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Exploring Jamaica

Much More than Reggae and Rum

Beaches, Bob Marley, Bond. What do these all have in common? Jamaica. The Caribbean country boasts a booming tourism economy that includes the famous reggae artist’s house/recording studio, Ian Fleming’s, the creator of James Bond, Goldeneye retreat which is now available for guests to stay in while soaking up the rays on the one-time pirate haunt. Port Royal was a safe haven for sea-faring scallywags during the “Golden Age of Piracy” in the late 17th early 18th centuries. The colonial government offered to look the other way, so long as the pirates acted as security against the Spanish. 

The days of thievery on the high seas are over, at least with peg legs and parrots included, but the sense of adventure is alive and well. There are various guided tours to be found, including the Appleton Estate Rum Distillery. Founded in 1749 the distillery has been producing the spicy spirit for almost 300 years. Also, they have the distinction of being the first distillery to appoint a woman to the position of Master Blender.

If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy adventure, Dunn River Falls & Park might be the place for you. It can be booked online at so you can plan your trip with some peace of mind. I didn’t choose this option and booked it when I arrived at my resort through the company Chukka. They offer various adventure tours like horseback riding by the ocean, touring the countryside on ATVs, ziplining, and much more. I chose the party cruise which I highly recommend. It takes you on a scenic tour of Jamaica’s north coast on the way to Dunn River Falls. Before you arrive at the waterfall you get to snorkel for a while in the ocean! It was my first time doing snorkeling of that sort and I loved it. But the real treat of the excursion was hiking up the waterfall. It’s not your average hike going up the side of the falls. You go hand in hand with your group through the water climbing up the slippery rocks. Fear not as the experienced tour guides lead you on a safe path and tell you where to step. The rushing water all around was exhilarating. At times the depths would reach my waist and I felt like an explorer of old trudging through the rainforest in search of El Dorado. It's recommended that you wear waterproof shoes with good traction and if you don’t have your own they are available for purchase. I didn’t choose to do the zipline but next time I will for sure. After the hike, you’re greeted back on the boat with a party! The rum and Red Stripe flow freely to the beat of reggae and other dance tunes and once you’ve had a chance to relax from the hike and drink to your fill the staff tend to your belly with a deliciously prepared classic; Jamaican jerk chicken. 

You’ve reserved your hotel and adventures but now you may be asking yourself, “do I need to know how to speak the language to enjoy myself?” Not necessarily as the locals speak English. However, if you’re more studious than most, or just want to impress your friends and family, we’ve got a few notes to get you started. The first one is easy, “ya man” which you can probably guess, but just in case it means “yes.” The word “Irie” (pronounced i-ree) on the other hand is not so straightforward as it means “good,” “ok,” or when I first encountered it during a dinner I was told it meant “it’s all good.” Another one that you might hear often is “wah gwaan?” which means“what’s going on?” and for a response, you can say “me good man.” It was quite a different experience listening to the language than just reading about it on the internet. But I recommend practicing with the locals as they will appreciate it. I traveled with someone who has been going to the “Rock” for over twenty years and everywhere we went someone would come over and start chatting with him. The locals love to chat and share information about their country and culture. Our shuttle driver was even kind enough to take us through a local drive thru for a “Jamaica Patty.” It’s a close cousin to the empanada but it’s made with puff pastry to give it that delicious flaky crust. I highly recommend trying one.    

Jamaica has much more to offer than what I experienced during my stay. It's safe to say I will be returning to see more of it. But for now, I say likkle more (see you later) to the Caribbean.