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There are various wonderful places to visit in Jamaica and Kingston is one of them. If you are traveling from New York to Jamaica, you should consider visiting Kingston which is not only the country’s capital, but home to the second busiest airport, the Norman Manley International Airport, in Jamaica.
Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city in the Americas, located in the southeastern part of the Island. The central area of Kingston is made up of two cities: the historic Downtown and New Kingston. It is surrounded by the Blue Mountains, Red Hills, Long Mountain and Kingston Harbor.
As Jamaica’s capital, Kingston is the country’s financial, cultural, economic, and industrial center. It is home to many financial institutions, and it has the most hospitals, schools, universities, and cultural attractions of any urban area on the island. One of the city’s major industries is tourism. The city’s season is mostly dry between December and April.
Kingston is a bustling city with budget and luxury accommodations to suit every traveler, from its rich colonial heritage to its contemporary arts and music scene. Those looking to experience some of Jamaica’s unique culture will be pleased to learn that there are numerous neighborhoods with fascinating historical connections.
Whether you enjoy listening to reggae or learning about Jamaica’s journey to independence, multiple neighborhoods in Kingston provide complete immersion in the country’s culture and history. Make a reservation in New Kingston and you’ll be within walking distance of two of the country’s most famous musicians, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Jamaica’s history is also heavily influenced by colonialism and piracy. Explore key monuments such as the 17th-century Fort Charles and stay in historic Port Royal. Spanish Town, Jamaica’s former capital, on the other hand, is filled with echoes of the country’s past, from British street names to numerous impressive churches.
The Blue Mountains of Jamaica are truly legendary, and they are an important part of Kingston’s overall identity. Make a reservation in Irish Town to experience the slower pace of life that the country is known for without venturing too far from the capital. The rural neighborhood provides visitors with access to magical mountain trails and beautiful coffee plantations. Newcastle, which is nearby, also has some of the best boutique hotels on the island. Serene Silver Hill Gap, nestled in the mountains, is an incredibly idyllic location for a relaxing retreat.
Travelers who want to sample Jamaica’s distinctive spicy cuisine should book a room in Downtown Kingston, which has a wide variety of local restaurants. Those looking for at least one barefoot dining experience may prefer to stay in Portmore, which is located west of the city center. Hellshire Beach, in the neighboring town, is picturesque, with numerous low-key restaurants serving jerk chicken and fresh seafood right on the sand. Book a room in Mavis Bank, a rural region in the Blue Mountains known for its coffee plantations, for the best cup of coffee in the morning.
With that in mind we have come up with a travel guide to help you Plan how to travel from New York to Kingston, Jamaica: find out places to go, hotel recommendations, things to do, and getting around once you are there.
Places to Visit in Jamaica - Kingston
Poplar Places to Stay in Kingston
1. New Kingston
New Kingston is located in the uptown area of Jamaica’s capital, Kingston. It’s just about a 20-minute drive from downtown Kingston. You can have a feel of Jamaica’s reggae music in the museums of New Kingston. You can also tour the homes of the world’s most loved musicians in this area, browse the wares of street vendors and try out the local delicacies.
Include a visit to the Bob Marley Museum when you’re in New Kingston. It takes place inside the legend, Bob Marley’s former colonial-era home. Tours of the house’s rooms are led by guides, who point out original furniture, photo exhibitions, and memorabilia from Marley’s life and career.
Another reggae hero and member of Marley’s influential band, the Wailers, is honored at the Peter Tosh Museum. Examine artifacts such as a guitar shaped like an M16 rifle and Mick Jagger’s microphones.
Stroll around Kingston’s lively Half Way Tree district to get a sense of the city’s dining and shopping scene. Consume exotic fruits, jerk chicken, and patties as snacks. Look up to see the Half Way Tree Clock, which was built in 1913 to honor King Edward VII. The Little Theatre hosts Caribbean-themed dances, theatrical performances, and pantomimes.
2. Port Royal
Port Royal was established in 1518. It was once the busiest city in the New World, serving as a naval base for the Spanish and then the English. It served as a stopover for traders from all over the world. Bring your diving equipment to this world-famous underwater archeological site.
Wander around Port Royal’s sleepy fishing village and imagine it in its early days, with pirates, sailors, and merchants crowding the streets and taverns. Visit Fort Charles and other buildings from the town’s glory days, and eat the freshest fish in Jamaica at one of the town’s restaurants. Spend an afternoon snorkeling or reading in the sun on the idyllic Lime Cay.
Wander the quiet streets and take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kingston. St. Peter’s Church, which dates back to 1725, can be found on Church Street, and historic relics can be found in its courtyard. Visit Fort Charles to learn how the English kept control of Port Royal for nearly 200 years. Two small museums also house artifacts from the 1692 earthquake.
Hire a pilot to take you to Lime Cay, a small, uninhabited island off the coast. Spend the afternoon snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing on the beach. Return to Port Royal for dinner at one of Jamaica’s best seafood restaurants. Head to one of the town’s bars or nightclubs to extend your evening.
To get to Port Royal, take the bus or drive southeast 17 miles (27 kilometers) from Kingston. Accommodation is available, but most people visit the port as a day trip from Kingston.
3. Irish Town
Irish Town is characterized by many residents who have lived their entire lives there. However, it is linked to Kingston in terms of people movements, and may be considered a suburb. The village is a popular stopping point for visitors on their way to national park attractions such as Holywell Park, nearby coffee plantations, and the famous Strawberry Hill Resort. Stop in Irish Town to mingle with the locals and experience the atmosphere of a typical Jamaican town.
Get a full sense of Jamaica’s natural beauty from Irish Town: lush vegetation, breathtaking mountain ranges, palm trees, and pristine white beaches. Go to the neighborhood bar and drink with the locals. Hear about the history of this area and how it has changed. You might run into some Rastafarians from the nearby settlement. St Mark’s Chapel is a sweet little white clapboard church. Graves from the mid-nineteenth century can be found in its small cemetery.
Hiking around this area’s waterfalls and forest trails is a wonderful way to spend a day. Drive carefully and pay attention to signs on the narrow roads leading to Irish Town, between Kingston and the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
Portmore is a large urban settlement located along the southeastern coast of Jamaica in Saint Catherine, and a dormitory community for the neighboring cities of Kingston and Spanish Town. It is regarded as the largest residential community in Kingston. The city is served by the Norman Manley International Airport with over 130 flights weekly.
The Municipality of Portmore has many offerings for tourism and entertainment and is known for: the only horse racing track in Jamaica, Hellshire beach – world famous for its fish and festival, Fort Clarence and Waves beaches – home for beach parties and Two Sisters Cave among many other natural attractions. A variety of musical hotspots, and entertainment events are also found within Portmore.
For adult entertainment, Portmore is home to Fort Augusta Drive more famously known as ‘back road’ (a red light district). In addition, Portmore offers spectacular flora and fauna, boasting the largest dry forest in the Western Hemisphere. A rich history of the sea and “pirates”, fishing village life and local agricultural practices are also prevalent.
Hotel Recommendations for Kingston, Jamaica
Best things to do in Kingston, Jamaica
- Emancipation Park
Emancipation Park offers a very peaceful, relaxing and green oasis alternative to the very busy and bustling Kingston. Relax under the palm trees, have a picnic with friends, jog around the 500m track or admire the beautiful 11-foot sculpture in the entrance of the park, which symbolizes Jamaica’s emancipation from slavery.
2. Blue Mountains & John Crow Mountains National Park
Jamaica’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blue Mountains, is unspoiled and a preserve paradise for nature lovers offering drop-dead gorgeous mountain vistas, hiking trails, waterfalls, and exotic plants and animals. This 200,000-acre tropical rainforest is home to over 200 birds, 800 species of endemic plants, and the home of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Popular things to do here are hiking up to the highest peak (7,402 feet) of Jamaica to watch the sunrise and a tour of a coffee plantation.
3. Bob Marley Museum
Get an insight into Bob Marley’s life as you explore his Kingston home and recording studio. Walk through his bedroom to see his favorite guitar, or check out the room filled with media clippings of his final tour and so much more.
4. Paint Jamaica
Head over to Fleet Street in Kingston to witness how street art is not only transforming abandoned buildings and street corners to exhilarating and vibrant murals, but also bringing life and hope back to their community. Once you are done, head across the street to Life Yard, the first sustainable garden in the area to have a delicious farm-to-table meal cooked by young Rastafarian community members.
5. Coronation Market
Coronation Market, which is located in the heart of Kingston, is what we like to consider the essence of the real Jamaica! The market has everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes and electronics. If you are not in the buying mood, you can always just stuff your face with some delicious street food or bask in the unique and crazy ambiance that is Coronation Market. The best day to visit the market is Saturday.
6. Devon House Mansion
This national heritage site in Kingston was the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire,
George Stiebel. Today, the residence is a museum open for public tours and private events, such as weddings. The other buildings on the property host several shops, including the popular Devon I Scream shop where one can cool off with a nice, tropical flavored ice cream.
7. Hellshire Beach (Fisherman’s Beach)
Also known as Fisherman’s Beach, Hellshire Beach is a popular weekend getaway for Kingstonians to lay back and relax while eating at some of the best fish restaurants in Jamaica. If you are looking for an authentic local beach and good fried fish you must put this on your “things to do in Jamaica” list.
8. Liberty Hall
Learn and appreciate the works of the founder of Pan-Africanism and Jamaica’s national hero, Marcus Garvey, at this multimedia museum.
9. Hope Gardens
Hope Gardens is the largest public green space in Kingston, occupying 200 acres of land. This oasis of tranquility is home to a collection of endemic and exotic botanical collections, a forest garden, an ornamental pond, a cactus garden, an orchid house and so much more.
Watch the YouTube video below to explore more things to do in Kingston.
Traveling from New York to Kingston, Jamaica
Visa and Passport Requirement
US citizens enjoy visa-free travel to Jamaica for 90 days. However, US citizens are still required to provide some travel documents such as
- Valid passport
- Hotel itinerary
- Flight itinerary
- Travel insurance
A passport is always required for international aviation travel. As a result, individuals and minors flying to Jamaica must have a valid passport book. Furthermore, while there is no requirement for a tourist visa to visit Jamaica for up to 90 days, you must have confirmation of return. This can be a return ticket or a flight schedule that must be presented to immigration officers.
Covid 19 Requirement
The Jamaican Government lifted the travel restrictions on April 16,2022. Therefore, you do not have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. However, although you are not required to be vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to be vaccinated before traveling internationally.
Please make sure that you complete the immigration/customs C5 card online. This is just to ensure faster processing when arriving at the border. Alternatively, you can complete the form in-flight if you haven’t done so before departing from the US.
US citizens returning to the US from Jamaica do not have to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or proof of recovery. This is because the CDC lifted the entry requirements for US citizens returning to the US on the 12th of June, 2022.
Visit Caribbean latest travel requirements covid-19 update to get more information on the covid-19 guidelines.
Flight from New York Kennedy Airport to Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica
The total flight duration from New York, NY to Kingston, Jamaica is 3 hours, 39 minutes.
This assumes an average flight speed for a commercial airliner of 500 mph, which is equivalent to 805 km/h or 434 knots. It also adds an extra 30 minutes for take-off and landing. Your exact time may vary depending on wind speeds.
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Enjoy your vacation and stay safe!