It’s no surprise that the island that invented reggae is the perfect embodiment of the spirit of positive vibes in the face of adversity. And nothing captures this more than volunteering. Volunteer in Kingston and see the Jamaica tourists never get to- and make a difference while you’re at it! Your work will not only affect the communities you work with, but will stay with you the rest of your life. Take a swim in the sea, chomp on some spicy jerky, play with voodoo, and see how easy it is to let the Jamaican spirit take you away.
Popular Ways to Volunteer in Kingston
Volunteer programs in Kingston are as unique as its participants. They span anywhere from animal care and building new houses, to planting trees and taking care of orphans. Whether you want to come for one week or one month, there are programs to fit your needs.
Popular causes/projects in Kingston. If youth development is important to you, why not try working with children who have been orphaned, neglected, abused, or abandoned. You might be needed in the day-to-day running of a center, to play games with the children, help with homework, or assist with meals in an orphanage. The smile on your face will be nothing compared to the joy you bring to Jamaica’s littlest ones, and you’ll know you’re making a difference in lives that sorely need it.
You can also experience firsthand why Jamaica is recognized as one of the most biologically diverse places on earth by working with wildlife conservation. Take part in research dives, coral restoration, beach clean-ups, and wildlife surveys, and the Jamaican iguana lizard and the Hawksbill turtle will become your newest (and greenest) friends. Volunteers always work under the guidance of experienced local staff, so no prior skills or experience are necessary.
With the recent goal of the forestry department to increase forest cover by two per cent over the next ten years, tree planting and reforestation are two big areas that are always looking for volunteers. Besides giving oxygen and cleaning the air, newly planted trees improve the island’s watersheds and safeguard its water supply. You can feel confident that you’re helping Jamaica reach the sustainable future it longs for.
Duration. The most effective volunteer projects in Jamaica have sustainable help — and that means you. Consider volunteering in Kingston for longer than a few weeks to truly maximize your impact. Even so, short-term volunteer programs in Jamaica are available, and you can still make a significant difference while completing one.
Life in Kingston for Volunteers
As Jamaica’s largest city, Kingston is also the capital and home to the best food, music, and culture in the country. While there are some areas not recommended for tourists, there are plenty of interesting and dynamic sites uptown in New Kingston to fill your free time.
Most volunteer abroad in Kingston programs offer excursions during your stay so you can have a more complete experience. If you do get spare time, take it slow. In the relaxed style of the local Jamaicans, take a visit to the Hope Botanical Gardens- the largest in the Caribbean- or the Hope Zoo right next door. There’s also the seven-acre Emancipation Park that puts on free concerts in the summer, and the Kingston Crafts Market and Coronation Market that offer handmade goods and fresh fruits and veggies, respectively, year round.
Just across the bay is Port Royal, which is worth a visit for anyone interested in the old kings of the seas. It’s a notorious 17th-century pirate haven that used to be under control of Sir Henry Morgan himself. Check out ruins of several forts, Saint Peter’s church, and a museum dedicated to the pirate’s famed history.
And as if you needed any other motivation to not worry and be happy, there’s the colorful Bob Marley Museum located at his old residence. No more waiting in vain for some positive vibes and vibrant inspiration.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Jamaicans are friendly, relaxed, and fanatic good food. If you love to eat, you won’t be disappointed in Kingston! Whet your appetite with jerk, curried brown stew chicken, curried mutton, spicy Escovitch fish, and the national dish ackee and saltfish. Also don’t miss Jamaica’s famous hot sauces, made from the Scotch Bonnet Pepper that’s found throughout the island.
Limited transportation can make travel for those not familiar with the area difficult, so it’s not a bad idea to stick to organized travel with your program. Roads outside the city can have construction hazards, mud slides, and even the occasional cow in the road. That being said, degrees of organization vary between programs, and when combined with “Jamaican time,” you might have to be a little more flexible than you’re used to!
Unfortunately, Jamaica isn’t all sunshine and cerulean waters (though there is no shortage of either). This island has some of the highest crime rates in the world, but this is typically political and doesn’t usually affect visitors. Exercise caution, but know that personal safety is one of the highest priorities of all programs. Follow their advice and stay with your group, and you’ll be in good hands.
Doing a volunteer program in Kingston is a surefire way to expand your worldview, help people in need, and have the time of your life. Soak up the sun while doing something meaningful, and make friendships that will far outlast your stay. One love!
Feeling inspired? Read our full guide to volunteering in Jamaica.