Jamaica means “Blessed Isle of Springs” It is also known as Xaymaca which means Arawak Island of wood and water. It also has another name Jahmekya which means Rastafari revelation ground and intonation of the heights of Mount Zion. Jamaican water is like crystal in the most part, but of course, the natural environment is being polluted and contaminated like it is everywhere else.
Looking through these eyes it is easy to see the beauty of Jamaica, but all is not right here in paradise. There are a lot of problems in the land of no problem mon. Political corruption, violence and the effects of globalisation on local food systems to name a few. Jamaicans are bewildered and confused at the level of inhumanity that is occurring in this microcosm of a world in social and moral decline.
Tropical Beaches Sunsets
The sun rises and sets on this island as a fiery orange ball. The island of wood and water is renowned for its spectacular tropical sunsets and sunrises. Life here runs on Jamaica time and if you ever get a chance to visit the island you will be dazzled with its breathtaking beauty and the cruisey pace of island life. Combine the sunset with the Jamaican food and we have a match made in heaven.
If you were searching the world for the best beaches then, of course, Jamaica would definitely be a strong contender. White powdery sand, flat crystal clear water and swaying coconut palms and Poinciana trees. Where do you find a freshwater waterfall cascading down on to the beach. You do in Jamaica. It’s the veritable garden of Eden if you can imagine what that would have been like.
Jamaica food is influenced by many nations. Just as in other Caribbean islands, Jamaica food recipes have been influenced by the Chinese, Portuguese, West African, Spanish, Syrian, Dutch, French, British and Indian. It is a lush tropical island paradise and there is an abundance of exotic fruit and vegetables to eat. Traditional Jamaican Food is healthy and wholesome.
Jamaican food is spicey, original and unique. It is healthy, tasty and utilises all the fresh exotic tropical fruits, vegetables and spices of the island. Papayas, Mangos, Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes and Tangerines. Soursop, Pineapple, Watermelon, Mammee fruit and Star Apple.These are just some of the tropical fruits of Jamaica.
Jamaica travel is not for the faint hearted. If you are thinking of taking a vacation here then prepare yourself for the breathtaking exotic and mystical beauty of this Caribbean Island. Jamaica has a rich oral history and for all Jamaica’s beauty, there is also the opposite. Jamaican history shows that it was once the home of the Arawak Indians, then became the haunt of Pirates and now is reeling with the effects of globalization and exploitation. Political unrest and social problems have plagued the small island over recent decades.
Jamaica attracts tourists from all over the world. Holiday travellers from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are prolific due to their Commonwealth connections from the past.
Once you have finally landed on Jamaican soil, you are on Jamaican time. Whilst remaining alert, the pace is much slower and after a few days of good Jamaican food and medicine, you can start to relax into it. Jamaica culture is friendly and worldly, the people having been exposed to many different nationalities vacationing on the island over many years.
The Sights and Sounds of Jamaica
The sights and sounds in Jamaica are like nowhere else on earth. The coastal areas are quite stunning and contain some excellent hiking trails, the highest peak being in the Blue Mountains. For a rather more sedentary experience, the Milk River Spa contains natural mineral waters which have a constant temperature of over 80 degrees.
There are many beaches from which to choose and the blue waters contain some of the world`s most amazing underwater wildlife. The white sand of Jamaica is unsurpassed and the waters around its coastline are crystal clear. Snorkelers will enjoy seeing sunken ships, incredible cave formations, and coral reefs. One of the most popular spots is Negril where guided snorkeling tours are on offer. Turtle Beach and Mallard Beach are two of the most popular beaches, with many of the beaches boasting tourist amenities, activities, and entertainment, together with food.
Jamaica is an island nation that lies in the sunny Caribbean Sea. It has become increasingly attractive for tourists in recent years, partly due to cheap flights to the region.
Tourism is one of the primary sources of income for Jamaica and the Jamaican tourist has virtually taken over the island. Some of the special places to visit are Port Antonio Jamaica, for its quiet white sandy lagoons and laid back atmosphere. Portland tourism is definitely on Jamaican time. The soil is rich here. For a famous Jamaican experience go to Negril and visit Ricks Cafe.
The Jamaican sunsets are legendary and provided there is no cloud this is a popular place to view the sunset over dinner or a cocktail. You can also dive off the cliff here, if you are game, into the crystal clear Caribbean water. Make sure it isn’t barracuda season though. A Negril vacation is action packed with every kind of water sport and Jamaican vendors selling their wares.
Frequently asked questions
Where is Jamaica?
Jamaica is the third largest of the West Indian Islands, a group that includes Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Vincent, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands, St. Croix, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Montserrat, Guadeloupe and the Cayman Islands, Martinique, Antigua, Aruba and Curacao. It is situated about ninety miles to the south of Cuba.
What is the current Jamaican population?
Jamaica has a population of roughly 2.5 million. Kingston, the capital city, is the most densely populated with 750,000 people. Kingston is the largest English speaking city south of Miami in the northern hemisphere.
What are the Jamaican Religions?
A religious people, Jamaicans enjoy complete freedom of worship. Many Christian denominations are represented, the majority belonging to the Church of God, and there are small groups of Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. Two groups, Kumina (Revival) and Rastafarianism, have African links and are native to Jamaica. Rastafarians use ganja, a potent form of marijuana, as a sacrament and have special rules of dress, diet, and work. Jamaicans have developed a vibrant national culture, notably represented in such fields as reggae music, drama, and the visual arts and in cricket.
The majority of the population is Christian with small Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Bahai communities. The older established churches are Anglican (Episcopalian), Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Adventists, Moravian and United Church (Presbyterian) and Congregational). The Pentecostals also have a large number of adherents. Many Jamaicans are members of indigenous religious groups e.g. Pocomania, Revivalism and Rastafari. Rastafari is a livity that believes in the divinity of Haile Selassie, the late Emperor of Ethiopia.
What is the Jamaican topography like?
The peaceful (now extinct) Arawak Indians were the first inhabitants of the islands. The existence of their warlike adversaries the Caribs made constant migration throughout the islands a necessity for these people. The island is still steeped in their ancient tradition.
Jamaica is a mountainous island of 4,244 square miles (10,991 square kilometres). The Blue Mountains in the east, composed in part of ancient volcanic rock, contains the island’s tallest peak at 7,402 feet (2,256 meters). The northern slopes of the Blue Mountains and the nearby John Crow Mountains are a completely uninhabited wilderness. Another unpopulated regions is the Cockpit Country in the centre of the island. A roadless jumble of limestone pinnacles and glades, the region is riddled with spectacular caves. In the west and along the coasts are savannahs, plains, and scattered trees. Most Jamaicans live on the coastal plains.
What is the Jamaican Climate?
The climate is dry tropical, with temperatures higher along the coasts and cooler in the mountains. Rainfall, too, varies with region. Northeastern Jamaica receives more than 100 inches (250 centimetres) of rainfall annually–making it one of the wettest regions in the world. Most of the country experiences severe fluctuations of drought and flood. Little rain falls on the hot, dry southern and southwestern plains. The average annual temperature at Kingston, the capital, is 79o F (26o C).
Jamaica has about 120 rivers, most of which flow to the coast from the central mountain ranges. Those on the north side tend to be shorter and swifter than those on the south side.
Jamaica is blessed with several mineral springs, four of which are developed with facilities for bathing and/or accommodation. One is attached to the San Souci Lido Hotel and three are public, Bath in St. Thomas, Milk River in Clarendon and Rockfort in St. Andrew. The fresh water that flows out of the mountains of Jamaica is crystal clear, pure and cool. The quality of this water is what makes the island so magical and it’s people so special and happy.
What is Jamaicas Flora and Fauna?
For centuries Jamaicans have exploited their island for mahogany and other cabinet woods, leaving little of the natural rainforest still standing. Erosion of the hill slopes is one serious consequence of this exploitation. But there is still a rich flora of native orchids and ferns. Throughout the year the many species of tropical and subtropical plants produce a changing spectacle of colours. Among the plants are the vivid red poinciana, the yellow poui, and the blue lignum vitae, which is Jamaica’s national tree. There are four major botanical gardens.
Jamaica has more than 200 species of birds, including a beautiful hummingbird–known locally as the “doctor bird”–which is the national bird. Also abundant are bats, mongooses, frogs, lizards, and crocodiles. There are no venomous snakes on the island but many species of ants.
What is Jamaican Jerk?
Jamaican jerk is famous throughout the world. The origins of jerk can be traced back to pre slavery days of the Cormantee hunters of West Africa through the Maroons, who were Jamaican slaves that escaped from the British during the invasion of 1655. Jerk was a way of preserving meat. The meat is poked with holes and filled with a spice mixture. The cooking is very important. In the sixties street side vendors came up with a solution to get that smoked pit flavour They cut oil barrels lengthwise and attached hinges, drilling holes in the side to let out the smoke. The barrels were heated by layers of charcoal which added to the smokey flavour.
Preparing Jamaican Jerk seasoning is definitely an art form and everyone has their own jerk recipe. Jamaican Jerk vendors are found throughout the island and tourist flock to try the different styles and recipes. The best and original Jerk seasoning is said to have originated in Portland Jamaica. Rastas in particular don’t have recipes, they just cook. Some of the jerk spice ingredients are Scotch Bonnet Chilli pepper, whole pimento berry, also known as allspice and myrtle pepper, cinnamon bark, thyme, onions, garlic, whole black peppercorns and various other secret ingredients according the cooks preferences and experience. These are all pounded down in a huge mortar and pestle, in the right order. This is to release the flavours in a special way. When you hear people talk of Jamaican chicken, this is probably what they are talking about, but pork, other meats and vegetables can also be jerked.
Jamaican seasoning is used on most meat and fish. This involves rubbing the meat with different spice powders like cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric and pimento, and then frying, roasting or barbecuing to achieve a unique flavour.
What is the National Dish of Jamaica?
The Jamaican National dish is ackee and salt fish. Some other popular dishes are rice and peas, curry goat and white rice, fish tea, fried or boiled dumpling and banana, saltfish and coconut rundown, fried and boiled plantain, vegetable soups and oxtail stew. Cabbage is popular and different recipes involve steaming this generous healthy vegetable with meat or fish, onions, garlic, thyme and tomato. Roasted bread fruit and ground provisions are also eaten regularly. Goat Head Soup is another famous Jamaican recipe. This makes a strong tasty soup using the head, intestine and foot of the male goat.
What kind of fruit drinks are available in Jamaica?
Fruit drinks are very popular and include the combination of many exotic fruits. Soursop juice is a favourite and is good for the nervous system. A Jamaican Christmas drink is made from the Sorrel bush Hibiscus sabdariffa. The red calyx of the mature fruit are stripped from the plant and dried or used fresh. Hot water is poured over the sorrel to which grated ginger has been added. This is left to infuse overnight. Christmas day it is strained off and lime juice, sugar syrup, ice and rum are added. Coconut water is another popular authentic Jamaican drink and it is common to see street vendors selling a fresh coconut with a straw in it to tourists all over the island.
Fruit drinks are seasonal and it depends what is in season. In November June Plum juice is available and is a delicious fruit that has a unique taste.
What is the weather like in Jamaica?
Jamaican weather is tropical with the temperature being 28 degrees Celsius in Summer. July and August are the hottest months. February is the coolest. Winter is about ten degrees colder and up in the Blue Mountains, you can get temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius. Rain falls in May and June and again in October and November. The southwestern coast of Jamaica receives little rain and the eastern windward coast receives a lot. Jamaica lies in a hurricane belt. They have a saying about hurricanes in Jamaica. They say June, too soon, July, standby, September, remember and October, all over. That just about sums the hurricane season up. The timing of a hurricane is hard to predict so stay vigilante and watch weather forecasts and patterns before visiting the island.
How big is Jamaica?
The island is one hundred and fifty miles long and fifty miles wide and armed with your Jamaican guide you can hire a car and drive the island. The north coast is particularly beautiful and is where Colombus first landed in Jamaica. Discovery Bay, Runaway Bay and Trelawny. If you are flying into the island you will either land at Montego Bay or Kingston Airports. Montego Bay is on the North Coast, Kingston on the South Coast. It is wise to check the travel reports before traveling to Kingston these days as there is still considerable trouble in the Jamaican capital.
What is the Shopping like in Jamaica?
Jamaican shopping is a unique experience as the island`s vendors sell wares of every kind. There are local handmade crafts such as baskets, hats, purses and other brightly colored items together with designer perfume, all at amazingly cheap prices but you can still haggle if you want to as this is considered normal. If haggling is not your thing, then stick to Half Moon Shopping village, Holiday Village Shopping Centre or City Centre as prices are fixed but the choice is no less constrained.
Where can I eat out in Jamaica?
Eating out in Jamaica can be fun as the local dishes are really rather special. Try Jamaican Jerk which is a spicy meat dish or curried coconut shrimp, a local delicacy. Many local restaurants are small and cozy with the exception of those in the main tourist areas which are larger and more cosmopolitan. If you want to rent a place and cook your own food the Self Catering Holidays lists self-catering cottages, holidays and villas from over four thousand destinations.
What are the high and low seasons in Jamaica
Most people`s decisions regarding when to visit the island are based on time off from work or school breaks but it is worth knowing that the island does have a high and low season even though the temperatures are stable throughout the year. A holiday in Jamaica means that you can escape a cold north European climate between December and April.
It can be difficult to book a room in the high season as rooms can often be booked a year ahead at popular hotels. Planning ahead is important when it comes to accommodation and car hire. It is advisable to see your travel agent or to book online in order to ensure peace of mind when you arrive in Jamaica.
Can I hire of car in Jamaica?
Many of the world`s best-known car hire firms operate in Jamaica with names such as Avis and Thrifty. There are cars to suit all budgets and the cars will be to a high standard. If you do not want to hire a car for the duration of your holiday, you can hire one just for a day or even be chauffeur driven if you wish. There are plenty of options for you to see the sights including the excellent Jamaican Buses which operate all over the island.
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