Festivals in Jamaica

(This is a guest post from Susanne Richards)

While traveling in the Caribbean, I was fortunate enough to visit some friends who were staying in Jamaica. Yes, we were there for the beautiful sandy beaches and nights out in Negril, but local festivals were also on our radar. Of course the sun was definitely a factor too!

the Caribbean Sea
Come to Jamaica for the Caribbean Sea – but don’t stop there!

If you’re like me, when you think reggae, you probably end up humming a Bob Marley tune. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 50 years, you’ll know that he, along with most other reggae legends, comes from this beautiful island – which brings me to our first July festival!

International Reggae Day

On July 1st, Jamaica hosts an International Reggae Day Festivalwhich celebrates both reggae and the island’s cultural history. Rather than venturing into Kingston for the main festivities, our group decided to celebrate the reggae spirit a little closer to home, at the famous Rick’s Cafe. We danced all day and night to live music, and chatted with both tourists and locals in the laid-back outdoor atmosphere. Known for its music and irie vibe, Rick’s is also a popular cliff-jumping spot. We cheered on the local cliff jumpers (and a few crazy tourists!) while sipping our cold Red Stripes.

Little Ochie Seafood Carnival

If you love seafood as much as I do, you won’t want to miss this annual event in Alligator Pond, Manchester. We shared plates of snapper right of the beachfront grill, curried lobster tails, garlic shrimp and some of the best crab I’ve ever tasted. Not travelling in July? Don’t worry if you miss the beach party – you can enjoy fresh and delicious seafood year-round here at Little Ochie, a family-style tiki hut restaurant known for its fresh and delicious seafood.

Makka Pro Surf Contest

While still relatively small compared to the West Coast surf scene, the Caribbean surfing community is growing steadily. The Makka Pro Surf Contest on Southhaven Beach brings together the local surf talent as well as surfers from around the Caribbean – pack a cooler and a beach chair and catch the excitement.

Portland Jerk Festival

Some fellow travelers we ran into were fresh off a visit to this foodie festival, and I am sorry I missed it! Bringing together a menu packed with jerk specialties (chicken, pork, fish and more), and activities for the whole family, this festival is definitely worth checking out.

Of course after a busy day or night of festivals (and so much eating!), Jamaica’s beaches offer the perfect place to relax.

Susanne Richards is Montreal-based university student who loves music, Caribbean beaches and adventure travel. Susanne occasionally writes for the Luxury Retreats travel blog, about villas in Ocho Rios Jamaica, and her latest travel adventures.

Scothies bar in Jamaica
For the best Jamaican eats check out local haunts like Scotchie’s (pictured) or Little Ochie.