The Welcome to Port Royal sign from the Jamaica National Heritage Trust reads:
Once called "the richest and wickedest city in the world", Port Royal was also the virtual capital of Jamaica. To it came men of all races, treasures of silks, doubloons and gold from Spanish ships, looted on the high seas by the notorious "Brethren of the Coast" as the pirates were called. From here sailed the fleets of Henry Morgan, later lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, for the sacking of Camaguey, Maracaibo, and Panama, and died here, despite the ministrations of his Jamaican folk-doctor. Admirals lord Nelson and Benbow, the chilling Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, were among its inhabitants. The town flourished for 32 years until at 20 minutes to noon, June 7, 1692. It was partially buried in the sea by an earthquake
Our guide told us that you could still dive down on the few days there are favorable conditions and see the remains of Port Royal, there is a sign that says no diving but our guide at Fort Charles said it wasn't enforced because the police were in charge and they don't have a boat. But don't call me if you get arrested.
The Jamaicans living in...
The Jamaicans living in Kingston are very different from those that most visitors to Jamaica encounter in Negril or Montego Bay. First, you don't feel like they're hustling you all the time. Second, it almost feels as if you aren't even noticed at times. In Kingston, you really feel as if this is an independent country and not just a playground for tourists. This is a very good thing indeed.
There is a market accross from Tivoli Gardens that you should visit. Make sure you go during the day as this is a rough neighborhood and some parts are very dirty. Have your driver take you and have him walk with you. He'll make sure that you're not overpaying for anything. This market gives you an idea of what everyday life is like for a lot of Jamaicans.
Blue Mountains: Strawberry Hill
North and east of Kingston lie the justifiably famous Blue Mountains of Jamaica. With only a couple of hours in which to visit, we couldn’t possibly do this area justice, so this tip doesn’t pretend to be a comprehensive look at the area but simply records my impressions of the beautiful spot to which the ever-helpful Dave brought us, the stunningly-located Strawberry Hill Resort. And while I could have written this as an accommodation tip (this does look like an amazing place to stay) we didn’t actually stay here so I don’t feel able to do it justice in that respect. So …
… We drove out of the city and started to climb up a steep, winding road. I think we were all grateful that Dave was driving and that he obviously knew the road so well. The scenery was fantastic, with views back to Kingston at each turn of the road as well as up into the hills. But if you choose to drive up here yourself, be prepared to need both your eyes for the road and thus to be unable to fully appreciate the scenery en route.
Through a couple of small communities, including the intriguingly named Irish Town (presumably settled by Irish immigrants?), we came at last to the gates of Strawberry Hill. The security guard was happy to admit us once we said we were visiting the restaurant, and we drove through and up to a parking area. As we climbed the path up to the main building, a very pretty white-painted wooden house, it started to rain, and as we reached the top the heavens opened.
No problem, mon, as the Jamaicans themselves would say! We entered the hotel and found ourselves in a lovely wood panelled bar, decorated with photos of the hotel’s owner, Chris Blackwell (discoverer of Bob Marley and founder of Island Records) with numerous celebrities. These kept us fascinated for a while, but our thoughts soon turned to refreshment and we ordered a pot of the famous Blue Mountain coffee. This we drank out on the covered terrace, and despite the fact that we ordered only this and one cocktail for our party of six, the staff were very hospitable and happy for us to sit for quite a while admiring the stunning views over the mountains and down to Kingston far below us.
When the rain stopped and the sky started to clear we ventured out to the deck around the infinity pool, where the views were even more beautiful and we found numerous great photo opportunities. After a quick wander through the pretty gardens and a glimpse of some of the guest cottages half-hidden in the greenery, it was time to tear ourselves away and set out on the long drive back to Ocho Rios. And as we left I’m sure I’m not the only one who was thinking what a wonderful place this would be to stay, albeit very expensive.
Since returning home I’ve checked out the prices (just out of curiosity!) and I was right, it is expensive, starting at US$595 a night all inclusive in the smallest studio rooms! So I have a feeling I won’t be staying here any time soon, unfortunately ;) [Our coffee though was not expensive – US$4.00 per person, which is about the going rate for Blue Mountain coffee anywhere on the island.]
There are more of the photos I took at Strawberry Hill in my travelogue
Unless you have a passion for old architecture or are stuck in Kingston and have lots of time to kill, I personally wouldn't recomend spending much time at Devon house. If you are walking to/from the Bob Marley museum up the road, then certainly, stop and take a look.
Devon house was built by Jamaica's first wealthy black person in the late 1800's. It is possible to enter the house on a guided tour, how much this costs, however, I don't know, I did not go inside. There is also a restaurant to the left of the house. I looked at the prices and, as it was terribly overpriced, opted not to eat there.
To the left of the house there is also a small park (perhaps part of the front lawn?). This would be a nice place to retreat to and read a book or take a nap in the shade of a tree.