The Comfort of Noise in Jamaica

Some might call it noise but I call it comfort.  As I wrote in my book several years ago about the differences of everyday life between Canada and Jamaica, one of the topics I touched on was the constant noise that is prevalent in Jamaica.  Only, here in Jamaica the noise doesn’t make me want to call the police or bomb my neighbors.

I was inspired to write this post while I laid in bed last night at a little guest house I’m reviewing in Esher, Hanover.  This guest house is located about fifty feet from the main highway, with the Caribbean sea about another fifty feet beyond the road.  So this location is anything but quiet.


highway in Lucea Jamaica


I chose to stay in a main floor, front room simply for the veranda that comes with the room.  During the day this veranda is virtually private and my room walks right out onto it.  It’s where I have my morning coffee and breakfast, and pull out my laptop to write things like this.   At night the veranda turns into part of the restaurant where old men seem to gather, drink and talk about their day.  So by default my front door is their social spot in the evenings.

Here’s the thing in Jamaica:  NO WHERE is quiet if you compare it to being at home abroad. But in Jamaica it’s just woven into the fabric of the island.  Noise is in the air.  But somehow it’s not a disturbance, it’s more of a comfort for me which is weird because at home I’d have to wear ear plugs to fall asleep to any of the constant noise I listen to in Jamaica.  I have no idea what’s the scoop on that.

Here’s a list of things (SURE things) that you’ll be listening to while laying in bed in Jamaica, no matter where you are:

  • Constant traffic noise if you’re in an urban setting.  Included in that traffic noise is a very high probability of loud street and country motorbikes a plenty.
  • Weed whackers at the crack of dawn, whether the grass needs to be whacked or not.
  • Dogs barking, near and far.  It’s amazing how far the island breeze can carry the sound of a dog pack partying in the night.
  • Big trucks that inevitably use engine brakes instead of regular brakes.
  • Horns upon horns upon horns honking just to say hello to whomever is passing by.
  • Music.  Which can come in the form of a car stereo that is WAY too much for the car it’s in, a street party off in the distance but sounds like it’s next door (again, that island breeze carrying the sound), or simply your neighbors playing some tunes.  Life isn’t soundproofed here because the windows are never shut.
  • Donkeys and pigs, which are much more likely in the remote countryside where you THINK your mornings will be peaceful.  Trust me, the first time I woke up to a donkey braying I was shocked at how ugly they sound LOL!  But he was my neighbor so I learned to coexist.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be staying in a beachfront property, the sound of the waves on a windy day can be much louder than you expect, to the point where you can’t hear yourself think.
  • Cars like the one pictured below, with loud speakers mounted on the roof, blasting promotional information for random parties, businesses, etc.  If and when one of these cars is coming down the road you hear it five minutes before you even see it.   **Hilarious fact**  That car pictured below actually drove by RIGHT as I was typing this post so I had to take the picture LOL.


sound car in jamaica


What I’m trying to get at is that somehow all this noise in Jamaica becomes like the white noise of a fan or a furnace or a dishwasher back home.  If you spend enough time here it is expected and I have long since learned to appreciate it.  I can’t fall asleep to just silence in Jamaica anymore, which is a stark contrast to longing for complete silence while trying to sleep in Canada.

I’m 100% sure I’ve missed a hundred other constant noises that we become accustomed to in Jamaica.  If you have any to add to the list, please do in the comments below!



  • Theresa says:

    Tree frogs! I love (and miss) that sound!

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  • Kristi says:

    You need to come back and get your fill of them!

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  • Shawna says:

    So true! We always miss the music that is always playing somewhere when we come home and definitely the night sounds!

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