What You Need to Know About Jamaica, Before You Go

Jamaica is situated 90 miles south of Cuba in the Caribbean. It is a mountainous island with a warm tropical climate and a popular destination for those seeking some fun in the sun!

Sunrise at Tamarind Hill, Hanover, Jamaica

Sunrise at Tamarind Hill, Hanover, Jamaica

There is a laid back, relaxing vibe, alongside the most vibrant culture and people. Flights arrive daily from all over the world because the weather in Jamaica is always nice!

Here are some helpful tips to make your island adventure everything you ever imagined and much more!

Language

English is the official language of Jamaica although the locals speak their own dialect called Patois.

Money & Currency

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar. If you plan on leaving the touristy areas, be sure to bring cash. You never know when you might need to pick up a souvenir or buy something from a street vendor, as they probably won’t have the ability to run credit cards. ATM’s are readily available around the island at most banks, gas stations and hotels.

Many tourist spots do accept US dollars. Be sure to discuss ahead of time which currency you’ll be paying, as there is a pretty significant difference between the two.

Carefully do the math when withdrawing from ATM’s. A friend of mine thought he was withdrawing $300 from the ATM but he was actually requesting $300 in Jamaican Dollars which was like $3 US. The ATM fees were more than he even withdrew. He had a good laugh, but he wasted a bit of money.

$5000 Jamaican Dollars

$5000 Jamaican Dollars

Cell Phone – Data – Wifi

With your regular cell phone, you will get service in Jamaica, but a good data connection depends on your service provider. Even though the phone still works, there will more than likely be some hefty roaming charges, if used. Contact your service provider to see about International packages for some reduced rates while traveling.

All numbers in Jamaica begin with the same area code, 876. Sim cards from Jamaican cellular providers are available for purchase, somewhere around $10 each. With Jamaican cell service, pay-per-use data plans with 3G are available, as well as 30 day 3GB plans. There are two companies to provide cellphone service in Jamaica, they are Digicel and Flow. Another option would be cell phone rental from stayconnected.com.

Larger tourist spots and most hotels will have Wifi. Jamaica is little “off -the-grid” in terms of Internet availability. It’s best to embrace that and disconnect yourself a bit, for the best experience.

Water & Street Food

The tap water in Jamaica is totally safe to consume and some of the best drinking water in the Caribbean! Stay hydrated in between those Red Stripes 😉

Street food is a regular thing in Jamaica, ask the locals, they eat it too! You’ll see some of the most colorful carts rolling around with all types of food – from peanut porridge to jerk chicken, it’s all delicious! Don’t hesitate to try something new, you never know, it could be your next favorite food.

Soup Cart - Hopewell, Hanover, Jamaica

Soup Cart – Hopewell, Hanover, Jamaica

Driving & Transportation

Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road. Legally, your foreign drivers license will work also when you’re behind the wheel in Jamaica.

Sunset in Trelawny, Jamaica

Sunset in Trelawny, Jamaica

Mopeds and mini bikes are present, but definitely not as common and congesting the streets, like other countries. The streets are narrow, busy and bumpy; brace yourself for some quick turns along the curvy coastal highways.

Taxi’s are readily available all throughout Jamaica. Official Taxi’s have a checkered stripe, red license plate and a sign on their car. For the most reliable service, choose an official taxi and determine a set price before getting in the vehicle.

Knutsford Express is a bus system available to the public which connects all the major cities. Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket office and it has a set schedule for daily routes. It is a comfortable motor-coach with overhead space for luggage.

Shared shuttles from the airport are typically the most affordable option for getting to your hotel or destination.

Car rentals are available from the airport, as well.

From Montego Bay, approximate driving times are:

  • To Kingston – 3 hours
  • To Ocho Rios – 1 hour 40 minutes
  • To Negril – 1.5 hours
  • To Port Antonio – 3 hours 40 minutes

Emergency Contacts

In case of an emergency use the following phone numbers.

  • Police – 119
  • Ambulance/Fire – 110
  • General Information – 114
Sunset at Lobster Trapp Beach, Hanover, Jamaica

Sunset at Lobster Trapp Beach, Hanover, Jamaica

Safety & Security
Jamaicans are naturally friendly, helpful and hospitable. Unfortunately it’s not a secret that Jamaica has its fair share of crime, as most large cities do. Best practice is to use your common sense.

  • When safes and lockers are available, use them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Do not flaunt in public. Avoid wearing big jewelry and flashy high price tag items, as you’ll automatically make yourself a target.
  • Avoid lonely streets/alleys or unfamiliar areas at night. Walk with a partner or in groups, if it’s necessary to go out at night.
  • Let someone know if you need help, directions or assistance. If someone is being overly pushing or wants to escort you to your destination, don’t do it or use your best judgement before EVER going with a stranger.

Other

Jamaica is in the Eastern Standard time zone for the winter 6 months and Central Time Zone during the summer half of the year, as there is not daylight savings time.

Electric outlets Type A and B are used, which is the type commonly used in North America.

Jamaica is paradise! Take it easy and enjoy your time! Comment and let me know if I missed anything or you have any questions!
READ MORE

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