Jamaica: A Local's Guide

BY Gina Hargitay

Jamaica: A Local's Guide
Photography by Evieanna Santiago

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You step out of the sliding double doors at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, the warm breeze gently kisses your face, you smell the ocean, the crowd in front of you is filled with smiling faces awaiting their loved ones. To the left you see a wooden stall painted in red, green, and gold selling coconuts; your first introduction to the abundance of fresh seasonal fruit you’ll soon feast on. To your right, a row of shops selling fresh fruit juice and Jamaican food. The best food is yet to come, but this is a soft and satisfying introduction. Welcome to Jamaica.


Arriving in Kingston will be a similar experience to arriving in Montego Bay, but only until you leave the airport and make your way into the town. Kingston is a big city. It is the hub for business, banking and the arts, with all the hustle and bustle (not to mention bumper to bumper traffic) one would expect of a capital city. Montego Bay is far more touristic. These two locations represent a small insight into the variety of terrain and experiences that Jamaica has to offer. Although Jamaica is best known as a beach holiday destination, there is so much more to it. Aptly named “The Land of Wood and Water'' by its original inhabitants, the Arawaks, Jamaica also offers rivers, waterfalls, mountains, rainforest and even swamps.


One thing that cannot go unnoticed is the vibration of the Jamaican people as a whole. Despite the poverty that affects the majority of the country, most people have smiles on their faces and a joke to tell. Jamaica is a place that, despite its dark history, fights for hope. Jamaicans are a people born of struggle, but they are also always hoping and pushing for a better life. You can hear it in the reggae music, you can see it in the way our athletes push themselves to be the best and you can experience it in the way we make light in the darkest moments. It’s truly a magical place.