To say that Jamaica moves to its own beat would be a vast understatement. Filled with history, beautiful people, and a culture all its own, Kingston offers a taste of what Jamaica is really all about compared to the other, more tourist-y parts of the island. In truth, Kingston is not the place you want to travel with your more snotty friends who'd rather lock themselves in their rooms at luxury resort complexes; Kingston is a place to explore and experience with your more adventurous, culture-seeking buddies.
Above: Fried fish and festivals
What to Eat: Honestly, you can’t say you’ve been to Jamaica if you haven’t tried a beef pattie or had a festival. A hamburger x empanada hybrid, beef patties are flaky half-moon pastries filled with meat that will cost you about $85 Jamaican dollars ($1 USD) at Juicy Pattie, a local favorite. We picked some up on the way to the beach and they proved the perfect mid-afternoon snack. Festivals can be best described as deep-fried cornbread that comes with every meal, everywhere and are highly addictive. For dinner, venture to a local restaurant called Truck Stop (located in the heart of Kingston) for fried or steamed fish.
Above: Kelly Millions and designer LaQuan Smith during dinner poolside at the Wyndham Kingston
What to Drink: In Kingston, rum is king. Appletop Estate Jamaican Rum–strong, smooth and golden brown–is the choice of the locals and it seems to mix well with just about everything. Mango margaritas are also very popular as the fruit is plentiful in the region and is juicer than anything you'll find in the states. However, when in doubt, order a pina colada.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for a spot in the heart of Kingston, try the Courtleigh and hit the pool bar next door at the Wyndham Kingston for drinks during the day and after dinner. On Friday evenings, the Windhym pool also plays host to the best Karaoke competition we’ve ever seen – and you can enjoy the free show while dining on some of the island's best fish.
Above: International Men’s Collection shown at Devon House
Historical Sites to See: Host to the International Men's Collection shows during StyleWeek Jamaica, Devon House is not to be missed. Home to the first Jamaican millionaire in the 1800s, Devon House is now a historical site much akin to Hawai’i’s Iolani Palace, built in the classic colonial style and features sprawling, well-manicured gardens. Fort Charles, Port Royal, once called "the richest and wickedest city in the world", was a playground for pirates and buckaneers years ago before becoming the scene of the International Mecca of Style event, which hosted womenswear collections from around the world including LaQuan Smith and Mataano.
What to Buy: Skip all of the football jersey street vendors and make a larger investment from one of the many talented local designers who showed gorgeous collections during Jamaica Style Week. If you'd rather spend some time in one of Kingston's best little shops, Stanley & Empress is the place to hit. Filled with awesome, bright jewelry all by local artists and designers, Stanley & Empress offers a wide variety of styles for women including gauzy fasteners and neon lanyard hoop earrings.
Go to VisitJamaica.com for more information on Kingston and the rest of Jamaica and then be sure to see our photo diary of everything that went down during StyleWeek Jamaica 2011 here >
All photos by Rachel Scroggins for StyledOn.