Jamaica is the Caribbean country that comes with its own soundtrack. Groove to its singular rhythm as you explore beyond the beaches and all-inclusives.
Even in a region as crammed with jewels as the Caribbean, Jamaica is a powerfully beautiful island. Jamaica begins with crystalline waters flowing over gardens of coral, lapping onto soft sandy beaches, then rises past red soil and lush banana groves into sheer mountains. Rushing waterfalls seem to erupt out of nowhere. Jamaican culture can be a daunting subject for foreigners to understand, but ultimately it’s a matter of appreciating this great green garden of a land and how its cyclical rhythms set the pace of so much island life.
While Jamaica's beaches are certainly alluring, this is a country to dive into, literally and figuratively. Beneath the waves there's great scuba diving and snorkeling, and you can float on the water too with lazy bamboo-raft trips (let someone else pole). The adventurous can go caving, or get their hiking boots on to explore the remote crags and forests of this crumpled landscape. You don't even need to be as fit as Usain Bolt to enjoy the hike through lush mountains to the top of Blue Mountain Peak.
With Bob Marley, Jamaica gifted us the first global superstar from the developing world. But he didn’t spring from nowhere – this tiny island has musical roots that reach back to the folk songs of West Africa and forward to the electronic beats of contemporary dancehall. Simply put, Jamaica is a musical powerhouse, a fact reflected not just in the bass of the omnipresent sound systems, but in the lyricism of the patois language and the gospel sounds from the island’s many churches. Music is life in Jamaica, and you’ll soon find yourself swaying along with it.
Like many aspects of Jamaican culture, the food is a creole, born somewhere between the Old and New Worlds. African spice rubs have evolved into delicious jerk, while yam, rice and plantain form the basis of rich stews, and fish abound in local waters. Throw in the astounding array of tropical fruits that seem to drip from the trees, washed down with a shot of rum, and you can see (and taste) how the Jamaican cultural story retains its original voice while adapting to the setting – and, of course, rhythms – of the Caribbean.