Finally, a blurb about Jamaica.
Royal Jamaica Yacht Club, Kingston – only marina of any size. Port Royal was almost destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October and is just rebuilding.
The yacht club has electricity, water, terrace bar, clubhouse, pool, change rooms, showers, washing machine ($600 J per load; there’s a clothesline out back you can use), fuel ($1.33 J per litre). Mooring was $286/week in the main marina, $216/week at the overfill dock where we were. It may sound like we were stuck out on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ but we had a better breeze (less mosquitoes), better view, more quiet, and still had power and water.
Most of the boats there are in storage of sorts, their owners being foreigners that come a couple times a year to visit. Most of the people that work at the yacht club are the managers of these boats – they clean and maintain them, captain them when the owner comes in, etc. In their spare time, when they have any, they act also as maintenance people for visitors. Luther, the mechanic, is one such – he takes care of a boat regularly but has time to do repairs for visitors.
There is a bus to Port Royal (west) or Harbourview (east) but dangerous to ride after dark. It’s about a 1-1.5 mile walk from the yacht club security gate to the main road and the lane is not lit. If you want to go anywhere, have the marina people call a cab they trust as not all cab drivers are reliable either.
A Jamaican dollar is 85:1 USD approx depending on the exchange rate of the day. So $1 US = $85 JD
The supermarket in Harbourview has pretty much everything and the prices are okay.
Bread – $200-300 JD or $1.50-2.00 USD
Yogurt – 3 for $107 JD or $.90 USD
Cigarettes are found at smoke shops only and are local brands only. Romeo y Julieta is like mild Marlboro. At the club bar: Rothman blue – $750 JD = $8-9 US
The local beer is Red Stripe and I’m told it’s quite good. Club bar price: $200 JD = $1.75 US, juice is the same price, water is $100 JD, Gatorade is $185 JD.
“Tastee” is like a small fast food place that seems to be as numerous as donut shops in NA. A Tastee Pattie can be ground beef or chicken lightly spiced Jamaican style, folded in a flaky pastry and baked. And they are oh so good! 3 patties, 3 sodas, 1 large fries came to about $800 JD = $7-8 US
There is one marine store for the whole island and situated pretty much in the middle, 50 km and over the hill from everywhere. It’s not got a whole lot of choice, basic parts only, and very expensive. Racor fuel filters were $50 US each. If you gotta go there, go with someone you can spend time with because it’s about an hour each way through some pretty rough areas – it’s worth it to stop for lunch and a beer.
Gloria’s in Port Royal has the BEST seafood EVER!! You sit outside downstairs or upstairs and, because it’s so popular and packed all the time, you get to share a 6 ft table with others. It is a fantastic way to meet people. We had a lobster dinner and drink each, taking home about 2/3 of each dinner because there was just way too much food. The total came to $3125 JD = about $36 US ! One of the favourite local dishes is parrotfish and it is done so well that you can pick up the whole skeleton in one go – and it is still so moist and tender.
Gunk-holing and camping out on the hook are allowed all around Jamaica. You need to get an intracoastal waterway permit which is no big deal – they just like to know where you are and whe
The yacht club is okay for staying at but real inconvenient to get anywhere. It costs a lot to go by cab over to Kingston to do anything like restaurant, sightseeing, shopping, etc. And you can’t take the dinghy across even though it’s only a mile or so because it would be stolen. In fact, we had to put the dinghy up on the davits at night just to be safe.
You can tell Jamaica is a British island – they drive on the wrong side of the road….and they are crazy! You don’t dare walk anywhere; even sidewalks are unsafe, they seem to be just parking lot overflow areas.
Banks are hard to find unless you are downtown in the business district. Most places takes major credit cards and US cash, and will give J dollars in change.
I don’t know anything about shopping like what kinds of stores besides groceries or marine. In old Kingston, however, there is a huge shopping district that reminds me of an outdoor bazaar or market. The streets are lined with little shops but it looked like all the merchandise was on the sidewalks. That just meant that the people were all in the middle of the road. There were times the car was surrounded and they just wouldn’t (couldn’t?) move, so we inched forward as best we could, beeping all the way. There was absolutely no animosity though, from anyone. Everyone was smiling, waving, yelling to chat with us, calling to each other, laughing, dancing in front of the car instead of walking, etc. It was just busy – oh so busy.
There were probably restaurants and bars and nightlife in Kingston but we didn’t go there except on our little tour the one day. If you want typical North American food, I’m sure you could probably get it. Why you would want it when Jamaican food is ever so much better is beyond me, though. We always found that if you want the best of anything, especially food, go where you see locals lining up.