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.

Continue reading “The Top 10 Free Things to Do in Kingston, Jamaica”

Kwame Falls, Saint Mary

Kwame Falls is a free river and waterfall in Jamaica near the rural district of Robin’s Bay in St. Mary. It is said that the falls are named for Kwame, one of the warriors who fought alongside Tacky in 1760. This was the most successful rebellion against enslavement in Jamaica before that of Samuel Sharpe 71 years later. It is significant that the fall named for Kwame is smaller and less powerful than Tacky Falls, also in St. Mary, as Tacky was a more courageous and fiercer leader than he. I haven’t found a written record of any general Kwame or Kwaamen, however, one source made mention of Kwaw as one of Tacky’s conspirators. With the distortion of oral history throughout the years, it’s very likely that Kwaw became “Kwame.” That aside, this was a memorable adventure with a 4-hour roundtrip hike involved. Here’s how it went:

Continue reading “Kwame Falls, Saint Mary”

Cecil Charlton Park, Manchester

Mandeville is one of Jamaica’s more developed towns. The town is peaceful and laid-back compared to Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica’s two cities. I’m sure the residents like that a lot since Mandeville and by extension the cool cool parish of Manchester is a popular settlement for Jamaica’s returning residents. Named for former Mayor of Mandeville the late Cecil Charlton, the park’s transformation has been an ongoing initiative of the Manchester Parish Council since 2012. In these few years, the park has transformed from a mere refuge of the homeless to one which is worthy of civic and even national pride. Lying smack in the middle of the town square, this tiny attractive park brings a breath of fresh air and offers a great opportunity to learn more of Mandeville’s history. If you’re ever in this neck of the Jamaican woods, take a stroll here and even a seat for a few minutes.

Continue reading “Cecil Charlton Park, Manchester”

Penfield Falls, Saint Andrew

Let me start by saying that these falls are unnamed. It’s a pity to have such beautiful cascades of the Hope River tucked away in Penfield, a small district in Gordon Town, yet after all these years they are still nameless. Until a name for these falls catches on, we will call them the Penfield Falls after the district in which they are located. This is to distinguish them from the other four waterfalls in Gordon Town which can be accessed through the Pretty Close 876 property.

Continue reading “Penfield Falls, Saint Andrew”

Castleton Botanical Gardens, Saint Mary

The Castleton Botanical Gardens sit in a river valley on both sides of the Junction main road which links the Saint Andrew and Saint Mary parishes. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere, established in 1862 by English planter Colonel Castle on what was once a sugar plantation. The Bath Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas, Jamaica’s first botanical garden, had suffered repeated flooding by the Sulphur River. This led to much discontent and paved the way for Castleton’s establishment. In 1869, Colonel Castle gifted the gardens to the government of Jamaica. As a result, the 15-acre garden is free and is now a popular picnic spot for Kingstonians wanting a break from the city. The tortuous Wag Water River flows parallel to the gardens, adding to the view and giving one the opportunity to swim in unbridled beauty.

Continue reading “Castleton Botanical Gardens, Saint Mary”

Bull Bay Beaches, Saint Andrew

Bull Bay is a suburban town on the border of the Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas parishes. It lies beside its lesser-known sister, Cow Bay. Both place names reflect their former purpose of cattle-rearing predominantly for leather during Spanish colonial rule of Jamaica before British conquest in 1655. This beach only comes up in conversation when it is the venue of a party or concert such as the annual Wickie Wackie Music Festival. I wanted to see what it looks like when it isn’t pulsating to the riddims of the latest fete.

Continue reading “Bull Bay Beaches, Saint Andrew”

Reggae Falls, Saint Thomas

Reggae Falls, a.k.a. Dam Head, is a jewel tucked away in the hilly rural community of Hillside, Saint Thomas (what an aptly named district!). This waterfall is not entirely natural as many years ago, the Johnson River which supplies it was being developed to power a hydroelectricity station. The project suffered some damage from a hurricane early in development, leading to its abandonment. However, its aesthetic appeal has not gone unnoticed by residents of the community nor dry land tourists* like myself, who are its main patrons. My only visit thus far was in January 2016. Its waters are touted to have healing properties due to its sulphur content. It is currently not commercialized and I hope it develops, once its ownership remains in local hands.

Continue reading “Reggae Falls, Saint Thomas”