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Jamaica

Jamaica Travel Guide

Why Jamaica?

  • Annual Junkanoo celebrations(Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years)
  • Hike the trails of the Blue Mountains
  • Swim at the Y.S. Falls
  • Dunn's River Falls
  • Go horseback riding in the hills
  • Birdwatch in the hills and mountains
  • Blue Mountain coffee - considered by many to be the best in the world.
  • Visit the Reggae clubs!
  • Visit the Cliffside Cafe's in Negril: Rick's Cafe, Xtabi or the Pickled Parrot

Jamaica Island Guide

If you've chosen Jamaica as your Caribbean destination, then you're in for an exciting adventure on this unique island. Away from your villa or hotel room, you'll find scenic natural beauty mixed with a distinct island culture that is unforgettable. Here you can stroll along the beach, swim underneath waterfalls, head to a reggae club, or dine at a great Jamaican restaurant. There's never a shortage of things to see and do, and you can use the information under this tab to help you plan your vacation in Jamaica.

Jamaica Weather/Climate

Average Temperatures
Highs Lows
January 86 ° F 70 ° F
February 86 ° F 70 ° F
March 87 ° F 71 ° F
April 88 ° F 73 ° F
May 89 ° F 74 ° F
June 90 ° F 76 ° F
July 91 ° F 76 ° F
August 91 ° F 76 ° F
September 90 ° F 75 ° F
October 89 ° F 74 ° F
November 88 ° F 73 ° F
December 87 ° F 71 ° F

Average Rainfall
January 1.2 inches
February 0.9 inches
March 0.9 inches
April 1.5 inches
May 4.1 inches
June 3.8 inches
July 1.8 inches
August 4.2 inches
September 5.0 inches
October 7.1 inches
November 3.8 inches
December 1.6 inches

Overview

From the rugged peaks of the Blue Mountains to calm, pristine beaches, Jamaica teems with natural beauty, all served up to visitors with the unforgettable warmth of its residents.

Jamaica's pleasures and easy access have given rise to many resorts, which range from luxurious, chic hideaways and fully staffed private villas - some of them perched on seaside cliffs, to popular all-inclusives and charming inns and guest houses.

The island's diverse natural resources provide seemingly endless ways to have fun. You can climb waterfalls, golf at your choice of 11 courses, or tour via bicycle, moped, motorcycle or jeep. Horseback riding or horse racing at Caymanas Park in Kingston are also options for fun on Jamaica. Or, you can venture in search of blue marlin, wahoo or tuna on the full or half-day deep sea fishing charters offered by most hotels. They include boat, captain, crew and equipment.

Jeep and hiking tours of the Blue Mountains, which soar above 7,000 feet often include visits to rum factories and renowned coffee farms. To experience the exotic marine life, fans, sponges, and underwater walls, enlist the services of the many islandwide licensed diving operators that offer rental equipment and instruction.

Jamaica also has 120 rivers to enjoy, including the Rio Grande in Port Antonio, the birthplace of bamboo rafting. Imagine floating down river as your guide propels the craft with a long bamboo pole, all the while singing folk songs and identifying the surrounding flora and fauna. Or hike along the river with a guide who will reveal the ancient medicinal remedies found in the surrounding plants before taking you for a dip in a hidden waterfall.

After all that activity, the tastiest way to get in touch with the local culture is through the interesting, spicy cuisine. The national favorites include the fish called ackee and saltfish. Mouth-tingling spicy jerk pork and chicken, a Jamaican invention, can be savored on the beach, right off the wood-burning grill for a casual lunch. But the island does not lack other choices. International food critics have lauded the restaurants which have brought local dishes to gastronomic heights.

Most enticing may be Jamaica's reputation for its laid-back atmosphere, epitomized by the slow groove of its reggae music. The genre was created by the late Bob Marley, considered one of Jamaica's national heroes.

History

Jamaica, one of the largest Caribbean islands, was inhabited by Arawak natives. When Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1494, he claimed the land for Spain. A few decades after Columbus' death almost all Arawaks had been exterminated. Spain held the island against many buccaneer raids at the main city, which is now called Spanish Town. Eventually England claimed the island in a raid, but the Spanish did not relinquish their claim to the island until 1670.

Jamaica became a base of operations for buccaneers, including Captain Henry Morgan. In return these buccaneers kept the other colonial powers from attacking the island. Africans were captured, kidnapped, and forced into slavery to work on plantations when sugarcane became the most important export on the island.

Many slaves arrived in Jamaica via the Atlantic slave trade during the same time enslaved Africans arrived in North America. During this time there was racial tension, and Jamaica had one of the highest instances of slave uprisings of any Caribbean island. After the British crown abolished slavery, the Jamaicans began working toward independence which was achieved in 1962.

Top 5 Things To Do

Top 5 Thing to Do

Mystic Mountain Bobsledding

Bobsledding at Mystic Mountain

Who hasn't heard of the Jamaican bobsledding team? You know the one that made its debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. They didn't take home any medals but won over fans for the sheer novelty of mastering a winter sport in such a warm country. Now you can experience the thrill of bobsledding under the warm Jamaican sun. Cruise over to Mystic Mountain, near Ochos Rios and strap in for a 90-second, adrenaline-rich ride through the rain forest. This half-mile dive down a maze of rails will have you screaming, then begging for more. Situated on 100 acres of carefully preserved land, Mystic Mountain is surrounded by a diverse ecosystem. The park, also featuring a Sky Lift and a zip-line tour, draws more than 10,000 visitors a year!

Top 5 Thing to Do

Negril's 7-Mile Beach

Strolling along Negril's 7-Mile Beach

You can't come to Jamaica and pass up the world-famous 7-Mile Beach in Negril. With so much white sand, there's plenty of room for everyone to spread out and enjoy the sun. Stroll along the beach and you'll find all-inclusive resorts, hotels, villas, beachfront restaurants, water activity vendors and a few locals peddling their own merchandise. A polite "not interested" hand signal usually puts them at bay. This beach used to be a big hippie hang-out and you might still be asked if you want some grass, but mainly the beach is littered with families, vacationers, a few locals and some boozy party-types. The highlight of the day is the beautiful evening sunset. Sitting with your toes in the sand, gazing over the crystal water is a relaxing treat!

Top 5 Thing to Do

Rick's Cafe

Sunset-gazing at Rick's Cafe

Since 1974, Rick's Café has offered visitors to Negril, Jamaica outstanding views from their cliffside location. Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine voted it one of the ten best bars in the world! Two hurricane's have destroyed Rick's but its popularity made for quick re-builds each time getting bigger and better. For more than 30 years, this spot has been the premier destination for gatherings and sunset gazing. By day, visitors can take advantage of the spacious decks, resort-style pool and diving cove. Adventure-seekers jump off platforms, the highest 35 feet above the sea, into the crystalline water below. The evening offers world-famous sunset views, Jamaican-style food and tropical drinks. When the sun slides behind the waves the party is on. With live entertainment and exotic drinks, Rick's is transformed into a moon-lit lounge.

Top 5 Thing to Do

Horseback riding

Riding horseback along the coastline

What better way to explore Jamaica's scenic country-side and white-sand beaches then by horseback. This family-friendly excursion will takes visitors across pastures and near waterfalls. Ride along the coastline, onto the beach, then splash in the ocean. The gentle horses have taken hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors on breathtaking tours of the island. So as they say in Jamaica, "No worries, mon".

Top 5 Thing to Do

Dunns River Falls

Hiking up Dunns River Falls

Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica's most popular attraction, is not only for visitors but film crews and photographers as well. It was prominently featured in the first James Bond movie "Dr. No." and countless other films. Visitors come to scale the waterfall, starting on the beach at the foot of the falls, then stopping along the way to enjoy the sometimes chilly pools. The hike can be challenging in places where rushing water pours over slick boulders, which is why water shoes are recommended. There are also snack shops and a craft market for those not inclined to such a physical activity.

Transportation on Jamaica

Getting to Jamaica and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.

Entry Documents

Proof of citizenship for Canadian citizens (passport or birth certificate with a photo ID). Passports required for U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries. All visitors must have an ongoing or return ticket.

Airport

Vacationer's typcially fly into Sangster airport in Montego Bay. Kingston's Norman Manley airport is the second most highly used airport mostly for business or resident traffic.

Departure Tax

US$20

Driving

On the left - valid driver's license is required.

Jamaica Weddings and Honeymoons

Vacationers don't just stay in Jamaica villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Apply for a marriage license.Cost: Cost of wedding arrangmentsDocuments Required: Birth certificatesWait Time: 24 hours

See our favorite villas for weddings.

See our favorite villas for honeymoons.

Know Before You Go...® - Jamaica Travel Tips

Before making their way to Jamaica villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in Jamaica even more relaxing.

Capital: Kingston
Population: 2,758,124
Size: 10,991 sq km
Electric Current: 110
Time: 00:23 am zone:-5 (GMT/UTC -5)
Official Language: English, patois English
Topography: mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Telephone: international: country code - 1-876

Jamaica Tourist Board

64 Knutsford Bouldevard
P.O. Box 360
Kingston 5, Jamaica

(876) 920-4924
(800) 233-4JTB
(876) 929-9375
www.visitjamaica.com

Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association

(876) 926-3635
JHTA@colis.com
www.fantasyisle.com/jhta.htm
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