Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica on the eastern end of the island, and a spirited bustling metropolis where authentic Jamaican culture is experienced in its truest form. The home of reggae music, jerk cooking and numerous iconic museums, trendy restaurants and colorful nightlife, Kingston is the ideal launching pad for anyone interested in seeing a side of Jamaica that the travel brochures omit when painting an all-inclusive beach resort image of the nation.
A vacation in the Land of All Right need not be limited to the coastline. The best way to explore Kingston and its neighboring towns is at your own pace, because after all, you’re on vacation. Renting a car gives you the freedom to do just that!
Here are six unique day trips to take from Kingston in your own self-driven vehicle.
Cane River Falls
Cane River Falls is an off-the-beaten-path waterfall on the outskirts of the city in Nine Miles, Bull Bay. The waterfall is a tiny beauty which packs an invigorating shower and swim, set against the commanding backdrop of limestone rock. Take care with the roads to get here, but the property which awaits makes it easy to see why this was Bob Marley’s favourite watering hole and weekend hideaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Estimated Drive Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 26 kilometres
Kingston is gateway to the Blue Mountains, home to world-renowned Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. Blue Mountain coffee is only grown in the Blue Mountain range of eastern Jamaica ranging from 910 to 1,700 meters above sea level, giving this coffee its signature mild flavor, sweetness and lack of bitterness.
Dating from the 1800s, many coffee estates tucked away on these cool hillsides still plant, harvest and roast coffee using time-honored methods. Craighton Estate is one plantation where you can enjoy a memorable bean-to-cup coffee farm tour. Few experiences in Jamaica can compare to enjoying Blue Mountain coffee at its source.
The roads to get here are winding but of excellent quality compared to many Jamaican mountainous roads, with secured parking on the premises available. On the way up you’ll pass breath-taking views of the plains and a few trendy cafés and restaurants such as Cafe Blue.
Estimated Drive Time: 40 minutes
Distance: 18 kilometres
Holywell is an eco-tourist haven in the cool tropical mist-forests of the Blue and John Crow Mountains, less than an hour’s drive away from Kingston city. The narrow winding roads lead to a 330-acre park blessed by the fragrance of fresh mountain air and pine trees.
At 900 metres above sea level, the cool temperature allows Holywell’s ecosystem to support a wide variety of ferns, flowers, trees and endemic birds which are seldom seen in other parts of Jamaica. Holywell is suitable for all ages and features five nature trails, cabins, a campsite and rustic amenities.
Estimated Drive Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 19 kilometres
Jamnesia Surf Camp
Another jewel in Bull Bay, just minutes’ drive away from Kingston’s international airport, is the Jamnesia Surf Camp run by a Rastafarian family. This modest lodging and surfing mecca caters to surfers from beginner to advanced, and the summer and winter swells which grace the Caribbean Sea make its location ideal for catching waves. You need not take your own surfboard– those can be rented at affordable rates.
Estimated Drive Time: 30 minutes
Distance: 20 kilometres
Tuff Gong International Recording Studio
Tuff Gong International Recording Studio offers a unique way to experience reggae in Kingston with a behind the scenes look at the record-making process from rehearsal to album. The studio’s edu-taining seventy-five minutes’ Making of the Music Tour pays tribute to Bob Marley and his sons who now operate the facility. Tuff Gong is one of the Caribbean’s largest recording studios and boasts one of the planet’s few remaining operational vinyl record manufacturing plants.
Estimated Drive Time: 15 minutes
Distance: 4.5 kilometres
No visit to Kingston is complete without a visit to Devon House, a Georgian-style mansion masterpiece built in 1881 which was the home of Jamaica’s first colored millionaire. Today, tours of the preserved mansion are available and its well-manicured grounds feature elegant shops, fine restaurants and confectionaries. Its most famous store is the Devon House I-Scream parlor which serves up a delightful variety of traditional fare alongside exotic tropical ice-cream flavors such as coconut, mango, pineapple and sorrel.
Estimated Drive Time: 10 minutes
Distance: 3.5 kilometres
Discovering Jamaica at your own pace with a self-driven vehicle has never been easier. If you are planning to leave the beaches behind, check out the award-winning Island Car Rentals with offices at Jamaica’s two major international airports and one in New Kingston.
You can also book your preferred car hassle free on www.islandcarrentals.com. They have the largest, well-serviced fleet on the island, with 1,500 vehicles of all types and sizes. If you’d rather someone else do the driving, Island also has a range of services to satisfy individuals and groups in both the leisure and corporate markets, making Island Car more than just a car rental company.
(This post was contributed by Island Car Rental in collaboration with Blogilicious.)