Travel Jamaica | Jamaica Vacations, Reggae, Jerk Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:21:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Court declares Portland’s Winnifred Beach public! Wed, 03 Dec 2014 04:10:54 +0000   Winnifred Beach in Portland Stays Public! GREAT […]

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Winnifred Beach in Portland Stays Public!

GREAT NEWS! For those of you who've been following the lengthy legal battle over beautiful Winnifred Beach in Portland, Jamaica, to keep it out of the hands of developers and maintain it as a public beach, it looks like justice has finally prevailed!! Please read the Jamaica Observer article below for details about the Court's decision this week.

Winnifred Beach is an authentic Jamaican public beach located on the northeast coast, just east of Port Antonio, on Fairy Hill Bay in the Fairy Hill District. (Some people call it Fairy Hill Beach.) The beach was originally part of the Winnifred Rest Home Properties, where there was a guest house for travelers from the 1950s to the late 1980s. The property was donated to the people of Fairy Hill for their use. However, taxes failed to be paid at some point, and the property was taken over by a Jamaican Government agency, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).


Winnifred Beach (a.k.a. Fairy Hill Beach), Portland, Jamaica

Local residents and tourists alike have enjoyed this pretty beach for decades, for cooking, eating, swimming and chilling out. Winnifred is one of my favorite spots to swim in Portland because the water is calm, clean, sandy-bottomed, extremely clear (as you can see from my photos), and there are plenty of places to enjoy shade if you want (or need!) it. There is also a public changing room and toilet. Frankly, this is by far the best place to swim in Portland.

For the last 7 or 8 years, the UDC has been trying to privatize Winnifred Beach so that the land can be developed with homes, cottages and "recreational facilities." Of course, that translates to fences and a ticket office. Locals who set up cookshops on the beach, fish, sell jewelry,etc., would be ejected in favor of developers. Of course, the government stopped also maintaining the beach facilities, probably to convince the public that a takeover was necessary.


Winnifred Beach, Portland, Jamaica

Sadly, most of the best beaches in Jamaica have already been sold off to big hotel chains and are off-limits to local residents. I understand that money talks, but it's a sin that Jamaicans can't enjoy the very beaches that make their home an island paradise.

To get to Winnifred, there is a narrow, unmarked "road" down to the beach about halfway between the Blue Lagoon and Boston Bay, just opposite the Jamaica Crest Resort. You can't see the beach from the main road, and you won't easily find the road down to the beach either. Ask a local to point you to the road. It's bumpy and uneven, so you may prefer to take a taxi or leave your car at the top and walk down, but you can drive it without a 4WD vehicle if you take your time.

Except for weekends, you may find the beach nearly deserted. Residents and volunteers in the area take care of Winnifred without being paid but, although there's no charge to access the beach, you may be asked to contribute toward its upkeep. Your Portland hotel or guest house may pack you a picnic lunch if you plan to spend the day, but you'll usually find tasty food being cooked on the beach.


Winnifred Beach, Portland, Jamaica on a busy weekend day

A coral reef offshore provides for good snorkeling and protects the bay from waves. You'll enjoy crystal clear water and some marine life. Absorb the vibrant community here, particularly on Sundays, get something delicious to eat, and kick back to enjoy the natural beauty. On weekends, there may be people offering horseback rides down the beach or boat trips to Monkey Island.

I hope the successful outcome of this lawsuit encourages other community organizations to fight to keep their beaches open to the public. In my opinion, tourists don't need any more private beach space, or Jamaica's soon going to look like one gigantic walled compound. Keep Winnifred free!

Court orders public access to Winnifred Beach

Friday, November 28, 2014

THE Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has been ordered by the court to grant public access to Winnifred Beach in Portland, ending a five-year legal battle between the residents and the entity.

The ruling, which was handed down in the Port Antonio Resident Magistrate's Court in the parish last month by Resident Magistrate Marjorie Moyston, said UDC has 90 days to create a new title an easement for the right of the public to access the beach for bathing and recreation purposes.

Four members of the Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society took the matter to court five years ago, seeking a declaration of the public's absolute and indefeasible right to access the beach.

Continue reading at Court orders public access to Winnifred Beach - News -


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Portland Jerk Festival now Boston Jerk & Music Festival 2014 Wed, 25 Jun 2014 05:38:52 +0000     New Name & Place for the Portland Je […]

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New Name & Place for the Portland Jerk Festival 2014

If you've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting... to find out about the Portland Jerk Festival which would normally take place on the first Sunday in July, we finally have an answer!

The festival's new name is Boston Jerk & Music Festival and the Tropical Lagoon Resort is the new title sponsor. Not only that, but the festival has moved from its location at Folly Oval near Port Antonio, where it has been since 2007, back to its original home in Boston Bay, Portland!

This year's festival will be on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at the Boston Play Field. Gates will open at 10:00 AM. Admission prices are: Adults J$800, Children J$200. After 4pm - J$1,000.

I wish I could be there this year, because two of my favorite artistes - Bushman and George Nooks - are on the line-up!

The first Boston Jerk Festival was held in 2000 and became an instant hit with patrons across Jamaica. However, in 2007, organizers, saying the festival had "outgrown" Boston, moved the event to the Folly Great House in Port Antonio. The event also changed names to become known as The Portland Jerk Festival.

I was at Folly Oval last July for the Portland Jerk Festival. We enjoyed some delicious jerk pork and chicken, and friends thought the jerk lobster was great, but the weather was SO DAMN HOT. Don't forget your sunscreen, and hydrate yourself while you eat!

Check out the Facebook Event Page.

If you need a place to stay for the weekend, there are plenty of hotels in Portland Jamaica, as well as guesthouses, B&Bs, villas, etc in all price ranges. Great Huts in Boston is offering some great rates for locals and visitors. Check out their Facebook page for details.

Located on the northeast coast of Jamaica and home to the Blue Mountains, the beautiful Blue Lagoon, the most beautiful beach in Jamaica (Frenchman's Cove), and rafting on the Rio Grande River, this part of island is a must see. And you can catch the Boston Jerk Festival while you're at it!

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SPF Weekend 2014 in Ocho Rios Jamaica Fri, 16 May 2014 20:40:52 +0000 Details are slow to come out, but the dates for SPF Wee […]

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Details are slow to come out, but the dates for SPF Weekend in Ocho Rios have been confirmed as August 1 through August 4, 2014 (Emancipation Day weekend).

Hosted by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, this series of parties offers top-shelf liquor, superb food, and entertains their sophisticated crowds with a mix of reggae, hip hop, pop, soca, dancehall and electronic music. From a Catamaran Cruise, to Carey Island, to The Pool Party, to oceanfront partying at Mammee Bay Beach Club, to the headline Soiree, SPF usually serves up 5 rocking events over four fun-filled days.

We haven't seen any ticket prices or venue information yet, but usually US$150 to US$200 will buy you 3 or 4 days of back-to-back all-inclusive parties, some of which can hold their own against the best Carnival parties. Of course, your accommodations will be extra.

SPF Weekend 2014 Venue: Jewel Dunn's River Beach Resort

jewel-dunns-river-ocho-riosThere are some room rate specials going on now at Jewel Dunn's River - double occupancy rooms starting at US$320/night (3-night minimum). Limited rooms available. Contact Sharleen Senior at (876) 449-3674 or email to make your booking.

Call the SPF Concierge at (876) 321-6398 for further information.

If you need a place to stay outside an all-inclusive resort, visit our page on places to stay in Ocho Rios for the best small hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, guesthouses and reasonably-priced villas.

And remember that Smirnoff Dream will be going on in Negril around the same time (August 1-6). Read our post for more details on how to enjoy Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014.

You can follow the announcements at the SPF Weekend 2014 Facebook page, and we will post new details as we get them.

#spfweekend #spf2014

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Enjoy Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 in Negril Jamaica August 1-6 Mon, 12 May 2014 04:41:22 +0000 Now in its 6th year, the popular Smirnoff Dream Weekend […]

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Now in its 6th year, the popular Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 party series is scheduled for Emancipation/Independence weekend, August 1 to 6, in Negril, Westmoreland, Jamaica.

Partygoers will be treated to an impressive line-up of DJs, artistes and celebrities, with many deejays flying into Jamaica from around the world. This year promises to highlight emerging music trends, such as the electronic dance music (EDM) craze that has grown more popular in Jamaica.

Once again, you have the option to buy a "VIP Season Band" which gives you access to exclusive lounges in each Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 event, exclusive shuttles to take you to the parties from your hotel, exclusive entrances at each event so you can enter hassle-free, top shelf bar and food, and waitress service.

Shuttle buses are provided for everyone from designated parking lots, hotels and major hubs across the town of Negril, because there is NO PARKING on the strip during the weekend.

Getting to Negril

Sangster International Airport is an internati...

Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is one of the largest, busiest and most modern airports in the Caribbean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a variety of ways to get to Negril for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014. If you are flying into Jamaica, the most convenient airport to Negril is Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay. MBJ is the most popular airport for tourists visiting the north coast of Jamaica. It's about 50 miles southwest to Negril with a drive-time of about 2 hours depending on where in Negril you're headed and the weather and road conditions. You will also have to clear customs and immigration before you leave the airport, and this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours based on how busy they are.

Once you leave the airport, you can take a prearranged hotel transfer/ shuttle, a taxi, shuttle or rental a car. Check out the excellent suggestions at for ways to get from Montego Bay airport to Negril.

You could also land at Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) in Kingston, but be prepared for a good 5 to 6 hour ride or drive to Negril along the south coast of Jamaica. If the weather is bad or you are a "virgin" Jamaica driver, add on a few more hours!

If you have extra money to burn, you can also fly from Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios or Port Antonio to the Negril Aerodrome. International AirLink and Timair offer scheduled and charter flights. There are also 3 companies that offer helicopter service on the Island. Check the link above for more details.


Jamaica Dream Weekend 2014 Party Schedule

Day One - Friday, August 1
Beach Rave – The Electronic Dance Music Party - 2:00PM to 9:00PM
Twisted Spiritz – The Ultimate Mixology Event - 10:00PM to 4:00AM

Day Two - Saturday, August 2
Daydreams White Sands – The All White Party - 2:00PM to 9:00PM
YUSH – The 90s Music Party - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wavz Beach, Negril (J$4,000 drink inclusive)

Day 3 - Sunday, August 3
Xtreme Wet & Wild – The Water Party - 2:00PM to 8:00PM; Kool Runnings Water Park, Negril (J$6,500 food and drink inclusive)
Beer Vibez – The Dancehall Event - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wonderland, Negril (J$3,500 drink inclusive)
Day 4 - Monday, August 4
Smirnoff X.Clusive – The Celebrity Playground - 2:00PM to 9:00PM, Wavz Beach, Negril (J$5,000 food and drink inclusive)
Miami Dream J’ouvert – The Paint & Soca Party All-Inclusive - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wonderland, Negril (J$3,500 drink inclusive)

Day 5 - Tuesday, August 5
Dream Live – Ultimate Dream Concert - 7:00PM to 4:00AM, Cayenne Beach, Negril (J$2,500; food and drinks on sale)

Day 6 - Wednesday, August 6
IGLOO Beach Flex & Lyme – The Original Cooler Party - 4:00PM to 2:00AM, Cayenne Beach, Negril (J$2,000; drinks on sale)

How to Get Tickets to Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014

smirnoff-dream-weekend-2014-negril-ticketsThe Dream Team has maintained the same ticket pricing as in 2013, and it's easy to order your tickets to Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 via the Internet. (Note: a service charge will be added.) NOTE: ONLINE TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT.

If you are in Jamaica, you can pay for your online ticket order at any Bill Express location island-wide. Simply follow the instructions at the bottom of the Touchstone Ticketing page.

  • US$250.00 - Regular Season Band with access to all 10 events, drinks at all events except Dream Live Concert & IGLOO, food included at some events, and free shuttle service* to & from all events
  • US$400.00 - VIP Season Band** (while tickets last)
    • **VIP Season Package includes:
    • Gourmet food & drinks at all events except Dream Live Concert & IGLOO
    • Exclusive entrance to all events
    • Exclusive shuttle to & from all events*
    • Exclusive lounge in all events

**Free shuttle transportation for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 is provided for patrons staying on Norman Manley Boulevard (the Hip Strip). Limited shuttle service available on the West End of Negril.

Upgrades from "regular" to "VIP" can be done at the Redemption Centre or at the door to each event, but are subject to availability and the size of the VIP area at each event. Also, tickets are available for each event, individually, at the Redemption Centre in Negril.

Students with ID’s can purchase season tickets to all 10 parties at a discounted cost of J$18,500. The special price is available only while tickets last and may run until June when they will only be available at the regular price.


  • Kool Runnings Water Park - Negril
  • Total Gas Station - Ironshore, Montego Bay
  • Heaven's Texaco - Mandeville
  • Genus Pharmacy - Portmore
  • Ribbiz Acropolis - Kingston
  • Dream Entertainment - Unit 30, Winchester Business Complex, Kingston

Must be 18 or older. ID is required for all ticket purchases.

Is there a dress code for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014?

Each event is different - concert, water party, cooler party, 90s event, mixology, dancehall, rave, all white, etc. Three of the 10 parties have specific dress code themes - Daydreams (all white), Wet n Wild (swim wear), and Smirnoff XClusive (red and white). Otherwise, plan to wear beach or casual attire.

It's easier to come prepared rather than scrambling around Negril looking for something appropriate to wear at the last minute. You can always accessorize or add a little splash of sparkle to dress up your outfit.

And definitely avoid wearing high heels. Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 parties take place along Negril's 7-mile beach. You will be most comfortable in sandals or whatever you would wear on the beach. Keep your feet happy so that you can enjoy the parties!

Where to Stay in Negril

Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Negril hotels sell out 4 or 5 months in advance of Dream Weekend. If you have not yet booked your reservation, plan to do it soon!

If you are not interested in an all-inclusive resort, be sure to visit our page which lists places to stay in Negril. You will find a great variety of small hotels, guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, and even a few villas.

Another option is to search for rooms with TRIVAGO, one of our advertisers. Click the simple search bar below to find out the best prices from all around the Web that may still be available for your trip.

Compare the best deals on the Web - all in one place - at Trivago:



Staying Safe

As with any place in the world we travel, it's important to leave valuables at home or, at the very least, store them in the hotel's safe. In Negril, use only authorized taxis and buses or the Dream Weekend Shuttles. Motorcycle taxis (AKA “Bike taxis”) are not recommended. Also, do not leave personal belongings in your car or they may attract criminals. Security personnel and police officers are on duty 24/7, but it helps if you move in groups/couples where possible, paying close attention to your surroundings.

Staying Connected

To get more information about Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014, check out these links:

Smirnoff Dream Weekend Official Website
On Twitter @JAdreamweekend; hashtag #DreamOrDie
On Facebook
On Instagram
On YouTube

Have a blast!!

If you're interested in the SPF Weekend parties in Ocho Rios going on over Emancipation Day weekend (August 1-4), get more info here.


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Help Kristi Spend #60days in Tobago | Tobago Island Connoisseur Contest Fri, 09 May 2014 23:47:55 +0000     Greetings readers! I'm way behind on new […]

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Greetings readers! I'm way behind on new posts lately but I have some good stuff coming soon. Until then, maybe you could cast a vote to help my Canadian friend (and fellow Jamaica fanatic), Kristi Keller, in her quest to become the Tobago Island Connoisseur this summer! Voting is super easy, and she needs your help!

What's this Tobago Island Connoisseur thing all about?

Tobago’s Division of Tourism & Transportation is hosting a competition for one lucky Canadian to become the next "Tobago Island Connoisseur." This person will showcase the best of Tobago’s hotels, restaurants, natural beauty, culture and friendly people through social media.

The Tobago Island Connoisseur will spend 60 days, from July 2, 2014 to August 30, 2014, getting to know everything humanly possible about the island of Tobago and will use social media to tell us about it. Yes, the promotion is geared toward encouraging more Canadians to visit Tobago, but getting more worldwide travelers to experience the beauty of the greater Caribbean can’t be a bad thing, right?

The competition started in January with more than 200 applicants. It's now down to the final 10 contestants, and Kristi Keller is one of them. The Tobago Island Connoisseur will be chosen soon, and voting ends on May 16, so it's important to get your votes in now.

Where the heck is Tobago?

Do you see it there on the map just below Barbados and Grenada and north of Trinidad? (Click the map to enlarge it.) Officially known as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the twin-island country lies just off the northern edge of South America.


Tobago is small - about 25 miles long and 6 miles wide. It's lined with picture-postcard beaches, palm tree-lined golf courses, beautiful coral reefs and also has dense rainforest and steep hills. It's particularly known for its extremely warm people and its two-speed lifestyle - slow and slower! The Tobago Island Connoisseur will get to explore and enjoy all that Tobago has to offer... lucky dog.

The island is unspoiled and non-commercialized, earning it several prestigious eco awards, including the World Travel Awards "Best Eco Destination in the World" and the Caribbean Travel Awards Committee "#1 Eco-Destination in the Caribbean". In fact, the Tobago Forest Reserve is the oldest legally protected forest reserve geared specifically towards a conservation purpose (established in 1776).

So, who is Kristi Keller?

Those of you who know and love Jamaica may already be familiar with Kristi Keller who is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is an award-winning Jamaica blogger and writer, owner of, and a travel agent. She has spent a lot of time in Jamaica (and lived there for some time), and you'll enjoy the many unique Jamaican adventures she's written about over the years!

Why would Kristi make the ideal Tobago Island Connoisseur?

I know Kristi personally and can tell you that she:

  • is loaded with a warm, easygoing personality and great sense of adventure
  • bubbles over with infectious enthusiasm
  • has a great sense of humor and loves to have fun
  • loves to absorb the culture, customs and traditions of the places she visits
  • loves to tell stories
  • has the utmost respect for everyday people and their daily life challenges
  • thinks she MUST have been Caribbean in a previous life
  • is one of the most social media savvy bloggers I know!

I would say those are the best traits any person could have for a Tobago Island Connoisseur. Kristi can definitely make us eager to discover the island for ourselves.

How do I vote in the #60Days in Paradise campaign?

Voting for the Tobago Island Connoisseur could not be easier. Click the photo below and you'll land directly on the voting page. Scroll down until you see Kristi's name and video. Click vote. Now click your browser's "back" button and vote again. That's it! You don't have to register, create an account, give your name, email address or anything else. Simply cast your two votes and you're done. There's a maximum of two votes allowed from any IP address, so feel free to cast more votes from your smartphone, iPad or laptop. Remember, voting ends May 16, 2014.


I sincerely hope Kristi wins because I know that everything she posts will make us want to visit Tobago, whether or not we're Canadian. In fact, I already have a request for her to investigate and report back. I'm intrigued by the "mystery tombstone" of Betty Stiven, who died in Tobago in 1783 at 23 years old. There's lots of speculation about Betty's story, and the baffling epitaph in the village of Plymouth reads:

Beneath these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.

I've already cast my maximum votes. Now it's your turn. Please go now and vote for Kristi Keller to become the Tobago Island Connoisseur!

If you're considering a trip to Jamaica, please visit us at for lots of information about where to stay and what to see, do and eat while you're there.


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Popular 2014 Jamaican Bobsled Team Means Business in Sochi Tue, 11 Feb 2014 05:36:31 +0000 The Jamaican bobsled team has been absent from the Wint […]

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The Jamaican bobsled team has been absent from the Winter Olympic Games for 12 years. They missed qualifying by only one place in 2006 for the Turin, Italy games and in 2010 for Vancouver, British Columbia.

But, they're back!

The original team (Devon Harris, Dudley Stokes and Michael White, with alternates Freddie 'Reggae' Powell and Caswell Allen) qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They shot to fame because they were the ultimate underdogs, and we all love an underdog! Not only did they represent a tropical nation in a cold-weather sport, but they had to borrow sleds from other nations in order to compete.

While at the Games, they decided to try the four-man event as well, but had to scramble to reassemble a team because Powell and Allen were ruled out. They succeeded in substituting Stokes' brother, Christian, and the rest is history. The four-man team didn't officially finish because it crashed during one of the four runs, but it became the inspiration for the 1993 movie, Cool Runnings. For a nice recap of the 1988 events, read this article from ESPN.CO.UK.

Entertainment aside, there's no ignoring the phenomenal success of Jamaican athletes in the Summer Olympic Games, but can they be competitive in snowy, icy sports? As a matter of fact, they can, and they are serious contenders!

In 1992, the Jamaican bobsled team returned to the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, but finished poorly. They qualified again for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. There, their 4-man sled team surprised many of its critics by finishing in 14th place, ahead of the U.S., Russia, Australia, France, and two sleds from Canada.

In 2000, the Jamaican bobsled team took the gold medal at the World Push Championships in Monaco. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City , the 2-man team of Winston Watts (pilot) and Lascelles Brown (brakeman), set the Park City bobsled track record and the Olympic record for the push-start segment of the 2-man race at 4.78 seconds. So, yes, Jamaica CAN produce world-class Winter Olympic athletes!

After competing in 2002, Winston Watts came out of retirement to get a team together for Sochi. For the last two years, he has been using up his life savings to pay for his teammates to fly from Jamaica to the U.S. for training. The original plan for a regular four-man team was scrapped when no major sponsors materialized, and the funding problems caused them to cut back to a two-man team.

The Jamaican bobsled team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has five members: pilot Winston Watts (from May Pen), brakeman Marvin Dixon (from Rockfort), backup Wayne Blackwood (from Kingston) who will compete if needed, coach Thomas Samuel, and “mission chief” Chris Stokes, from the original 1988 team. Tom Samuel is a former Canadian National Bobsleigh Pilot/Driver and fellow competitor of Winston Watts.

Worldwide Fans Come Through

jamaican-bobsled-team-2014The original 1988 team had been backed by the Jamaican Olympic Association and wealthy donors, but few had stepped up to help this time. Germany had donated a sled (which needed runners), but they were still $80,000 short.

The team couldn't afford to race the World Cup circuit this season or fly to Switzerland to compete in the final qualification runs. So Watts and Dixon sat home and hoped that they had accumulated enough points in lower-tier races in North America to make the cut. (They had 5th and 7th place finishes in their last two races.) And, amazingly, they qualified.

Still short of funds with only weeks to go before the Games, there was no way they would be able to make the trip to Sochi because they couldn't cover their travel expenses or buy the additional sets of sled runners they needed.

With the help of a savvy fan who was familiar with "crowdfunding," a fundraising campaign was set up for the team through Crowdtilt and, in three short days, raised over $129,000 from 2,800+ supporters in 52 different countries around the world.

The team ended the campaign early because the donations were more than they dreamed of and Samsung had also stepped forward as a sponsor. And, eventually, Jamaican Olympic officials said they and the Sochi Organizing Committee would cover all travel costs for the team. Imagine that. The team plans to use excess funds to support future bobsled teams.

Glitches on the Way to the Games

Travel snarls on the East Coast of the U.S. caused the Jamaican bobsled team to arrive in Sochi ahead of their luggage and equipment. Other teams contributed clothing, but without their sliding suits, helmets or the expensive runners for their two-man sled, they had to miss their Wednesday training runs.

The team was back in business after their equipment arrived late Wednesday evening, and they got their first runs in on Thursday at the Sanki Sliding Center.

So, it looks like hard work, resilience and the power of some online love has paid off. Big up, Jamaican Bobsled Team! We wish you every success. Bring some Jamaican sunshine to that bobsled track!

How to Follow the Jamaican Bobsled Team

The competition begins next Sunday, February 16, with Heat #1 at 11:15AM (EST), followed by the second heat about 12:50PM (EST). The competition continues on Monday, February 17, with Heat #3 at 9:30AM (EST) and the final heat at 11:05AM (EST).

Jamaica Bobsled Team Website
Follow them on Facebook
Connect on Twitter - @JamBobsled, @wwatt4; hashtags #JamaicaBobsled, #Sochi2014, #CoolRunnings, #CoolRunnings2


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R.I.P. William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke | Reggae Icon with a Sense of Purpose Wed, 05 Feb 2014 03:43:05 +0000   Thanks for the Memories, Bunny Rugs! With great […]

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Thanks for the Memories, Bunny Rugs!

With great sadness, I learned of the passing over the weekend of William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke, lead vocalist of the legendary Jamaican reggae band, Third World, and one of my all-time favorites. He shared a birthday with Bob Marley (February 6) and died on February 2, 2014 at his home in Orlando, Florida, following a bout with leukemia, just a few days shy of his 66th birthday. He is survived by his wife and 8 children.

Born in Mandeville and raised in East Kingston, Clarke often credited his father, an Anglican preacher, for his vocal talent and his inspiration for choosing music as a career. His grandmother was responsible for the "Bunny" part of his nickname because he jumped around the house like a rabbit when he was little, and "Rugs" came from a Third World road crew member because of his affinity for sleeping on the floor.

Clarke's musical career started at about age 15 when he joined a band called Charlie Hackett and the Souvenirs in the mid-1960s. While living in New York City, he was a part of several other bands. In 1970, he became the lead singer of the band, Inner Circle, joining guitarist and cellist Stephen "Cat" Coore, keyboard player Michael "Ibo" Cooper, percussionist Irvin "Carrot" Jarrett, and drummer William John Lee "Root" Stewart. They would all be together again when, in 1976, Clarke and Stewart joined the Third World band just three years after Coore and Cooper had formed it with Inner Circle singer Milton "Prilly" Hamilton. Clarke performed on all but Third World's debut album.

Cover of "96° in the Shade"

Cover of 96° in the Shade

Covering The Abyssinians' "Satta Massagana", Third World had gained attention in Jamaica. After replacing the band's drummer, Carl Barovier, with Stewart, and Hamilton with Bunny Rugs, they released their second album, 96° in the Shade (1977), which produced more hits. But their cover version of The O'Jays' "Now That We Found Love" from their third album, Journey to Addis, is probably what propelled Third World to international attention. With a few changes of band members (Cooper, Stewart and Jarrett eventually moved on), Third World has continued to record and perform to enthusiastic crowds around the world for over 40 years.

Few bands in any music genre can sustain the high-quality sound and musical arrangements that Third World has accomplished for so many decades. They were often criticized by reggae purists for their fusion of reggae, soul, R&B and pop music, but Third World is the band so many of us in the U.S. and U.K., who became reggae fans in the '70s and 80's, grew up on (aside from Bob Marley). With a bunch of extremely talented musicians along with the soulful voice of Bunny Rugs, Third World became Jamaica's beloved "Reggae Ambassadors", helping to put the island on the musical map.

While the Jamaican music industry struggles today to find its bearings on an international level, the genre is alive and well off the island. I attribute part of that excitement to bands like Third World. They sing about everything from love to heartbreak to social and political issues, but I can listen every day AND share their music with my kids. I can't say the same for much of the dancehall coming off "the rock" these days.

Bunny Rugs was loaded with charisma. He had a wonderful smile that always left me wanting more. It's difficult to find a suitable replacement for such a larger-than-life singer, but AJ Brown has been filling in as lead singer while Rugs' health has kept him away from the band's current 40th anniversary tour.

Clarke also openly radiated his love for Jamaica, which made fans around the world want to know more about the island and it's music. Say what you want about Third World "selling out"; they have been great for Jamaica and I hope they continue making wonderful music for 40 more years!

Thank you, Bunny, for your sweet voice and for my fond memories of your live performances. Peace on your journey. Rest well. One love!
Enjoy this 2013 interview from Calibe Thompson of Caribcast and followed by a couple of great Bunny Rugs and Third World performances:




Click here for more information about Third World.

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Fi Wi Sinting 2014 | Celebrate Jamaica’s African Roots at Feb 16th Festival Thu, 23 Jan 2014 03:48:57 +0000 Culture & Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting 2 […]

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Culture & Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting 2014!

Fi Wi Sinting 2014, a unique cultural festival that pays tribute to Jamaica's African heritage, will mark it's 24th staging on Sunday, February 16th, from 10:00am to 8:30pm.

The phrase "Fi Wi Sinting" means "It is ours" in Jamaican patois, and captures the spirit in which Jamaicans embrace the food, traditions and customs that followed many of their ancestors from Africa. February is Black History Month and the Festival is Jamaica's biggest African-centered cultural event.

Enjoy a day for the entire family as you mingle with visitors, tourists and Jamaicans from all walks of life at this year's festival!

Getting to Fi Wi Sinting 2014

Somerset Falls Water Park, in Portland Parish, is the setting for the festival, and you'll find this lush property transformed into a big marketplace. Somerset Falls is located just off of Route A4 between the communities of Hope Bay and St. Margaret's Bay, about 10 miles west of Port Antonio.

If you're coming from the west (Annatto Bay), look for the signs as soon as you pass through Hope Bay. If coming from the east (Port Antonio), look for the signs once you have passed St. Margaret's Bay and the Ken Jones Aerodrome.

The driving time from Port Antonio is about 15 minutes. From either Kingston or Ocho Rios, the drive will take about 1 3/4 hours.


fi-wi-sinting-2014-somerset-falls-map width=


How to Get Tickets

Admission is J$800 for adults, J$300 for children 12 and under, and J$500 for students with ID. In US dollars, the prices are $9.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 12 and under, and $6.00 for students with ID.

You can also purchase tickets online via EventBrite for a small handling fee.

The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 festival organizers can be reached at (876) 913-0108, or contact them via the website if you would like to make a group booking.


What to Expect


The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 marketplace will featuring art, clothing, books, jewelry and many other crafts. There's always lots of dancing, great food and drumming throughout the day.

Storytelling revolves around the cunning spider, Anance, also known as Anansi, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy. Anansi tales are believed to have originated with the Ashanti people of Ghana, in West Africa. Anancy tales are a very familiar part of Jamaican culture.

Food treats include traditional dukonoo (also duckunoo or duckanoo) which originated in Ghana and is called tie-a-leaf and blue drawers (draws) in Jamaica. It's a dessert made from cornmeal, coconut, spices and brown sugar, tied up in a banana leaf. You'll also enjoy sweet potato pudding, fried fish and bammy, as well as an abundance of vegetarian and Ital selections.

Here's some information from the Fi Wi Sinting website about the entertainment you can expect:

"Experience the pulsating rhythms of the Kumina drums brought to our shores from the Congo, the mento band - our own indigenous folk music, participate in Nyabinghi chanting with Rastafarians, or join children as they playfully follow closely behind the Jonkonoo band with its main character, Pitchy Patchy, which travelled with us from West Africa."

Enjoy these highlights from previous Fi Wi Sinting festivals:


A Little History

"It is not the honor that you take with you,
but the heritage you leave behind."
~ Branch Rickey

Jamaica is a diverse mix of the descendants of African slaves and European settlers. The first Africans arrived in the West Indies as slaves in the early 1500s after being taken from West Africa by the Spanish and the Portuguese. When the English captured Jamaica in 1655, the Spaniards armed small numbers of slaves so they could defend the island against the British. Many of these slaves fled to the hills where, still today, their descendants, the Maroons, live in secluded communities.

By 1700, Jamaica had about 70 sugar plantations, and the island's population consisted of 7,000 English to 40,000 enslaved Africans. This grew to more than 680 plantations and, by 1800, the population was 21,000 English to 300,000 enslaved Africans. Planters exported sugar, molasses and rum home to England to be sold for profit. Ships returned to Africa to collect more slaves in exchange for trinkets and transported them to the West Indies as a continuous source of labor.

The slaves came primarily from Eastern, Central, and Western Africa, bringing their customs and traditions with them. A spiritual people, music and dancing were important, and drums were sometimes used to communicate from one plantation to another. (This often resulted in bans on drumming.)

The slaves transplanted some of their African food ingredients, like okra, black-eyed peas, sesame, rice and watermelon, and added New World ingredients like corn, sweet potatoes and yams. They also recreated African musical instruments from materials found in Jamaica (calabash, conch, bamboo, etc.) and improvised their song and dance.

Jamaican music today developed out of the traditional work songs sung by slaves, the ceremonial music used in religious services and the social and recreational music played on holidays and during leisure time. Some of the Jamaican traditions that have roots in Africa and will be honored at Fi Wi Sinting 2014 include:

  • Jonkanoo (John Canoe), a traditional dance of African origin, is performed in Jamaica mainly at Christmas time. The folk music is a highly rhythmical and the dance is carnival-like. Some key characters in the dance are Pitchy Patchy, Horsehead, Cowhead and Belly Woman. The music typically features cowbells, whistles and goatskin drums that are carried on the shoulders and played with sticks. Jonkanoo is said to have become popular when celebrating the abolition of slavery in the Island.
  • Kumina is both a dance and a religion and is indigenous to Jamaica. It was brought to the island by enslaved Akan-speaking people from the Congo and Ivory Coast after the abolition of slavery. During the Kumina ceremony, spirits of the dead are summoned to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that they can share their wisdom and advice to those here on Earth. Kumina is most common today in the parishes of Portland & St Thomas and you may find it at wakes and burials (deadyards), as well as at other types of ceremonies. Drum playing is an integral part of the Kumina ritual, while the most common dance is known as "inching", where the dancers shuffle their feet as they move in a circular motion.
  • Mento is Jamaica’s original rural "country" music. It's the grandfather of reggae music and had significant influences on the formation of that genre. It was inspired by African and European music as well as by American jazz and featured acoustic guitars, banjos, bamboo saxes, hand drums and marimbula (large thumb pianos) also called rhumba boxes, which were large enough to sit on and play. Many of the original Mento instruments were handmade and some were the instruments of plantation owners. Mento's vocals have a distinctly African sound and the lyrics are almost always humorous satire. Don't confuse it with Calypso music (which originated in Trinidad).


A Few Tips for Enjoying Fi Wi Sinting 2014

  1. Bring a collapsible umbrella or a cheap rain poncho that can stay in your bag till you need it. It rains often in Portland, and you never know when you may get a rain shower. You'll be happy you came prepared!
  2. Apply sunscreen. You'll be outside all day.
  3. Don't forget a camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera, so you can capture the unique drum and dance performances.


Where to Stay Nearby

If you're coming to Fi Wi Sinting 2014 and want to make an enjoyable weekend of it, you may need a place to stay. Check our pages for places to stay in Portland and in Saint Mary. They will all put you within about a 30 minute drive of Somerset Falls.


Get More Information

For more about Fi Wi Sinting 2014, check out these links:
Fi Wi Sinting Official Website
On Twitter @FiWiSinting2014
On Facebook
On YouTube
On Pinterest
On Google+
Enjoy your day at the Fi Wi Sinting 2014 Festival!


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Lineup | How to Enjoy the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2014 Wed, 08 Jan 2014 02:40:25 +0000 Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2014 This […]

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Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

This year's 18th staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is happening on the three evenings of January 30, January 31 and February 1, 2014. Are you ready for some great music?

This "Premier Music Festival in the Caribbean" always gathers the world's most talented entertainers to celebrate all genres of music in Jamaica in January. It attracts tens of thousands of fans from Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, the USA and Europe. The 2014 staging will once again honor this musical diversity, and we've prepared a short guide to help you get the most enjoyment from it!


Who Will Be On Stage in 2014?

jamaica-jazz-and-blues-festival-2014-artistsThe Festival usually features about 25 live acts performing over the 3 days. Here's a list of some of the awesome performers who are confirmed so far:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

  • Marcia Griffiths - The "Queen of Reggae" celebrates her 50 years in music, accompanied by friends Bob Andy, Judy Mowatt, Freddie McGregor and others.
  • Moses Davis ("Beenie Man") - Grammy award-winning Jamaican reggae artist performing under the theme 'The Other Side of Moses Davis'.
  • Chronixx - Young contemporary artist who is creating huge buzz in reggae music with a style that may remind you of the late, great Peter Tosh.
  • Christopher Martin - Singer/songwriter from St. Catherine who soared to recognition after winning the Digicel Rising Stars title in 2005.
  • Chalice - Popular high-energy reggae group; veterans of Sunsplash and Sumfest.
  • Brian Art - Born in St. Ann, Jamaica, the guitarist and songwriter has appeared internationally and focuses on music with a positive message.

Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Toni Braxton - American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician and 6-time Grammy Award winner.
  • Joe - American R&B singer-songwriter and 7-time Grammy Award nominee; known for his authentic and heartfelt crooner style.
  • Chrisette Michele - American Grammy Award-winning contemporary R&B and soul singer-songwriter and 2014 Grammy nominee.
  • Protoje - Contemporary lyrical reggae sensation with a love for vintage reggae music.
  • Najee - American smooth jazz saxophonist and flautist who has often been compared to Kenny G, George Howard, and Dave Koz.
  • Peter Lloyd - Respected veteran Jamaican actor and singer with a wide appeal for his captivating live performances.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

  • Chaka Khan - 10-time Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, dubbed the "Queen of Funk", who has sold an estimated 200 million records worldwide.
  • Beres Hammond - Legendary Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter known in particular for his romantic lovers rock, 2013 recipient of the Order of Jamaica & 2014 Grammy Award nominee.
  • Aaron Neville - American R&B and soul singer and musician who has had four platinum-certified albums.
  • Crystal Gayle - Grammy Award-winning American country music singer and winner of numerous other top awards throughout her career.
  • The O'Jays - American R&B group with the "Philadelphia soul" sound who were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Paul Peress - Grammy nominated American drummer, bandleader, producer, and songwriter, he combines smooth jazz with pop-jazz ballads and complex rhythmic grooves that showcase his superb musicianship.
  • Bobby Kimball - American singer and musician, best known as the frontman of the rock band, Toto, who was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Della Manley - Acclaimed contemporary singer/songwriter, guitarist & pianist; well-known for her warm, smoky vocal style.
  • One Third - Winners of the Digicel Rising Star competition in 2006; well-received by audiences for their soulful charisma.

Looks like the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2014 is going to have some great vibes!


How to Get Tickets

Tickets to the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2014 are available now for online purchase. The prices quoted below are in US Dollars. Get them early. As the event gets closer, tickets usually sell out online and are only available from various local outlets on the Island.

General Admission:

Thursday - $50
Friday - $80
Saturday - $80
Friday & Saturday - $155
All 3 Nights - $200

General Admission grants you access to the general areas of the venue which has no assigned seating or standing areas. This area is occupied on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 8 are free.

VIP Admission:

Thursday - $120
Friday - $120
Saturday - $120
Friday & Saturday - $230
All 3 Nights - $350

VIP admission grants you access to the general areas plus an area close to the stage. Unreserved seating is provided. This area is occupied on a first-come basis and is limited to the number of seats available. Children under 8 are free.

VIP Parking

Available to "weekend" (Fri/Sat) and "season" (all 3 nights) ticket holders only. Cost is $20.


What Time Do the Shows Start?

Gates open at 5 PM and show time is generally 6 PM. It's important to go early to get the best parking and best spot (especially if you have general admission tickets).


Getting to the Venue

jamaica jazz & blues festival 2014 greenfield stadiumThe three-day Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2014 will be held at the Greenfield Stadium (also known as the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium) in Duncan’s, Trelawny, which is just outside of Falmouth. It features amazing views of the coastline of Jamaica, excellent parking facilities, security, comfortable amenities and plenty of room to completely relax, dance, and enjoy the great music.

Greenfield Stadium is about a 10-minute drive from Falmouth, a 30-minute drive from either Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, about 1 & 3/4 hours from Negril, and about 2 & 3/4 hours from Kingston or Port Antonio. Driving to the event is generally easy because the roads on the North Coast are in good condition. If you would rather not drive, there is always scheduled shuttle service (more details as they become available).


Photo Courtesy of Google Maps


Helpful Tips for Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

    1. Don't forget your tickets. And you'll need some cash if you want to buy food and/or drinks. (I can't tell you how many times I've found broken ATM machines at music festivals!)

    3. Stay warm. You'll be outdoors all evening, and Trelawny can get quite cool at night. Dress accordingly and bring a shawl, sweater or something that will keep you warm.

    5. Keep your feet happy and wear comfortable shoes! Greenfield Stadium is a large venue. You'll want to be comfortable when walking from the parking lot and standing around listening to music (there's usually more than one stage). Also consider packing an extra pair of socks to keep your feet warm.

    7. If you're carrying a handbag, choose one you can carry over your shoulder to keep your hands free and one that's large enough to keep keys and things from getting lost.

    9. Pop a few of those handy pocket-size tissue packs in your handbag or backpack so you won't have any unpleasant surprises after you've stood in line to use the festival bathroom facilities just to find out there's no tissue left! A pack of baby wipes can also come in handy.

    11. Bring a collapsible umbrella or pick up a cheap rain poncho that can stay in your bag till you need it. The weather in Jamaica can change frequently, and you never know when you may get a rain shower. You'll be happy you came prepared!

    13. Don't forget a camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera, so you can capture the awesome performances of your favorite artists and share them with jealous friends.

    15. If you're alone, make friends. Music is only half of the fun. If you make new friends, you'll double your enjoyment.


Where to Stay Nearby

Whether you plan to attend the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival for just one evening or for the entire weekend, you may want a place to stay. Here are a few places that are nearby the venue. Also check our pages for other places to stay in Trelawny, Saint James (MoBay) and Saint Ann (Ocho Rios).

Jamaica Jewel Guest House; Duncan’s - 1 (876) 954-2352
Silver Sands Villas and Beach Resort; Duncan’s - 1 (876) 954-2001
Retreat Guesthouse Luxury Suites, Falmouth - 1(876) 954-9858
Time N' Place, Falmouth - 1 (876) 843-3625
Fisherman's Inn, Falmouth - 1 (876) 954-3427
Royalton White Sands Montego Bay, Falmouth - 1-855-744-8371
Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay, Montego Bay - 1 (888) 465 4329
Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Hotel, Montego Bay - 1-866-276-6393 (US)
Hilton Rose Hall Resort, Montego Bay - 1-800-997-5148
Gran Bahia Principe, Runaway Bay - 1-866-282-2442
Franklyn D. Resort, Runaway Bay - 1-876-973-4124


A Little Background

Nearly two decades ago, Air Jamaica's then-vice-president, Allen Chastenet, set out on a mission to attract more tourists to Jamaica during "soft" periods in the Fall of each year. With the help of producer Walter Elmore and others, he staged an outdoor music festival in November 1996 on the grounds of the historic Rose Hall Great House. The first show attracted an enthusiastic audience of 1,500, and the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Music Festival was born.

In 1998, the Festival moved to James Bond Beach in Oracabessa for a period of five years, generally being staged in October or November. But heavy rains often caused performances to be shortened or cancelled altogether. The decision was made beginning in 2000 to reschedule the popular event to the month of January, making it the kick-off event for the Jamaican entertainment season.

The venue has also changed from time to time, moving from James Bond Beach to Cinnamon Hill Golf Course in Montego Bay from 2001 to 2005. Thanks to international acclaim, attendance grew to more than 35,000 and, from 2006 to 2008, the Festival's new home became the Aqueduct at Rose Hall.

Air Jamaica relinquished the title in 2009 and the Jamaica Tourist Board became the new sponsor of the renamed Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. The event also got a new home at the Greenfield Stadium in Falmouth, Trelawny, which has won unanimous approval from patrons.


Festival Contact Information

To get more information about the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2014, check out these links:

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival Official Website
On Twitter @JamaicaJazz; hashtag #JaJazz
On Facebook
On Facebook
On Instagram

Have a great time!!

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Christmas in Jamaica: It’s Sorrel Drinking Time! Tue, 17 Dec 2013 23:51:44 +0000 Christmas in Jamaica would not be Christmas without tra […]

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Christmas in Jamaica would not be Christmas without traditional Jamaican Sorrel Drink, and you still have plenty of time to make yours!

Yes, you can buy it pre-bottled year-round in Jamaican supermarkets and throughout the Caribbean, but there is something special about making your own. Homemade is always better. It's not difficult and is good for you (if you leave out the rum!).

Sorrel ("SAH-rell"), is the Jamaican name for the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant, a prickly species of the hibiscus (not the ornamental variety) and cousin to the okra.

Sorrel grows abundantly in Jamaica, and you will see freshly harvested sorrel everywhere, primarily between October and January. You may not see much evidence of Christmas outside of the tourist areas, but you will definitely find Jamaican Sorrel Drink in nearly every home at holiday time.


What Is Sorrel?

There are actually two completely different species of "sorrel" - Hibiscus sabdarrifa (the red sorrel of the Caribbean) and Rumex acetosa, the green common or garden variety of sorrel, which is also edible.

The English name for the Hibiscus sabdarrifa is "Roselle". It originated in Western and Northern Africa (Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan) where it has grown since ancient times. Its spread throughout the world can be linked to Spain and the slave trade.

When the Spanish set off to conquer the New World beginning in 1492, they brought roselle with them from Africa to Jamaica. Over the next few centuries, they would take Jamaican-grown roselle to Colonial Mexico and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean for trading purposes.  The Spaniards called it "flor de Jamaica" and it became very popular. As time went on, more sorrel made its way to the colonies with African slaves, along with okra, yams, peanuts, collard greens and a variety of other wonderful plants and spices.


In other places, Jamaican sorrel is called Rosella, Rosella Fruit, Red Sorrel, Indian Sorrel, Florida Cranberry, Flor de Jamaica, Rosa de Jamaica, Wild Hibiscus, Bissap (in Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger, the Congo, and France), Wonjo (in the Gambia), Zobo (in Nigeria), Karkade (in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan), Omutete (in Namibia), Saril (in Panama), and a variety of other names around the world.

jamaican-sorrel-drinkThe flowers of the Hibiscus sabdarrifa last only a day or two, and leave behind bright red waxy calyxes which held the blossom and seed in place. These calyxes (or pods) of the plant are harvested, the seeds are removed, then they are used to make the popular Jamaican sorrel drink and others like it around the world, such as Mexico's popular "Agua de Jamaica" ("Hum-EYE-Kah") and Senegal's "Jus de bissap".

As for taste, I would describe the flavor of sorrel as tart like a cranberry with a hint of raspberry mixed in. Due to the tartness, Jamaican Sorrel Drink needs a lot of sugar to sweeten it, along with some ginger and pimento (allspice) to balance it out and create a delicious drink.

If you've ever had Celestial Seasoning's "Red Zinger" tea or Tazo's "Passion" tea, then you have already tasted sorrel. The sorrel makes the tea red and gives it a spicy flavor. It's also a regular ingredient in Jamaican Rum Punch.


Where Can You Buy Sorrel?

fresh-jamaican-sorrelIf you are in Jamaica around the holidays, you can buy sorrel fresh from street vendors and markets everywhere. The seeds have already been removed, so you will only need to wash it and remove any stray weeds or twigs before you start making your Jamaican Sorrel Drink. You can also find the dried variety but, by all means, fresh is always better.

If you're not in the Caribbean, you will probably be stuck with the dried buds. The bonus is that you'll be able to make your Jamaican Sorrel Drink all year long! Look for them at your local Caribbean, African or Mexican markets or health food stores. You can also order them online from


If you find a good source for your sorrel, experiment with other recipes. Sorrel makes wonderful jam, sauces, chutneys, soups, etc. I also found this recipe for Hibiscus Lemonade that sounds delicious!


Does Jamaican Sorrel Drink Have Health Benefits?

Sorrel is said to contain antioxidants that are beneficial throughout the body. Its antioxidizing power is reportedly higher than vegetable juice, tomato juice and orange juice, and compares favorably to cranberry or pomegranate juice. Antioxidants boost our immune systems (to fight off colds and flu) and fight skin aging. Sorrel is high in vitamins A and C, as well as chromium, manganese, iron, selenium, and phosphorus.

Sorrel has been used in folk medicine around the globe as a diuretic, a mild laxative, to reduce hypertension, and to treat inflammatory conditions like eczema and rheumatoid arthritis. And Jamaicans say that combining sorrel with your rum helps you fight off hangovers!


Making Jamaican Sorrel Drink

Try our Jamaican Sorrel Drink recipe to get you started. Everyone adds their personal touch to their sorrel drink; I love to add cloves and cinnamon but you can add whatever flavors taste good to you. And it's not necessary to make the drink alcoholic; it's wonderful just as it is when served over ice on a warm day.

Here's a video demonstrating the most common way of making Jamaican Sorrel Drink:


Tips: Jamaicans are a superstitious lot, so of course they have one about making sorrel drink - If you sniff it, you will spoil it! No matter how tempting it is, don’t put your face in or near the pot, because any bacteria that gets in will spoil your batch.

So, it's time to get into the holiday spirit and make a batch or two of Jamaican Sorrel Drink for yourself and your family and friends to enjoy over the upcoming holidays. It's a nice tradition and a must for the Jamaican Christmas dinner table. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


  • MLB's Weekend Recipe: Sorrel Drink (Zobo)
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