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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Culture Tours in Jamaica encapsulate our history into equally entertaining and educational experiences for our visitors.
In fact, Jamaican Culture tours are also of great value for many Jamaicans who would just like to learn more about their history.
It is common for attractions offering cultural tours to have just as many school trips as tourists, especially at the end of the school year in July.
What are the best culture tours in Jamaica? That depends on what aspect of Jamaica's rich, diverse history you’d like to delve into. These are some of our favourites.
So big is the name, Bob Marley, that it has transcended just Reggae music and Rastafarianism to become its very own attraction or reason for people to visit Jamaica every year.
To learn all there is to learn about the legendary musician, you will have to visit the community of Nine Mile, St. Ann where Bob spent most of his childhood and where he is currently buried as well. The tour takes you through his childhood home and gives a synopsis of what life was like for Bob in his early days.
Throughout the home, you will see pictures of his family and some of his many awards adorning the walls. On the walk from Bob Marley’s grandparents' house to his mother’s house further up on the property, you will be treated to a Bob Marley song by the band on location.
Finally, you’ll get to see the family plot where Bob and his family members are buried. At this point of the tour, videos are not allowed but this is a chance to truly be a part of the Bob Marley Experience.
Rastafarians are some of the warmest and most inviting people you will ever meet. And they are never afraid to share their way of life and the reasons behind it with you. That is the exact purpose of the Rastafari Indigenous Village Tour, to share with others, not just tourists what Rastafarianism is truly about.
Whether you decide on the full or half-day tour, you will still be able to learn more about the religion and way of life. They pride themselves on being a very self-sustained community and have a way to provide for most if not all their needs right there in the village. The vegetable and herb garden is especially impressive. Throughout the property, you’ll be able to see images and quotes of those persons who were important to the origin of Rastafarianism.
Delicious ital food options are available as well because Rastafarians believe in maintaining a truly vegan and organic diet at all times.
You will also be treated to Jamaican music by local acts and even Rastafarian Reggae stars will sometimes perform.
In fact, here is Luciano performing at the Rastafari Indigenous Village Tour. Statues, jewellery as well as other mementoes from your trip are available for sale as well.
There is just so much uncertainty and unexplainable events surrounding the life and death of Annie Palmer, that Jamaicans have summed it up as being simple, the wealthy plantation owner was a witch
Hearing this story second-hand will simply not do, it takes a trip to Rose Hall Great House to truly understand the story of Annie Palmer, her multiple husbands, affairs and links to a very well-known Hollywood star who lived nearby.
I for one was intrigued by the story and impressed with the architecture of the home but if the word “haunted” was what caught your eye, then take the night tour instead!
Trench Pen, was turned into a housing scheme in the mid-1900s and the rural migrants took full advantage of the affordable housing in the area. What is its significance to Jamaican culture, and why should you take the Trench Town Culture Yard Tour?
It was here that the most iconic Reggae band was formed. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, The Wailers, started here, in this communal living space. On the tour currently, you’ll be able to see instruments and furnishings once used by the famous trio as well as visit the Lion of Judah Café and gift shop on site.
The home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire! As you can imagine, that is a very important home to many Jamaicans.
The home and grounds of George Stiebel (1821-1896) are now home to the famous Devon House Ice Cream (the fourth best place to enjoy ice cream in the world) and also one of the most visited spots for dates and picnics here on the island.
But, that isn’t all there is to it, the home, though renovated, still looks just as when it was first built in the 1800s especially since the furnishings are directly from that time.
Devon House currently serves as a National Gallery since 1974 and since 2017 as Jamaica’s first gastronomy centre.
I’m sure you have heard of the Maroons of Jamaica. These runaway slaves made their homes in the hills much too rugged for the English soldiers to manoeuvre and had a longstanding battle with them until they were given autonomy for the governance of their lands.
The most famous Maroon is Nanny, our only National Heroine but she led the people of Maroon Town in Portland.
The Accompong Maroons were led by her brother Cudjoe in the hills of the Cockpit Country, near the border of St. Elizabeth and St. James and this settlement of Maroons is over 200 years old.
You can visit as long as you are in Jamaica, but their annual celebrations in January are the perfect time to see a great display of Maroon life in Jamaica.
It is often said here that Jamaicans are the best at everything we put our mind to even if that is to be the worst. And, Port Royal being once known as the wickedest city on earth, certainly lends some truth to that statement.
Port Royal was so overrun with famous pirates, outlandish behaviour and illegal activities that a missionary worker boarded the very ship he came in on and left for England after declaring Port Royal and its citizens long past the point of saving.
But due to the devastating events of 1692, there is very little proof of what the port once was. Now it is a quiet fishing village on the tip of Jamaica’s southeastern point.
Thankfully, "very little" does not mean non-existent, and a tour of the area is definitely worth it. The Giddy House is one such example. The earthquake that destroyed the city, left the building lopsided and whenever you enter the building you feel a little uneasy or as Jamaicans call it, “giddy” (where the name came from).
Some Jamaicans believe this feeling is because of the many ghosts in the area, but I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Belmont, Westmoreland was the home as well as the final resting place of Peter Tosh, ⅓ of The Wailers. After his untimely death, his home in Belmont became a mausoleum to celebrate the life he lived and his contribution to Reggae music.
Along with seeing the final resting place of the late Reggae and Rastafarian pioneer, you will see the home of his late mother on the guided tour and even meet persons who knew the musician even before stardom.
Love makes us do questionable things does it not? But I am sure that not many of us would go to the extent that these star-crossed lovers did back in the days of slavery.
After their relationship was threatened by the plantation owner, Richard Chardley, who was in love with Mizzie. She and Tunkie both decided to run away before he could separate them forever. Chardley found out about the plans and chased the couple to the cliff that is now known as Lover’s Leap.
With no alternative, having decided that going back was never an option. They both decided to jump to their death hand in hand.
Today, the cliff (1,700ft above sea level) makes way for one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see and gives uninterrupted views from Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland to as far back as the southern tip of Clarendon.
The lighthouse is also a great attraction there. Being the lighthouse in Jamaica and the Western Hemisphere at the highest elevation point makes it very special.
This list does not even come remotely close to the many Reggae and Culture tours in Jamaica, providing unique avenues to learn about and fall in love with different aspects of Jamaica's culture and heritage even more. I'll bet there is a Jamaican Cultural Tour that's just right for you.
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