Jammin’ & Jerk in Jamrock 

 

Jamaica is a Caribbean island in the West Indies with English being the official language and Jamaican patois being the primary spoken language. Locals refer to Jamaica as Jamrock in patois which makes it sound like the whole island is jammin’ all day long (which, of course, it isn’t – well not everywhere)!

Apart from its beaches, Jamaica is probably mostly known worldwide for its laid back (at times, politically-charged) reggae music which Bob Marley, head adorned with dreadlocks, introduced to the world in the 1970’s. Although Jamaica is where Rastafari was born, contrary to common belief, only a small percentage of Jamaicans adhere to this way of life.

 

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My friend and I spent a week at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay and I could safely say that reggae is, indeed, heard everywhere and I loved it! The beach + reggae = perfect match. You could, of course, go to Jamaica and shamelessly spend your whole time on the beach drinking Stripe (the local beer) but, if you care to know, there are some interesting things to do on this paradise island.

So to get you started on this virtual tour, press play and make like you’re already there!

 

 

 

BOB MARLEY MUSEUM & MAUSOLEUM

The museum is located in Kingston but more precisely in the small village of Nine Mile where Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was born and raised. He lived there in a house he purchased in 1975. In the mid-eighties, it was converted into a museum where you’ll find some of the legendary musician’s personal items, a souvenir shop, a theater, his house and, of course, the mausoleums where Bob Marley, his mother and his brother all rest in peace. This might seem to give you an idea of what to expect but not quite….

Something that isn’t mentioned on the official website is the hole-in-the-wall (literally) shop where you can purchase various items of the…how should I say….natural herb kind. Whatever your preference, in its original form (let’s just say it…joints), a cup of tea or even cookies, all you need to do is go up to the window and place your order. Note that marijuana is illegal in Jamaica but it is tolerated to some extent (see update here) especially among the Rastafari community whose beliefs include smoking marijuana.

However, at the Bob Marley Complex employees and visitors alike can light up on ganja without any problem. The whole place was covered in hazy smoke and our carefree Rastafarian guide was obviously high on the herb. I don’t smoke weed but the whole experience and tour were interesting/amusing nonetheless.

 

Trip tip: The best way to visit this site is by joining a tour usually offered at all the resorts. The road is long, bumpy and winds up and around mountains. The scenery is beautiful and along the way you’ll get to see another side of Jamaica (away from the resorts) but if you’re prone to having motion sickness, be prepared and bring some anti-nausea medication.

 

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The rock on which Bob Marley used to meditate (It looks like I’m missing some teeth but I assure you that’s not the case!)

 

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See all the smoke??

 

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DUNN’S RIVER FALLS

This is a famous waterfall in Ocho Rios visited by thousands of tourists each year. Once again, you can get there by joining a tour. The area is very nice surrounded by lush vegetation and the waterfall itself is also impressive except for the beeline of tourists holding hands trying to climb up (I realize I was one of those tourists).

I have to say that I was really surprised this was actually allowed considering the sharp-edged rocks were very slippery and could hardly be seen in the knee-deep, dark blue foamy water. A few people, including my friend, did fall and hurt themselves. There were guides who seemed to know where every rock was and helped to direct us but I didn’t always feel confident. Halfway up you can choose to stop climbing – a lot of people got scared and decided to exit at this point. In case you’re wondering, I did make it to the top without injury – yay for me!

 

Trip tips: You absolutely need to bring water shoes – the rocks are extremely slippery. Climbing camera in hand is too risky – for you and your camera. Unless you own a GoPro or waterproof camera, buy a cheap disposable waterproof camera instead – guides will gladly take pictures of you while climbing the waterfall.

 

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MONTEGO BAY’S HIP STRIP

In the center of the resort area of Montego Bay is the Hip Strip – a stretch of road specifically geared towards tourists but still keeping in line with Jamrock’s style. You’ll find lots of cafés, restaurants and bars (including Margaritaville) and many shops selling souvenirs, clothing and, of course, Jamaican rum. The Hip Strip is where tourists and locals get to mingle at night dancing to reggae and international beats.

 

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SHOPPING FOR SOUVENIRS AND HANDICRAFTS

If, like me, you like to bring back hand-crafted items from your travels, then head out to the Old Fort Craft & Heritage Market in Montego Bay. This market is set up for tourists but that doesn’t stop it from being really charming with its colorful bungalow-style shops. Not everything here is handmade but it’s definitely a good place to get all your souvenir shopping done.

As is usually the case when shopping abroad at local markets, bargaining is expected – be nice & have fun!

 

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BEST JERK IN JAMAICA

Before you get offended, let me explain: jerk is Jamaica’s staple cooking style using jerk spices to marinate or dry-cook meats traditionally chicken or pork. Jerk can be found anywhere and everywhere – at street stalls, in restaurants and I’m sure every self-respecting resort has a jerk hut on their premises.

Just before going to Jamaica I had seen a travel show where the host had eaten at Scotchie’s – where they claim to make “the best jerk in Jamaica“. I didn’t know where it was but, as luck would have it, we passed it on the way from the airport to the hotel so I figured it wasn’t very far.

On my second to last day, I finally decided to go. Jamaica has a bad reputation in terms of violence – I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to go by myself but, while I’m cautious when I travel, I don’t like to be influenced by mass media. So to be more safe than sorry, I asked the guard at our hotel if it was okay for me to walk alone to Scotchie’s – which was about 10 minutes from the resort. He looked at me non-chalantly and said there really was no danger and to enjoy the jerk. So off I went!

Scotchie’s was on the same busy, four-lane road as the resort I was staying at. I didn’t get honked at or cat-called and nobody paid any attention to the white girl walking alone in Jamaica. I did, though, cross paths with an elderly Jamaican man who kindly wished me happy travels.

Once at Scotchie’s, I placed my order of jerk chicken and asked if I could visit the kitchen. Without hesitation, one of the friendly cooks took me round to the back to show me the rustic cooking installations – it was as authentic as it gets! Returning to my table, I ate my mouth-watering jerk chicken with satisfaction and licked my fingers clean for the upteenth time.

On my way back to the hotel, I made a pit stop across the street at a small strip mall dotted with souvenir shops. The young girl in one of the shops asked me if I was alone to which I answered “Yes”. She then asked me if I was afraid to be walking alone, I replied with a question “Should I be?”. She quickly and confidently answered “No, but most tourists are”. 

When I arrived at the hotel, I was immediately confronted with the raw truth the young girl had voiced. I bumped into a couple I had previously spoken to and, for whatever reason, the man asked me where I was coming from. After telling him, he said with a chuckle that I was crazy to be walking alone in Jamaica – this coming from a very tall, older man with a fairly sturdy body frame. Sigh.

As for the jerk chicken at Scotchie’s, I can say it was really tasty but I can’t confirm it’s the best on the island. I guess you’ll just have to book your trip to Jamaica to find out for yourself!

 

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SUNSPREE INN MONTEGO BAY

We chose this hotel for its great value price-wise but, unfortunately, the beach wasn’t the nicest. It mainly consisted of small bays with hardly any sand. The water was very, very shallow making it impossible to swim – dipping was the only option to escape the heat and sun. But how could I possibly usher the slightest complaint?! I was in Jamaica – everything was irie, mon! 

 

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If you want to see a completely different (but very real) side of Jamaica, check out Viceland’s Noisey episode on Jamaica

 

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Have you been to Jamaica? Did you go to any of the popular tourist attractions mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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  • Wow Jamaica sounds like a vivid place. It must have been a great experience. Bob Marley really made an impect on Jamaican culture 🙂

  • James Smith

    I am actually considering going to Jamaica this February so I’m glad I cam across this blog. I guess you book a resort in Montego Bay, then tours to the Bob Marley and Ocho Rios tours. I will take my 3 year old which will make things interesting!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Hi James! Yes we booked an all-inclusive vacation then took a tour offered at our hotel for the Bob Marley Museum. 🙂

  • I love Jamaica!!

    I spent three weeks hitchhiking around the island a few years ago and was totally charmed by the place.Everybody is so nice and friendly.Great that you didn’t let the rumors scare you and that you explored it by yourself.I also loved the jerk chicken!did you get a chance to try the Jamaican dumplings? I bet you would love them!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      I didn’t taste the Jamaican dumplings…..guess I’ll have to go back! 😉

  • Jamaica looks quite similar to Seychelles. Love knowing about the culture and thanks for sharing the amazing experience you had. I like all inclusive resorts 🙂

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      All-inclusive resorts are a great option for a short getaway – no headaches and no planning just some well-deserved R&R! 🙂

  • It sounds like you had a great time! I have wanted to visit Jamaica for a long time but wonder how safe it is for a woman traveling alone (and actually had Jamaicans advice me not to go alone). I am not normally a big fan of all inclusive resorts but maybe here that would be the better choice. Thanks for sharing, you definitely make me want to go!

  • One Tech TRravell

    Wow I didn’t realise Jamaica has so much culture! I especially love the Bob marley museum and how much of a tribute he has back there. I enjoy trekking up to places like this but going by the way you describe it may have to get there as part of a tour. The Dunn river falls looks pretty nice and I like the detail you went into each art of it. nice read!

  • Great experience and loved how you write it down. So good that you could enjoy it and don’t let the fears hold you back from doing things.

  • Stephanie Frias

    I really enjoyed this tale of Jamaica and I find it fantastic that you didn’t let rumors of the area being dang phase you. We hear it all the time about Ecuador and in our experience it is absolutely not true!

  • Danish Akhtar Multani

    this place looks full of entertainment and souvenir. so colorful and interesting people and place.

  • Lena Dre

    that looks great!! I have been there some years ago but I was pregnant and I just felt horrible… It’s sad how much I missed during my stay; i was just laying around – on a beautiful beach though 😀 and I LOVED the “no problem” attitude

  • I was just talking with a friend of mine about going to Jamaica the other day – we are considering a trip sometime next year. It’s good to hear you enjoyed your trip. I’m sure Jamaica is a great destination so I’ll show this post to my friend – I hope it does the convincing 😀

  • Jill Wiley

    We’ve been to Jamaica a couple of times, but only on cruises! I’d love to explore more. It so interesting that marijuana is illegal there… crazy! Also… I LOVE Jerk Chicken! Its DELISH!

  • Aaron

    We have an amazing authentic jerk chicken place here where I live. They are right from the island and one day when I go to Jamaica I want to try it out to see the comparison. The tour at the Rastafarian Palace of Bob Marley is a bucket list item for me so that’s happening! I have friends that always go to the island and I have to go. Awesome blog and I can’t wait!

  • I very almost visited Jamaica over the summer but I ended up in Puerto Rico in the end. I wish I had gone to Jamaica now 🙂 – I’ve heard wonderful things about the beaches in Montego Bay and I would love to experience Reggae first hand!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      If you like reggae then Jamaica is the place to be! I couldn’t get enough of hearing it on the beach. 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    I really liked Jamaica though I only saw a snippet of it. Jerk & reggae are waiting for you! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    I wish I would’ve visited more but the whole relaxed vibe was amazing! Hope you get to visit one day. 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Glad you discovered a bit of Jamaica! 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Well, Pinay, you would definitely be flying high! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Jamaicans were very laid back and I love reggae so I really enjoyed my time in Jamaica. Maybe you can escape winter and head off to Jamrock! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Even though I stayed in an all-inclusive resort, I liked that there were so many options outside the resort. And I just loved the whole reggae vibe!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    There are places in Jamaica that should be avoided but for the most part I think it’s fine. I found Jamaicans to be very friendly and didn’t feel threatened at all when I was alone.