The difference between Jamaica and the Real Jamaica

by Johannes
26. February 2015

What does REAL Jamaica even mean? Is there a REAL and UNREAL Jamaica? Or has it someting to do with the reality in Jamaica? I would like to explain my thoughts on the word REAL in our name and its true meaning.

The whole island of Jamaica is real. Every stone and leaf, every city and ghetto, every person and animal, every food and drink, every hotel and guesthouse. All is real, simply because it exists. The definition of “REAL” is grounded in the feeling and way of traveling and the type of interaction between traveler and local. It is not necessarily connected to the country itself, but definitely related to the style of traveling it.

For us, REAL means to sit on a table with locals and share food which we cooked together, discover places and areas where tourists don’t go, create friendships, try new food, share our knowledge and way of seeing things as well as learning from locals and trying to understand their way of seeing things. We believe that cultural exchange with all facets is what makes a holiday REAL. You can have a REAL journey everywhere in the world and of course also in Jamaica. When I started Real Jamaica, one of my initial thoughts was and still is, that a traveler spends money locally within the community. While a tourist, staying in an all-inclusive hotel, does not.

There’s an ridiculous amount of hotels and resorts in Jamaica, and many of them are empty. Those places – mostly owned by rich foreigners or large companies – buy beaches to make them exclusive. Locals can’t get in or have to pay an entrance fee. Yes, they create some jobs, but also not paying well. And that’s not the only thing about all-inclusive tourism! The whole world is tearing apart and in 2016 only 1% of the people worldwide will own half of all wealth. We can’t support such places, simply because it’s against our beliefs and philosophies. Still we let everyone do what they think is right, simply because it’s none of our business. We love the country for numerous reasons and decided to work towards a positive direction. That’s why we #travellocal‬ and #supportlocals. We are very happy and thankful that so many people think the same way. Big Up everytime – travel safe and enjoy fully!

If you have questions, please feel free to ask us anything. We’re happy to answer them all.


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  • Yes. The resorts and hotels are fully owned by foreign investors. They always pay badly, produce very few jobs its usually just a few hundreds to a population of almost 3 million and thats excluding Jamaicans who tend not to be registered at birth or later at all.
    The best thing I think as a local to do is connect with people who know locals, who are trustworthy or reputable and have them take you places. You have tourist Jamaica and then Jamaica with real people, culture and food. Go where the locals go, always have a local guide to help you out and stay with you, learn the currency, change your money to jmd as much as you can because some will try hustling you prices way above the normal rate, use a bb any more recent phone may attract unwanted attention, basic safety rules still apply, don’t go flashing money that attracts even more attention and have fun with a local reliable and honest friend.

  • Linda Chidester

    I am in the process of starting a small boutique hotel in Bluefields, Westmoreland, Luna Sea Inn. It is not completed yet but I believe we will meet an important niche between that all inclusive generic Caribbean hotel and the small, independent guest house. Yes, we will have all ensuite rooms, a pool, a restaurant and water activities but we will encourage our guests to do local tours, explore Bluefields Beach, take a walk down the road, buy only Jamaican hand made art and crafts in our gift shop and try some local foods and drinks. At the same time, our goal is to have the best paid staff in Jamaica and a hotel where all persons, guests and staff, have fun. As one can see from the name, we do not take ourselves too seriously. The only serious goal is to ensure our guests have the best experience possible!

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