Ah, Jamaica. If you’re looking for ideal weather and picturesque beaches, you’ve come to the right place. After you’re done drying off from a quick dip or long soak in the crystal-clear, blue waters, you’ll find that there’s no shortage of opportunities to sample some of Jamaica’s notoriously-delicious local food and drinks.
Here’s a list of our favorite Jamaican eats that will have you feeling “irie!”
Rum-Soaked Days & Nights
Sugarcane is one of Jamaica’s most important crops, and its most potent by-product – rum – is among the country’s biggest exports. And with good reason, too! Jamaica produces some of the finest rums in the Caribbean. Bars and restaurants throughout the island offer local rums in an assortment of classic and custom cocktails, reserving the top shelf stuff to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
For a chance to improve your rum proficiency to pirate level, head to premium distillery Appleton Estate, where tours are conducted Monday to Saturday. Here, guests are guided through the process of distillation and granted an up-close look at Appleton’s famed copper pot stills and the estate’s aging house stacked high with barrels, while also learning about the history of rum in the Caribbean and how Appleton became such an in-demand brand. Of course, a visit to the distillery also yields an excellent opportunity to enjoy a taste of Jamaica’s finest spirit at the source of its creation.
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Juicy Jerk Ecstasy
Leaving Jamaica without tucking into a plate of properly-smoked local BBQ will have you feeling like a jerk! So, be sure to include some jerk chicken or pork during your stay. Seasoned with a blend that usually includes allspice, scotch bonnets, and thyme, and cooked over a wood fire at a low temperature for a long time to ensure maximum tenderness and flavor, Jamaican “jerk” meat is both succulent and satisfying. You’re sure to savor a flavor explosion in every bite! Should you find yourself hungry in Montego Bay once you’ve hopped off your flights to Jamaica, start your trip off right with local favorite Scotchies for a bite of some of the best-rated jerk chicken the Caribbean has to offer.
Beautiful (and Rare) Blue Mountain Coffee
Another top Jamaican export – one which is quite exclusive – is coffee grown in the Blue Mountains. To see (and taste) what the fuss is all about, consider organizing a tour of a coffee farm while you’re in Jamaica. The first coffee estate in the Caribbean to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification, the UCC Blue Mountain Coffee Craighton Estate invites visitors to tour its grounds (no pun intended!). In addition to seeing how coffee is grown, tours at this historic property take guests through a lush wooden route with stunning vistas of the island.
Blue Mountain beans are as rare as they are delicate and well-balanced, lacking bitterness but creating a smooth flavor. Most of the beans are sold to Japan, which makes them both difficult and expensive to purchase. They could cost up to 20 times more than beans of lesser quality.
Flavorful Fish and Festival
One must-try meal to experience in Jamaica is a fish and festival feast on the beach. This double “F” combo of yum consists of fish (usually fresh-caught snapper prepared Jamaican style with fiery scotch bonnet chilies – spicy and oh so moist!) accompanied by festival – irresistible fried cornmeal fritters that are perfect for sopping up all the juices on your plate as well as any additional hot sauce you might have added. With a chilled cocktail or maybe an ice-cold Red Stripe beer, a help-yourself buffet of fish and festival is one of the most flavorful ways to enjoy the best of Jamaican culture.
For exceptionally delicious fish and festival served in an authentic local setting by the sea, visit the legendarily laid-back Screechies at Hellshire Beach outside of Kingston.
So Much More
There is so much great food to try in Jamaica. Patties, curried goat, callaloo, the national dish ackee and saltfish, and of course fresh coconut water and all those lovely tropical fruits – papaya, jackfruit, bananas and plantains, mangoes are but a few of the best-known treats! And don’t get me started on the lavish buffets and upscale international dining available at resorts and hotels across the island! In Kingston, a popular local haunt with a friendly vibe and a menu jamming with the best of Jamaican cuisine is M-10 Bar and Grill.
What are some of your favorite things to do and eat in Jamaica? Have we missed anything? Please let us know some of your favorites in the comments section below.