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Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Chicago, Illinois
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Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

So I will be traveling to Kingston in April getting in on a Friday and leaving on Thursday. I have some questions that I hope can be answered on this post.

While suggesting, please keep in mind that I would prefer less touristy spots and am traveling alone.

1 - Good hotels? Looking for fairly priced ($100-$150/night), beach proximity preferred.

2 - Beaches/spots to visit in and around Kingston? Less than 2 hr commute.

3 - Bars/clubs in Kingston? less touristy preferred.

4 - Restaurants to definitely check out?

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks.

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1. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Kingston is not a beach resort. It is a center for government, industry, shipping, banking, etc. For a hotel with beach proximity you will need to go to almost any other part of Jamaica. Some hotels in Kingston to consider include: The Spanish Court, Terra Nova, and The Courtleigh Hotel. None of these hotels is what I would describe as a resort hotel but are rather more business class hotels.

For a beach try Fort Clarence Beach which is about 3 miles south of Portmore (about 10 mi. SW of central Kingston), or Lime Cay which is a small island just south of Port Royal (reachable by small boat from Port Royal).

"I would prefer less touristy spots"

This is not a problem. While Jamaica is an important tourist island, very few tourists visit Kingston.

Kingston, Jamaica
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2. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

1) You could also look at Morgan's Harbour in Port Royal, though I've never been inside. I don't think it's possible to do better than that with proximity to the beach while in Kingston. The hotels mentioned by thevinnie are all excellent. The food at the Terra Nova is also well-loved by Kingstonians.

2) Any beach is at least 40mins from the city centre, where the major (and best) hotels are. Hellshire is the classic city beach and a great place to get fish and beer. Don't expect there to be other tourists though, and Jamaican beach culture is not quite the same as American beach culture.

3) You should check out Market Place, where Usain Bolt's Bar/Restaurant is,as well as a top club in Kingston, Fiction and several other solid restaurants. The Quad is another club worth mentioning.

4) Gloria's in Port Royal is probably the best seafood in Kingston, but So-So seafood in New Kingston gives it a run for it's money. There's good Indian food around, with my favourites being Tandoor in New Kingston and Moby Dick Down Town, though Moby Dick is more an Indian-Jamaican curry joint. The only good jerk place that I'd feel comfortable directing a tourist to is Scotchie's in New Kingston... my favourite is Andy's, but that's in a somewhat volatile area.

There are few places in Kingston that are touristy at all, so avoiding touristy areas is not an issue. Even if you go to the top 'tourist attractions' in Kingston, odds are that the majority of the people there will be local.

Kingston, Jamaica
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3. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Also, if you can buy the Gleaner newspaper on Friday, they will have a good Entertainment section for the coming week, with listings of concerts, dances, plays, parties, etc.

Central Ohio
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4. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

We had good jerk at Jo Jo's, also New Kingston/Liguanea area.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Thanks for the info.

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Thanks guys for your inputs. Another thing I've heard around is that its not safe to be in Kingston, basically its unsafe to be anywhere in Jamaica except the touristy areas. How true is that? I am not a paranoid person, have traveled all over but would like to be able to respond to the folks who say stuff like this.

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7. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

All I can say is that I have traveled extensively around Jamaica for 30 or so years, sometimes alone and sometimes not, and have not had any issues. Many people I know will say the same.

Crime does happen though. Sometimes it can be avoided by being smart and not flashing expensive electronics or jewelry or cash wads, and not getting so drunk/high that you make bad decisions about people you go off with (sex, drugs, etc).

Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But overall I feel JA is quite safe and yes, even Kingston, though there are areas of that city that I have not visited because I have been told it's not a good idea.

Kingston, Jamaica
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8. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

I haven't eaten at Jo-Jo's, but I drive by it all the time and even went in once to meet someone but had already eaten. They have a farmer's market there too, right?

Kingston has a high crime rate, about the same as New Orleans or Baltimore. That said, most crime is confined to specific areas and is very unlikely to affect a tourist (or a normal middle-class citizen like myself). Take the same precautions you would take in Chicago and you'll be fine. There is a lot of fearmongering about Kingston, so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

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9. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

Yeah it's a market, they do catering, and there is an outdoor restaurant - very casual - out back.

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10. Re: Visiting Kingston, Jamaica for the first time. Advice?

I've been to a lot of places in Kingston - safe and not so safe - and have never had any problems. I would say that the "touristy areas" of Jamaica are no safer than other parts of Jamaica - I've always found Kingston to be safer and more welcoming than Montego Bay, for example. Just take the usual precautions that you would in any big city.