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Jamaica Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated May 2022

Jamaica Visitors GuideJamaica Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do In Jamaica
Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do In Jamaica

Welcome to Jamaica

Relax, unwind, and enjoy the beats of Jamaica! From clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and lush forests, there is sure to be the right scenery for everyone here in Jamaica. Discover the culture of the island while snacking on the famous jerk chicken or sipping the smooth rum. Enjoy snorkeling in the warm waters, hiking near the beautiful waterfalls, or just relaxing on the clean beaches.

Jamaica Map

Map of Jamaica

Contents

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Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do In Jamaica

A Bit Of History

The first inhabitants of Jamaica were the Taino people who likely came from South America and practiced farming and fishing on the island for hundreds of years. When Columbus arrived in 1494, he tried to rename the island Santiago, but it never caught on and the island kept its Taino name of Xaymaca. Soon after Columbus’ visit, the Spanish settled the island, and by 1665 the indigenous population had largely been replaced by African slaves. Over the next 200 years, the island was taken over by the British while sugar, cocoa, and coffee became the primary industries on the island. Jamaica was also a popular hideout for pirates at this time. Then, in 1834 the slaves were freed and Jamaica was placed under Crown rule until 1944. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica was finally granted its independence from England.

Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do In Jamaica

Jamaica Today

Jamaica has beena tourist destination since the 1890s. However, it was not until the 1980s that Jamaica’s tourism really started booming. Today travelers can camp in the Blue Mountains, rent small beach houses in Negril, or get pampered at all-inclusive hotels in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Where is Jamaica?

Jamaica Caribbean Map

click map to enlarge

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and is a 1-hour 40-minute flight from Miami. It is located to the east of the Cayman Islands, to the south of Cuba and to the west of Haiti. There are several smaller islands and keys off the shore of the main island.

Best Time to Visit Jamaica?

Temperatures range from the mid-70s to the high 80s year-round in Jamaica. While the weather is mostly perfect, guests can choose certain months that are better for the weather and crowds.

November to December

November to mid-December is the best time to visit Jamaica. During this time, travelers can find some great deals on flights and hotels as it is outside of the tourist season. In addition, the crowds are usually low during this time and the weather is perfect in the 70s and 80s.

January to March

January to March is the peak tourist season, which means more crowds and more expensive flights and hotels. While the weather will be nice, the beaches and attractions may be crowded.

April to November

While you may be able to find a great deal during the months of April to November, you do risk having your trip canceled or cut short due to hurricane season. While you can still get days or even weeks with beautiful weather, you should be aware that the island can get more storms during these months, which may cut your vacation short or cause an excursion to be canceled.

How to Get to Jamaica & Around

There are a few ways to get to and around Jamaica.

Arrival by Air

There are three airports in Jamaica, which make it easy to travel from anywhere. Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) is in Kingston, and great if you plan to visit Port Antonio or the Blue Mountains. Sangster International Airport (MBJ) is in Montego Bay, which makes this the most popular airport for tourists. And last, Ian Fleming International Airport (OCJ) is Jamaica’s newest airport and is located in the Ocho Rios resort area.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Arrival by Cruise

Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Marella Cruises are three of the top cruise lines that stop in Jamaica’s famous ports of either Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, or Falmouth.

  Search for great deals on cruises here.

Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Things To Do In Jamaica

Getting Around by Taxi

The best way to get around Jamaica is by taxi. This will be the safest and most hassle-free way of getting around the island. However, make sure to only take taxis that are operated by JUTA or JCAL, which should be indicated on the vehicle.

Getting Around by Car

You can also choose to rent a car while on the island, but driving around yourself has both pros and cons. While you do have more freedom when renting your own car, many tourists dislike driving on their own because of the poor road conditions, erratic drivers, and the fact that Jamaica drives on the left side of the road.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

Things to Do in Jamaica

Jamaica's Top Highlights

Jamaica has so much to offer from water sports to waterfalls, and from exploring the great outdoors to relaxing with a glass of rum. There is sure to be something for everyone in your party!

1. Visit Some of Jamaica’s Breath taking Waterfalls

While Dunn’s River Falls (pictured above) may have earned some international fame, there are so many other great waterfalls on the island that are just as beautiful and less crowded. Blue Hole is near Ocho Rios and gets its name from the beautiful blue pool of water at the bottom. Visitors can swim or dive in the watering hole that surrounds Blue Hole. YS Falls is another great place that is near Saint Elizabeth Parish. There are seven waterfalls that make up YS Falls, and all are on a local estate that also homes a cattle and horse farm. If you really want to get away from the touristy area, then head over to Mayfield Falls in Westmorland. The Mayfield Falls has many waterfalls of different sizes and twenty-one natural swimming pools surrounding the falls. And last, Turtle Falls is fourteen waterfalls that are located in a 15-acre tropical garden in Ocho Rios. Visitors can explore these waterfalls on their own or can seek out tours like the Blue Hole, Secret Falls, and Dunn’s River Combo Day-Trip from Montego Bay.

  Take a look at this Blue Hole Private Tour.

2. Explore Nature

There are other great ways to explore nature besides waterfalls. In Negril, visitors can explore the Royal Palm Reserve, a six-thousand acre protected area of wetland and flora. Or if you want more of a relaxing day, then you can go floating down the Rio Grande. Those wanting to see more rare tropical plants can walk around the Hope Botanical Gardens, also called the Royal Botanical Gardens. Finally, those wanting even more of a rugged adventure can head out to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park in south-east Jamaica.

  Enjoy a private tour of the Royal Palm Preserve.

  Check out this fun River Tubing Tour from Ocho Rios.

3. Hit The Beach!

As Jamaica is an island, there are numerous beaches to claim as your new favorite. Seven Mile Beach in the Negril area is probably Jamaica’s most popular beach. It is claimed as the longest and most beautiful in the area. If you staying in the Montego Bay Area, Sandal’s private beach is known to be the best in that area with the white sand and turquoise water. Another popular beach is Bamboo Beach (pictured above) or Reggae Beach in Ocho Rios area. Here you can snorkel in the clear waters or relax on the cool sand while listening to Reggae tunes playing all day from one of the three beach bars close by.

  Check out this great tour of Seven Mile Beach or this Private Sightseeing Tour Of Seven Mile Beach.

4. Go Diving or Snorkeling

With Jamaica’s crystal blue water and popular marine life, it is no wonder snorkeling and diving are a go-to pastime on the island. One of the best places to snorkel or dive is in Negril. The top place here is Negril Coral Reef (pictured above), which is about two miles offshore. Here you will see jellyfish, urchins, conch shells, and so much more. Montego Bay Marine Park also has some great snorkeling since efforts were made to protect this area’s coral reefs and marine life. You will find numerous colorful fish from angelfish to stingrays. There are many areas right off the beach to explore the waters, but if you would rather a tour you can check out Reggae and Snorkeling Catamaran Cruise from Montego Bay.

  Scuba diving options abound in Jamaica thanks to the crystal blue water. Check out these scuba diving tour options.

5. Take in some Culture and Reggae Music

Reggae music and culture in Jamaica is one of its most important institutions. Explore neighborhoods and find local watering holes for music, drinks and lively conversation. Tourists can also learn more about reggae music and the king of reggae at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston where you can visit Marley’s home and recording studio. Take a look at this Bob Marley Experience tour. Afterward, head over to Coronation Market, one of the biggest local markets in the Caribbean. Last, you can visit the Rastafari Indigenous Village to meet Jamaica’s Rastafari people and maybe learn a little about their culture and values.

  Check out this Jamaican Music History Tour that explored Kingston the birthplace of reggae.

6. Get Your Glow on at Luminous Lagoon

The bioluminescent Luminous Lagoon near Montego Bay is famous for its millions of dinoflagellates, or microscopic organisms, that glow blue when disturbed. Be sure to check this bioluminescent phenomenon at night, either on your own or on one of the many boat tours. There are many boat tours that you can find once on the island, but if you would like a suggestion you can check out Mystic Luminescent Lagoon Night Cruise and Swim in Jamaica.

7. Eat some Jerk

Jamaica is known for its Jerk seasoning. Be it chicken, fish, shrimp or pork, no visit to the island is complete without a taste. While you can find some amazing jerk all over the island, Boston Bay is said to be the home of the illustrious spice mix. Here are a few places that are known to have some of the best; Sweetwood Jerk Joint, Ocho Rios Jerk Center, Boston Jerk Center, or Peppewood Jerk Center, just to name a few. If you are in Jamaica during the first weekend of July, you can also check out the Portland Jerk Festival.

  Take a look at this Taste Of Jamaica Food Tour.

8. Visit Morant Point Lighthouse

Built in 1841, the Morant Point Lighthouse is named as a National Monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. Visitors can climb to the top to get some breathtaking views.

9. Sample Rum!

People from all over the world come to Jamaica to enjoy the rum. There are so many great rum tours to choose from but we recommend the famous Appleton Estate Rum Tour or the Hampden Estate Rum Tour. You are in paradise, cheers!

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They will even cover your hotel if you test positive while on vacation and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our site visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan, which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

Where to Stay in Jamaica

There are all types of accommodations in jamaica. From all inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our Jamaica Hotel Guide or our Jamaica All Inclusive Resort Guide.

The Best Jamaica All Inclusive Resorts: Sandals Royal Caribbean

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Jamaica Hotel Guide

What to Eat in Jamaica

You can find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat in Jamaica. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, check out our Jamaica Restaurant Guide.

The Best Jamaica Restaurants: Rockhouse, Negril

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Jamaica Restaurant Guide

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. The royal palm reserve is excellent. I’ll have to check out a few of these other places next time I’m in Jamaica.

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