Jamaica is the fifth-largest island country in the Caribbean south of Cuba and, when you think of this colourful nation, you can’t help but think of artists like Bob Marley and films like Cool Runnings. Visitors are mostly intrigued by the laid back culture and paradise settings of such places as Montego Bay, the Dunn’s River Falls and the Blue Lagoon. Jamaica is famous worldwide for its musical export: reggae. But there’s more to this musical powerhouse island than Bob Marley. Equally enchanting are Jamaica’s stretch of white sand beaches, crystalline waters, verdant rainforests, gushing rivers, and hidden waterfalls. Consult a Jamaica travel blog to find out where the most charming waterfalls are located.
On the culinary front, Jamaica’s creole cuisine is as distinctive as its patois language. It’s a mix of Old and New Worlds, African spices and Caribbean flavours, sweetened by tropical fruits and washed down with rum.
Kingston, the capital, is where you can find Bob Marley’s home and recording studio. Most international tourists arrive in ‘MoBay’ or Montego Bay in Jamaica’s north shore. While it has its share of clear turquoise waters in Doctor’s Cave beach, Negril has miles of cool, white sand beaches and steep cliffs, and a more relaxed beach vibe.
Continue reading our Jamaica Travel Blog to learn more about the best local sightseeing and activities as well as important travel tips and advice. Use the information from our detailed Jamaica Travel Blog posts to help you decide exactly where you want to stay and what you would most like to experience during your visit.
Jamaica Travel Blog and Holiday Tips
Currency – Jamaica uses the Jamaican dollar ($) or ‘jay,’ although most prices for valuable items and accommodations are quoted in US dollars, which are widely accepted. Traveller’s checks are not as popular and are charged with fees if cashed. Throughout the island, with the exception of local grocery stores and small shops, major credit cards are accepted. ATMs are present in most towns, and are linked to international networks. Foreign exchange booths can be found in major towns. When reserving your hotel room in Jamaica, be sure to ask if the room has a built in safe. Use this safe to store important documents (passports etc) as well as money and traveller’s checks.
Weather – September to November is hurricane season in Jamaica, but sporadic heavy rainfall start arriving in June. Sunny, warm days start in December and last well into March, although it can be chilly at night in the mountains. To take advantage of attractive rates for accommodation, visit during the shoulder season, which runs from April through May.
Crime – Do not bother taking your most expensive jewellery along for the trip. The atmosphere is very relaxed and casual so all you will be doing is making yourself stick out like a sore thumb. Avoid hanging your camera around your neck or storing any valuables in a backpack. Crime tends to be more concentrated in the capital, Kingston but this does not mean that it does not happen in other towns and cities. Jamaica has a high crime rate, and is known for its tolerance of marijuana (though it’s illegal to purchase the same). Drinks and prohibited substances are prevalent in certain parts of the island at night, which make them unsafe places to travel to. Find out from Jamaica travel blogs which of these places to avoid. During the low season when the police are given vacation, even the hip strip of Montego Bay is less safe than it normally is.
Medical and Healthcare – Jamaican medical facilities of acceptable standards are available in most major cities and larger towns where you can also find well-supplied pharmacies. Elsewhere, hospitals are not up to the standards of those in North America and Europe, so it’s important to bring with you sufficient travel and medical insurance coverage. As it’s a tropical country, Jamaica has its share of mosquito-borne diseases. No see ums, tiny biting insects, congregate near bodies of water. While their bite is not painful, it can be itchy. Most of Jamaica is malaria free, with the exception of places around the Kingston area. Chikungunya virus, and now Zika, pose a risk.
Vaccines – Make sure that you go for booster shots of your usual vaccines including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio and your yearly flu shot. Other vaccines that you should get include Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Rabies.
Food and drink – Do not drink tap water. Only consume drinks from sealed bottles. Do not eat any unpasteurized or undercooked food products. Avoid buying food from street vendors and ensure that your food is always served hot and not at room temperature. Do not eat wild game (bats, monkeys etc).