Featured Contributor: The Globetrotter GP
Today Kristi tells us all about Jamaica where she lives for about 6 months a year. Kristi keeps a blog www.jamaicamyway.com which documents her life in Jamaica and provides destination guides as well as reviews of accommodation, restaurants and tours. I love how she describes her relationship with the island as ‘Jamaica has conquered me.’ She is clearly passionate about the place and loves being able to call it home!
So where do you live?
As a Canadian I live half my year in Calgary, Canada and spend the colder half of the year in my tiny apartment in Jamaica.
Tell us about yourself?
I met Jamaica in 2003 when I won a trip there and it was love at first sight. I began blogging about it in 2009 and made my first move attempt to the island in 2011. Since then I’ve become a permanent part timer on the island. I’d love to be a full-time resident but to be honest I would miss my family too much to stay away permanently. In Canada I work in the hospitality industry which is very seasonal and allows me to do whatever I want in the winter time. In Jamaica I blog, write for travel magazines and websites and run a small business in the hospitality industry there. I make and sell gift boxes to hotels for them to give to their arriving guests. My hobbies are writing, yoga and exploration. I never, ever get tired of going on adventures and blogging about them.
What is your favourite thing about Jamaica?
My favourite things about Jamaica have changed drastically over the years. Jamaica is a top vacation destination and I used to love the hype party vibe of the island, but now I’m all about the peaceful country life. Outside of the typical touristy towns in Jamaica are endless and stunningly beautiful hills, valleys, mountains, and untouched seaside that most people never experience on vacation here. The reason is because many don’t ever get out of their resorts or their tourist towns enough to appreciate what Jamaica truly has to offer. Aside from that it’s much too difficult to pinpoint what I love about the island because it’s just an entirely different feel for life. The people are lively, there’s always music in the air, noise in the streets, dogs barking, cows blocking your drive in the countryside, and so much more. Having lived a life of corporate rat race in Canada it was easy to give that all up for the beautiful chaos of island life.
What is your favourite thing to do in Jamaica with a day off?
Drive. I will literally get in the car and hit the road with no destination or agenda in mind, and drive for hours. I love to stop at little roadside cook shops or bars, grab a bite and a drink and just start conversations with locals. Jamaica is a big island and there’s plenty to still discover even after 14 years of discovering it. There are so many hidden treasures on this island that it’s impossible to get bored. If you do get bored it’s only because you don’t know how to appreciate natural beauty.
What in your opinion is the one thing you can’t miss when you visit Jamaica?
Oh God, that’s impossible to answer. It depends on what kind of visitor you are. Some will say you can’t miss out on the onslaught of year-round music festivals here and others will say you absolutely can’t miss out on the waterfalls hidden inside the tropical forest. For me, personally, I would tell someone they absolutely cannot miss out on visiting the untouched south coastwhere you can literally walk for miles and hours on deserted beaches without seeing another human being. I wholeheartedly believe that no one has seen Jamaica until they leave their hotel and get lost. If you Google things to do in Jamaica all the tour guide websites come up with the same things: Dunns River Falls, Ricks Cafe, swimming with dolphins, etc. I would rather feed hummingbirds up on a hilltop or hire a private fishing boat to take me out and find wild dolphins to play with in the sea.
Any top tips where to go/ what to do on a rainy day?
On a rainy day there is lots to experience in Jamaica. Kingston and Montego Bay are home to plenty of museums, galleries, casinos and shopping if that’s what you’re into. Montego Bay is also home to JamZone entertainment center which offers Jamaica’s only bowling alley and family fun center. Another very cool thing to do is tour any one of MANY plantation great houses. Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay has the fascinating (and scary) history of Annie Palmer, the white witch, and they offer daytime and nighttime indoor tours.
Where is your go-to restaurant?
I always highly recommend eating at the little local cook shops rather than in restaurants. The cook shops have amazing authentic Jamaican food varieties, bursting with island flavors for unrealistically low prices. If you’re not into sampling local food there’s no shortage of other options and I would recommend East Indian. Jamaica has a high population of East Indian natives on the island and their authentic cuisine is nothing short of “to die for” in Jamaica.
And where do you suggest going for a drink in the evening?
There is no shortage of watering holes in Jamaica, no matter which town you’re staying in. I recommend the small local bars because one thing that most tourists don’t know is that in Jamaica, you can order your drinks by the flask rather than by the glass. It’s dirt cheap and convenient to drink this way. If you visit ANY local bar, ask for a flask they’ll give you a flask of liquor, a bottle of mix and a cup with ice. Then you can sit and mix your own beverages all night. If you’re a beer drinker you should try a Red Stripe because it’s brewed in Jamaica. If you’re a spirit drinker try any one of several rums that are distilled in Jamaica: Appleton, Wray & Nephew, Rum Fire, and Rum Bar are all rum varieties distilled right here on the island.
Is there one thing not many people know about Jamaica?
There are a few cool celebrity facts about Jamaica. One of the most notable is the island’s association with James Bond. Ian Fleming, the creator and author of all the James Bond stories, has his name all over the north coast of the island. There’s the Golden Eye resort, a local air strip named Ian Fleming airport, James Bond beach in St Mary and you can even stay right in the Fleming Villa where James Bond was created.
Anything else you think we should know?
Yes, there is one more thing that I think everyone should know! No matter how you choose to experience Jamaica PLEASE don’t listen to all the negative hype about how dangerous the island is. Yes it statistically has a high crime rate but you are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to ever be in the areas where this crime rate comes from. Resorts will tell you not to leave the property because it’s dangerous to do so and this is all pure hype. I’ve been traveling the island solo for over 14 years and I’m still alive! Jamaicans are some of the friendliest, most open and sharing people I’ve met in my lifetime. Everything I’ve discovered in Jamaica is as a result of meeting and trusting the locals and letting them introduce me to their home. Definitely keep your eyes open because just like anywhere in the world, no one is immune to unfortunate incidents, but just don’t let anyone intimidate you into thinking it’s not safe to fully explore the island.
Follow Kristi and her adventures in Jamaica at www.jamaicamyway.com