Traveling to Jamaica is a truly wonderful experience, largely because of its long, rich, culture-filled history. So many different peoples have contributed to making this island nation what it is today, beginning with the Arawak and Taino indigenous peoples, as far back as 4000 BC. The following are a few pointers on how to make the most of your Jamaican vacation, taking in all the natural beauty and culture that you can.
What to Eat
The national dish of this island nation, called ackee and saltfish, is a must try. Ackee is a local fruit that has a taste like nothing you have had before and here it is paired with a mix of dried codfish, onions, and tomatoes. You really will not be able to find this meal anywhere else, so be sure to give it at least a taste. Another local treat, known as bammy, is a creation of the Arawak Indians. It is most similar to a pancake, yet with more of a cornbread taste and consistency, and makes for a very popular breakfast item. If you have a craving for meat, you should go for the jerk chicken or pork, which will be sold in stands lining the highways. Though it may be a bit drier than you expect, this is done purposefully (Jamaicans tend to like their food a bit more well done than we do), and it is very flavorful. If you are in for a real culinary adventure, skip the fancy tourist restaurants and seek out a specialty place to sample some ital dishes. Ital is food made for practicing Rastafarians, and are prepared without the use of meat, oil, or salt (but are still somehow delicious!).
What to Drink
If you have not yet heard of the sensation that Jamaican coffee is causing all around the world, then you are in for a treat! Jamaican coffee (and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, in particular) is one of the most desirable and difficult to import luxury items there is. When you are there, be sure that you try at least a cup. It is known for its incredibly mild and smooth flavor, thanks to beans cultivated in the cool, misty climate of the Blue Mountains. Chances are that when you return, you won’t be able to switch back to your usual brew! You should also be sure to check out the interesting local colas. You can cool down with one of these ice cold treats in exotic flavors like champagne, grapefruit, and pineapple.
What to Do
Definitely make it a priority to take a day trip up to the Blue Mountains (if you are able to tear yourself away from the beach). This is a less well known feature of the island’s natural beauty, and not something you want to miss. And, if you have already tried the coffee famous for growing on these peaks, you can enjoy a tour of one of the coffee estates and see where it all happens. Of course, don’t forget to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and all of the other must-do water activities on the beautiful beaches.