Harry anniversary Jamaica
Don't worry about a thing, Harry, Jamaica will suit you just fine. The Prince arrives on the sun-kissed island tomorrow – his last stop on a tour of Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Jamaica, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence, is packed with all the things Harry loves in life. Here I point them out while giving you a right royal tour of Bob Marley’s homeland…
IN THE FAST LANE: It is remarkable that a country as laid-back as Jamaica has produced the world’s fastest man.
And it is rumoured that speed-loving, Harley-Davidson riding Harry is keen to challenge Olympic 100-metre champion Usain Bolt to a race when he calls in at his training ground in Kingston on Tuesday!
Bolt now lives in the bustling, vibrant capital on the south east coast but fans should also head for Sherwood Content, a small town in Trelawny Parish on the north west of the island to see where he was born.
Kingston is the cultural heart of this friendly, fun-loving island —theatre, music, art and dance. But is also littered with historical sites, the forts of the English buccaneers in Port Royal, Georgian monuments in Spanish Town and the caves at Mountain River with paintings in the rock by The Tainos, Jamaica’s native inhabitants. They were living an even more chilled life (if that’s possible) before the Spaniards invaded in 1494.
Follow Harry to Devon House, built in 1881, on Hope Road. He’s having lunch there on Tuesday and is bound to be given their speciality ice-cream.
ROCK & REGGAE: Harry loves music and dancing and was described as “acting like a rock star” when he turned Buckingham Palace into a nightclub for William and Kate’s wedding reception.
Harry will dance the night away
Music is a passion of Jamaicans and you never go far without hearing one of reggae king Bob Marley’s or Grammy-award winning Beenie Man’s records filling the air. Take a tour of the Bob Marley Museum, on the site of his Kingston home, which includes watching videos of the legendary musician.
Steel bands entertain holidaymakers throughout the island’s hotels so you’ll be able to dance the night away. So will Harry, who is being treated to a Jamaica Night on Sandals Cay in Montego Bay on Wednesday.
A GOOD SPORT: Football-loving Harry will always find a group of kids on the beach with a ball! But he might have to pick up a bat as cricket is the most popular sport. This is a great island to be on if you’re got active children. The locals love challenging holidaymakers to matches and facilities are improving all the time. Treasure Beach Foundation (breds.org) is developing a sports park on the south coast and if you stay at the nearby Jakes Hotel, owner Jason Henzell will soon have you kicking a ball about!
The clear warm Caribbean waters are perfect for snorkeling and spotting thousands of colourful fish. If you want to go deeper into the ocean to explore sunken ships, take a PADI course at Negril Scuba Centre.
You can fish, parasail, kayak, jet-ski, water-ski or just soak up the sun lounging on a catamaran or boat trip around the island.
ADRENALINE JUNKIE: Apache pilot Harry is used to flying through the air so will be a natural at Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. On a zip-line, you swing through trees and over gorges so make sure you have a head for heights. If you prefer to be on the ground, rip through rough terrain on a Dune Buggy or ATV safari. Water babes can choose floating down the river on a giant tube or taking a horse for a swim in the sea!
Harry has been known to jump fully-clothed into a swimming pool so he could show off again at Rick’s Café in Negril where locals are famous for jumping off cliffs and plunging 35ft into the ocean. Great place to watch amazing sunsets.
ECO-FOOTPRINCE: The prince loves the great outdoors although he’ll find Jamaica’s rainforest a bit warmer than trekking to the North Pole. The Blue Mountains stretch for 28 miles and lush vegetation includes more than 800 species of plants and 200 species of birds. Take a guided walk or trek through the forest, passing waterfalls and rivers or tour one of the famous Blue Mountain coffee plantations. If you want a challenge, there’s a seven-mile, four-hour trek to The Peak 3,000ft up.
Dive off the rocks at Rick's Cafe
Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios is another natural beauty spot – clamber up the side of the 600ft cascading water. Nearby, you can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove.
Eco-friendly Harry is always keen to help local communities so he could pop over to the Marine Protection Area at Bluefields Bay, funded by Virgin Holidays’ Travel Foundation, to see how fishermen are fighting to save stocks. Virgin also supports the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship for local youngsters that opened in Montego Bay last year.
BOOZE & BEAUTIES: There are plenty of both on Jamaica so Harry will be in his element. Jamaicans are an attractive race so the prince will get lots of attention from some of the most beautiful women in the world. Jamaica is the king of Caribbean rums, Appleton being among the most famous with tasting tours at its estate in the Black River valley. Harry will no doubt have to force a few Red Stripe beers down, even if only after sampling local dishes of jerk chicken, ackee, saltfish and rice.
But he might not get the chance to hit the numerous nightclubs including Quad in Kingston – four different clubs in one building.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville can be found on Montego Bay’s “Hip Strip” and on the beach in Ocho Rios and Negril.
One bar Harry would not be able to stagger out of is The Pelican Bar – bizarrely, it’s in the middle of the ocean. Take a boat to the wooden “hut” on stilts, a quarter of a mile off the St Elizabeth coast, and you will have escaped the world as you know it.
FIT FOR A PRINCE: Unfortunately for Harry, he won’t be staying at one of the most chilled out hotels in Jamaica – Jakes on the perfectly-named Treasure Beach. Shabby chic cottages hug the rocks and sit in lush gardens. There’s a great restaurant, saltwater pool and fabulous spa and after a few days, you will never want to leave this family-run paradise.
Jakes is perfect place to chill out
Jamaica has accommodation for all budgets. If you prefer a more modern, swish all-inclusive hotel, Secrets Wild Orchid on the beach in Montego Bay will fit the bill. The 350-suite resort has pretty much everything from restaurants and sports facilities to a theatre and fitness centre.
Wherever you stay on this gorgeous island, you are guaranteed a holiday fit for a prince!
GETTING THERE: Virgin Holidays offers four nights room-only at the 4V Jakes and three nights all-inclusive at the 5V Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, including Virgin Atlantic flights departing from Gatwick on June 13 and transfers from £1,335pp. Gatwick v-room lounge costs £20 adult, £12 child. See virginholidays.co.uk or call 0844 557 3859.
Hiring an economy car in Jamaica costs from around £215 a week. See holidayautos.co.uk or call 0871 472 5229.
For UK airport hotel stays and parking, see aph.com and for more information on Jamaica, go to visitjamaica.com