Caribbean Travel Tips Health – With its slow pace, stunning beaches, rugged mountains, lush rainforests, beautiful waterfalls and vibrant music scene, it’s easy to see why Jamaica is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean.
The third largest island in the region, Jamaica, has more churches per square kilometer and more rum bars per capita than anywhere else on Earth.
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Unsurprisingly, the island draws large crowds and has a lot to offer travelers of all sizes. Whether you’re looking to relax, splash or party, Jamaica has you covered.
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While it’s easy to relax on the beach most of the time, try to experience the local music scene and Rastafarian culture while you’re here. This gives the island its iconic feel.
This Jamaica travel guide has all the practical information you need to help you plan your visit, save money and make the most of your time in this island paradise.
This restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. There are also huge cliffs to jump from. It’s about 35 feet into the water, so if the height is too much for you, you can just relax and enjoy the view with a drink.
Rum, which is made by fermenting and distilling sugar cane, is one of Jamaica’s biggest exports. Tour Appleton Estate, which has been producing rum since 1749 (they produce 10 million liters of rum every year). Worthy Park and Hampden Estate are two others to visit while you’re here. Tours cost around 4,500 JMD.
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Jamaica is rich in soft, powdery beaches. In Montego Bay, head to Doctor’s Cave Beach. If you want something more secluded, choose Cornwall Beach. Seven Mile Beach in Negril has something for everyone. And beyond the overpriced center around Margaritaville you’ll find quieter stretches of pristine sand.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park lies in the east of the island and covers 41,198 hectares. You can go bird watching and go on Holywell nature walks that take you through the cloud forest. A short drive from Kingston, this park is an easy afternoon visit. Entrance to the park is 1,480 JMD.
Montego Bay is home to tourist bars, international restaurants and epic parties. The neat resorts are mostly in Ironshore, just outside the bustling town of MoBay. Gloucester Ave is like the best of both worlds: a quieter touristy environment with dirt cheap restaurants and seedy bars.
For unique views of the countryside, head to the Port Antonio area for a guided bamboo raft ride down the Rio Grande River. It’s one of the best ways to see the many caves, waterfalls and crystal springs that are tucked around the island. A three-hour rafting trip costs JMD 15,500 per person with Rio Grande Rafting Tour.
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You will find a wide variety of marine life on the north coast of Jamaica. Here you can snorkel and see corals, stingrays, lionfish, barracudas and more. Ocho Rios is another exciting snorkeling spot, with plenty of scorpions, sea slugs and nurse sharks. Guided tours start around JMD 5,000.
Jamaica’s landscape is dotted with more than 1,000 caves. The Green Grotto Caves on the north coast are probably the most famous. The caves are made of limestone and the tides have etched the walls with the green algae that gave the cave its name. As you pass through the cave, you will pass through a forest of stalactites and stalactites. Interesting fact: The Spanish hid here in the 17th century when the English invaded Jamaica. The entrance fee is 2,950 JMD per person.
Visit the Sun Valley Plantation in Ocho Rios to learn about the island’s history from the slave trade to the present, as well as what life was like on a plantation where coffee, bananas and tropical fruits were grown. It’s an immersive experience where you get to know the owners and hard working staff. The tour lasts 90 minutes and includes a demonstration of the plantation’s tasty fruits. This tour does nothing to detract from the hard facts that this plantation once exploited slaves for profit.
Jamaica’s capital Kingston is a rough place. Well worth a visit for a day or two. See some important landmarks such as Devon House, built in the Jamaican Georgian style typical of plantation houses built by colonists during the slave trade. The visit is 1,775 JMD and admission includes a snack or drink of your choice. Don’t miss the King’s House (the official residence of the Governor), the Prime Minister’s House and the Bob Marley Museum. While you’re here, be sure to get out and listen to live reggae at the Dub Club, visit the National Gallery of Jamaica, shop at Coronation Market and relax at Emancipation Park.
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Located in Ocho Rios, these falls tumble over plateaus 600 feet above the ground. You can climb them if you’re feeling adventurous, or just walk along the path that runs alongside the river and go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. The entrance fee is 3,700 JMD. If you like adrenaline activities, you can zipline here for 3,900-4,900 JMD per person.
Jamaica has 150 species of birds, 29 of which are endemic to the island. Just southeast of Montego Bay lies Cockpit Country, an area rich in nearly 110 of these species. Watch for black-billed parrots, endangered Jamaican blackbirds and Blue Mountain warblers. The area itself is lush and beautiful, with limestone caves and many rivers.
The Blue Hole is one of the less touristy spots on the island. It costs JMD 3,000 for a trip that includes a hike to a small waterfall, cliff jumping, a rope swing, swimming in blue lagoons, and lots of amazing scenery. For an additional fee, you can also go on a raft on the river or on a bamboo raft. Just be aware that there is no place to store your bags, so if you don’t have a car to store your things in, bring a waterproof bag to keep your things in while you swim.
This area is off the beaten track and a good alternative to the crowds at the beach. Here, you’ll be rewarded with tranquil beaches, endless natural beauty and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample Boston’s many chicken dishes.
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Bob Marley, one of Jamaica’s most famous artists, often hums in the background across the country. Visit his home on Hope Road in Kingston where he lived and worked from 1975-1981. Learn about his life with a peek into his studio and bedroom. The entrance fee is 3,700 JMD.
Hostel Prices – A bed in a 4-6 bed room in tourist spots like Montego Bay costs around JMD 3,700 per night. They start from 2000 JMD in places like Port Antonio. A dormitory with eight or more beds costs from 2900 per night. A private room with a shared bathroom costs about JMD 6,500 per night, and a room with a private bathroom costs about JMD 7,400. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels also have cooking facilities.
For those traveling with a tent, there are several campsites in Jamaica. Tent campsites for two people without electricity can be obtained for up to 300 JMD per night.
Cheap hotel rates – Cheap two and three star hotels start at 6,000 JMD per night in less touristy areas like Port Antonio, but closer to 8,000 JMD near the beach resorts. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, TV and sometimes free breakfast.
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Airbnb is available everywhere in Jamaica. For a private room, expect to pay from 5,700 JMD per night, while an entire house/apartment averages closer to 12,000 JMD per night.
Average cost of food – Jamaican cuisine is influenced by a mix of Caribbean, African and European flavors due to the number of countries that have occupied the island over the years. Seafood and tropical fruits are extremely common here, and popular dishes include goat curry, patties (salty turnovers), saltfish (dried and salted cod) and dumplings.
A casual lunch at a cheap restaurant costs about 700 JMD. On most menus, you can find pulled chicken or beef for around JMD 450 and pulled chicken is around the same price.
If you want to splurge, a three-course meal at a medium-sized restaurant costs about JMD 3,300 with drinks.
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If you plan to cook your own meals, expect to pay JMD 7,000 per week for groceries. This includes staples such as pasta, rice, seasonal produce and some meat or seafood.
If you are backpacking in Jamaica, my recommended budget is around JMD 7,000 per day. This assumes you stay in a hostel, cook all your meals, limit your drinking, take the bus and do mostly leisurely activities like lounging on the beach and swimming. Add an extra JMD 400-1200 if you plan to drink