Five Local Gems to Visit on a Budget

Yardie Travels

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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Five Local Gems to Visit

Our country is known as the “Land of Wood and Water” but consider just how many of us have never truly seen Jamaica as experienced by tourists and reported in foreign media. This summer, Yaadie Travels changes the conversation as we encourage everyone to go out and enjoy our island as others have, and do so while on a budget!

Bowden Hill Falls,

Once, while giving directions to this beautiful water feature near Stony Hill, I was quietly corrected that the actual name is Falling Edge Falls. However, the interchangeable names do not affect the serene beauty or the adventure that ensues from the approximately half-hour hike from an out-of-use bridge near Straun Castle to this secluded waterfall. Our advice for the first-time visitor — bring hydration, snacks/food and lots of insect repellant. Or money to buy from one of the many shops that line the road as you make the climb.

Pro: It's absolutely free!

Con: Forgetting that a half-hour walk to the falls also means a half-hour walk back after an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable day.

Boston Beach, Portland

This gorgeous spot is a personal favourite that (shockingly) comes at no cost, if you do not consider the roughly two-hour drive from Kingston city to Boston in Portland taxing. On a good day, you'll find the white, sand-covered beach flocked by surfers who put on quite the show and, on even better days, it's almost completely deserted save for a few residents.

Pro: It's free of cost and literally just a few minutes' walk from where world-famous Boston jerk is sold!

Con: It can get pretty crowded during the summer, around public holidays, on weekends…you get the picture.

Puerto Seco Beach,

The newly redeveloped Puerto Seco Beach in St Ann is testament to what can be done when private enterprise serves the needs of people. After more than $600 million was pumped into the redevelopment of this well known beach by the Guardsman Group, Puerto Seco Beach has reclaimed much of its beauty. Outfitted with pristine changing rooms, restaurant, bar, pool option for those averse to salt water, and several other amenities, the $900 entry fee for adult locals is a bargain for the “dry lan' touris'” looking for that perfect weekend trip.

Pro: Due to its convenient location and proximity to major roadways, it's pretty smooth driving for most of the way if you're coming from the Corporate Area or the eastern and western ends of the island.

Con: Its newness has resulted in renewed public interest, so get there early to get that perfect spot to place your towel.

Strawberry Fields Together, Robin's Bay, St Mary

The breathtaking view of a serene cove set against the backdrop of an eco-friendly environment found in quiet community of Robin's Bay, St Mary, is perhaps not something one would expect to find just an hour outside of Kingston. But that's the beauty of Strawberry Fields Together — unexpected, well-maintained and authentic.

Pro: Entry is $1,000 if you bring along food and drinks, and $600 if you don't.

Con: Let us know if you find one.

Street Food Saturdays

Thanks to a chance encounter and recommendation by a night market patron last year , the glazed turkey neck served up by Street Food Saturdays has led to multiple trips to the rural Mount James district in Golden Spring, St Andrew, to try their many mouth-watering menu staples.

From the set-up near, and that one time in, the Plantain Garden river to the charcoal and wood fire-prepared meals, there aren't too many other local culinary experiences that are comparable. So far, the barbeque spare ribs, corned pork belly and chocolate bread pudding made with stout are easily among my top five favourites. Not to mention the refreshing mint lemonade!

Pro: There's no entry fee, just bring money to purchase food (and then a little extra because you may find yourself sampling the entire menu).

Con: Don't be too surprised if you get lost a couple times after leaving the Stony Hill main road. While there are directional signs along the route, it can still be challenging to locate for the first-time visitor.

— Paul Allen

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