Travel Guide to Jamaica – How, Where & Frequently Asked Questions

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor September 21st, 2020 Posted in Caribbean Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

Jamaica is one of the best places wherein you can find glorious falls, steep mountain ranges and a lot more! Learn and check our travel guide to Jamaica!

Jamaica is blessed with wonderful falls, white beaches, historical rivers, and steep mountain ranges. The country is an English-speaking island in the Caribbean region located south of Cuba and between the Cayman Islands and Haiti. Jamaica’s capital city is Kingston, and the tourist hotspots are Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. The country is considered a jewel of the Caribbean, with breathtaking landscapes and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet!

The Blue Mountains, covered in fragrant foliage and crossed by twisting rivers that turn into stunning waterfalls, are just one part of the magnificent scenery that makes the country unique. A longtime favorite of the famous and rich, the country has become a popular sunny destination known for crystal-clear waters, endless white-sand beaches, spicy jerk food, and laid‑back reggae rhythms. In Jamaica, there’s a wealth of things to do, from hiking in the mountains to sunbathing on the beach to discovering the culture at various tourist sites. The clear blue waters that surround the island of Jamaica are just awesome. Jamaica is truly paradise along the beach here, where the laid back attitude comes across in everything, where the waters lap the shore, and where the people are as friendly as the beach is inviting.

Questions and Answers about Jamaica

Where is Jamaica?

This beautiful country is in the West Indies, which is an archipelago of islands between the southeast United States and northern South America. Jamaica is in the Northern and Western Hemispheres, located at latitude 17 degrees North (approximately), and between longitude 77 and 79 degrees West. The Caribbean Sea surrounds Jamaica. Closest neighbors of Jamaica are Cuba which is 90 miles (140 km) to the north, and Haiti which is 118 miles (190 km) to the east.

Is it safe to travel to Jamaica?

One of the major problems tourists face in Jamaica is petty theft. Thieves in Jamaica are on the lookout for cash, jewelry and valuable electronic items such as cell phones, cameras, and iPods. The island has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. And such dangerous and deadly crimes are not isolated to locals – many tourists have lost their lives there in recent years so you should be especially careful to avoid risky areas and use common sense when visiting.

On the island, there is an ongoing threat of gang violence, particularly in the Kingston area; however, it rarely affects tourists. Jamaican local criminals have been known to smuggle drugs any way they can, including through the use of unsuspecting tourists. So you must be very careful to keep your bags and belongings with you at all times.

How to Change Money in Jamaica?

Jamaican dollar (JMD) is the official currency of Jamaica. On the island, it’s possible to exchange money on commercial banks, Cambios, or hotels/resorts. You can also exchange the currency at the airports in Montego Bay and in Kingston. Cambios, banks and larger hotels/resorts will exchange US dollars as well as Euros, British pounds and Canadian dollars. However, relying on ATMs is a bit risky in Jamaica. The majority of banks in cities such as Kingston and Montego Bay have 24-hour ATMs in secure booths.

What is Unique about Jamaica?

There are some interesting music facts about Jamaica. A huge amount of music produced in Jamaica and all are made by foreign singers. Music producers often launch a new artist in Jamaica before they launch them in other countries because they believe that if the song is a hit in Jamaica, it will also be a hit on the rest of the world.

The island is also known for many wonderful things, great rum, the fastest man on earth, Reggae music, white sand beaches, and many more, we could go on and on and on, but the most things that Jamaica is proud of is its people.

Tourists can never be hungry in Jamaica as your neighbors are always ready to lend an open hand, and most homes in Jamaica have fruit trees, if you are hungry ask your neighbor and you are guaranteed to get some food. Some fruit trees that are popular in Jamaican yards are Bread Fruit trees, Ackee Trees, and Mango Trees, just to name a few, you can never be hungry in Jamaica as our love is always showing up. The island is also known for the famous saying “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.

What is the culture of Jamaica?

Clothing and art are both very important in defining Jamaican culture. Local Jamaican art has stepped in the depicting its everyday life. It has manifested itself in paintings, sculptures, and craftworks. It is a direct shift from the more abstract type of European art and even that African morbid types of art that focus a lot of history.

Local Jamaican art culture at most does not focus on history. Jamaican clothing does reflect culture. However, Jamaican clothing and fashion are not as popular as European and African clothing; it is defined by the use of primary colors and the popular use of cotton because of the tropical climate.

Primarily Jamaican culture is depicted in dance by folk music, dancing Kumina, the quadrille and other Jamaican dances that tell stories of the history of Jamaica sending the message to the young through dance. The Jamaican speech is defined as ‘Patois’. However, it is actually incorrect as ‘Patois’ is really broken English and French.

The distinct accent of a Jamaican almost embodies its culture. In Jamaica, there is another great aspect to the arts and cultures as the speech or language carries both music and art. Jamaican culture is unique not just to the Caribbean, but to the world and the Jamaican Diaspora has carried the Jamaican culture worldwide.

What is the Geography of Jamaica?

Jamaica is the island country of the West Indies. Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea, after Cuba and Hispaniola. The island is about 146 miles (235 km) long and varies from 22 to 51 miles (35 to 82 km) wide. Jamaica is situated some 100 miles (160 km) west of Haiti, 90 miles (150 km) south of Cuba, and 390 miles (630 km) northeast of the nearest point on the mainland, Cape Gracias a Dios, on the Caribbean coast of Central America. The Jamaican capital is Kingston.

How to travel to Jamaica?

If you are planning to travel to Jamaica, here are some of the airlines that will take you to Jamaica from these countries.

  • London: TUI, British Airways, American Airlines, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada and West Jet offer flights from London to Jamaica.
  • USA: Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Delta, and Spirit Airlines offer flights from the USA to Jamaica.
  • Dubai: JetBlue and British Airways offer flights from Dubai to Jamaica.
  • Singapore: British Airways and United Airlines offer flights from Singapore to Jamaica.

How to travel in Jamaica-Transport in Jamaica

Communal route taxis are the most universal mode of transportation, reaching every part of the country. They’re very convenient and are a cheap way of getting around the island.

  • Buses: Another way to get around is by bus or minibusses which operate in a similar way to the route taxis. Large buses are few and far between in Jamaica due to the narrow twisting roads.
  • Minibusses: Private minibusses, also known as ‘coasters,’ have traditionally been the workhorses of Jamaica’s regional public transportation system.

What’s the food like in Jamaica?

This amazing island is a nation of colonizers and immigrants, including the Spanish, British, Chinese, Indian and African. Each culture brought its own customs and food to Jamaica. The cuisine can be very distinct from neighboring islands because of the flavors and techniques from these immigrating cultures. While touring Jamaica, you experience this unique culinary fusion. In Jamaica, you will encounter food that epitomizes the melting pot of traditional local food. If tourists are not familiar with many Jamaican dishes, jerk chicken probably rings a bell. This sticky and spicy dish is Jamaica’s signature meal, marked by its fiery marinade and accompanying rice and peas.

What is the weather like in Jamaica?

The average annual temperature of Jamaica is 82°, but you can expect temperatures to be hotter during afternoon hours (and feel much hotter because of high humidity levels). Fortunately, Jamaica is blessed with northeasterly trade winds that keep you from sweltering no matter what time of year.

Important things to pack for a trip to Jamaica

  • Clothing: As a matter of fact, you will want to look at the weather before heading out to Jamaica. Generally, though the days are pretty hot and you’ll want some tanks, shorts, and bathing suits.
  • Shoes: Women should bring a fancy pair of flats or sandals and males should pack closed-toe dress shoes.
  • Toiletries: Bring toiletry bag (and ziplock bag per TSA regulations for any liquids/soaps).
  • Health kit: It is always advised to bring first aid kit and essential medicines with you.

10 Amazing places to see and things to do in Jamaica

1. Jamaican Bobsledding – Ocho Rios

Photo by Jim Amorin CC BY 2.0

If there is one thing you have to do when you go to Jamaica, it’s visiting the bobsled track. Tourists can spend a day at Rainforest Adventures.

Suggested Tour: The Best of Ocho Rios Dunns River waterfall and River Tubing and Blue Hole tour from Ocho Rios

2. Visit Waterfalls – Saint Elizabeth

Tourists can’t have more fun than escaping the hot sun by swimming in lagoons. This seven-tiered waterfall is beautiful and fun! We met our guide at the entrance and he took us through the falls, showing us where we could safely sit, swim, and jump.

Suggested Tour: Black River Safari, YS Falls and Appleton Rum Factory Tour from Ocho Rios

3. Rafting the Martha Brae River

Photo by Barney Bishop CC BY-ND 2.0

Martha Brae rafting is one of the most popular things to do in Jamaica. At Martha Brae Rafter’s Village, you can glide down a picturesque stretch of the river on bamboo rafts poled by local guides.

Suggested Tour: Martha Brae River Rafting

4. Go Zip Lining – Montpelier

The guides in Jamaica were absolutely fantastic, and although this particular zip line was one of the more mellow canopy tours we’ve been on, it was beautiful and a lot of fun.

5. Port Antonio Tour

Photo by nigel burgher CC BY 2.0

Set between mountains and a double harbor, Port Antonio exudes the relaxed charm of a sleepy fishing village.

6. Visiting Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park

Photo by Michael L. Dorn CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2015, the mesmerizing Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its rich natural and cultural heritage.

Suggested Tour: Scenic Blue Mountain Tour from Ocho Rios

7. Blue Hole, Ocho Rios Trip

Photo by Geoff Stearns CC BY 2.0

The Blue Hole (also called Island Gully Falls or the Irie Blue Hole) is a series of picturesque waterholes fed by gushing cascades. Guides lead tourists around the area where they can explore the falls and jump off cliffs into the refreshing pools below.

Suggested Tour: Blue Hole – Secret Falls – Dunn’s River Falls Combo fr Montego Bay & Grand Pall

8. Exploring the Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay

Photo by purpleglobetrotter CC BY-ND 2.0

It is one of the best beaches in Montego Bay. Doctor’s Cave Beach is an alluring strip of white sand fringed by clear waters. It helps shape the fate of this popular tourist town.

Suggested Tour: Day Trip to Doctor’s Cave Beach, Margaritaville and Hip-Strip Shopping from Montego Bay and Grand Palladium

9. Rio Grande River Tour

Expert guides pole bamboo rafts through an impressive stretch of tropical rainforest along the Rio Grande River during a two-and-a-half-hour tour.

Suggested Tour: Rio Grande Bamboo Rafting Tour from Port Antonio

10. Explore Rose Hall Great House, Montego Bay

Photo by Studio Sarah Lou CC BY 2.0

It was built in 1770.  Rose Hall is a restored plantation house with beautiful ocean views. Legendary Annie Palmer (the White Witch) ruled here with cruelty and met a violent death. At the moment, her home is adorned with period furniture, and tourists can choose between a day tour and a spooky candlelit evening tour topped off with tales of ghost sightings.

Suggested Tour: Rose Hall Great House Haunted Night Tour

Final thoughts on Jamaica

The island of Jamaica is the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean, and along with its wonderful beaches and great resorts, the language and the ease of travel on the island is one of the reasons that it has become such a popular destination. Many people who will visit Jamaica will be happy to relax at their resort and wander on foot into the nearby town, without really wanting to get too far from the beach or the great restaurants on the island.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at kach@twomonkeystravel.com

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