Location: Jamaica, The Caribbean
I have been wanting to post about my Jamaican adventure for so long now and finally it’s time – a lot later than I had wanted, but better late than never! The Caribbean is my all-time favourite holiday destination. Since our wedding in November 2016, we have made it a point to go on a little holiday to celebrate our anniversary. We had been to Tobago back in 2015 and to this day it remains our best holiday, so for our anniversary last year we thought what better place to visit than a new island in the Caribbean. My dream is to visit each and every Caribbean island in my lifetime, and there are a few reasons why. I thought to kick off my little series of Jamaican images, what better way than to list what every traveller should know about the Caribbean and why it’s such a special part of the world.
Caribbean locals are some of the friendliest and kindest people that I have had the pleasure of interacting with during my travels. So welcoming and so proud of their homeland – and of course they have plenty of reason to be! I first experienced this in Tobago back in 2015. We had booked a tour through Viator for a guide (named Wagan) to take us around the island, and we got on so well that we used him as our driver and tour guide for the rest of the trip. We went out for dinner one night and called for Wagan to pick us up once we were done. When we were in the car, we noticed that we were not driving back to our hotel, but to a part of the island where the locals lived. I’ll admit, we had read some horror stories about tourists being hurt or robbed and I thought right… this is the end of me. And so, as my husband and I sat there worrying what’s going to happen to us, Wagan slowly parked the car in front of a house with lots of people sitting around a table at his front porch. Before getting out of the car, he said ‘it’s my birthday today and my family are holding a small party, I thought you might like to join us’. I promise, I am not making any of this up – we were actually invited into his home, seated around the table with all his family and fed again (even though we had just come from dinner!). This is something that will really stay with me forever as I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable doing that with strangers from a completely different background. They shared their food, their drinks, their stories, and we ended up staying for hours. I want this little anecdote to really give a sense of the kind hearts of the people of the Caribbean. Of course there is crime and I’m definitely not saying trust everyone you meet, but if you visit the Caribbean, go with an open mind and an open heart and you will be welcomed with open arms.
The food. Needs writing twice. If you have never tried Caribbean food, then you are definitely missing out! Now I know I have only been to two Caribbean islands but it doesn’t matter – the food was amazing enough in both for me to assume that the average is high throughout the region. Fresh fish is naturally everywhere; even better when it is put on the BBQ and cooked outdoors by the sea. This was particularly great for me as you may know by now that I do not eat meat, so whenever I get the chance to eat fresh fish by the sea I’m in heaven. This also extends to dishes like curried crab… I cannot even put into words how good this is. Other staples include plantain, beans, cassava and of course – coconut. What I love is that Caribbean food is one big mix of so many different cultures and that’s really what makes the dishes so flavoursome. It’s a mix of Creole, African, Indian, Latin American, and that’s just to name a few, all brought to the region by different countries when they came to the Caribbean. Each island has then put its own spin on the flavours that have come from other parts of the world, making the cuisine truly unique.
I couldn’t not mention one of my favourite things to see when I go somewhere exotic. I wrote once on an instagram post how I used to write stories of people that lived in a cave behind a waterfall when I was about 12 or 13. I find them really magical and intriguing. You may not find waterfalls as tall as Niagara Falls, but what you will find some beautiful waterfalls hidden away in the woodlands. We found some beautiful ones in both Tobago (Argyll Falls) and Jamaica (Dunn River Falls), which were so much fun to visit. I will admit though, what really disappointed me at Dunn River Falls was the huge amount of carvings in the rocks, I’m guessing this was done by tourists. I just cannot see the logic in carving your name or birthday or whatever into these beautiful, natural sites. There are signs all over asking for tourists not to do so, so please respect the wishes of the locals.
Bit of a no brainer this one. You don’t need me or this blog post to tell you that the Caribbean has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. My absolute favourite, at least for now, is No Man’s Land in Tobago. An uninhabited island with white sand and crystal clear blue sea. We had an incredible fresh seafood BBQ and then jetskiied around the island. One of the best days of my life. I sat on the back of the jet ski and really thought to myself – this is living. But it’s not just the beautiful scenery that the ocean offers travellers to the Caribbean. One of the coolest things I have ever seen was at Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica. That time where I got to swim in a lagoon at night with fish that glow bright blue when disturbed. I’ll share more of this on a later post so will avoid giving away too much more, but watch this space for pictures of this incredible phenomenon. Alternatively, sign up to my weekly newsletter to know when my Jamaican blog posts go live – click here to subscribe.
Last but definitely not least, is the rich and unique history that comes with each of the islands. The region played a huge part in the colonial struggle between the key European countries. It’s a history of war, slavery, colonialism and finally independence. This is not the case for all islands though, a number still fall under certain European countries or the US. The history of the Caribbean, while fascinating, can be a cruel reminder of the hardships that some had to endure … all for the sake of greed in others. I think it’s important to know the heritage of the place you are visiting and how this impacts the present-day population. That makes the kindness and hospitality of the locals even more admirable to me, if that was at all possible.
Truly a destination that everyone can enjoy! What is your favourite Caribbean island? I’d love to know where I should think of visiting next!