(Text by magicseaweed). Being the third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica stands out on the map, but it is relatively obscure in terms of Caribbean surf destinations. Despite its size, only the eastern tip receives a decent amount of windswell worth exploring, with options for both north and south coasts. See the photos below and check the links for the latest surf reports from Bull Bay, Boston Bay and Rozelle Beach.
As Jamaica’s capital city from 1534 to 1872, Spanish Town was the focal point of the island’s social, economic and political life. During this time, the town witnessed the evolution of modern Jamaica. It welcomed the Spanish when they fled Sevilla La Nueva and observed as they developed its land. It watched the English invasion and subsequent occupation of the island, and later, listened while the governor read the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves, in its “Plaza Mayora.”
To ensure you don’t miss any of these important sights, it’s best to have a local guide help you find your way through the town’s maze of streets and lanes.
Start: Spanish Town Methodist Church, White Church Street
Finish: Emancipation Square, at Rodney’s Memorial
Distance: Approximately 0.75km (0.5 miles)
In its prime, Spanish Town was a magnificent and impressive metropolis with stately red brick homes and grand monuments. Today, it is Jamaica’s third largest urban center with a population of approximately 87,000 people and, sadly, much of its grandeur has been lost to the ravages of time. Some shining examples of Georgian architecture still exist, however, as reminders of the town’s golden era.
1. THE METHODIST CHURCH
Opened in 1953, this small but beautiful chapel serves as the head of the Spanish Town Methodist Circuit, which was created in 1816 and consists of five churches.
Directions: Immediately facing the Methodist church, you’ll notice the massive western wall of the St Catherine District Prison.
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains to the north east of Kingston, Gordon Town offers a small town vibe 20 minutes outside the city. Perhaps best known in recent times as home to Miss Lou, the teacher, folklorist, activist, artist and actor. The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley O.M passed away in 2006 and is still remembered as one of Jamaica's "greatest treasures", according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. Gordon Town has another attraction. This one brings people of all ages up from Kingston or down the hill from Irish Town to bath in the Gordon Town Falls.
The city if Kingston actually includes 200 acres that make up the Royal Botanical Gardens, but locals call it Hope Gardens. The gardens were established in 1873 on a section of land from the estate of Major Richard Hope, one of the original English colonisers. Today the gardens are home to Jamaica's most popular collection of endemic and exotic botanical collections including the national tree, Blue Mahoe. The cassia tree grove by the main entrance was planted in 1907. Most of the plants and trees, particularly the mango and various spice species found here, originally came from a captured French ship on its way from Mauritius to Hispaniola in 1782. Find out what they look like today at the Hope Gardens in Kingston. Read more about Hope Gardens on Trip Advisor here.
Once home to pirates, Port Royal is home to close knit community that maintains its ocean traditions. Located at the tip of a 10-mile spit of land, everyone in Port Royal wants to be in Port Royal. Who wouldn't? A history overcoming earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and being labeled the "wickedest city in the west" as far back as the 17th century means there is something special about Port Royal. Where do you find it? Well one of the best places to look is in the water surrounding the town. It's a virtual archaeological goldmine filled with pieces of history. Above ground Port Royal is where local Kingstonians go for fish, a morning jog or a weekend bike ride. You haven't seen Kingston if you have not seen Port Royal! Check it out on > lonelyplanet <
Designed by John Pike, the Carib Theatre represents an unusual atmospheric style. The walls and ceiling of the auditorium were designed to create the illusion of being under the Caribbean sea, looking up at the surface. The auditorium was also egg-shaped, with the front end shirred off to create a circular stage area, which was fully equipped for live performances in support of the movies. When the Carib Theatre first opened in April, 1938, it was the largest building of any kind on the island of Jamaica.