I had to think about it, but we’ve been to Jamaica 6 times in the past 10 years. Sometimes it was just for one day on a cruise ship
, sometimes for 3 or 4 days. Always we have been in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. So I don’t pretend to have the same knowledge as people who have actually lived there. But, we have always noted the difference in the persistence of street vendors compared to other Caribbean
islands. This I do know something about, because we cruised the eastern Caribbean
for 2 ½ years. This difference never scared us off; we kept going back; and I would do so again. But I have never been to Jamaica on a cruising sailboat, and I probably would not do so for an extended period. I should also mention that in our tours of the interior
I have seen people living in hovels that look like pictures of Haiti
except with foliage. I have also met extremely industrious, friendly, down to earth, funny
people, including a husband and wife who worked a combined 5 jobs for over 10 years in order to buy their dream house on the hill overlooking Ocho Rios. Compared to the Leeward/Windward islands, Jamaica is huge, millions of people, and problems/issues that would be incomprehensible in a place like St. Maarten.
I love Ocho Rios - lots to do: Gun Stock Falls, the beach, a unique cloistered mall, chair lift
, the Reggae Festival in February (I think). And when one of the first things you see when you get off a cruise ship
is a bronze monument to Bob Marley - life size statue of him singing and playing the guitar - well yeah, there are gonna be some ganja guys around. But those guys are never aggressive - just kinda fun to kid around with and very laid back, mon. Ocho Rios is a very small tourist-oriented town. What shocked us in 2008 was walking down the path to the beach and seeing the addition of concertina wire just a few yards from Bob Marley and the Tiki bars. We gave each other "WTF" looks. Partly this was because just a few days before we had been in one of our all time favorite ports
, Phillipsburg, St. Maarten - an even smaller town on a much smaller island, but also the major port of entry, accommodating cruise
, cargo, and container ships. In Phillipsburg, you do the tourist shops along brick paved Front Street and its alleys, then you go down another alley to the boardwalk and an immaculate beach with crystal clear water
which stretches for miles around the port and is open to all. There’s a big difference between Holland
and Jamaica but then again, nothing can match Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.