On my recent visit to Jamaica, I got a chance to see a lot of great features of the island. However, I’m not new to the country, the culture, her people, and the lifestyle. My brother-in-law is Jamaican, one of my best friends from college is Jamaican, an ex-boyfriend is Jamaican, my sister got married in Jamaica, and I grew up in Brooklyn, which has a healthy Jamaican population. (It’s a top destination for yardies after they leave their country. I should know – my father is from Barbados.)
That being said, I want to be honest with you. Jamaica has never been on my top Caribbean destination lists but here they sit as winners of numerous awards from the 2011 World Travel Awards. And deservedly so, my recent press trip has raised my personal opinions about the country.
However, behind the glitz of the trip, there are some hard truths that I want families to know. Jamaica is a lively, energetic place but there is good and bad that goes with that. The good is that the dollar is strong there, so even if you’re on a budget, you can enjoy yourself and bring home a bottle of rum, and a souvenir or two. Islands like Aruba, Barbados, and The Cayman Islands present more of a spending challenge for the budget-minded traveling family. The other good about Jamaica is that you have your pick of the litter when it comes to places to stay, cuisine, and attractions.
The bad is that aside from the glamour of the island’s numerous attractions, if your eyes are open, you will see a lot of poverty. I’m not the biggest philanthropist but it was hard for me to fully enjoy a horseback ride through an impoverished mountain neighborhood short of a shanty town. Here, kids walked barefoot and many men appeared to be without jobs – this didn’t sit well with my mommy wanderlust.
Because of my past travels and my background, I’m fairly familiar with Kingston, Jamaica. And let me tell you, if you’re traveling there, this is not a place to trifle with. It reminds me a lot like Brooklyn, and like Brooklyn, you need to know where to go and where not to go. It can be rough and I’ve heard several people speak of being robbed while over there. Our group didn’t tour Kingston and I was thankful. Although it is rich with history, energy, and culture, it’s not a top destination I would suggest for traveling families, especially if they don’t someone who’s from there.
For me, travel blogging isn’t always about painting a pretty picture. I take pride in telling families not only where to go but where not to go. As long as I know the deal, I like to maintain that balance as much as I can. It’s good to know a destination’s roses as well as its’ thorns so that your family can be fully prepared in travel cultivation.
Disclosure: My press trip, which included airfare, meals, transportation and accommodations, was sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board. Of course, I received no compensation for this article. All opinions and thoughts are my own.