The capital city of Kingston lies on the south shore. This metropolitan area of over 800,000 residents is visited primarily by business travelers. Within this sprawling metropolis, however, beats the true heart of Jamaica. Travelers interested in the culture and history that define this island nation should make time for a visit to Kingston, the largest English-speaking city.
Kingston is not an easy city to love. Its big, brash and boisterous. Life spills out from storefronts and homes onto the streets, filling the sidewalks and every inch of available space. Goats roam the downtown area, sidewalk vendors peddle all type of merchandise from carts and tables, pedestrians are everywhere.
Kingston dates back to 1692. The city is built along the harbor, stretching from the Blue Mountains in the east to the boundaries of Spanish Town in the west. Kingston is not for everyone. It does not offer a relaxing, fun-in-the-sun vacation. Head to the North Coast resort communities for that type of getaway. Instead, if you’ve had a few dates with Jamaica and you’re ready to visit her parents, then it’s time to head to Kingston. Things aren’t always pretty here, but its a necessary part of the experience.
The commercial center of Kingston sits along the waterfront. Here, goods come and go from around the world. Near the Jamaica Conference Centre, the waterfront takes on a pedestrian look, as people get out to enjoy the sunshine, to share conversation, and to buy local foods from vendors.
Look out across the waters and you’ll see a peninsula. This is where Norman Manley International Airport is located. Beyond the airport lies the fishing village of Port Royal, once one of the greatest cities in the Caribbean. Nicknamed “the wickedest city in Christendom,” Port Royal was a hangout for the pirates of the Caribbean. All that rollicking fun came to a screeching halt on June 7, 1692, when a violent earthquake shook the region and pummeled Port Royal into the sea. Archaeologists have recovered artifacts from the scandalous community and today shoppers can buy reproductions of Port Royal pewter plates and cups from Things Jamaican.
Port Royal is just a small fishing village. If you’re here at lunch, eat at Gloria’s fish shack, where you can sit on picnic tables under the awning and enjoy fish: escovitch, fried or steamed.
The following section below will help to define what a means to experience Jamaica: