Though Kingston is the capital of Jamaica, it is one of the places least visited by tourists on the island. This is because Kingston serves as more of a business hub for the country and so lacks some of the islands typical charm that is more often found on it’s north coast. There are however quite a few must see geographical, historical and cultural sites that lend themselves to getting a more comprehensive experience of Jamaica. Here is a top 10 list of must see sites in Kingston:
10. Downtown Kingston Waterfront-
One of the lesser known gems of the city, this waterfront is definitely a must see when passing through Kingston. Found at the edge of Kingston’s lively business centre, the waterfront is unexpectedly both quiet and scenic. Sit on a park bench of your choosing to enjoy the view, or bring a blanket for a picnic on the beautifully manicured lawn. For those looking for some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of Kingston, the waterfront is best enjoyed in the early morning over the weekend.
9. Coronation Market-
One of the best ways to experience Jamaica is definitely through its food, and the Coronation market provides the perfect hub for all the country’s typical produce. The market is famous for providing organic and affordable produce including exotic fruits such as the Jamaican otaheite apple, jackfruit, pineapple and ackee which forms part of the island’s national dish. The huge market is also quite the sight to see, especially on a Saturday when most Kingstonians congregate to purchase their green grocery for the week. Be sure to give this market a visit for your next taste of Jamaica.
8. Emancipation Park-
Found in the New Kingston area this is the perfect spot to picnic or to just sit and enjoy a relaxing read. The park boasts beautiful fountains, benches, ping pong tables, and a jogging track among other things. It is also the venue for many of Kingston’s free concerts that occur year-round including an annual Bob Marley celebration concert. If Kingston is ever on your itinerary, this park is definitely not one to be missed.
7. National Gallery of Jamaica-
One of the benefits of visiting Kingston is that it also caters to those tourists who are culture buffs. The National Gallery boasts a collection of both early and contemporary art from not just Jamaica but from other Caribbean islands as well. It also happens to be the oldest and largest public art museum in the entire English speaking Caribbean. The best time to visit would be the last Sunday of the month when the National Gallery actually offers tours and children’s activities for free.
6. Hope Botanical Gardens-
This garden oasis is another gem which directly juxtaposes Kingston’s ‘concrete jungle’ look. A picnic worthy site in Kingston, the Hope Botanical Gardens provides an aesthetically pleasing area for relaxing, with the Hope Zoo also being a part of this attraction. Visitors can enjoy viewing the animals at the zoo or viewing the beautiful plant nurseries on the grounds. For scenic pictures on your next trip to Kingston, this is definitely the spot to go.
5. Lime Cay-
Most tourist tend to avoid Kingston because it lacks the number one thing they came to Jamaica to see, beaches. Unfortunately they have been missing out on one of Kingston’s best kept secrets, Lime Cay. This cay, with its cerulean waters, is a 15 minute boat ride off the coast of Kingston and is actually a preferred weekend destination for many Kingstonians. No boat? No problem! Local businesses such as Morgan’s Harbour and Y Knot provide services for trips to and from the cay during the week and on weekends. This is perfect choice for a day trip and a good way to get away from the busy city life. I recommend visiting during the week (when most Kingstonians are at work), for that private island feel.
4. Devon House-
This is one of Jamaica’s most famous historical sites and was actually owned by Jamaica’s first black millionaire. The house is an architectural beauty and functions as a house museum with tours for those who want to see its wonderful Georgian features. The grounds of the house also offer much more as there are restaurants, an ice-cream shoppe and stores selling many Jamaican craft items. This is not one to be missed when visiting Kingston and is indeed one of my favourite spots for lunch, relaxing or hanging out with friends.
3. Port Royal-
Home to the Famous Fort Charles (as depicted in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Port Royal was once one of the richest cities in the entire Caribbean. This historical site is replete with stories of piracy and the Fort Charles museum provides perfect insight to the colonial past of the country. Visitors can also eat at the many seafood restaurants in the area or buy seafood from the local fishermen. Visiting Port Royal is a great way to delve into the history of Jamaica and to indulge in some of its present pleasures.
2. Bob Marley Museum-
This is the place to visit for a view into the life and works of Jamaica’s most famous icon, Bob Marley. The museum is located at the home where Marley lived in Kingston and provides tours for visitors along with a gift shop, the One Love Cafe and an 80-seat theatre among other attractions. No visit to Jamaica is complete without experiencing a tour of this legendary musician’s home.
1. Blue Mountains-
The Blue Mountains in my opinion is the best geographical site to be seen in all of Jamaica and deserves to top the list of must see sites in Kingston. Though Jamaica is often associated with the typical ‘sun, sea and sand’ ideal, the country boasts a range of geographical terrain and the Blue Mountains are the highlight of its mountainous regions. I recommend heading to the Holywell Recreational Park for activities around the mountain which include biking, hiking and camping. For a more romantic experience of the mountains, give the Strawberry Hill Hotel a try where you can enjoy a wonderful meal at their restaurant with a breath-taking view.
Here are some varied views from Kingston: