Deserted white sand beaches, mountain air so fresh your skin tingles, jungle treks that awaken all of your senses, cuisines and experiences to satisfy any culture vulture, and a feast of eye candy to tame all your travel cravings. This is part of a series of travel related posts designed to feed your soul with unique, magic-filled destinations you just need to know about!
ONE LOVE FOR JAMAICA
The typical picture one usually paints of Jamaica includes white sand beaches, sipping cocktails to the sweet sound of reggae, locals smoking a few joints and being in tropical paradise. All of which does exist, but merely scratches the surface of what Jamaica is all about.
First up, let’s start with confirming – all the classic Jamaican cliches are real. You are offered Ganga. Everyone says “yah mon”. Almost everyone is an aspiring reggae musician and will happily bust out a tune for you at any time. You can cut down a coconut at the beach and enjoy some fresh coconut water at your pleasure. Jerk chicken is everywhere (and so damn good). The sand is white, the ocean is turquoise and at the perfect temperature, and palm trees frame the view perfectly. But all that aside, there’s a heart fuelled spirit that fills the air that I am yet to find anywhere else.
The spirit of the Jamaican people is like no other I have ever witnessed, and one that the whole world can learn from. Some people we met had so little – their homes, a simple tin box which they also used as a shop front, eating ackee from the trees for breakfast and whatever fish they catch that day for dinner. But boy, could they laugh.
Everything and everyday is a blessing.
Stress is non-existent. Enjoying oneself and being happy is of high priority. Sure, this carefree attitude does result in a very, very slow pace of living (being in a hurry does not go down so well here) and as put by a Guatemalan friend who was doing work in the country – Jamaicans like to work for an hour, then sit and chat for an hour, that’s just how the day goes. But at the end of the day, the Jamaican people know what matters most. They know the beauty they live in, they know how blessed they are to be surrounded by it, and they celebrate life like nobody’s business!
Then there’s the food, the rum and the music. No special occasion needed, everyday is a good day to sit with friends around a game of dominoes, enjoy a home cooked meal of escoveitched fish or goat curry, and drink appleton into the wee hours, all with the sweet sound of reggae in the background. Outside of the cities, it’s common for the local restaurant to consist of just one lady in a big ol’ kitchen, happy to serve you one of her two or three dishes she has cooking that day, depending on what’s in season or in good supply that week. Be it chicken, fish, lobster, pork or goat. Accompanied by some ‘rice and peas’, shredded carrot and cabbage, and a Red Stripe beer if you fancy.
And it doesn’t matter where in Jamaica you go, be it the all inclusive American-dominated resorts or the small beach towns of the east, the Rastafarian one love concept rings true and the passionate side of the people is always apparent. Jamaicans love their country, their culture and their lives, and it is so inspiring. ‘Respect’ is the word on the street and being true to oneself is the way of life, and you immediately fall in love with their way of thinking from the get go.
MY TOP PICK: LONG BAY, PORT ANTONIO
If you’re looking for off the beaten track, deserted beaches, getting up close and personal with the locals and diving head first into true Jamaican culture – Long Bay is your pick!
About a 2-3 hour journey from the capital, Kingston, you will find this small coastal town made up of 4-5 B&B style accommodations, 4-5 local eateries and a small petrol station. All sitting along a beautiful headland and long stretch of beach known as Long Bay. This is the place where I really kickstarted my meditation practice and began to hone into that one love culture, which I've carried through with me into my every day life.
FYI - There are no health food stores here, no accommodation with kitchens to use, no juice bars, no gluten free finds, NADA! It’s just you, the beach, the locals, mayb 2-3 other tourists (if you’re lucky) and the kind, generous nature (and home cooking) of the people around you.
Just a short ride away is the famous Jamaican surfing beach, Boston Bay (also known as the birth place of jerk chicken), and the stunning, 200ft deep Blue Lagoon, made famous by the Brook Shields’ movie of the same name.
A short ride in the opposite direction will take you to one of the most beautiful, yet least visited falls in all of Jamaica (due to its location so far east, away from the all-inclusive resort hot spots). Reach Falls. Again, a spot made famous by Hollywood, this time by Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’.
A local’s guide to Reach Falls begins with a car ride up the mountains, followed by a walk through banana plantations and sugar-cane fields, until you are literally smack bang in the middle of the jungle. A short walk brings you to the edge of a freshwater stream, which lies at the bottom of 2-3 separate falls and fresh water pools. As you walk/swim your way up through the different falls and pools, you are completely alone. All that surrounds you is the jungle vines, crystal clear fresh water flowing over the rocks, and glistening sunshine. Bliss!
If all of this wasn't enough, I want to leave with you a little something to bring that one love feel into your Thursday, and your long weekend. The song that played EVERYWHERE when I was in Jamaica, and was sung by every man and his dog, at any time of day. The song that will forever transport me back to those days of beach hair, plantains for breakfast and pure happiness. Enjoy xx
Have you been to Jamaica? Is it on your bucket list? Do you have a friend who is itching to go? As always if you loved this post, I would be so grateful if you shared if with your friends using the share button below, or give me a shout out in the comments below if you have any questions, or want info on any of my other favourite places in Jamaica. Or perhaps you have your own Jamaica story?? Let me know, I love hearing about all your adventures!
Big 'One' Love,