Farther east, the business section of downtown is home to many international corporations, consulate offices, banks, insurance companies, and the world-class Jamaica Convention Centre. This is the home of the International Seabed Authority, the UN body that creates all laws for the world’s seas.
This modern center lies along the lovely waterfront on Ocean Boulevard, where parks overlook the harbor and you can enjoy an afternoon with the locals, dining on street food and absorbing the atmosphere. This area is generally safe during weekday business hours, but when 5 o’clock rolls around it takes on the feeling of a ghost town as business people head back up into the safety of the hills.
Most Kingston travelers spend their time in New Kingston, north of the downtown area. Bounded by Old Hope Road on the east side and Half Way Tree Road (which changes to Constant Spring Road) on the west, the main thoroughfare through New Kingston is Hope Road. Here you’ll find the modern convention hotels, restaurants and nightclubs preferred by most of the city’s visitors.
North of New Kingston lies the city’s most beautiful area. Magnificent homes grace the Constant Springs neighborhood, which offers stunning vistas, especially in the early evening when you can watch the city lights come out. East of Kingston, the views are even more spectacular, both day and night. Follow Hope Road past the University of the West Indies as it becomes Gordon Town Road and curls its way up into the Blue Mountains.
AUTHORS’ TIP : Hire a good driver for this stretch of Colorado Rockies-type road. Drop-offs are sheer and there are no guardrails!
Wherever you travel in Kingston you’ll find cuisine from around the globe. This wealth of dining options is partly due to the 35 international embassies and consulates based right in this city, the largest number found in the Caribbean.
Think twice about renting a car here. Along with the usual Jamaica traffic problems (which range from goats in the road to king-size potholes), you’ll be faced with a potential crime problem. With all that said, there are several car rental agencies in town.
CAR RENTAL AGENCIES
Budget Car Rental
876-924-8762 or 924-8626
Fiesta Car Rentals
Island Car Rentals
The best transportation option within Kingston is a taxi. You can catch one at any hotel, the airports and in most shopping areas. Travelers should be careful to only use licensed taxis; these have a red license plate that indicates the taxi is a Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV). Taxi rates vary but are figured by car, not by passenger. Fares average about US $5-7 for 10 miles.
Few of Jamaica’s taxis are metered. If you accept a driver’s offer of his services as a tour guide, be sure to agree on a price before the vehicle is put into gear.
Taxi tours are an excellent way to see the city. You can set your own itinerary and travel at your own pace. Sun Island Tours and Limousine Service ( 876-901-8826) offers guided tours.
Another option is a guided group tour. You’ll find several tours for different interests.
This company offers a large number of both individual and group tours. Options include a Kingston Historic Tour (Devon House, National Heroes Park, Craft Market and more), a Kingston Cultural Tour (Terra Nova, Devon House, Bob Marley Museum, National Art Gallery), Blue Mountain Eco Tour (with a stop at Sangster’s Liquor Factory), Blue Mountain Highlight Tour, Kingston by Night, Ocho Rios Highlight Tour (Shaw Park Gardens and Dunn’s River Falls), a Black River Safari Tour (including YS Falls), Lime Cay Picnic on Sundays (with transfer from Morgan’s Harbour in Kingston), Rafting on the Rio Grande with departure from Kingston, Port Antonio Highlights, and a Kingston Shopping Tour.
The Touring Society of Jamaica is a unique operator. Since 1991 it has offered unusual tours that give an insider’s view of the island. Itineraries include arts, architecture, music, gardens, natural history and epicurean delights. They are designed for individual interests and might include such activities as an overnight trip to the Blue Mountains to sample Jamaica’s best coffee, an afternoon trip to Spanish Bridge in the Ocho Rios countryside, or a week-long quest for Jamaica’s arts and crafts.
The society is especially known for its mountain hikes into the surrounding Blue Mountains. Tours include :
- Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate. This excursion to one of the top coffee plantations on the island includes a picnic lunch.
- The Fairy Glade Trail and Newcastle. This hike takes travelers through several ecosystems, ending the day with sunset at the Gap Café.
- National Gallery and Spanish Town. History and art buffs enjoy this tour into the city and the nearby historic community of Spanish Town.
- Kingston Nightlife. This is a personalized tour of the nightlife for which Kingston is known.
The Touring Society plans custom holidays and events in Jamaica and can best be contacted via e-mail at the above address.
30 Balmoral Avenue, Kingston 10
876-960-6685, fax 876-929-7512
This tour company offers hikes in the Blue Mountains, including camping, as well as bird watching and caving in the Cockpit Country.