The municipality of Kingston & St. Andrew is the second smallest parish in Jamaica and its political, cultural and business capital.
Located in the south-eastern corner of the island, Kingston is surrounded by the Blue Mountain, Red Hills and Long Mountain. It faces Kingston Harbour, the seventh largest natural harbour in the world.
While most visitors to Jamaica head to the beaches of the north coast, there are several attractions in the capital that make it well worth a visit. Here are some of my favorites:
- National Gallery – Located in the Kingston Mall, the National Gallery houses works by Jamaica’s premier artists. Tues-Thurs, 10-4:30 pm, Sat 10-4pm, Sun 10-3pm. 12 Ocean Blvd, Kingston. 876-922-1561 Admission: J$400/Guided Tours J$3,000.
- Hope Botanical Gardens – At 200 acres, Hope Botanical Gardens is the largest green space in Kingston and home to the most popular collection of endemic and exotic botanical collections. The gardens were established in 1873. Open 876-970-3505
- Rockfort Mineral Bath – Sitting at the foot of the imposing Long Mountain in East Kingston, Rockfort Mineral Bath has been refreshing Jamaicans and visitors since its discovery in the aftermath of the Great Earthquake of 1907. The waters of the bath flow from cold-water springs in the surrounding mountain range. Many patrons credit healing and good health to the radioactivity and saline content of the water. Bathing is limited to 45-minute sessions. Open 7-5 pm daily. J$350 adults/J$250 for children and seniors
- Port Royal – Headquarters of buccaneers, pirates who were working on behalf of the British to attack Spanish ships. Port Royal is now being readied for UNESCO Heritage status.
- Holy Trinity – More than 3,000 square feet of murals and frescos, Holy Trinity is the most beautiful church in Jamaica, probably in the Caribbean. Holy Trinity is the venue for most official services and funerals. 1 George Headley Drive at North Street. 876-922-3335. Mass 8:30 a.m. Sundays.
- Bob Marley Museum – Housed in the former home of the international reggae icon, the Bob Marley Museum holds an extensive display of his awards, memorabilia and includes a working recording studio. 56 Hope Road, Kingston. Open 9:30-4:00 pm, $20 visitors 927-5152
- Kings House – The home of the governor-general, the Queen’s representative in Jamaica, King’s House is also the home of visiting royalties and heads of state.
- Devon House – Built in 1881 for George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, Devon House now a venue which promotes Jamaican art and culture and the home of the famous Devon House “I-Scream.”
Kingston is within easy access of most of the popular tourist destinations. The desk clerk at your hotel can arrange transportation. If you feel adventurous, check out the Knutsford Express, which travels to the capital from Negril and Montego Bay, or the South Coast Express which plies the south coast route between Negril and Kingston. Both operate daily. Kingston is also serviced by the Norman Manley International Airport.