Looking for a tropical island getaway? If you live in the Western Hemisphere, you’ll soon discover the breathtaking country of Jamaica is not too far (or too expensive) for you to plan your next vacation. Filled with some of the liveliest people, flavorful food, vibrant music and beautiful tropical landscapes, here are 5 things that will make you fall in love with Jamaica.
Their Philosophy on Life
With a population of around 2.8 million, Jamaica is filled with an energy and passion that will keep you coming back for more. From the moment you set foot on the island the locals welcome you with a smile and potentially a cold beverage (red stripe anyone?!). You’ll never hear about any worries while on the island, because there’s literally “no problems mon”. When asked how you’re doing, you’ll generally hear “everything is irie”, which means everything is alright, no worries, I’m doing just great!
From almost every Jamaican you will hear these three major sayings across the island: Yeah mon, Irie mon and no problem mon. They say there’s no problems here, only small situations. Why can’t everyone have this mentality?! It’s definitely the best island vibe you can find.
Something else you’ll hear quite frequently amongst the locals is their local dialect, called Patois. It’s a mixture of British, Danish, French, and Spanish that’s spoken very quickly. If you listen closely you can pick out some words and understand what they’re speaking about.
Full of passion, expression and rhythm it’s no reason their flag represents the beautiful people, the landscape and the sun that shines down every day – “The sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative”. The flag contains three colors: black, which stands for the strength of their people, green for the lush scenery and agriculture and gold for the sunshine. The island thrives from tourism, fishing, farming, marijuana, telemarketing and construction.
If you like spicy, then you’ll LOVE Jamaican cuisine. With influences from India and China and the widely used Jerk or ‘jerking’ cooking method – using spice and cooking underground to hide and contain the smoke – it’s difficult not to fall in love with the food. You can expect to find copious amounts of jerk (chicken, fish, lobster or pork), curries, fried pastries (called festivals), baked cassava flatbreads (called bammies), tropical fruits, island made rums, beer and coffee.
For a truly authentic experience check out 3 Little Birds to book a group culinary class to learn how to make some spicy Jamaican dishes.
The Diverse Tropical Landscape
Jamaica has a total of 14 parishes, each with their own capital and over 120 rivers throughout the countryside that all end in the sea. Filled with tropical lush scenery all year round and a breathtaking coastline and ocean life perfect for scuba diving or snorkeling. The island is over 1,000 ft above sea level with the highest point at 7,000 ft at Blue Mountain, where some of the best local coffee is grown and two thirds of the island is made entirely of limestone, which allows for its lush scenery to grow. Temperatures as high as 100F and low as 65F. Also, a public holiday every Sunday that is taken very seriously and is a day for family and friends. NO WORK FOR ANYONE! Isn’t that nice?!
A unique adventure, found in only 4 places on Earth, Jamaica’s luminous lagoon is home to the world’s brightest natural phenomenon, known as bioluminescence. Millions of microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates thrive where the salt water meets the fresh water from the Martha Brae River. When the water is disturbed it illuminates a bright neon blue. Visitors can touch or even swim in the water at night to see this beautiful luminous display. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right gear to capture this on film, but it was super fun to swim around in the warm ocean water and see thousands of tiny glowing organisms lighting up all over your skin.
When you think of Jamaica, most people immediately think of Bob Marley & The Wailers and the birth of Reggae music. However, Reggae originally evolved from an earlier eclectic form of music, derived from various elements of Caribbean mento and calypso, American Jazz and rhythm and blues, called Ska.
For all of you music lovers out there, particularly lovers of Reggae, you can visit the Bob Marley Museum located in Ocho Rios to get ‘higher’ than Mount Zion, literally, and take a walk through Nine Mile where Bob Marley grew up and where his Mother was laid to rest. Similarly, a mausoleum at the Peter Tosh Memorial Park in Westmoreland can be seen, along with a small gift shop, to honor the singer’s life.
Their Respect of Mother Earth
Besides what you typically associate Jamaica with in terms of ‘medicinal’, Jamaicans are highly knowledgeable in utilizing fruits, plants, herbs and spices found on the island for food, drinks, various resources and natural medicine. Do you have an ailment? Ask a Jamaican, I guarantee they’ve got a natural cure. Sugarcane alone can produce over a handful of items, such as sugar, molasses, rum and vinegar, that can all be used internally or externally for various health and recreational purposes.
When you dream of visiting an island, Jamaica has everything you could ask for – outdoor adventure, beautiful landscapes, passionate people, rich culture and an overabundance of delicious food and drinks. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.