Travel & Events

Shopping for Food at Jamaica’s Coronation Market

Seasoning Stall

I have lived in Kingston for most of my adult life and I have never been Down Town to the Market. Needless to say with the turn of the financial market one has to save a dime or a quarter or a buck, “its hard in these streets.” Nevertheless I ventured out one Saturday morning in some old shorts and a tattered top, carried my shoulder bag, no purse and money in every pocket, so I wouldn’t have to keep taking out a wad of cash. Yes, I was a teenie bit paranoid.

Ready for the Road

My little sister and I hailed a cab and on to Coronation Market we went. I snapped a few pics on the way because I knew taking pictures with my iPhone in crowded DT (Down Town) was a no no. I would like to keep my phone.

The first thing that hits you is the amount of people on the streets, it was crazy, by Jamaican standards, there are as much vendors as shoppers. A wide range of personalities and lets say their colorful languages was the most entertaining part of our adventure. Jamaicans are such a fun and entertaining mixture of personalities.  Next, the smell, which was not half as bad as I expected and only in specific areas, it was like a mixture of sweat, exhaust and seasoning , it smelled like the Market, nostalgic and familiar.



The Experience is one that I will continue, not only for the fact that I believe it shows you a side of the Jamaican culture that we are so afraid to venture into, but the prices DT allow me to shop for a family of five without any buyers remorse. I buy powdered milk Up Town for $745 plus GCT ($7.00 US) and DT I buy the same milk for $345 inclusive of tax ($3.00 US) #ThatIsAll




Our first stop was to buy Yams, as I wanted to make Jamaican Satdeh (Saturday) Soup that my Grandma and Mother grew up on. I figured this would be easy, as carts and carts of food lined the streets. Fifty Jamaican Dollars per pound of Yam, that’s about five cents US, not bad at all, $30 less than up town. We approached the man told him the amount we wanted, he took our money, gave us a newspaper to wrap the Yam in, and just like that, our first purchase was made, incident free. That’s when we realized we needed a market bag, which was our second purchase, and so our day went, purchase after purchase and nothing crazy happenning.

Our First Time in the Market at a Vendor’s Stall. In Photo: Peas Man, Chez my sister and Me

My friends say I am nuts and they will never do that, but once you stick to a few Down Town Market Etiquette you should be fine.

  1. Don’t touch anybodies produce  if your not going to buy anything
  2. Don’t haggle the prices, if you feel it could be cheaper keep walking or wait a few hours  the prices will reduce the later the day goes on
  3. Which leads me to, go after 2pm in the days, for two reason less sun and lower prices
  4. Don’t buy from the first person you see, walk around, listen to the prices, see what you like, then start shopping, more often than not the further in the market you go the cheaper the goods
  5. If a vendor asks you if you need something, and you don’t,  politely say NO and move on, pleasantries are not needed here
  6. Keep small bills at hand, they frown upon big notes
  7. Most importantly don’t go looking all timid, they can smell your fear hahaha, ok I’m kidding! Its very normal to be a little uncomfortable based on the stories we’ve heard about DT Kingston and if you a little uneasy  take a friend or two, there is always safety in number.


Freshly pealed Potatoes, carrots and escallion for my Satdeh Soup
Seasoning for my Soup

I have been back to the Market every two weeks since then and still without an incident,  I will continue to go for sure. I have now found specific vendors I go to and they now look out for me and save me the nicer stuff, at times I even get bottom price. So the next time you have a small budget, but big dinner ideas, shopping Down Town in the Market may be your Savior


  • Neti*

    I was just introduced to you by Irie Diva and I love this post. When I come home I always have to go to the market because I reflect on such good memories. And, I love to hear the colorful lingo and spend my $ with small business. I will be back to read more. . .

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