Jamaica’s a nation with the boogie in its bones — and as styles have evolved from mento, ska and rocksteady to reggae, dancehall and ragga, this small island has had a massive musical impact around the world. Born Jamaicans possess an innate understanding of what constitutes ‘good music’ and an appreciation of a wide variety of genres, from calypso to country.
So if you’re planning a vibesy Jamaican vacay, here are seven super travel tips for music fans.
Jamaican capital Kingston is the heart of its music scene, so it makes sense to base yourself here for the duration of your vacay. There are lots of secure options around town, but if you stay at the luxe Terra Nova hotel, you’ll enjoy a laid-back elegance that’s hard to beat.
Listening to contemporary Jamaican artists prior to your departure will help you get a feel for what’s popular for islanders right now. And if you like authentic reggae, look no further than Jesse Royal’s new album Lily of Da Valley — download it on your phone and rock the rhythm all the way to the Caribbean.
If you don’t want to get wound-up by cramped crowds on the way to your departure airport, travel in your own ride with your music blasting blissfully from the stereo. Check out airport parking comparison site Looking4.com to book a secure space at hubs with fast flights to Jamaica such as Orlando International, then you’ll feel confident leaving your vehicle.
Pete Tosh museum
Pete Tosh was arguably the most militant member of The Wailers and, although he didn’t enjoy the stellar success of his friend Bob Marley, his influence on international reggae culture is enduring. When you touch down in Jamdown, visit the museum dedicated to the ‘Stepping Razor’ at the Pulse Centre on Trafalgar Road.
Tuff Gong tour
‘Tuff Gong’ is the moniker Bob Marley earned due to his uncompromising attitude as a youngster surviving in the tough streets of Kingston’s Trenchtown. If you want to learn more about mixing records in a real studio and pressing them in a plant, a tour of his Tuff Gong label premises on Marcus Garvey Drive is a must.
Alpha Boys School
Founded by Catholic nuns back in 1880, Kingston’s Alpha Boys School has played a crucial role in the nation’s musical heritage by churning out amazing artists like Cedric Brooks, Rico Rodriguez, Yellowman and The Skatalites. Find out when to visit the institute on alphaboysschool.org and see for yourself how it’s producing world-class musicians to this day.
The older Jamaican generation grew up on cowboy movies and country music, and this has had a subtle yet significant influence on Jamaican musicians ever since. And the affection was mutual for Johnny Cash, who spent many holidays in Jamaica. You can visit his former home Cinnamon Hill in Montego Bay if you spend some time in St James parish.
There ends our list of 7 Jamaican music highlights. Add your own tips in the comments section.