Kingston Travel Guide
Introduction to Kingston
Largely viewed as a transportation waypoint on the way to one of the many all-inclusive beach resorts that can be found around the country, the Jamaican capital of Kingston has much more to offer than many tourists give it credit for.
Once the home court for almost every pirate, privateer, and brigand in the Caribbean, and the home city of Reggae Legend Bob Marley, there are number of worthwhile sites and attractions that any serious traveler visiting Jamaica should dedicate at least two days to exploring.
Cultural Attractions in Kingston
While Jamaica is famous for things like being the home of reggae superstar Bob Marley and for producing some of the best rum in the Caribbean, did you know that it was the headquarters for almost every pirate in the region back in the 17th century?
Backed by the English, who wanted to nip at the heels of the powerful Spanish Empire when they lacked the military might to do so directly, buccaneers and privateers of every variety called Port Royal their home throughout much of the 1600’s.
Quickly gaining a reputation for being one of the rowdiest ports in the entire Caribbean, what many did not realize that it quickly became one of the wealthiest places in the region, as the plunder that was getting nicked from ships in the Spanish fleet outsized the income derived from sugar exports by a factor of five.
This heady era reached its zenith with the appointment Henry Morgan as lieutenant governor of Jamaica, but as the 17th century drew to a close, fortunes changed rapidly for this once free-spirited town.
The upper classes, enriched by the enormous wealth produced by the mercenaries that they had hired in prior generations, grew tired of their antics and did a legal 180, prohibiting any sort of refuge for piracy in Port Royal.
Executions became a daily fact of life, and if that wasn’t bad enough, a massive earthquake in 1692 saw four fifths of the town sink into the Caribbean Sea.
A portion of the town was eventually reclaimed, but with another devastating earthquake in 1907, any clout that Port Royal once had quickly shifted over to the more stable bedrock that Kingston sat on.
Today, exploring the ruins of Port Royal (many of which sit at funny angles because of the action of liquefaction during the severe earthquakes of years past) and doing scuba dives just off the coast (where the majority of the town sits in a watery grave as it has for the past three hundred years) are the primary tourist attractions in this part of the Kingston area.
Next, pay homage to one of the most famous luminaries in music by exploring the Bob Marley Museum.
Set in the grand colonial mansion where Bob spent the last years of his life living in relative prosperity compared to his humble upbringing, all the artifacts significant to his personal life and his musical career can be found here.
From the Rastafarian robes that he wore during religious rituals, to the gold and platinum records that he earned for the groundbreaking and poetic music that he gifted the world over his brilliant but all-too-short career, fans of this spiritual leader will be in awe from the second they step inside.
Following that, visit the estate of Jamaica’s first non-white millionaire by paying a visit to Devon House. Built in 1891 by George Stiebel, He made his fortune by investing in gold mines in Venezuela, and his financial success in these Ventures is apparent when one ventures the interior of this Grand Manor.
Inside, there are many grand chandeliers, and countless pieces of antique furniture that were sourced from all over the Caribbean, with each piece speaking to the enormous wealth he amassed.
Fans of fine dining will enjoy the restaurant on site, while those that simply want some relief from the relentless heat and humidity that Jamaica’s famous for will enjoy getting a giant scoop of ice cream from the light-heartedly named I Scream, which is one of the most highly regarded brands in the entire country.
Other Attractions in Kigali
While those that tour Bob Marley’s mansion might think that he was well off for the majority of his life, a visit to his childhood home of Trench Town tells a very different story.
Gripped by poverty and sporadic bouts of politically motivated violence, it is a place that many tourists are urged to avoid by some, but for those that aren’t as easily scared off, one can visit safely under the supervision of local guides.
Filled with colorful murals, a museum that tells the story of reggae, rocksteady and ska’s rise from the rough and tumble environment that defines Trench Town, and real, salt of the earth people, it is an experience that will stay with you long after you return to the austere bubble of your all-inclusive resort.
Those looking for a light-hearted experience during their time in Kingston should take time out of their schedule to see Emancipation Park.
An otherwise unremarkable city park in the heart of Kingston’s urban centre, a controversial statue depicting a naked Jamaican man and woman stands here as its bold centrepiece. Representing emancipation from the expectations of society, it is a powerful sculpture that will make your day spent here much more interesting.
If you are looking to get out into the wilderness of Jamaica, Kingston is uniquely positioned in the country in that it allows easy access to the Blue Mountains.
A sunrise hike here will take you to the lofty heights of 7,400 feet, which will allow you to gaze upon the lushness that blesses the slopes of the many peaks that sits below the highest in the range.
The temperance climate that reigns at this altitude create the perfect environment for coffee growing. Indeed, some of the world’s finest java is produced here, so take time to explore some of the plantations that you find here and enjoy one of the best cups of coffee that you will probably have in your life.