Safety has become a concern in regards to traveling to Kingston, Jamaica, however, it doesn’t have to be, if travelers tread carefully.
Some people may view Jamaica as another typical Caribbean island, however, it is much more than a simple Third World country.
Jamaica possesses a charm all its own, primarily because of the openness and warmth of its people and their generosity.
Some tourists may leave Jamaica with negative impressions, primarily because they have explored in places where even normal citizens would not dare to go. If one is planning a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, it is advised to bring lots of casual clothing for daily trips and perhaps a few items for evening wear.
Kingston is a very exciting city, from the moment one lands at Norman Manley International Airport, you can feel the ambience and flavor of the Jamaican lifestyle. There are vendors who try to greet you with selling their wares, and a large array of local stores that sell some of our finest, homegrown or homemade products.
A few of these items are, Appleton Rum, J. Wray and Nephew White Rum, perfumes such as Khus Khus and White Witch, all sold in the duty free shops.
There are several hospitable places to stay while in Kingston, such as the Hilton Hotel, The Pegasus and the Wyndham. It is always best to stay at a place that has an International reputation especially if you are a first time visitor to Jamaica. It will seem as if you haven’t strayed too far away from home. Also, they offer amenities such as monetary conversions and easier ways to get around the island.
While shopping in Kingston, it is recommended to convert your currency to Jamaican money, therefore, folks will not automatically assume that you are a visitor on the island.
The more seasoned Island Traveler may opt for staying in rented homes located in residential neighborhoods such as Beverly Hills, Mona Heights and Forest Hills. The tourists that prefer these accommodations are usually connected to residents of Jamaica, whom they have known for a while and have made special arrangements to sublet their abodes.
There is so much to see and do in Kingston, such as going to Coconut Amusement Park, The Bob Marley Museum, Little Theatre, (where Pantomimes are shown), Brunch at Devon House or just taking a leisurely stroll along King Street.
Although King Street boasts some of Jamaica’s most well known dress shops, hairdressers, jewelry shops and department stores. It is always best to err on the side of caution and travel in numbers. There are some areas near King Street that are frequented by “seedy” characters looking to take advantage of innocent tourists. Traveling around with a backpack is a good idea; because you can always put your valuables and purchases in there, without drawing too much attention to yourself.
A trip to King street is not successful unless one experiences the taste of pepper- pot shrimp, which can be purchased from the vendors that adorn the sidewalks. Snow cones and sky juices, are a few of our humble beverages used to quench thirst. These items can be purchased at nearby vendors. However, you want to look for a vendor that is neat and one that practices good hygiene.
For the more chic and upscale tourists, a trip to Ligunea Plaza is a treat. There, you can explore the cosmopolitan fashions of Kingstonians, browse some of the novelty shops that offer Jamaican Art and knic-knacks from overseas. A visit to Ligunea Plaza is not complete without a quick jaunt to one of the nearby pastry shops. Tourists can experience a bit of La Dolce Vita (the sweet life). Some of our delectable pastries include, bread puddings, plantain tarts, gizzardas, coconut cakes and black cakes, just to name a few.
After a day of hectic sight-seeing and shopping, a nice trip to Port Royal would soothe anyone’s ruffled spirits. There you can view expensive yachts docked for the day, or experience beach parties filled with dishes, such as bammy and fried fish or “festival” ( cod fish fried with cornmeal). It is a perfect end to any city day.
Most places in Kingston are safe, if you are with a trustworthy chaperone. Someone who knows the city well. However a word to the wise, places like Tivoli Gardens, Trench Town and some areas in Spanish Town are only visited at your own risk. These places are notorious for harboring drug dealers and unsavory characters. But, like everything else in life, there are exceptions to the rule. If one must tread in these areas, take a native Jamaican who is familiar with the location.
Also, when traveling to neighborhoods that are expected to be heavily populated or extremely desolate, dress as casual as possible, and wear little or no jewelry at all. It is not uncommon for tourists to get held up at gunpoint while visiting cemeteries or other quiet areas.
There have been tourists who have tried to experience Jamaica and all it has to offer, by going off into the Mountains. They venture off into places such as Waricka Hills looking for “weed” (ganga). This is unadvisable and unacceptable even by Jamaican standards. Most Jamaicans pride themselves on raising drug free children, therefore it is not part of “The Jamaican Experience” to explore sensemelia or any other drug.
If one adheres to these guidelines, they will find Kingston to be a charming place, amidst the hustle and bustle of the vendors trying to peddle their wares. Most Jamaicans whether “hoity-toity” or “down-to-earth”, have a very “laissez-fare” simplicity. If people seem too “regular” or “common”, there is no need to feel anxious or alarmed. It is just the Jamaican laid back style shining through.
It is not uncommon that one could be in the presence of the Governor General and Prime Minister and not be aware. Jamaicans are low-key with their prestige and status in life; beneath the beauty of Jamaica, people are basically, humble, grateful and hard working individuals enjoying a beautiful island experience.
In Kingston, Jamaica, it’s just cool runnings and irieness most of the times, with Jamaican traditions and the edginess of city living……..
City well. However a word to the wise, places like Tivoli Gardens, Trench Town and some areas in Spanish Town are only visited at your own risk. These places are notorious for harboring drug dealers and unsavory characters. But, like everything else in life, there are exceptions to the rule. If one must tread in these areas, take a native Jamaican who is familiar with the location.