Kingston is the capital of the island of Jamaica on the southeast coast, between the Blue Mountains and the world’s seventh-largest natural harbor. Kingston might overwhelm you with its noise and hustle, and is the island’s cultural and economic heart. A visit to Kingston is essential to taste the rich excitement of modern Jamaica.
Downtown, the waterfront National Gallery of Jamaica has early and contemporary Jamaican art. Coronation Market is known for its colorful food stalls. Farther north, National Heroes Park has memorials to many famous Jamaicans. In the middle of Kingston harbor, the half-submerged ruins of the legendary pirate city Port Royal include the 17th-century Fort Charles. Fishing boats link Port Royal to Lime Cay, an offshore islet with white-sand beaches and snorkeling. A Kingston Jamaica Vacation can provide fun for everyone! And for other great Jamaica beach destinations, visit our Jamaica Travel Guide.
Kingston Weather (When to Visit)
Kingston has a tropical climate with relatively low rainfall. The dry season is November – July. The rainiest months (August – October) are during the Caribbean hurricane season (June – November). The popular travel months are (March–May, July–August and December–January). Key events include Bob Marley Week (Feb), with reggae concerts and events. Bacchanal Jamaica (Mar/Apr, dates vary) is an Easter carnival with colorful parades and music. The Jamaican Coffee Festival (Oct) focuses on local Blue Mountain beans.
Best Kingston Area Beaches
Waves is a more lively venue that invites more participation between patrons but at the same time allows you to just chill on your own if that’s your choice. Offering free wifi to its patrons and a nice seafood menu, they are well known for their All You Can Eat Crab food events. With a cable TV they will also host sports nights, special events and parties. Waves is right next door to Boardwalk yet it has a different vibe to it, while still offering the signature thatched umbrellas and raw board sunbenches along with a beautiful beach for your swimming and tanning pleasure.
Particularly well-known as a venue for open-air concerts and festivals, Hellshire Beach can become moderately busy during the weekends. As an upside for travelers looking to avoid tourist traps, the beach is delightfully free of hotels, making it less of a haunt for the zinc-nosed Hawaiian shirt set. Swimming is best at its northern end, where the water is shallow and protected by a rocky barricade.
Fifteen minutes by boat from Port Royal is a small, low-lying island cay with one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. The largest of the many small cays off the coast of Port Royal, Lime Cay is uninhabitable by humans because it is occasionally submerged when the tide comes in. Lime Cay has been the source of many scams and hoaxes whereby the cay is “sold” to unsuspecting buyers as a potential location for a private resort. Don’t be fooled, Lime Cay is a part of Jamaica, and the beaches there are public and open to all who can get out there.
Fort Clarence Beach
Clean shores and waters are the main attraction at Fort Clarence. Although steeped in history, the fort itself was left to itself and is now in a state of disrepair. This spot is a popular venue for multiple forms of entertainment on the beach and mainly draws a local crowd on the weekends. Fort Clarence’s black sand beach is incredibly popular with the crowds of Jamaica because of all of the other activities available to guests of its shores.
Although Maiden Cay Beach isn’t located in one of the most secluded parts of Jamaica, it is still a great place to enjoy the sun, sand, surf, and laid back atmosphere that the island is known for.
Best Kingston Tours & Activities by Viator
Scenic Blue Mountain Hike from Kingston
Take a break from beaches to explore Jamaica’s high country on a hiking tour in the Blue Mountains. Depart the bustle and crowds of Kingston by 4×4 vehicle, and climb the island’s highest peak, trekking through a World Heritage landscape that’s home to many tropical bird species. In addition to spectacular views from the top, and you’ll also see where some of Jamaica’s best beans are grown on a Blue Mountain coffee farm tour and enjoy an authentic Jamaican breakfast or lunch, depending on when you hike. Learn more about the Scenic Blue Mountain Hike.
Blue Hole and Secret Falls Private Tour
Explore some of Jamaica’s natural wonders during this private tour of the Blue Hole and Secret Falls. With a dedicated guide, swim in the bright azure waters of the Blue Hole, or leap from the rocks high above the pool. Take an easy hike up to Secret Falls through the lush jungle, enjoying engaging commentary from your guide on the way. Round-trip transportation in an air-conditioned private vehicle from your hotel is included. Learn more about the Blue Hole & Secret Falls Private Tour.
Day Trip to Bob Marley’s Nine Mile from Montego Bay & Grand Palladium
Visit the birthplace and hometown of reggae legend Bob Marley during this day trip from Montego Bay. Explore the remote village of Nine Miles, located in St. Ann parish, to see where Bob Marley was born and spent his formative years. See Mt. Zion, where Bob frequently meditated and composed music. Learn about the Rastafarian religion that the musician practiced through informative, engaging commentary from your local guide. Learn more about the Day Trip to Bob Marley’s Nine Mile.
Black River and YS Falls Sightseeing Cruise from Montego Bay
Cruise down the Black River and swim in the YS Falls on this full-day tour from Montego Bay. With your local guide, explore the mangrove swamps during a trip down the longest river in Jamaica; keep your eyes open for native crocodiles in their natural habitat. Feast on a traditional Jamaican lunch, then take a rejuvenating dip in the YS Falls. This tour includes round-trip transportation from your Montego Bay hotel. Learn more about the Black River & YS Falls Sightseeing Cruise.
Jamaica Dunn’s River Falls Party Cruise with Snorkeling
Cruise to Dunn’s River Falls aboard a catamaran on this 3.5-hour excursion. Sail to a snorkeling location to swim among live coral reefs and schools of tropical fish. Dig in to a beach-side buffet of traditional Jamaican food accompanied by an open bar. At Dunn’s River Falls, climb the terraced falls to the top, accompanied by your local guides, for views of the surrounding countryside. Lunch, open bar, snorkel gear and round-trip hotel transportation are included. Learn more about the Dunn’s River Falls Party Cruise with Snorkeling.
Best Kingston Restaurants
Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records $11 – 30 Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records has delicious Jamaican food and music. Sample hearty dishes such as jerked sausage, chicken and shrimp kebab, served with a spicy Appleton sauce. For a fresh, lighter option, try the cobb salad that comes with jerked chicken, pepper jack cheese, guava ham, boiled egg, peanuts, seasonal fruits and a citrus vinaigrette. Telephone: 876-906-3903 Web: Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records
Boone Hall Oasis $11 – 30 Known for its ‘Sunday brunch by the river,’ the eatery serves up hot, delectable Jamaican food including succulent curried goat, soft sweet plantain, fresh salads and soups. Winner of the Jamaica Observer Food Award’s Best Sunday Spot and the Jamaica Pegasus Wedding Extravaganza’s Best Other Booth, this restaurant is a must-visit if you are traveling to the capital. Telephone: 876-942-3064 Web: Boone Hall Oasis
Hot Pot Under $10 A breakfast and brunch buffet restaurant that has served up hearty food for over 35 years. Sample the real Jamaican jerk chicken or pork, served with wholesome yam, rice and peas and soft banana. Or try the steamed fish tails served with turn cornmeal for a seafood alternative. With a relaxed atmosphere, this casual haunt is the perfect place to have a mid-morning or lunchtime dish. Telephone: 876-929-3906 Web: Hot Pot
So So Seafood Bar & Grill $11 – 30 So So Seafood Bar & Grill is a perfect choice if you are looking to sample authentic seafood. With clever seafood twists such as their fish burger with cheese, and other more traditional options including savory salt fish fritters. Relax at the bar and enjoy some cocktails including The Phoenix special and the Campari Grapefruit. With a live DJ every Friday and classic reggae sounds playing in the bar, this eatery is a must-visit. Telephone: 876-968-2397 Web: So So Seafood Bar & Grill
Sweetwood Jerk Point Under $10 They offer a traditional Caribbean barbecue grill, with a wide range menu of jerked meats, pork, chicken, sausage, fish or lamb cooked on an open barbecue, as well as side options such as sweet potato or yam, breadfruit or rice and peas. It’s a great place to sample authentic flavors, unpretentious and delicious eats. Sample the soups for a lighter alternative, they are delicious and must be tried. Telephone: 876-906-4854 Web: Sweetwood Jerk Point
Best Kingston Nightlife
Fiction Nightclub The hot spot is a popular venue for locals that want to party, mingle, and enjoy dance hall music on the weekends. The nightclub has a friendly staff and upscale ambiance that is sure to make you feel like a celebrity. The frequent parties, hostings, and special events held at Fiction bring about local and international celebrities. Telephone: 876-833-2502 Web: Fiction Nightclub
Mingles Mingles Pub, located in the Courtleigh Hotel, is a favorite among locals and the visitors that stay at the hotel. This upscale place offers a luxurious party experience. The pub has a range of theme nights, including Karaoke Fun on Thursday with a D.J. spinning records, a Friday night Escapade for those who want to relax and enjoy the music, and Saturday night is “Saturday Latin Mingle” with Latin dancing. Telephone: 876-926-7744 Web: Mingles
Triple Century Sports Bar The Sports Bar has several large 55-inch television sets, a lounge, and the main stage where karaoke nights and musical performances are held. Triple Century is a popular hang-out spot for locals, especially sports fans, and a frequent venue for intimate Dancehall shows. Telephone: 876-906-2333 Web: Triple Century Sports Bar
The Deck The Deck is popular among young professionals and college students. The sports bar and grill provides a haven for those who want to relax after a long day or party on the weekends. The Deck features an eatery, a sports bar located outside, and a lounge inside. This chill spot is known for its Dancehall nights on the weekends and live entertainment which sometimes brings in notable artists. Telephone: 876-978-1582 Web: The Deck
Escape 24/7 Bar & Grill With themed nights such as “TGIF” and “Karaoke Mondays,” it is not hard to understand why people flock to Escape 24/7 in Kingston. Escape is a place where clubbers come to release their stress, have a drink at the bar, and party. Telephone: 876-960-1856 Web: Escape 24/7 Bar & Grill