Jamaica is the birthplace of globally renowned reggae singer, songwriter and guitarist Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley. He bought a house at 56 Hope Road in Liguanea, St. Andrew in 1975 and it was his home until his death in 1981 from metastatic melanoma. Six years later his wife Rita Marley converted the property into a museum to celebrate the life and treasures of her late husband. Thirty years later it has welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests- many in awe, thirsty for knowledge, or the simply curious. I first visited in March 2017 with a mixture of all 3. Growing up in Jamaica you aren’t necessarily “raised on Bob”, listen to Bob regularly, friends with Bob etc., contrary to popular belief. He died 35 years ago. However, you are aware of his legacy and philosophy. He was an early pioneer in the acceptance of Rastafari, a huge Pan-Africanism advocate and his passion for positivity, peace and spirituality was contagious. I’m not a Rasta and likely won’t ever be, but I deeply admire their message and lifestyle. That, coupled with my LOVE for reggae music and sheer admiration made visiting his museum something which had to get done this year.
Normally this is where I’d describe the route I took to find my destination but believe me, Google maps will suffice this time. ☺ Bob Marley’s Museum does not qualify as off the beaten path. It is located in a relatively safe “up town” and easily accessible area so you can walk or take public transport to it. After entering the front gate, turn right and you’ll see the ticket booth right next to One Love Café, a popular ital delicatessen serving Bob’s favourite meals and offerings like soups, sandwiches and wraps between 9am and 5pm. Purchase your ticket at the booth. The entry fee is $25.00 USD for adults, $12.00 USD for children (ages 4-12) and USD $5 per student with valid Jamaican school ID. Afterwards, wait until a tour group is starting and be guided through every aspect of Bob’s life and career.
The tour starts here where you’ll be met by a guide. I must say, if all the tour guides are like Irie Sue my guide today, you’re in for a wonderful 1 hour 20 minutes, the tour’s estimated duration. Her vibes were so contagious! Her energy, palpable passion for her job and knowledge were really admirable. Anyway, at this shed you’ll have an introduction which is situated in what was Bob’s football (soccer) field, his favourite sport. Afterwards, you’ll be taken into the house and guided through his authentic recording studio, master bedroom, kitchen and several rooms paying tribute to his achievements, records and even his children, many of whom follow in his musical footsteps. No photography is allowed inside the museum but I didn’t mind one bit since I was entertained the whole time. There were 8 tourists in my tour (me included) from many different places, ranging from Belgium to as far east as China.
After the tour you’ll have the opportunity of sourcing his albums at reasonable rates and purchasing souvenirs like t-shirts, swimwear, caps etc. You’ll also get to revisit his gallery and sign a guest book.
Top 5 Highlights of My Experience
- Seeing Bob Marley’s authentic records, awards, studio and a lion tail gift he received from Ethiopia. I trust Bob wouldn’t have accepted if it were obtained from the lion while alive or at any harm to it.
- My tour guide
- Learning about Bob’s humanitarian side
- Realizing how many of his songs I didn’t know 😣. Nonetheless pitching into the singing was enjoyable, especially being led by a Trinidadian Rasta tourist who had a booming voice and much enthusiasm for his Marley music.
- Confirming something I refrained from writing in my first ever blog post 3 months ago because I couldn’t prove it then. I saw online that Bob used to visit Cane River Falls regularly to wash his locks [and possibly smoke a kaya (marijuana) and catch a Rastaman vibration in the beautiful surroundings afterwards]. It’s true, and there was visual confirmation there to prove it! Too bad I couldn’t take a picture for proof. You just have to take my word for it or visit to see for yourselves! 😊
If you’re a reggae fan, Rastafari enthusiast or even just a history/culture buff, this will definitely be worth your while. Don’t worry, there’s air conditioning now. I saw this as a frequent complaint in reviews I read so clearly they have listened to their visitors and rectified the issue. I rate here full stars, ☆☆☆☆☆ and certainly I’ll let my future children visit earlier than 21 years old like I did 🙈. I featured the Bob Marley museum as #1 on January 9th in my 2017 bucket list so this is 3 down, 14 to go.
‘Til next time.
If you enjoyed this post, check out the other Bob Marley-themed stops in Kingston: