Choose from 13 Fun Things to Do in Kingston
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The highest peak, the longest range, the best coffee—Jamaica’s Blue Mountains rightfully claim a handful of superlatives. The mountain range spans 28 miles (45 kilometers) across the rugged eastern portion of Jamaica and offers views of the island’s north and south coasts, and on a clear day, even all the way across the Caribbean Sea to Cuba.
As with most mountain landscapes, the most obvious way to explore the Blue Mountains is on foot. Take a guided hike through the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site to learn about the mountains’ ecosystem as well as their role in the Maroon Wars. Ambitious hikers will find reward on the 7-mile (11.3-kilometer) trail to Blue Mountain Peak—the highest point in all of Jamaica—while those wanting to skip straight to the view can drive up the mountain in just under an hour. Mountain biking tours take you past gushing waterfalls and over stone bridges, while coffee tours introduce you to the finest coffee in Jamaica from bean to cup.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Blue Mountains are one of the most popular natural attractions in Jamaica and a must-see for nature lovers.
- Temperatures are noticeably cooler in the mountains than at sea level; dress in layers.
- Although it’s possible to hike solo, it is recommended that travelers join a group for safety.
How to Get There
Thanks to Jamaica’s manageable size, you can easily get to the Blue Mountains from just about any part of the island. Guided tours leave from Ocho Rios, Kingston, Montego Bay, and more. If you have your own transportation, you’ll find it is an easy drive. You can also book a taxi or shuttle from Kingston.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the Blue Mountains is outside of the island’s two rainy seasons: around May, and October through November. Dry days promise not only a more pleasant outdoor experience, but also warmer weather and clearer views.
Blue Mountain Coffee
Jamaica’s famous gourmet Blue Mountain Coffee—considered among the best in the world—is now cultivated on the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains, which were once completely forested. The 194,000-acre (78,509-hectare) Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park preserves the remaining forested areas.
From $ 109
Take a break from the hustle of Kingston with a visit to Emancipation Park, a seven-acre swath of green space in the New Kingston area of the Jamaican capital. It’s a popular spot for local to have lunch or walk the track around the park’s perimeter. Within the park you’ll find fountains and gardens of native and imported plants. Art pieces also dot the scenery, including the “Redemption Song” statue at the park entrance, honoring native son Bob Marley, and there are also African Adinkra symbols incorporated in the scenery, like the Futumfrafo, a two-headed crocodile, on the sides of the benches, and the Wafa Aba, seed of the Wafa Tree, decorating the top of the perimeter fence.
Emancipation Park is located in the New Kingston area of the city, near many of the tourist hotels. It sits at the corner of Oxford Rd. and Knutsford Blvd., just across the street from the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Address: Corner of Oxford Rd. and Knutsford Blvd., Kingston, Jamaica
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays through Sundays 5 a.m. to midnight.
From $ 65
Largely regarded as one of Jamaica’s best rum distilleries, Appleton Estate has been producing the liquor since 1749, making it the country’s oldest sugar cane estate and distillery. With its sprawling sugar cane plantations and modern facilities, the estate covers a vast 11,000-acre plot in the fertile Nassau Valley, hemmed in by the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Black River. Today, the historic estate produces about 10 million liters of rum per year, including a variety of gold, white and aged rums.
The Appleton Estate is open to the public, and touring the distillery makes for a popular day trip from Negril or Montego Bay. As well as tasting an array of different rums, visitors can gain insight into the traditional distillation methods using 200-year-old copper pot stills, try their hand at time-honored methods of cane-juicing and sugar boiling, visit the barrel houses where the rum is aged and sample fresh sugar cane juice, while learning all about how rum is produced.
The Appleton Estate rum distillery is located in the Nassau Valley, on Jamaica’s South Coast. It is open to the public by guided tour only.
Address: Appleton Estate, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From $ 50
Jamaica’s capital city is best known as the epicenter of reggae music, thanks to native son Bob Marley, but modern-day Kingston has the power to impress from most any angle or metric. Overlooking the world’s seventh largest natural harbor from the foot of the jungle-covered Blue Mountains, Kingston is a city divided along economic lines, with the older and more rough-and-tumble parts found downtown, and the more affluent side of the city—including most hotels and high-end restaurants—found uptown in the area also known as New Kingston. Sights to see uptown include the Bob Marley Museum, which was the legendary musician’s home and recording studio, still preserved including bullet holes from an assassination attempt, and the Devon House, built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire. Venture to the waterfront downtown to see Jamaica’s artistic heritage at the National Gallery and head to St. William Grant Park, known locally as Parade, to see the historical buildings and brave the bustling street markets.
To reach Kingston from off-island, you’ll most likely fly in at Norman Manley International Airport, which sits just across the harbor on Palisadoes Peninsula, about 30 minutes from the city.
Address: Kingston, Jamaica
From $ 165
Originally built as Fort Cromwell in the mid-1650s, Fort Charles was one of the few structures that survived the 1692 earthquake that sent much of Port Royal into the sea. Reconstructed after the earthquake, it continued to be used as a British fort and a headquarters for the British Navy. Even Admiral Horatio Nelson did time as a lieutenant here during 1779. Today it houses the Fort Charles Maritime Museum, which includes a reproduction of Nelson's quarters, among other artifacts and exhibits. On the grounds is a former artillery storehouse now called the Giddy House because it was twisted sideways by another earthquake in 1907.
Fort Charles in the main historical attraction in Port Royal, which sits at the end of a long, narrow peninsula stretching around Kingston Harbour, just west of the airport. To get there, take Norman Manley Hwy to the end of the peninsula.
Address: End of Norman Manley Hwy., Port Royal, Jamaica
Hours: Open daily 9am-4:45pm
From $ 62
In the late 1600s, Jamaica’s Port Royal was second only to Boston as the largest European city in the New World, but it also had a reputation as the “most wicked and sinful city in the world,” a hot bed of pirates, rum and brothels. The settlement is at the end of a spit of land wrapping around Kingston Harbour, and in 1692, a devastating earthquake sent much of the town into the sea, where it still lies underwater. Today, visitors can take walking tours of spots built in the same locating, including Fort Charles and the Giddy House, which rests at an odd angle from another earthquake in 1907.
Port Royal is at the end of a long, narrow peninsula that stretches around the outside of Kingston Harbour, just west of the airport. To get there, take Norman Manley Hwy to the end of the peninsula. Walking tours are available of Port Royal’s historic sites.
Address: Kingston, Jamaica
Hours: Open Mon-Thurs 5am-11pm; Fri-Sun 5am-midnight
From $ 62
The Trench Town neighborhood of Kingston is most famous as the origin of reggae legend Bob Marley, who grew up here as a kid, and continued living here as a singer and songwriter. But the low-income neighborhood is also the birthplace of reggae writ large, with many other artists originating here as well. Most visitors to Trench Town will want to visit the Trench Town Culture Yard, a public housing block called a government yard where Marley lived, wrote songs and former the Wailers.
Trench Town Culture Yard was designated national heritage site in 2007. On display here are Bob Marley’s bedroom, complete with his bed, first guitar and the remains of his Volkswagen van. A museum has exhibits about the history of Trench Town.
Address: Corner of Spanish Town Rd. and Collie Smith Dr., Kingston, Jamaica
From $ 70
In the capital of Kingston, the 19th-century Devon House mansion is not only unique on the island, but also throughout the Caribbean, as it was the home of George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, offering a rare glimpse of West Indian high society. When you visit the Georgian-style home, you can explore rooms furnished with 19th-century Jamaican and Caribbean antiques, along with original features like the English chandelier bought by Stiebel that still hangs in the ballroom. Today, the house sits on 11 acres of gardens within the city, and the surrounding buildings, including the stables and the kitchen, have been repurposed into shops, art boutiques and cafés. Don’t forget to stop in the courtyard, where you can find a sweet treat at the original location of the now-popular island chain Devon House I Scream.
The Devon House sits on Hope Road in the Uptown area of Kingston, about a half-mile west of the Bob Marley Museum. The house is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission costs $7 and includes a guided tour. It’s free to explore the grounds and shops.
Address: Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica
From $ 49
Jamaica’s National Gallery is the biggest and oldest public art museum in the British Caribbean. Opened in 1974, the gallery features an impressive collection of Jamaican art. Visitors explore the works chronologically, starting with exceptionally rare woodcarvings from the Taino people who lived in the Caribbean before Columbus, moving through the colonial eras into the modern day. There’s an entire exhibit devoted to the works of sculptor Edna Manley, considered the mother of modern Jamaican art. Temporary exhibits showcase contemporary artists.
The National Gallery is located right near the waterfront just steps from Port Royal St. Visitors can explore the gallery on their own for just a few dollars, while those interested in a more in-depth experience can hire a guide for about $16 and take a 45-minute tour.
Address: 12 Ocean Blvd, Kingston, Jamaica
Hours: Open Mon-Thurs, 5am-11pm; Fri-Sun 5am-midnight
Admission: Adults: $3; Children: Free
From $ 65
Take a step back into the wilds of Jamaica with a drive through the incredibly lush and tropical Fern Gully. A towering tunnel of ferns and tropical overgrowth, this rainforest is so full and green that it has become one of the most noteworthy attractions in all of Jamaica.
See water falling over canyons, beautiful gorges, tropical birds of paradise and more than 300 varieties of fern. Along the way visitors can stop to haggle with roadside vendors for wooden arts and crafts, or, if they’re lucky, they’ll spot Fern Man, who wears a robe of pure fern. With so much green vegetation, this shady forest canopy is a great spot for a quick drive or a leisurely walk.
This three-mile-long stretch of road runs south from Ocho Rios to Colgate.
Address: Fern Gully, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
From $ 40
Kingston’s largest green space is National Heroes Park, a 50-acre former horse track that now features monuments to important figures from Jamaican history. Among them are monuments and tombs to people like Marcus Garvey, Normal Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante, among many others. There’s also a war memorial to Jamaicans who died in WWI, which was relocated here from an earlier locations, and it’s the site of memorial gatherings on Remembrance Day.
National Heroes Park is in the Allman Town neighborhood of Kingston just a mile east of Trench Town. Visitors can walk the park ground and take moments of reflection at the monuments to Jamaica’s national leaders, and to those citizens who sacrificed for their country.
Address: National Heroes Circle, Kingston, Jamaica
Hours: Open daily
From $ 70
The Club Kingston Airport Lounge at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport gives passengers access to numerous lounge facilities on arrival and departure. This uniquely Jamaican first-class lounge experience allows you to escape the stress of security lines and busy gates to a place where you can relax or work undisturbed.
You can book a Club Kingston Lounge and concierge service as an arrival or departure service—or both. Upon arrival, you can take advantage of fast-track access through security, customs and immigration, and enjoy the convenience of being greeted by a Club Kingston representative holding a personalized sign.
If you’ve got time to kill before departing Kingston, the lounge gives you access to unlimited fresh fruit, bar snacks and drinks, plus complimentary WiFi, use of Samsung Galaxy tablets, shower facilities and duty-free shopping, all while immersed in typical Jamaican hospitality.
Insider’s Tip: The Club Kingston Lounge has a relaxed dress code, but asks that guests refrain from wearing baseball caps, football shirts and other sportswear, or clothing with offensive slogans.
To reach the Club Kingston Airport Lounge, head upstairs to the main departure lounge after passing through security. Pass the food court and take the elevator or escalator down to the mezzanine level. There will be signs to the lounge from here.
Address: Norman Manley International Airport, Jamaica
Hours: 4am–9pm daily
Admission: From $25
From $ 25
Jamaica’s most famous son is Reggae musician Bob Marley, who came from the island’s capital of Kingston. And in the uptown part of the city, the Bob Marley Museum, which occupies the singer’s former home and recording studio, in the most popular tourist attraction on the island. Marley lived and recorded music in the colonial-era home from 1975 until he was killed in 1981, and the home-turned-museum remains much as he left it, including bullet holes in the wall from an assassination attempt. A visit to the museum includes an hour-long tour of the home, during which you can see Marley’s gold and platinum records hanging on the walls, articles of his clothing, and his favorite guitar still resting beside his bed. Behind the home is his recording studio where you can see photos of the legend and watch a short film. The on-site One Love Café serves some of Marley’s favorite food and drink, and you can pick up souvenirs in the gift shop.
The Bob Marley Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $20 for adults, $10 for children.
Address: 56 Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica
Admission: Adults: $20; Children: $10
From $ 31