* NB. ‘Kingston’ is often used to refer to both Kingston and St. Andrew parishes
My best friend visited home, and this time brought 2 guests with her, a friend and boyfriend. Spending most of their time with her family in St. Elizabeth, she wanted her companions to be introduced to another part of Jamaica – Kingston. She had asked me to create an itinerary for their 2-day visit to the capital city… Challenge accepted.
The schedule got off to a late start as they underestimated the travel time from St. Elizabeth to Kingston. They were first introduced to our yard-style fast food franchise, Island Grill. Jerk chicken, festival, and rice & peas were ordered. After the meal, we traveled to the historic town of Port Royal to catch a small boat to the islet of Limecay.
During the 10-minute ride, I gave them a summary of the once ‘richest and wickedest city in the world’. I pointed out sites such as the Old Naval Hospital, the Grand Port Royal Hotel & Marina, Forts Rocky and Charles. Do your own walking tour of the historic place with help from the Jamaica Tourist Board. In the last 5 minutes of our boat ride, the sea got rougher! 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.
We reached the strip of land in the middle of sea around 4pm, chose a spot to leave our belongings before a quick change into swimwear. The powdery sand, turquoise hue of the water, and the mild sunshine made for the perfect beach day! The water was warm, and other beach-goers were friendly, even willing to share their booze with us. Party boats in the distance provided flowing background music and gave the visitors a preview of some local hits as well as our fun-loving lifestyle. After an hour and a half, we made a return trip to Port Royal to enjoy dinner from the renowned Gloria’s Seafood restaurant.
Gloria’s Seafood Restaurant
One of my favourite seafood eatieries! Knowing that weekend evenings are the busiest times for the establishment, expectation for a long wait time was set. With the venue in the town centre already looking full, we opted for the less busy venue just outside the town. A waitress cleaned our table, provided menus, water, and a huge fan to aid the fight against mosquitoes (big improvement!).
Four 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 choice as well as festival and plantain. Now, beach and food cravings were satisfied; we all made our way to our respective Kingston homes for some rest before meeting up again the next day for a visit to Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Blue Mountains.
In the early afternoon, six of us made our way to the Penfield district in the St. Andrew side of the mountains. This was my first time there; I failed to obtain detailed directions before seeking directions from Adventures from Elle (who nominated me for an Awesome Blogger Awardby the way! Post coming soon).
After a 20-minute drive from the base, we made our way to what was known as Penfield Square (beyond Gordon Town) to park and start the walking portion of the journey. It was a roughly 7-minute walk across 2 bridges with full view of the mountainside before we reached a waterfall of Hope River, known there as Penfield River. The chilly water took some minutes to get used to, but turned out to be 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 was diving off into the narrow space by the waterfall from different heights; only 1 of us from the group had the courage to take the leap (hint: not me).
Crystal Edge Restaurant
We left the river after 2 hours and made our way to Irish Town for lunch and a treat at Crystal Edge Restaurant. Seated by the window looking out at the lush mountains, we placed our orders. The small staff clearly had their hands full but was sure to update us as often as they could until we received food about 25 minutes later. Servings of oxtail and curried goat with sides of rice were enjoyed before checking dessert options at the neighbouring Café Blue. Photo ops with the landscape background were ceased; the view while driving back to the plain was savoured almost as much as the food. Here, we parted and got some rest before meeting later that night for dinner at Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records.
Tracks & Records
At 9pm, we all met at the venue known as the Marketplace, home to a number of eateries including Tracks & Records. We walked past the gift shop and into the establishment where we sat in a small corner booth complemented by a TV displaying sports. Scanning the menu, mostly small eats were opted for, as lunch left a lasting effect. Jerk Chicken spring rolls were shared with everyone and was dubbed a group favourite that night. Other meals enjoyed included codfish (aka saltfish) fritters, fried fish, and baked snapper. Great conversation overshadowed the light meals, and with a return trip to St. Elizabeth the following morning, the visitors didn’t want to be out too late.
Other activities I wanted them to experience but simply didn’t fit into the time included:
- Enjoy ice cream and the lawns of the Devon House mansion landmark
- Downtown Kingston
- Visit to the painted murals along the Fleet Street community
- Craft market
- A session at Kingston Dub Club
- A visit to a public beach, such as Port Royal Beach, Cable Hut Beach, or Bob Marley Beach
Maybe another time, but I was glad to play the role of a tour guide to first-time visitors to this beautiful country. 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.
Kingston (and St. Andrew) mi come from!