March 03, 2014

Places and Activities that Will Give You the Real Jamaican Experience

The beautiful island of Jamaica seats like a pearl set in the startling blue of the Caribbean Sea. Everything in it exudes beauty and warmth, from the friendly people to the serene countryside and the exotic foods dished out by the roadside food stalls. This is the real Jamaica that many visitors never get to see. A two-week holiday will get you nowhere close to exhausting all the things to do and places to visit but if you do your research well, you can count on serious fun even on a weekend visit. Make sure you get a few of the following experiences:

A Culture Celebrated like None Other
On this island there are events celebrating one thing or another all year round. They range from the country’s independence from British rule in 1962 to a vibrant culture, art, music, and food. Drop in on a reggae concert, attend an agricultural show or just participate in a local festival – only then will the blood in your veins run hot with a true Jamaican experience.

The Reggae Sumfest
An event you do not ever want to miss is the Reggae Sumfest. This is a mid-July, weekend-long international show that draws tens of thousands of reggae fans. The greatest Reggae show in the world unfolds in several epic nights in Montego Bay, and you will want to be there for shows from the greatest Reggae and dancehall artists in the world today. Go to the north coast tourism capital of Jamaica and celebrate the country’s trademark music.  

The Carnival
The ultimate celebration of life in Jamaica is the carnival. This is a signature Caribbean experience and to be in Jamaica during this time will blow your mind away. You are swept right into the heart of a culture so rich that the folklore you’ve heard all your life seems to come alive.  There is endless partying, theatre, and fun. The carnival is your chance to dress in costumes, parade in the streets, express yourself artistically, and meet with thousands of happy people.

Hop onto a plane and land in Jamaica between February and mid-April, when the streets from Kingston to Negril to Montego Bay are alive with throngs of partying people.  The carnival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the island so you will want to book in long before the season. Remember to order your costume early too, because they move fast.

The Beaches
In this Caribbean paradise, sun worshippers can have their pick of more than 50 public beaches dotting the coastline. Most of them are free. You can opt for small, secluded beaches protected by offshore reefs, and if you like there are larger and more public beaches.
Don’t leave without experiencing Front Hill Beach, Negril Beach, Frenchman’s Beach, Hellshire Beach, Treasure Beach, Seven Mile Beach, Doctor’s Cave Beach, and many more. The most popular beach destinations are Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios.

The Island Cuisine
When you visit an exotic place, there is no dining experience that beats eating its authentic food. The true Jamaican food experience is in the island cuisine. Dotted across the beautiful island of Jamaica are roadside food stalls and restaurants popular for their authentic Jamaican dishes.  This is also the land of tropical fruits, so you can woo your taste buds with pineapples, oranges, otaheite, papaya, nasberries, and apples. Foodies go bananas in Jamaica.

Things to do
Most visitors to Jamaica never get to taste the real Jamaican experience. This goes even for many islanders. Create an itinerary before you embark on an epic tour of the best of the Caribbean, and you can be sure you won’t miss any of the best places and things to do. Explore the countryside on a bus and meet the friendly country folks who will teach you how to say “what a gwaan” in a true Jamaican greetings fashion.

There are museums, waterfalls, parks, and even nightclubs to explore. Spend your holiday by exploring the Bob Marley Museum, hiking in Blue Mountain in Kingston, climbing the Dunns River Falls, scuba diving and snorkeling, caving, horse riding, shopping for souvenirs for your loved ones at Taj Mahal in Ocho Rios, and dancing the nights away in the night clubs.

While at it, make sure to drink the legendary Jamaican rum which is made from sugarcane juice and molasses and matured in oak barrels. Whether you like it dark, spiced and neat or light in a cocktail, you will have as much liquid gold as you can take.

October 14, 2013

Four Terrific Things to Do in Jamaica

Jamaica, is one of the world’s jewels, a place anyone would be proud to visit. Once there you are surrounded by a culture so diverse and so colorful it is unlike anything you have ever seen before. However, unless you have few months to explore you won’t get to enjoy the diversity of this paradisiacal island. The following are a few of the wonderful sights you’ll want to see when you get there:

1-            The Blue Hole in Ocho Rios

This is a relatively secluded area where  azure waterfalls flow. The area is one of extreme nature and not commercialized. It is a natural wonder you must visit when in Jamaica.

2-            White River Tubing

This is a fabulous water adventure in Ocho Rios Jamaica, yet not one that requires a lot of physical conditioning either. The White river is a gorgeous area known for its wonderous natural beauty and fresh water river. Join your friends in this memorable event where you tube down this river surrounded by sub tropical vegetation.

3-            The Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth Jamaica

The magic is etheral here. The waters glow in this area and it is a phenomenon that only occurs in four other places in the world. This is really a sight you cannot miss, one that you will remember for the rest of your life.

4-            Floyd’s Pelican Bar in St. Elizabeth

Floyd’s Pelican Bar is very interesting. It is a small bar made on stilts out of driftwood. It sits about ¾ of a mile out at sea, and you get there by manned motor boats. It really is a lovely experience.

These are but a few of the fun and interesting places to visit when in Jamaica. By knowing about them before you arrive you can make the most of your time.

Photo of Blue Hole is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

September 30, 2013

Jamaican Recipes to Warm the Heart and Soul

Now that cooler weather is setting in, it’s time to turn to those comfort foods, and nothing is more comforting and enjoyable than exotic Jamaican food. Jamaican food is known for its eclectic taste because it is a combination of Cuban, French, British and Indigenous influences.

  • Carrot Punch

This is a nutritious beverage, but also one that adds a nice punch.

·       1 cup carrot juice
·       1 cup condensed milk
·       2 cups beer

Mix the condensed mil and juice, add the beer and serve over ice cubes.

  • Callaloo

This is a traditional Jamaican dish made with callaloo, which you can substitute for fresh spinach.

·       1 bunch of callaloo or fresh chopped spinach
·       1 cup coconut milk
·       5 cups water
·       1 large finely chopped onion
·       2 oz of chooped salt pork
·       1 cup chopped okra
·       1 cup shredded crab
·       3 cloves of minced garlic
·       Dash of scotch bonnet
·       Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients, except for the crab meat and the okra in a stew pot. Simmer until the salt pork is cooked through. Add the okra and crab and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and scotch bonnet as needed.

  • Bully Beef Rice

While this isn’t a completely from scratch recipe, as it would be in Jamaica, it still offers that great Jamaican flavor we love so much.

·       1 can of corned beef
·       1 cup of white rice
·       4 tsps of vegetable oil
·       1 sliced onion
·       1 tsp of Jamaican pimento seeds
·       ½ tsp of margarine
·       2 diced scallions
·       1 cubed potato
·       1 pinch of thyme
·       Salt and pepper to season

Steam rice as directed on package. Add ½ teaspoon of margarine and mix with steamed rice. Place 4 tsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced onion, scallion and pimento seeds.  Stir until onion is translucent. Drain the liquids off and add the potatoes. Stir until golden brown. Add the corned beef and add ½ teaspoon of margarine.  Add a little water and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper and scotch bonnet to taste.

Bottom Line

These are just three great Jamaican recipes that brighten any wintery day, and which will remind you of that great time you spent on the Jamaican beaches.

Image: trinidad sky