiful sea. The powdery sand, turquoise hue of the water, and the mild sunshine makes for the a great day, even more laid back than a perfect beach day in Negril! Party boats are not an irregular occurrence here, providing flowing upbeat music and acting as a preview of our fun-loving lifestyle. With a boat returning approximately every half hour before dusk, we made a return trip to Port Royal to enjoy dinner from the renowned Gloria’s Seafood restaurant.
Gloria’s Seafood Restaurant
For many years (decades maybe), Gloria’s has been well-known for their seafood. That and its 2 Port Royal locations with viewing options of the coast have earned a place in my heart as one of my favourite seafood eatieries! The nostalgia of eating here many times as a child also helped it gained some favouritism I’m sure. With the venue in the town’s centre already looking full, we opted for the less busy location on the outskirts of the town’s entrance. A waitress cleaned our table, provided menus, water, and a huge fan to aid the fight against evening mosquitoes (big difference!).
4 of us placed orders, followed by a 45-minute wait for our food, which thankfully did not disappoint. With a serving size of 2 WHOLE fish each, we shared and enjoyed a taste of each other’s meal choices with sides of festival and plantain. Now, with beach and food cravings satisfied we rested ahead of meeting up again the next day for a visit to Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountains: UNESCO World Heritage Site
How to Find ‘Penfield Falls’, Gordon Town
In the early afternoon, 6 of us made our way to the Penfield district in the St. Andrew side of the Blue Mountains. This was my first time there; many thanks to Adventures from Elle (who nominated me for an Awesome Blogger Award by the way!) for the directions, which I’ve sought for MONTHS.
After a 20-minute drive from the base of Papine Square, make your way to Penfield Square (beyond Gordon Town) to park and start the walking portion of the journey. It is a ~10-minute walk on an incline with full view of the mountainside. Look out for 2 bridges to cross as well as a small church just by one of the waterfalls of the Hope River, known there as Penfield River. The chilly water takes some minutes to get used to, but is quite the refreshing dip!
We learned that there’s a weekly river rendezvous by people of the community on Sundays, where residents enjoy a swim with drinks and music. The main attraction is diving narrowly off by the waterfall into the river from different heights; only 1 of us from the group had the courage to take the leap (hint: not me).
Crystal Edge Restaurant
Further up the mountains is Irish Town, which was our destination for lunch at Crystal Edge Restaurant. Seated by the window looking out at the lush mountains, we placed our orders of various Jamaican cuisine dishes. The small staff clearly had their hands full, but was sure to update us as often as they could until we were served about 25 minutes later.
Servings of oxtail and curried goat with sides of rice & peas were enjoyed before checking dessert options at the neighbouring Café Blue. The view provided was savoured almost as much as the food!
Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records
For dinner, we all met at the venue known as the Marketplace, home to a number of eateries including Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records. After walking through the gift shop of legendary UB memorabilia and into the establishment, you’ll hopefully be able to find seating right away.
This popular sports bar is no stranger to waiting lines for available seating. In true sports bar fashion, we sat in a small corner booth complemented by a TV displaying sports.
Jerk Chicken spring rolls from the shareable platter were shared amongst everyone and was dubbed a group favourite that night. Other meals enjoyed included a small serving of codfish (aka saltfish) fritters, fried fish, and baked snapper.
Other Activities to Do in Kingston
Despite popular belief, there is A LOT to do in Kingston (take a look at a “small” selection). As a capital city, it is more developed and diverse than many others in Jamaica, but is often overshadowed by the plethora of beaches and natural beauty of other parishes; but it has its gems too! Other activities I wanted them to experience but sadly didn’t fit into the time included:
- Enjoy ice cream and the lawns of the Devon House mansion (ranked one of the best ice cream venues globally!)
- Visit Downtown Kingston
- View painted murals along the Fleet Street community
- Visit the National Art Gallery
- Patronise the Jamaica-made products & vendors of the craft market
- Rock to reggae music while overlooking the nightlit city at Kingston Dub Club
I was glad to play the role of a tour guide to first-time visitors to this beautiful country, and more glad the weather was beautiful despite the season not being the very best time to visit Jamaica. The adjective that I heard most describing their Kingston experience was “beautiful”, and that’s all I could ask for. Hope I made their short visit more enjoyable than expected, and that they’d be able to see more another time.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Kingston? Let me know in the comments!
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