Kingston, Jamaica can arguably be considered the cultural capital of the Caribbean. The city has been immortalized in song and in 2016 UNESCO designated it a creative music city owing to its rich contribution through its musical artists. As the country’s capital, Kingston is a major centre for business, and there is a small but significant expatriate population residing in the city attached to embassies, multinationals, NGOs and development organisations.
Kingston is also a great location for pleasure travel. The focus is on history and culture and you will find high quality museums, excursions, restaurants and hotels.
Pay attention to your health
Temperatures generally hover between 26 C and 35 C with August being the hottest month of the year. The humidity is also significant. Temperatures drop at night by approximately 2 C – 5 C. Drinking lots of water is therefore important to be well, especially if you’re not used to hot temperatures and are spending lots of time outdoors. You also want to ensure that you have insect repellent with deet to prevent mosquito bites.
Finally, note that entry to Jamaica requires evidence of a yellow fever vaccine if you are coming from a country where the disease is endemic.
local business etiquette and customs
The default mode of dress for women in business in Jamaica is formal. This translates to suits, jackets, modest heels and even stockings (not obligatory). Some local organisations have very detailed dress codes that regiment make up, nail polish, length of skirts, and hair styles. Among many local businesses female employees will wear uniforms.
The handshake is the standard greeting. In many organisations persons are addressed by their last names e.g. Miss Hutchinson, but this varies. Showing respect is an important part of Jamaican culture and it is important to greet persons when you first see them on entering a room with a Good Morning, Good Afternoon or Good Evening (after 5 pm).
Women make up a large chunk of the formal workforce, are the majority of university graduates, and can be increasingly found in traditionally male dominated roles (e.g. bus and taxi drivers). Notwithstanding this there is a certain chivalry expected of men. Men will generally open doors, allow you to go first, etc.
Outside of the office in the streets, catcalling is common e.g. “Hi, baby.” (My own personal strategy is to acknowledge the commenter in the briefest possible way and keep moving. I personally absolutely ignore anything overtly sexual.) Women (and men) of varying backgrounds may find they are referred to by their ethnicity, e.g. “Whitey”. (My opinion is that generally it’s insensitive but harmless, more times than not just a greeting said with a smile. I have not had this experience but my recommendation would be to keep moving and not acknowledge the comments.)
There are no legal restrictions for women.
travel and transport
There are many forms of public transportation in Kingston:
- Private taxi companies – On Time Taxi is recommended
- Route taxis
- Public government buses
- Public private buses
- Tourism taxis
At this time I am not aware of any ladies only taxi services. You may consider requesting a female driver.
dining and bars
Gloria’s Seafood Restaurant (casual) – expect a wait time as food done to order)
Jo Jo’s Jerk (casual) – – less for food and more for entertainment
Marketplace Centre – variety of restaurants and clubs
Red Bones (elegantly casual) – live music on weekends
women’s networks and events
- Women Business Owners of Jamaica – http://www.womenbusinessownersja.com/
- Women’s Entrepreneur Network of the Caribbean
- “Work the Room – Maximize Your Effectiveness” – November 1st
- “Work the Room – Be Your Own Publicist” – December 6th
- “What’s Next? Follow-up and Build Relationships” – January 10th, and
- “Online Networking – Get the Most of Social Media” – February 7th, 2017
beauty and fitness
- Spartan Health Club
- Express Fitness
- Cuthbert’s Fitness Studio run by former Olympian Juliet Cuthbert
- Ript Gym
Spas and Facials
safety and emergency services
Kingston is like any other city: you need to be careful but you also should take advantage of all that there is. That means using appropriate transportation, not waving cash around, and knowing which part of the city you’re headed to. It also means going to check out the interesting museums and attractions available in the city.
Information on attractions and events can be found on the Jamaica Tourist Board page.
Police 119 or 911
about karen hutchinson
I am the owner/operator of Jamaica Cultural Enterprises (www.jaculture.com) a tour company based in Kingston focused on cultural excursions and vacations. I started this business in 2010.
The experiences that I create in my business are experiences that I myself would enjoy in any destination with a heavy focus on Jamaican creativity. I am happy that I live in a country and a city that is so amazingly rich in culture and life.
While culture is my passion, my discipline has generally been Finance and General Management. I received an MBA from IESE, Universidad de Navarra located in Barcelona, Spain and prior to that a first degree from the University of the West Indies in Management Studies with and Economics Minor.
English is my first language and I also speak Spanish.
Feel free to email me or follow me on twitter: @jaculture