The media and stereotypes of the world tell us certain things about Jamaica and Jamaican culture. We have ideas of what Jamaica is and what we will find when we get there. I know for me, I thought Jamaica and I saw beaches, pot, Bob Marley, and dreadlocks. Not to say those Jamaican facts are not true, and a big part of Jamaican culture, but there are so many more parts to Jamaican life and the island than just that.
Get ready, I’m about to blow your minds with some fun facts for the next time you need to impress your friends…
11 Fun Facts About Jamaica and Jamaican Culture You Probably Don’t Know
1. Jamaica is the Big Kid on the Block
Jamaica is the largest English Speaking Caribbean country. It’s true! With a population of almost 3 million, Jamaica may be small by world standards, but it is HUGE in the Caribbean world.
As an ex-British colony, English is Jamaica’s official language, though walking down the streets you may think you’re hearing something else. That something else is Jamaican Patois, an English-based Creole language with major West African roots. I have been in Jamaica almost 6 months, and I can pick up some… and then the conversation gets louder and faster and I’m done!
Check out this video of this Jamaican dude speaking Patois and you tell me how much you can catch.
2. Marijuana is less than Legal
Yes, I know, I was surprised too! In the country known for ganga, possessing that herb is actually ‘kind of’ criminal in Jamaica. In April 2015, Jamaica’s marijuana laws began to relax, but only to a certain extent. Citizens are allowed 5 plants and you must only consume the herb with family or friends (thought really, who else do most people get high with?).
Transporting it is another issue: if you are caught with over 2 ounces you can be thrown a trafficking charge. Many tourists arrive in Jamaica primed to spend a weed week, and yes, it is easy to come by. But don’t be obnoxious in your smoking (like some tourists who walk down the street blazing), or you will be ripe for the cautionary tale picking. I don’t imagine the Jamaican jail system is pleasant.
3. Bob Marley, Reggae Music, Etc.
Bob Marley is only one. Jamaica is the home of Bob Marley but reggae, namely ‘roots’ reggae, is so much more than just Bob. Bob is only one of literally thousands of amazing reggae artists from and in Jamaica. Branch out beyond Buffalo Soldier and One Love and you will find an abundance of talent and island vibes.
The best place to experience this modern reggae scene is at the yearly Reggae Sumfest in July in Montego Bay. 2017 brings the 25th anniversary of this massive event that pulls reggae artists from both Jamaica and abroad for a weekend of killer music (and probably a little bit of decriminalized pot smoking with friends…).
4. James Bond is Jamaican
James Bond was born here. Ian Fleming, the brain behind the Bond, came to Jamaica in World War II as an intelligence operator. He quickly grew to love the island and after the war settled on a beautiful piece of property on the north coast near Oracabessa. He built his dream home and named it GoldenEye, after one of the missions he had been on during the war. It was at GoldenEye, that James Bond was born and where at least 10 of the novels were written.
GoldenEye Resort is now a very exclusive fancy place to stay in Jamaica, one truly made for the sexiest spy of them all.
5. Jamaican Ginger, the Usain Bolt of the root world
Jamaica has the best ginger in the world. I know I just blew your mind. Due to the soil, the temperatures and a little je ne sais quoi, Jamaican ginger is the best of the best. At one point a significant portion of the ginger consumed by humans came from Jamaica. Due to disease and changes in economic agricultural priorities, Jamaican ginger has significantly decreased in quantity, though with the right planting material, and proper cultivation practices, the end result is still top notch.
6. The Oldest Golf Course in the West
Jamaica is home to the Western Hemisphere’s Oldest Golf Course. Ask my Uncle Doug and he would agree with those colonizing English guys: why live anywhere without a golf course?! Built in 1867, the Manchester Golf Course is located in Mandeville and is in fact the longest continually running golf course this side of the Atlantic.
Golfing these 18 links will give you a taste of what golf was back in the day, before they plowed down the fairways and took out the bamboo. Ask my Dad about being told by his caddy (whose services mandatorily come with your green fees), when advising where the next hole was from the tee, to “Just hit it over the bamboo, the green is on the other side of it.”
I on the other hand used the golf course as training ground for my half marathon and can ascertain it is a full 3km over hill and dale around the perimeter of the course.
6. The Doctor Hummingbird, Jamaica’s Pet
Jamaica’s national bird, the Doctor Hummingbird is endemic to the island, only found here on da rock. You will see the hummingbird symbol is many parts of Jamaica. This particular species was first recorded in 1844 and is pretty cool as the male has a long streaming tail that follows him as he buzzes around! Jamaican belief tells you to never kill a Doctor Bird or else bad fortune will fall upon you.
8. Radioactive Mineral Spas?
Jamaica has some of the world’s best natural mineral spas in the world. The hot sulphur waters in Bath and the warm radioactive and saline waters of Milk River are 54 times as active as the famous baths in Baden Switzerland. There is a hotel at Milk River for people to truly soak it up and heal from what ails them, specifically rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, and nerve complaints.
9. Jamaican Rum Industry
Jamaica was the first island in the Caribbean to produce rum commercially and Jamaica’s own Appleton Estate remains the 5th largest producer of this fine brew anywhere in the world. You can tour the Appleton Rum Distillery, which is a true learning experience (if you get Norman the tour guide he is a treat, but also gives pop quizzes. Pay attention!) that ends with a tasting of 9 different rums in a pseudo-saloon. Take your Mom who doesn’t drink rum so you can knock back her share!
10. Cave Life of Jamrock
There are over 950 caves on the island. Only a few are open for exploration (officially), but no wonder all those pirates from back in the day made way for this island! Between the rum and the caves…
11. Jamaica’s Phosphorescent Fame
Jamaica is home to one of only 4 locations in the world for phosphorescent activity. The microorganisms in the water of Falmouth’s Luminous Lagoon emit light when they are disturbed. Moreover, this location is the only one of the 4 spots on the entire globe where this phenomenon occurs 365 days a year! Everyday!
Swimming in these waters after dark means mini water firefly types cover your body with the water droplets lighting up when you move. As I said to my Mom regarding the bubbles of light on my tatas, “I look like Beyonce!”
Falmouth isn’t the most touristy place in Jamaica, but there is a great place to stay in Falmouth called the Fisherman’s Inn. The Inn is located right on the lagoon and we stayed there the night we visited the Glistening Waters.
Did you get high on this post? I sure would dig it if you Pinned it?