In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so, the London 2012 Olympic Games are here. Even the most hardened skeptics are now cheering at the telly and discussing league tables in the pub. And as we host the fastest, strongest, coolest people from around the world, we fancy following our heroes to their holiday-worthy homelands.
First up is Jamaica. Home of the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, this tropical paradise has plenty to offer travellers of all speeds.
For a small island, Jamaica is pretty iconic. The locals’ easy breezy lifestyle mixed with world famous music and finger-licking food makes it an unforgettable place to unwind, Caribbean style.
Regular Notting Hill Carnival-goers will salivate over the thought of homemade jerk chicken, spicy curry goat with coconut rice and crunchy fried plantains. All washed down with the finest rum known to man.
It’s fair to say that Jamaicans love their food. Filling your belly is a cheap as well as cheerful experience thanks to hearty street food and Bolt even has his own restaurant in the capital of Kingston called Tracks and Records.
Its deep-set roots in African culture give Jamaica a different flavour to neighbouring islands. With a history as rich as it is tragic, this is a proud nation with plenty of clout. Jamaicans are a friendly bunch, and apart from gang troubles in a few neighbourhoods in Kingston, the country is a safe place to explore. Negril is a popular base, and the resorts of Montego Bay are just lovely, plus Bolt’s hometown of Sherwood is just a few miles inland.
Once the rebel music of dreadlocked rastas, reggae is now a mainstream guilty pleasure the world over. Bob Marley fans and followers of his son Ziggy will spot references to reggae’s royal family across the island. Similarly, references to a certain green plant are also impossible to ignore. Weed is a big part of life here. Many locals don’t see marijuana as an illegal drug but something healing and spiritual.
All this is set to a stunning background of natural beauty. The Blue Mountains provide breathtaking treks and world-class coffee; idyllic beaches stretch for miles and even the most jaded diver will love exploring the ocean reefs.
This palm-fringed paradise is best enjoyed from January to April, when the rainy season is at bay. Start planning your escape now for a jammin’ start to 2013.
Enjoy budget sea views in The Bird’s Nest, a friendly, family-run hideaway in Montego Bay: Hostelbookers
Fly from London Gatwick to Montego return for £691 in March 2013 with American Airlines
Image courtesy of Flickr