Across the island, mid-December through mid-April is the peak season for travellers booking flights to Kingston. At this time of year it is more of a challenge to find a cheap flight to Kingston and reservations need to be made at least a couple of months in advance, especially if you are arriving for Carnival in March and April as it attracts more than 100,000 locals and tourists. The Carnival is one of the island’s biggest events and it continues to grow every year. During this time the carnival atmosphere is alive throughout the island with various bands performing the very best of Reggae, Calypso and Soca. This exciting Caribbean fiesta is a colourful display of dance, costume and music, and is an event in Jamaica’s calendar not to be missed. Another exciting event not to be missed in Kingston is the celebration of the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley’s birthday. Book a flight to Kingston in early February to see local residents and fans from across the globe gather to rejoice his life, work and passion for a week, and don’t forget to visit Kingston’s Bob Marley Museum. Celebratory events vary every year but in the past they have included concerts, lectures, karaoke contests and much more.
From May until mid-December is considered the off season, and most hotel rates drop from 20 to 40 per cent. Cheaper package tours and cheap flights to Kingston are also typically easier to find during this season.
Kingston is the cultural epicentre of the Caribbean and the birthplace of Reggae music. And its most iconic figure, Bob Marley, lived in the city for most of his adult life. Fans of the beloved singer will undoubtedly make the Bob Marley Museum their first stop after arriving in Kingston. Although the museum is one of its main draws there’s much more to see in the capital, and especially, in the outskirts.
A short ferry ride from Kingston is the small fishing village of Port Royal in the south, once an important trading centre and a playground for pirates. To the west is historic Spanish Town, the capital of Jamaica until 1872. Spanish and British influences can be seen throughout the city from the Georgian houses in the old Town Square to the Spanish church turned English cathedral – San Jago de la Vega.
The Blue Mountains just north of the city is where the famous coffee is cultivated. The area provides a good escape from the city, and travellers booking flights to Kingston can add a few days to their itinerary to explore the trails, rivers and waterfalls of the stunning mountain chain. John Crow Mountains National Park is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of island life. With lush vegetation, the amazing park is often bathed in tropical mist.
Jamaican cuisine is a calorific but delicious affair featuring fried chicken, jerk chicken, jerk pork, oxtail stew, saltfish, and ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica. Work it all off at night in the city’s raucous and hedonistic clubs. You’ve never known a party scene like it. Dancehall Queens wear extravagant and extremely revealing outfits, performing sensual dances with their male counterparts.
An annual average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius makes Jamaica a year-round holiday island. Winters are warm with cool trade winds, cool evenings, and the least amount of rain. Summer is considerably hotter and September and October can be very humid. September is the peak month for hurricanes, although they rarely hit Jamaica. Kingston has moderate rain throughout the year with a bit more in summer than in winter.
As long as you don’t walk around at night, it’s great to explore the city centre by foot. Taxis are great for short distances, but it’s better to hire a car and driver for the day. Make sure you take only Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) taxis, which can be identified by their red PPV plates. Either hail or call ahead for a cab. Drivers are required to have their fares posted. Make sure you agree on a fare before you get in the cab, and be aware that fares will be more expensive between midnight and 5am. Your hotel can help you arrange a moped and motorcycle rental if you prefer to get around on your own or you can also rent a car to get around, but the cost can be high. You’ll usually get the best rate when booking your flight. It might be less expensive to hire a car and driver, instead of renting your own car, and you’ll be able to avoid dealing with local drivers.
The main airport for travellers taking flights to Kingston is Norman Manley International Airport (KIN). An airport bus service and local bus service connect to the centre of Kingston with a journey time of between 30 minutes to an hour. Taxis are also available.