5 Things to do in Jamaica for Carnival
It’s been a week since I’ve been back and if I’m being honest, I NEEDED that week to recover. I’m talking swollen ankles, shin injuries, lost voice and blood alcohol level through the roof…but hey, what else is new. IT’S CARNIVAL!
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I’ve always said that Jamaica Carnival, to me, is RIGHT AFTER Trinidad Carnival (and I don’t mean just in the calendar); I mean in terms of vibes.
Jamaica is so special. So special, so special, so special. Word to Mavado.
Other than attending fete after fete, here are 5 things you need to do for Jamaica Carnival:
5 Learn the Dances
This is one thing I wish occurred to me BEFORE stepping on that plane. I was familiar with Ding Dong’s ‘Fling Yuh Shoulda’ because of Trinidad Carnival when the song was put over a more “soca-friendly” riddim but I didn’t know about Flairy, Genna Bounce or Lebeh Lebeh. I am now proud to say that my level of expertise of these dances is now at the intermediate level aaaaaand I might be in the group of what would be referred to as “Stush Ravaz” - we don’t go as hard but we do it and we look cute. LOL.
4 Immerse Yourself in the Culture
Being IN Jamaica at a soca party where they play a few dancehall songs isn’t exactly the REAL Jamaican experience in dancehall culture.
I had the opportunity, thanks to my local friends, to check out two street dances (or street parties) that really gave me a brand-new appreciation for Jamaican culture. On Monday after Dusk all-inclusive, we went to Mojito Mondays and on Tuesday after Tabanca Tuesday, we went to Boasy Tuesdays on Maxfield Avenue. They don’t REALLY start until 4am or so but when they do…the dancers come OUT inna d video light.
Local celebrities are in attendance including Bounty Killer and Chi Ching Ching; there are also a lot of foreigners from the UK and Asia who come for the SOLE PURPOSE of learning the dances to go home and teach them.
I saw things in these dances that I’ve never seen in my LIFE. Guys riding motorcycles through the dance, girls JUMPING on said moving motorcycle to dance, girls going on their HEADTOP on the wheel of the motorcycle…just crazy stuff. Lol. You gotta experience it.
You’ll also most likely be drinking white rum. Prepare your liver. I lied, there’s no preparing.
I almost missed this excursion to go to a party and I’m so happy I didn’t. Hellshire Beach is in Portmore and known for being the go-to spot to get fried fish but be prepared to wait a while for your food; I never knew it took soo long to fry fish. Don’t worry though - there’s a lot to do while you wait for your food: go to the beach, take some photos if you’re not going into the water because there are A LOT of photo-ops, go to the bar where you can get rum for $1.50usd (guess where I went!) or just simply take in the beauty surrounding you.
(Side note: Those are all pros but one con that I don’t know how to get around is the children coming around begging. I swore they were just swimming and enjoying the day too but as soon as you sit down, there’s a group of 3-5 of them coming to ask for spare change or when you’re at your car or at the bar - and they’re not shy about coming back again and again. If I could give them all spare change, I would but I couldn’t and that kind of tainted the experience. I gave two boys change and they forgot I gave them already and came back to me several times after that.)
2 Maiden Cay
If you get a chance to get a boat and head to Maiden Cay with some food and a cooler - this is a MUST. Maiden Cay is small island in Jamaica - a TINY island. You can pull up your banana boat or yacht and jump in the waist level, CLEAR blue water and party on the sand, tan and just relax. I went with Candy Coated Events in conjunction with A-Team (Usain Bolt’s event company) for a party-experience called Wine Up; food, drinks and VIBES inclusive. Party with Usain Bolt and his team on a mini island in Jamaica?! Um, yes please!
1 Play Mas, of course!
After all, it IS Carnival! So yes, play mas with Xaymaca International! I played mas with the luxury band in Majesty - rocking my Carnival Kicks rose gold sidekick boots and rhinestone stockings (that gave me LIFE!) - the road experience is just like Tribe/Rogue in Trinidad - premium drinks in abundance (I was drinking Hennessy White all day!), food was easy to get at the beautiful lunch stop that included an air conditioned vanity area with full body massages!
After the road is the after party! If you’re not ready for the experience to end, you can see more soca and dancehall performances including Skinny Fabulous and Ding Dong.
Xaymaca also had a Beach Lyme the next day to end the Jamaica Carnival season.
Overall, Jamaica Carnival is a MUST. BANG!
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The complete Carnival Glossary, a list of frequently used words and phrases used when attending or talking about Carnival festivals around the world.
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