Jamaica Overview

What really makes Jamaica the slice of paradise it is, is the gorgeous, rich culture of those who live here. Learn about our cuisine, traditions, art, language and music and find yourself falling into step with the island of “All Right”.


The People

The people make Jamaica, and Jamaica makes the people. Find out about the mesh of cultures and influences that have made us who we are today, and the people who call the island, home.

We’re a naturally warm and friendly bunch, welcoming tourists with huge smiles, and open arms. As a culture, we prefer to laugh than cry, dance than stand still, and express ourselves rather than hold back. Our complex past, marked by slavery and the struggle for independence, has made us proud, resilient and strong. Now we’re celebrated for our music, sport and art.

Language

Our official language is English, which we speak in our unique Jamaican accent. But our street language is patois, which suits our personalities and sense of fun perfectly. A sing-song dialect, influenced by English and African languages, patois is easy to pick up and enjoyable to learn.

The Cuisine

With influences from all over the world, and our own natural produce and spices, Jamaica is a treat for any foodie. Learn about our fine dining, jerk dishes and street food.

Things are just sweeter and more flavorsome here on the island, and whether it be the sun, or the love we put into planting and cooking our produce, there’s a little bit of magic in our dishes.

As we have influences from all over the globe, you’ll taste different flavors; Cassava from our native Arawaks, pickled meat and fish from the Europeans, yams and bananas from Africa and curry from the East Indians. Put it all together, with our own tasty produce and local flavors, and what do you get? Our delicious Jamaican cuisine.

You may find our famous jerk sauce, or tasty Blue Mountain Coffee around the world, but we’re sure that it tastes better here. Authentic jerk meats from the Chelsea Jerk Centre, pepper shrimps from Middle Quarters and flakey saltfish from Rick’s CafĂ© are a taste of the real deal.

You’ll also find some traditional eats that haven’t made their way around the world yet. From Cow Foot Stew, to Goat Head Soup, something different is cooking in our Jamaican kitchens.

Whatever you do, immerse yourself in a world of flavor and spices, and taste something new.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

With a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that grow all year long, Jamaica is ideal for healthy eaters. From ackee to breadfruit and Jamaican plums, indulge in our exotic delights.

In Jamaica, we’re lucky. As a tropical island with beautiful climate all year round, we have hundreds of exotic fruits and vegetables to choose from. From mangos and bananas to our national fruit ackee – we’re spoiled by Mother Nature herself.

With a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that grow all year round, Jamaica is ideal for healthy eaters. Indulge in our exotic delights. As you travel the island, here are some fruits and vegetables you might recognize:

Ackee: Our very own national fruit ackee, is not only a good source of protein, but truly delicious. It is essential to wait until the pod has opened before eating it, otherwise the results aren’t totally pleasurable.

Breadfruit: One of the most versatile and delicious fruits around, the exotic breadfruit actually tastes of bread. Whether you roast or boil it, you’ll enjoy a potato-like consistency, and the sweet taste of All Right.

Callaloo: A breakfast staple, callaloo is a very nutritious plant, noted as a rich source of vitamins and minerals. This leafy vegetable is commonly served steamed and tastes similar to that of spinach, but not quite as bitter.

Cho Cho (Chayote):
Not the typical fruit, the cho cho is best enjoyed in savory dishes such as soups and stews. This pear shaped fruit is found rather bland when raw but tastes like a cross between a cucumber and potato when cooked.

Guinep: Guineps appear as a cluster of drupes (similar to grapes), with a thin layer of green skin which, when bitten, reveals an orange hued gelatin flesh. The tart like taste is quite addictive, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself consuming the whole bunch! Be careful though, the juice from this fruit can cause stains.

June Plum: A wonderful source of iron and protein, the June Plum is both juicy and sour. Sometimes a dash of salt is used to give the fruit an explosive flavor.

Jamaican Coco: A treat in soups and breads, the Jamaican coco has a creamy, comforting taste. With big spade shaped leaves, it takes close to a year to mature. But we think it’s worth it.

Otaheite Apple (Cocoplum): The refreshing, Otaheite apple is a burst of balanced sweetness. Its deep crimson red skin coats its crisp white flesh, in a pear-like shape. This fruit is noted as being a good way to hydrate and has even been used for treating diabetes and other maladies.

Star Apple: This luscious fruit appears in variations of dark purple to green with a soft pulp flesh core. Jamaicans often refer to the star apple as the “mean” fruit as they never fall from their stems even after they’ve ripened. Still, the star apple offers a generous helping of sweet satisfaction, though you should try to avoid the skin as it can be rather bitter. The pulp was traditionally used with sweetened milk to make a dessert called ‘matrimony’.

Stinking Toe: This rather peculiar fruit gets its name from its semblance to a big fat toe. Its accompanying odour may make you hesitant; however the large seed pod actually houses a delicious, sweet but mealy pulp. Found on one of the largest trees in the Caribbean, ‘Tinking Toe’ is also used in folk medicine to alleviate headaches and rheumatism.

Susumber (Gully beans): these small bitter-tasting green berries are very popular in Jamaican cuisine. Some persons enjoy their susumber with the national dish, Ackee and Saltfish (salted codfish) or in stews and soups. Susumber is said to be rich in iron and the leaves have been used to make tea as a remedy for colds.

Sweetsop: Nestled inside the lumpy green outer-layer of this fruit is an aromatic and sweet custard-like pulp. The sweet sop is a very good dessert or breakfast fruit and is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese.

Citrus Fruits:

Ortanique: A cross between a tangerine and orange, the Ortanique is a seedless and exceptionally juicy citrus grown in Jamaica. This natural tangor can be enjoyed straight from the tree or in salads and juices. It’s very distinct rare flavor can be enjoyed between February and April.

Sour Orange: Also known as bitter or Seville orange, this citrus is usually enjoyed by locals as an alternative to lemons and makes refreshing lemonade. Though many have found the fruit too unpalatable to be consumed straight from the tree, the sour orange is very useful for making marmalade and flavoring for baking, cooking and even liqueur.

Tangerine: The second best thing about a Jamaican tangerine is how easily they can be peeled. The first would have to be the delicious sweet flesh you’ll come to discover. The carpals (sections) come apart with ease, making the feasting of this fruit even more gratifying. Best enjoyed freshly picked, they can also be added to salads or desserts for a sweet and tarty zest.

Uniq (Ugli Fruit): Indigenous to Jamaica, the ugli or uniq fruit is an exotic tangelo available between November and April. Although the name may not sound appetizing, this citrus fruit is quite a juicy indulgence. Said to be created by the hybridizing of a tangerine, orange and grapefruit (pomelo), it is sweet and tangy, perfect for refreshing juices.

Music Reggae

Rhythmic reggae is part of who we are and we have shared that legacy beyond Jamaica’s shores. Reggae is simply, the international music of “All Right”.

Reggae is Jamaica’s most internationally recognized music and the heartbeat of our people. The music form has undergone a series of phases including Roots, Ragga, Dub, and Dancehall; nevertheless it remains a primary platform used by Jamaican artistes to express their thoughts on social and political conditions. Dancehall for instance is one of the most prominent forms of reggae that has found much favour with the younger generation. The high energy and hardcore ‘riddims’ capture the vibrant popular culture from the slangs to fashion and dance moves. The experience of local street dances equipped with sound systems and stereo boxes stacked high is unlike any other entertainment event in the world. Dancehall is credited as the predecessor of Hip Hop music.

Still, Reggae in its purest form continues to dominate. Bob Marley’s posthumous greatest hits compilation, ‘Legend’, has sold over 15 million copies and he was awarded the Grammy Life Time Achievement Award for 2001. TIME Magazine named Marley’s ‘EXODUS’ the best album of the 20th century, and his song ‘One Love’ was adopted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as its Millennium Anthem.

Without doubt, Jamaica has left an indelible imprint on the musical landscape. Our music continues to uplift and inspire, possessing that natural groove that keeps you feeling good.

Currency/banks money

From post offices to medical centers, cambios to information bureaus, our resort areas provide access to all the amenities you could possibly need. So, kick back and relax because we’ve got you covered.

Here in Jamaica we use the Jamaican dollar as our currency.

Licensed cambio centers and commercial banks are accessible in all resort areas. The official currency exchange rates vary daily, so it’s advisable to shop around for the best rate before converting your cash. Most Jamaican ATMs accept international bank cards with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus logos. Banks also give credit card advances, change traveler’s checks among other financial services.