Located south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola, an island harboring the nation-states Haiti and Dominican Republic, Jamaica is known for its majestic natural wonders, particularly its mountains and beaches.
Through the centuries, Jamaican arts and crafts, music, folklore, dance, and religion have become a distinctive mix of varying heritage and traditions from the Taino, African, British, Spanish, Chinese, Indian and some middle eastern cultures.
Aside from shopping around and enjoying tourist attractions, tourists can also expose themselves to the rich Jamaican culture through craft-making projects and performance art exhibitions that are frequently hold in various parts of the country.
Jamaica is a tropical country. It has a hot and humid weather especially in the coastal areas. The higher inland regions have more temperate climate. Jamaica lies in the hurricane belt of the Atlantic Ocean, causing monsoons and typhoons at certain times.
Places to Visit
Jamaica’s major towns and cities are located along coastlines. While there are many tourist attractions across the country, most travelers visit the country’s capital Kingston, Portmore, Mandeville, Spanish Town, Port Antonio, Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay.
The Kingston Harbour is known as one of the largest natural harbours in the world. It hosts large ships, most of which can get very close to the shore with its dock-friendly depth. It is also home to Jamaica’s largest port, the Kingston Container Terminal. The harbour is also near the Norman Manley International Airport, the country’s second largest airport. The Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios is a picturesque waterfalls attracting thousands of visitors every year. Many tourists climb up the falls while also enjoying the view of the lush, green vegetation around the area. People can hike this falls with relative ease. Other famous attractions in Jamaica include Doctor’s Cave Beach Club in Montego Bay and the Blue Lagoon in Portland.
Souvenirs to Buy
Favorite souvenirs that travelers buy in Jamaica can be seen in craft markets around many Jamaican tourist destinations. The more popular ones include those in Kingston and Port Antonio. Art galleries and street shops usually offer craft items made by local artists.
The Rasta bracelet originating from the religious ideology of the Rastafari movement is a popular souvenir to buy in Jamaica. It’s distinctive for its Rasta colors: red for the blood of the martyrs who struggled towards liberation; yellow or gold for the wealth of the Jamaicans’ homeland; and green for the lush vegetation of Jamaica. Black is often included to represent the color of the Africans. Bead makers and artists visiting Jamaica can also buy many kinds of shells and beads to adorn their handmade jewelry projects. Jamaican bandanas, embroidered linens, batik clothing, masks, wood carvings, and pottery bowls are also popular buys for many tourists.
Things to Watch
In popular arts, culture, and music, most tourists are generally familiar with Jamaica’s Rasta movement, reggae music, and the music icon Bob Marley. Yet, there are more to discover about the Jamaican art scene other than these world-renowned Jamaican contributions to pop culture. Exposure to local artists’ performances provides foreigners a true taste of genuine Jamaican performance art and culture. There are also many cultural activities in the country happening the whole year round.
While music is the most highly developed performance art in Jamaica, exhibitions involving traditional performances such as the native impromptu plays and the African Caribbean oratorical performances are things to see in Jamaica as well. These art forms are deeply rooted in festivals and religious and healing rituals.
Jamaican performance art usually involves oratorical traditions more popularly called “speechifying” or “sweet talking.” These involve the use of social commentaries and other African-derived cultural expressions.
“Art in Jamaica,” My Island Jamaica.
“Jamaican Arts and Crafts,” Hands On Crafts for Kids.
“Rastafari,” Religion Facts.
“Handmade Art,” Jamaica Guide.
“Jamaican Culture,” My Island Jamaica.