First trip to Jamaica

Jamaica in a glance
Jamaica in a glance

Well, it is my first trip to Jamaica. Some of you might wonder, why Jamaica? The only reason I choose Jamaica, because I’m looking for a travel destination that is not too mainstream or too expensive for my pocket. By the way, Jamaica is a Caribbean country that you could reach in just 2 hours flight from Miami. Besides, the temperature in Jamaica is pretty warm, around 25-29 Celsius degree.

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport

It’s been a long holiday for me; I was taking a leave for three weeks. Before heading back to Lisbon, I spent time with my family members in Hong Kong for almost two weeks. Then I’m going for a trip to Jamaica; so I’m taking a Qatar Airways flight to Miami with one transit in Doha, Qatar. It took around 9-10 hours to arrive in Doha from Hong Kong.

I waited nearly 4 hours before my flight continues to Miami. It was pretty exhausting but fortunately the flight to Miami around 16 hours so that I could take a rest. At around 4:30 PM, the plane arrived at Miami International Airport.

Norman Manley International Airport
Norman Manley International Airport

There is still two more hour layover before the flight continues a 2 hours journey to Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston with American Airlines. I spent around $1,300 for this one-way flights to Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaica Pegasus Hotel
Jamaica Pegasus Hotel

I stayed at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel; it’s a 30 minutes drive using a taxi from the airport. The hotel is not so nice if compared with the money you spent ($250++/night) but… I think this is one of the best hotels you could get in Kingston. So you can’t complain. One thing I like about this hotel is the pool, trust me. Time to sleep; I’ll start my day tomorrow in the morning.

In the next morning, I asked the hotel staff for a local guide and taxi. I’m going to Island Gully Falls (Blue Hole) in Ocho Rios today. Island Gully Falls is around 3 hours drive using a taxi from my hotel.

Island Gully Falls (Blue Hole)

Island Gully Falls (Blue Hole)
Island Gully Falls (Blue Hole)

It’s time for Island Gully Falls, I booked a cab including the local guide (the name is Carnell) at the hotel, but since I was alone, I decided to share the taxi with other travelers; a young couple from the Rotterdam, Netherlands; it helped me saving more money lol.

To be honest, after that day, I think, I don’t need a local guide, only order a taxi and offer him a tip to take you anywhere you want. So this taxi driver which is Davion, he is an accomplished guy, he helps me plan a trip to many attractive tourist spots. I gave him a list of beautiful places, and he told me which place that I should avoid. Davion has crucial role taking me to Blue Hole given the road conditions, in my opinion, a little bit terrifying. It was a narrow path, and its conditions are not right aside from the crowded situation at that time. Imagine if you are driving alone by car rental, it will be very troublesome.

Other considerations why the local guide is not necessary, the blue hole has their local tour guide. Practically Carnell just sat waiting in the cab while waiting for us aside from taking us to visit Usain Bolt childhood school. For those of you who don’t know Usain Bolt, he is the fastest man on earth nowadays, read more about Usain Bolt here.

Another thing that I regret about my local tour guide is he also trying to bring us to a souvenir shop, gift shop, where he gets a commission if you buy something there. At the gift shop, the three of us decided not to buy anything there, even though Carnell keeps asking us to pay a visit. I would say, these dirty selling tricks are very common in Bangkok (if you’ve been there, you’ve probably known).

Blue Hole is a series of waterfalls that are smaller in size than the Dunn Rivers; however, the water is deeper here. For adrenaline rush lover, you can jump off the waterfall and feel the rush.

Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach

On the next day, I visited Seven Mile Beach, there are beaches that you can visit while in Jamaica, but in my humble opinion, so far Seven Mile Beach is the best one. Along the beach, you can walk comfortably because rarely found rocks and rubbish in the sand. Located in Negril, this 7-mile beach has white sand with crystal clear turquoise water, the atmosphere is calm, not too crowded like Bondi Beach in Australia. If you are a typical traveler, who likes to shop, maybe this place you should avoid because here there are only beaches and restaurants.

I was told not to walk alone on the south side of the beach after 4 PM due to security issues, lots of thugs and drug dealers hanging around.

Bob Marley Museum

Bob Marley Museum
Bob Marley Museum

Any of you heard about Bob Marley before? He was one of the greatest reggae artists in the world. That’s why Bob Marley Museum is my next destination while in Jamaica. Located on Hope Road, Kingston, this museum is not too far from my hotel, just about 1,8 miles from Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

This museum used to be Bob Marley home before it turned into the museum. The operational hours is usually from 9:30 AM to 4 PM. With the entry ticket around $25/adult, I think it’s a bit pricey. But for me, it’s paid off when you get into the museum and learn about the history behind it.

If you’re hungry, there is a cafe on the ground floor to feed your tummy. Try the brownies, they are very delicious, and the price is pretty low for the foods.

Bob Marley mural
Bob Marley mural

The Bob Marley mural around the museum wall is beautiful. Fyi, you can’t take videos inside the museum, however, while taking pictures in some designated areas is still allowed. During the visitation, I saw a lot of presentation about Bob Marley, his clothes, albums, studio, everything about Bob Marley. At the end of the tour, the guide will ask everyone for a tip that I think some of the tourists might feel uncomfortable.

Devon House

Devon House
Devon House

My journey continues to Devon House after visited Bob Marley Museum. I’m impressed with this building, and this is a must visit heritage site in Jamaica. Devon House is just a short walking distance from Bob Marley Museum, located on the same Hope Road, Kingston.

According to the tour guide, Devon House built in 1881 by the Jamaican first millionaire, George Stiebel. Operational hours is from 10 AM to 10 PM, so you have plenty of time to enjoy this heritage site.
There are flowers and trees everywhere, and it is a good place to relieve stress along with its great historical value. Also try the Rum and Raisin ice cream from Devon House I Scream, IMHO, it tastes great. There are several shops for those who like to buy some souvenirs, chocolate.

If you bring kids, there is a kid’s zone which offers kid play plus package for $3/child under 12 years old. Don’t forget; you still have to accompany your child as it is not a child care service.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee beans
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee beans

You should also try the cafe; I think this cafe is one of the best cafe shops you can find in Kingston. I order a latte; it tastes pretty smooth with its perfectly foamed milk. They told me, they only use the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee beans. I searched for Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee beans in Google and found that you could buy it in Alibaba for $24.99-39.99 / Bag. One bag is around 0.5 pound.

Four days in Jamaica is enough for me. It’s time to head back to Lisbon.
At least I still have few days left to recover my fatigue 🙁
Getting back to Lisbon is pretty easy since I already booked the ticket long before I arrived in Kingston, Jamaica.

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport

The ticket cost me $1,051 for this one-way trip. I take a connecting flight from American Airlines; it starts from Kingston in the early morning to Miami at around 2 hours flight. Then I had a 9 hours layover in Miami International Airport before continuing the trip to Madrid, Spain. Flight from Miami to Madrid is around 8-9 hours, and there is plenty of time to sleep.

Arriving at Madrid-Barajas Airport, there is another layover for 2 hours before the flight continues to Lisbon using Iberia Airline. By the way, I’m not comfortable with the legroom in Iberia; I think it’s below average legroom which is 31″, fortunately, it’s just a 2 hours flight.

In summary, here are few things that you should know when visiting Jamaica:

– Bring your sunscreen because the sunlight is so intense in here; sunscreen with SPF around 30 to 50 is sufficient if you’re going to be under the sunlight for most of the day.
– Bring your sunglasses; it will help you enjoy the sea sighting and prevent wrinkle on your face.
– Bring your bug sprays; sand fleas usually come out at around 4 to 5 pm so I think you should get off the beach before that time. I know, you might want to enjoy the sunset but is it worth the risk?
– There are two types of taxis in Jamaica; the registered cab is the one with red license plate while the other one with the white plate is an unregistered cab. I suggest you stay away with the white plate taxis; otherwise, you’ll end up getting scammed or the worst case; you could be the robbery victim.
– Find a hotel with safe deposit box so you could secure your valuable while visiting beaches. Remember to not show off about how rich you are, unless you want someone to rob you. Only bring a small amount of money during your walk, I’d say around $100 to $200 max in your pocket.
– Be careful when you walk alone at night (for a single traveler), criminals happened all the time. If possible, pay a reputable local guide to accompany you.
– There are a lot of all inclusive Caribbean vacation packages offered in Jamaica but be aware when they ask you to wear wristbands, take it off. In many cases it is a sign “I’m rich” for their criminal gang, are you with me? Stay safe.