St James, Jamaica

Moving clockwise from Hanover we now enter the parish of St James, Jamaica.  Pretty much every single Jamaica tourist in the world has been to St James because they all land in Montego Bay.  Although I’m not a big fan of the Montego Bay area I have made some awesome discoveries there, along with the not-so-awesome.

air jamaica

Things I’ve Learned in St James

– St James is bordered by Hanover, St Elizabeth and Trelawny and it’s capital is Montego Bay (or Mobay as locals call it).  Mobay is also referred to “The Second City”, second to the island capital of Kingston.

– Montego Bay is home to the biggest musical event on the island each July – Reggae Sumfest.  I’ve been to it twice and even though I can write all about it, nothing does it justice except to just GO.  You won’t regret it.

– I learned that at least one police officer in St James has 6 fingers on each hand.  And he and his cavalry like to offer rides to those of us who walk alone.  It was always fun to be let out of a police truck at random destinations 😀   I also seemed to run into the same Budget Rental Car employee who would give me rides to where I needed to be.  Ironically, this was long before my sponsorship with Budget.  Talk about going above and beyond!

– I was stationed in Montego Bay for two months on an assignment and I saw it all in that city and surrounding areas.  You can be totally Americanized if you want at places such as Harley Davidson, MegaMart, Pizza Hut, etc.  But don’t ever think that downtown Mobay is like an American downtown.  The chaos in the streets down there, day and night is a sight to behold (I find it fascinating).  I’ve been stuck driving down there late at nights on side streets, alleyways, and market areas.  I prayed a lot for the safety of the paint job on my car.

– I have learned that Jamaican men cannot dine inside Pizza Hut if they’re wearing a marina (sleeveless shirt).

– After spending 2 months in the upscale community of Ironshore I’ve learned just how many villas are in there and how dead most of them are.  I also learned that everyone has their price.  If you’re in the market to rent an entire villa and run it as a vacation property you can literally drive up to any place that has a for sale sign and ask how much they will rent it for on a monthly basis.  I, along with a car full of Jamaicans did this for two days straight for an American lady – drove around the neighborhood looking at places for sale and rent.  It’s really a turnkey operation to obtain a villa as most of them come furnished and fully staffed.

– Right next door to that upscale community is one of the worst, most notorious communities on the island – Flankers.  I’ve heard that in recent years it’s become even worse than certain parts of Kingston and Spanish town for crime and violence.  Although a car I was driving one day broke down right in Flankers and the people were wonderfully helpful.  Go figure.

– There’s a military base right across the highway from Flankers and right beside the airport.  I learned that I can pick up random soldiers at the gas station in Ironshore and get invited into military bases.  It was kind of cool to be able to drive inside there and have people wonder why I’m there.

– I attended my first Sunday church in Jamaica in Flower Hill, St James.  I didn’t even know there was anything up in the hills of this parish until I was invited to church by a resort employee I randomly met.

– The best beach on the island is Dead End beach – if you like low-flying aircraft.  I have wasted entire days sitting there watching planes come in.

I’m sure I’ve learned MUCH more about St James over the years but these are the funny ones that came to mind while I was typing. PLEASE enter what you know in the comments below!


  • Janet says:

    Having lived in Lilliput (2years) and Cambridge,(2 years) St James I know this parish like the back of my hand! And was very happy to leave it!!!
    Lilliput, over the years has changed for the better since the new hotel was erected and is no longer made up of residents on “capture” land as they were made to sign and pay for their land and now have ownership titles. But even so, some of the most feared reside in this area and saying that, I still visit!
    Cambridge is nice! Having lived on the “scheme” and in the hills it’s probably one of the friendliest places I’ve lived and next to Lucea, Hanover…they love to party! Camfest is a HUGE event every year with up to 60 sound systems in the area!!! It’s free event and well worth a visit!
    Mobay is not one of my favourite cities and I’m in and out like a dose of salts. My advice to anyone going into the town is to DRESS DOWN and don’t be flashy so as not to draw attention to yourself.
    Downtown is rough and ready and very busy all the times so be prepared to constantly walk in the road…
    I’ve only been to Flankers on two occasions. The first when an acquaintance Green (a rasta who owned the shop on the entrance to Flankers) was shot and killed a few years ago and another time when we went to look at a car and I was greeted with “Waa she a do here” to which my reply was “trying to live and breathe just like you”….dem soon left!
    There are many areas in St James which you really should not go because of the danger…I always say avoid the ones with the prettiest names and you can’t go wrong!
    But saying that, St James has become a much more attractive parish over the years with the completion of the Highway and is a joy to drive through…
    Oh and Dead End Beach…we know it as Buck End and most definitely MY favourite place of all time and one which I frequently go on my own because its fairly safe.
    If you go right to the end of Dead End and ask for STUMPY he sells out of his car by the big container, and tell him MISS DAVIS SAID HI! He’s been my good friend for many years (2003) and he’s just one of the best!!! (I have a picture which I shall try and upload so you can see him).
    If you visit St James, enjoy, it’s an experience!

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  • Kristi says:

    Thanks for your comments Janet, I can always count on you lol. That Camfest thing sounds like something I’d LOVE to go to! When do they hold that event?

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  • trisha says:

    Met my hubby in montego bay.

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  • Kristi says:

    Well that’s cool Trisha!

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  • Janet says:

    Camfest used to have a website so will look for it and post it on your page. If not I will phone a few contacts to find out the details. Also don’t forget when traveling through Anchovy to reach Cambridge, they also have a good event just after CamFest…The Agricultural Show which at the end of the day has an excellent show with big names! This is normally held just over the road from the left turn you drive to get to Cambridge! A ROAD BLOCK…

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  • Trevor says:

    Hey! Kristi WAH EH PREE?

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  • Kristi says:

    TREVOR!!!! How are you? Every time I drive by Flow I think of you LOL!
    I hope all is well with you. Why Pree!!!

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  • Kay says:

    Janet, where in Lilliput? I stay there by the water tower. My husband is a vendor in the craft village.

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  • Dudley says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and experiences in St. James, I was especially amused by you “six fingers on each hand” in reference to Jamaican police aka Babylon. You mentioned the Montego Bay Airport and the beach also reggae sumfest which was good. Lots of first world cities have places that only the brave or heavily armed police venture.

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