enjoy hellshire beach
Hellshire Beach is the largest and most popular of them and has interesting black sands and cool clean waters. Many different activities are held here when it is time to get out of the sun yet still stay entertained.
Although Jamaica offers some more secluded beaches that Hellshire Beach the combination of natural setting,
- Hiking and Walking
- Water Sports
visit strawberry hill
Mountaintop resort with panoramic view of KingstonIn Blue Mountains
Occupying the flat top and steep sides of a standalone mountain, this secluded Blue Mountain resort 15 km (9 mi) northeast of Kingston features views of the city and harbor from 945m (3,100 ft) up
Spanish Town-old cast iron bridge
At the eastern edge of Spanish Town, heading towards Kingston, you will pass by this bridge, no longer in use, that spans the Rio Cobre River. The bridge dates back to 1801 and is the oldest bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
Unfortunately the picture I took showing the cast iron part of the bridge didn't turn out so you'll have to be satisfied seeing the stone part. Or you can take a look at the attached website for a better pic.
- Historical Travel
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
Jamaica high school
A group of people visited a high school in Kingston. It was a very interesting visit. Students were very friendly and teachers were pleased about our visit. Students were very amiable and curious about me and others.
Bob Marley Museum
I have seen the Bob Marley Museum described elsewhere as a tourist trap, but after our visit here I have to disagree. OK, is is a very slick operation, but for me, even as a fairly casual fan of his music, the range of items on display and the unique atmosphere of the house where he once lived (and his sons still record) kept this experience very definitely on the right side of that tacky line..
You pay your admission (US$10 / $500 Jamaican) at the ticket office in the gatehouse, and will be asked to leave cameras there (or in your car) as no photographs are allowed in the house, disappointingly. However, you can take them outside in the grounds, as you can see from mine. You’ll be asked to wait for your guide – ours was a very chirpy and obviously well-schooled young girl whose emphatic gestures and apparent devotion to “Mrs Rita Marley” made me smile.
The tour starts outside where you’re shown (and can photograph) the wall with its paintings of scenes from Marley’s life, his Land Rover, statue etc. At the back of the house you enter the rehearsal room, in the wall of which you can still see the bullet holes from a failed assassination attempt. In the main part of the house, many of the rooms display mementoes of his career: gold and platinum discs, awards, newspaper cuttings from around the world, stage outfits and lots of photos.
Upstairs, his bedroom and kitchen remain as they were when he lived there, and there’s an airy covered terrace where his hammock still hangs. Back downstairs is the recording studio, not open to the public (unfortunately) and still used by his sons – indeed, we saw Stephen Marley in the grounds of the house.
The tour ends in a separate movie theatre behind the house where you see a 20 minute film with footage of the "One Love" concert of 1980, at which Marley brought together rival political party leaders Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, and a montage of various interviews. There's also an excellent photo gallery, and a gift shop selling t-shirts, books, CDs etc.
Outside there’s a small café, Legends, which looked good for a light lunch – we didn’t eat here but I can vouch for the cleanliness of the loos!
All in all, this was an excellent experience and one of the highlights of our trip – definitely recommended even if you’re not a huge Marley fan.
Port Royal: Fort Charles
The major sight in Port Royal is Fort Charles, one of the six forts that once guarded the town and the only one that now remains in any substance. It was built in the late 1650s (although most of the present structure dates from 1694) and was originally called Fort Cromwell, but was renamed Fort Charles after the Restoration in 1660.
Admission costs $500 Jamaican, but we opted not to go in as time was limited and we wanted to explore the other parts of the Chocolate Hole vicinity (see my other Port Charles tip). However I asked our companions, Monika and Javier, who did go in, what they thought of it, and they said that it was quite interesting and there was a fair bit to see there, though they were disappointed not to get a tour that would have explained better what they were looking at.
The main points of interest inside the Fort are the Maritime Museum, with its history of Port Royal (including some items dredged up from the underwater city) and the raised platform known as Nelson’s Quarterdeck, from where he is supposed to have scanned the horizon for enemy ships (though in fact this is a fairly new replacement for the actual deck he would have walked upon). Even if, like us, you content yourself with simply checking out the exterior, you can get a good sense of the strength of the 1694 (i.e. post-earthquake) brickwork and some of the remaining cannons.
- Historical Travel
A short drive from bustling (and seedy) downtown Kingston is another world, the small and slightly shabby fishing community of Port Royal with its notorious past.
Once described as "the richest and wickedest city in the world", the town was established by the British in the mid 17th century and was for a while the island’s capital, until an earthquake on June 7, 1692, largely destroyed it, causing two thirds of the city to sink into the Caribbean Sea. Three thousand people died in the earthquake, or as a result of the disease that followed it, and the town was further destroyed by fire in 1703, leaving it largely uninhabited apart from the naval base. Nowadays it is home to the coastguard, local fishermen and some popular seafood restaurants, though there are plans to develop it as a tourist attraction.
Many believed the destruction from the earthquake to be an act of God resulting from the city's sinful reputation. In its early days Port Royal was infamous as a centre for piracy. The notorious Henry Morgan had his base here, and at the height of its popularity, the city had one drinking house for every ten residents. Not much of this time remains, but it is easy still to conjure up a sense of disrepute and debauchery. Around Chocolate Hole, the former parade ground where we parked, are a number of shabby and largely unidentified buildings which make great subjects for atmospheric photos. Take time to imagine a young Nelson, who was stationed here as a young officer and was in command of the batteries for several weeks in 1779. His base was in nearby Fort Charles – see separate tip.
A short walk from Chocolate Hole is the pretty church of St. Peter’s, built in 1725 to replace Christ’s Church which was lost in the 1692 earthquake. Unfortunately when we visited the church was locked and we couldn’t even get into the graveyard to see the famous tomb of Lewis Galdy, one of the founders of the church. Galdy was a local hero who survived the earthquake – a story told on his tomb:
“Here lies the body of Lewis Galdy who departed this life at Port Royal on December 22, 1739 aged 80. He was born at Montpelier in France but left that country for his religion and came to settle in this island where he was swallowed up in the Great Earthquake in the year 1692 and by the providence of God was by another shock thrown into the sea and miraculously saved by swimming until a boat took him up. He lived many years after in great reputation. Beloved by all and much lamented at his Death".
Away from the naval area around Chocolate Hole, life in Port Royal centres on fishing. We drove through this area and I would have liked to stop to look around and perhaps sample some seafood (though it was a bit early for lunch) but it was time to move on to our next stop if we were to pack in everything we wanted to see on this day out.
- Historical Travel
Spanish Town was founded by the Spanish and was the island’s first capital, from 1534 to 1872. Today it is mainly an industrial city and from the outskirts you might not give it a second glance, but at the heart of its historic centre is the stunning, if run-down, Parade Square. This square itself is an attractive space, with tall Royal Palms and other tropical trees. It is surrounded on all four sides by gorgeous Regency buildings. On the north side is the Memorial to Admiral Rodney, commander of the fleet that defeated the French in 1782 and secured centuries of peace for the island.
On the west side of the square is the façade of Old King's House, which was the residence of the governors until 1872. This must once have been an elegant building, but it was destroyed by fire in 1925 and now only this brick façade remains (although there is apparently a small folk museum tucked away behind it somewhere, which we didn’t visit). A plaque on the wall (photo 4) commemorates the proclamation of the emancipation of slaves in Jamaica and all British territories, which was declared here in 1838.
Opposite this, on the east side, is the former House of Assembly, which like the Old King’s House dates from 1762. It now houses the local council offices for Spanish Town and when we were there had a steady stream of locals visiting, but it’s not open to tourists. Finally, on the south side of the square, a modern (but Georgian style) courthouse replaces the 19th century one burned in a fire in 1986.
Just off the square you’ll find other old buildings, again rather run-down and ramshackle. My impression was that Jamaica is less interested in promoting its history as a tourist attraction, focusing instead on the admittedly lovely natural wonders and of course its beaches. I think they’re missing a trick in not smartening up and promoting these historical buildings, but at the same time the faded grandeur is very photogenic.
But if you do decide to wander away from the square to check out the rest of the town, be aware that Spanish Town has a bad reputation for gun crime in Jamaica, so go carefully, especially if you’re here after dark.
Finally, a bit of trivia for literature buffs that I picked up while reading up on Spanish Town: Bertha Rochester, the insane wife of Edward Rochester in Charlotte Brontë's novel "Jane Eyre", came from here.
- Historical Travel
St. James Parish Church
The St. James Parish Church, which
is dedicated to St. James the Great,
patron Saint of Spain, was built between
1775 and 1782.
The Church is constructed of white
limestone and is of the Greek cross
plan with a bell tower at the west end.
The building also has a large, round
headed sash windows and an elaborate
Palladian window is behind the altar at
the west end.
The Church was severely damaged in the earthquake of 1951,
but repair work resulted in only minor departures from the
original design ......
The Hope Botanical Gardens
The Hope Botanical Gardens are on Old Hope Road past Jamaica College and next to the College of Arts, Science and Technology. They were founded more than 120 years ago and they are the largest botanical gardens in the West Indies, covering 200 acres (80 hectares). If you somehow need a moment to be out of the hot air and need a tranquil stroll away from the hazle of Kingston, go here and most of the time there will be vendors trying to sell you an ice cream, a drink, and eh, well anything, I said. But's it's not as bad as elsewhere in Kingston.
The huge lawns are surrounded by very big trees. It is open daily . And if that is not enough, adjoining the Hope Botanical Gardens is the Hope Zoo whith many animals from several parts of the world. The mongoose and dr. Birds though can be seen inside and outside the cages, ha!
Holy Trinity Cathedral
It's quite old, and it's even worse when you go inside. When we visited that there where mountins of garbage inside it. It was closed, but we asked a pair of persons who where keeping that and they opened the Cathedral for us, I think that they haven't had a visit for years!! They were really kind with us, and they explained everything about the Cathedral. The building itself wasn't nothing special, but it was a great experience.
Another reason to go could be that it's the biggest church in the island and there isn't much to do in Kingston. ;-P
Price: Admision Free.
Most of the Bob Marley's LPs where produced by Tuff Gong. I think, that nowadays is one of his sons who owns the bussines. If you go there you'll be able to visit the shop, buy some good reggae records and see all the recording stuff. it could be a great experience if you really like music, and specially Reggae Music!!
One of the most beautifull buildings in the city. This huge colonial house was bought by the Jamaican goverment and restored for people's joy.
In the backside of the building you'll find many souvenir shops and fast jamaican food shops, such as aschiken and meat patsies, jerk chiken, cakes...
Price: 250j$ about 5us$.
Bob Marley Museum
Don't spect too much from this museum, I think that Robert Nesta Marley a.k.a Bob Marley should have something better, anyway, it's probably the best exposition of his career, so it's a must place to visit if you love reggae.
It's not alowed to take pictures inside, just in front of his old Land Rover and in fron of his sculpture. Inside you will find many personal items, such as:
* His gold and platinun LP's.
* Rita Marley's and the rest of chorists' dresses.
* Maps of the continents where he played.
* His bedroom.
* You will see the bullet holes in the wall, they were made when B. Marley was tryed to be killed.
* The tour includes a 20 mins video.
- Adults: 500j$ or about 10us$
- Groups >= 15 people: 480j$.