The Top 10 Free Things to Do in Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston is the largest English-speaking city south of the United States, the capital of Jamaica, and a city I’m proud to call home. Kingston is located on the island’s southeastern coast and is the heartbeat of Jamaica– the home of business, commerce, government and a spirit and culture which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Reggae and dancehall music were born in the deep gritty slums of Kingston as a means by which the city’s most oppressed and impoverished could escape their struggles, and now the entire country, region and world pulsate to these riddims.

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National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean, established in 1974. It was borne out of a need to showcase the excellent talent and beauty of the Jamaican art scene, sending a powerful message to the ex-colonial powers that we too are capable of creating technically sound masterpieces to uniquely depict the Jamaican story. This gallery bears a comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary local art alongside smaller Caribbean and international holdings, with a significant part of its collections on permanent display. There are also frequent temporary exhibitions– the most recent of which was John Dunkley’s ‘Neither Day nor Night’ which ended on July 29.

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Fleet Street, Kingston

Fleet Street is the pearl of Downtown Kingston which breaks down barriers and breathes hope into disadvantaged communities. Downtown is a bustling metropolis featuring the headquarters of leading Jamaican businesses, stores, government offices and the House of Parliament. However, for my entire life I’ve heard my mother say she doesn’t go downtown if she doesn’t absolutely have to and when she did, she rarely took me along. Why? Downtown has been plagued for decades with many socio-economic issues, troubled inner-city communities and now as a result harbours notorious gangs and garrisons which led to the city once being labeled as the murder capital of the world. Political corruption has severed communities, led to the stark increase in crime and now our leaders grapple with reining in the monster which they have created. Nonetheless, as we say in Jamaica “wah nuh dead nuh call ih duppy” (literally translated: if it’s not dead, don’t call it a ghost). And that’s what Downtown Kingston is– a reawakening city and perhaps the most colourful part of that renaissance is located on Fleet Street.

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Public Transport Made Easy in Kingston, Jamaica

You’ve just entered the city at the Norman Manley International Airport, been met by your airport transfer charter and taken to your lodging. Now what. . . . You’ve just come up from ‘country’, wherever that is, to the big bad Kingston. . . . Or, you’ve lived in Kingston all your life but never taken, rarely use or haven’t used public transport recently. . . . Or even used it all your life and just want to read my take on it. A lot of my earlier blog posts feature public transport since I started this blog as a mere walk-foot gal wanting to see Jamaica. Recently, it dawned on me how daunting it must be to use public transport on your own for the first time in Kingston, worse if you stand out due to colour, language etc. For travel to be budget-friendly, one has to master getting around via the cheapest means possible. With that said, let’s learn.

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