Jamaica is an amazing place for a holiday, and there are few places in the world where you can find an experience that is as rich, authentic and culturally oriented as what one obtains in Jamaica. As with travel to any other destination, it’s helpful to know the things that are advisable when travelling to Jamaica, and those which are not. Being aware of the dos and don’ts can make your Jamaica vacation more fun and help keep you safe!
Everything at Beaches Negril has been designed to take advantage of its position along Negril's famed Seven-Mile Beach.
Read on for our 31 most important travel tips for Jamaica, which we hope will help with your planning for the incredible experience that is to come!
Jamaica is one of the biggest islands in the Caribbean, which means there’s plenty to do during your vacation. Ahead of your trip, do some research to see which attractions you’d most like to see. This will help with planning your accommodation. Knowing where you’d like to go, and how far places are from the various resorts on the island will help you decide where to stay. Ideally, you’ll want to book a resort which allows easy access to these sites. Not sure where to stay in Jamaica? Check out our articles ‘Best points of interest in Jamaica’ and ‘Best area to stay in Jamaica’.
When travelling to a foreign location, signing up for free services like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Simply enroll your trip with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you’ll begin to receive information from the Embassy about your upcoming vacation destination. This service makes it easy for the U.S. Embassy and your friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency.
Getting your airport transfers organized upfront is important for any trip. This helps to avoid getting there and having no idea how to get around or how much it should reasonably cost for a taxi or rental. Avoid being overcharged, left stranded, or even hassled by drivers who may or may not be authorized, and make sure your transfer arrangements are finalized before you leave home. At some all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica like the family-friendly Beaches Resorts and adults-only Sandals Resorts, airport transfers are part of your all-inclusive package (some suites even come with private luxury transfers!).
Travelling can be fast paced and in a lot of ways stressful, especially when you’re travelling with a large family that includes kids. Keep track of everyone’s passports by placing them in unique passport holders, perhaps even with name tags so you can find the one you need fast. The time you save (and the sanity you get to keep) will be worth it in the end.
Looking for a kid-friendly all-inclusive resort? Beaches Resorts in Jamaica come with a waterpark, Kids Club, fun activities for all ages, Sesame Street characters, certified nannies and much more! Check out Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios.
Don’t depend on strangers at the airport to lend you pens; it is more practical to bring your own. Put at least two pens into your carry-on so you’re able to fill out customs and immigration forms and other documents quicker. The faster you fill these out, the sooner you’ll be out of the airport and on your way to kick off an amazing vacation in Jamaica.
Bonus tip: If you’re traveling through Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, spend some extra on Club Mobay. It’ll speed up the immigration process and makes sure you are lounging at your resort in no-time. Worth every penny!
It’s a good idea to convert at least some of your money into local currency, as you may need smaller bills or coins if you’re souvenir shopping, for tipping, or other things that may come up. In many cases, locals are not able (or are unwilling) to give you change in USD, so you may end up getting short changed if you use USD as your primary spending currency while on island. If you’re going to use USD, bring along smaller bills. Keep your money safe in a fanny pack, money belt, or in the safe in your room. When heading out on tours, only bring along the money you’ll need for the day. Keep in mind that USD50, converted to the local currency (about 6,997 JMD) goes a long way for one day in Jamaica.
Expert tip: You can get local currency from most ATMs on the island, or you can go to a local bank to get your money changed. Most airports offer currency exchange services, as do the concierge desks at Sandals and Beaches resorts.
It can take some time to get used to the different ways of doing things in a foreign destination but being aware of differences can save your life. In most Caribbean islands, motorists drive on the left, as opposed to the right in the US. When crossing streets in Jamaica you may find that you need to make a more active effort to check the left (as well as the right) to avoid oncoming traffic.
Beaches Negril's Seven-Mile Beach has been voted many times over as one of the best in the world, known for its dramatic sunsets, silky white sands, clear turquoise waters, and spontaneous island spirit.
A trip to Jamaica without visiting the local beaches would be a complete waste of such an amazing opportunity – especially the breathtaking Seven Mile Beach, arguably the most vibrant and beautiful beaches in Jamaica. While in Jamaica also check out Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, which is great for a relaxing time.
In the water or on dry land, there’s something for everyone at Sandals Montego Bay.
The sun is always blazing in the Caribbean, so it’s a good idea to pack sunblock into your bag before heading out. A hat and insect repellent also come in handy, and in some cases sunglasses. Wear comfortable clothing, and if you’re heading to a beach outside of your resort, bring along a towel and a change of clothes. Beach towels are provided by most all-inclusive resorts.
Take in the wonders of the islands from the best seat in the house - on board the Island Routes' Reggae Family Catamaran Cruise.
Relying on a taxi driver to take you to the best spots is not always a good idea, especially if this involves a driver that you do not know and have not procured services from before. Worst case scenario your driver will take you to their idea of great spots, while you miss out on the things you really want to do, or you might be overcharged for the experience. Some taxi drivers in Jamaica are known to pick up and drop off their friends and family along your ‘excursion’, something you might want to avoid.
Most resorts allow you to book your excursions right from the resort where hotel staff can assist you with making arrangements for pick up and drop off back to the hotel. Aside from booking from your resort, you can also arrange your own car rental which makes it easier to get around or sign up for guided tours of particular areas on the island.
Expert tip: Even if you choose to stay at an all-inclusive resort that has it all, it’s a good idea to leave the resort for at least one-half day tour. Jamaica is made for exploration, so take full advantage!
Mostly, tap water in Jamaica is safe to drink, but in more remote areas you may want to avoid drinking water straight out of the tap, unless it has been boiled, filtered or otherwise treated. To be on the safe side, it might be best to stick with mineral water, or other bottled versions sold at most supermarkets, shops and bars on the island. Brushing your teeth with tap water, however, is generally considered safe. Good to know: tap water at the Beaches and Sandals resorts in Jamaica is filtered by the resort.
During the low season, which spans from June to November annually, you need to go in anticipation of encountering the occasional drizzle. The weather is usually stable outside of the low season, so experiencing brief showers here and there are rare. Rest assured, you can still expect a good amount of sunshine every day, even in low season.
If there’s one travel tip you’ll regret not following upon arrival to sunny Jamaica, it’s this one. There are so many opportunities in Jamaica to visit water parks, beaches, and waterfalls that it just makes sense to keep your phone safe in a waterproof case; that way you’ll still be able to take photos and use your phone, without it getting damaged.
With Beaches' Red Lane® Spa services, take the time to let us envelop you in natural botanicals and you will feel renewed for a lifetime.
It’s a laidback way of living in the Caribbean, and you’ll have to recalibrate your mind to take you to that place of relaxation. This is the only way to make the most of your vacation in this part of the world, where life just seems to unfold that a bit slower, giving you more time to savor it all. Get used to laid back attitudes, and “island time” which oftentimes equates to lateness, and refuse to be frazzled by anything at all.
Jamaican patois is part of the national identity, and it would do you well to get used to how this sounds, and to some of the popular phrases you may hear while on island before you get there. Read our Jamaican Sayings and Phrases post to help prep you for your trip.
Beaches Ocho Rios has something for everyone in the family.
If there is one place where it is worth going the way of the all-inclusive vacation, it’s Jamaica. This travel option makes it possible for you to really enjoy your vacation without having to focus on small and sometimes time-consuming details during your trip. Contrary to the popular belief that all-inclusive vacations are costly, they can actually help you stick to your budget and have a more carefree vacation.
All-inclusive resorts like Beaches (family friendly, comes with a water park!) and Sandals (adults-only, designed for a romantic getaway) offer guests some of the world’s best inclusions, including the ability to eat as much as you want at up to 16 gourmet restaurants, stay in luxurious swim-up rooms, and the opportunity to take advantage of the many water and land sports offered on property, which are all included in your package. Both resort brands serve unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks, including premium brand liquors. Get your money’s worth and then some more, with an all-inclusive vacation!
Blue Mountain Coffee is not something you’ll want to miss out on while in Jamaica, so this is one of the travel tips that you probably want to highlight ahead of your trip. This coffee is widely recognized as one of the best coffees in the world! While in Jamaica, you’ll be able to pick up more Blue Mountain Coffee to take home for friends and family when you visit the Blue Mountains for a once-in-a-lifetime tour!
Insider tip: Start the day fresh with a world-class cup of Blue Mountain coffee, every morning, when you stay at any of the Beaches or Sandals Resorts in Jamaica!
Enjoy authentic Jamaican cuisine in Sandals South Coast at the Jamaican Jerk Shack. Eat as much as you want, it's all included!
On a regular day, you probably wouldn’t be picking up food from a shop on the side of the road, but in the Caribbean, this is not considered unusual. There are many roadside stops which serve delicious snacks, including jerk shacks which can be found all over the island. They may not be much to look at, but the food is usually very tasty and low cost. These spots are also good places to meet with locals, and other travelers alike. If you want a good jerk meal right at your resort, Sandals and Beaches both have authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack restaurants right on property. This might be a bit of a safer option for guests with a sensitive stomach. Plus, guests eat for free - always unlimited!
If you visit spots like the Jamaica Craft Market, expect that you’re probably going to be approached by local vendors. Some will simply call out to you asking what you need, or offering what they’re selling, and while some travelers might recommend not making eye contact in these scenarios, in Jamaica this will likely come across as rude. You can simply wave and say ‘no, thank you’, and continue on your way. It’s okay to say no if you really don’t want anything, but if the vendor trying to get your attention has something you’re interested in, it’s also okay to go check it out.
Generally, when shopping at local craft markets, you should go to the vendor with the warmest smile, who is the least bit pushy; from these types of vendors you can usually get what you need at a decent price. Overall, show everyone respect as you go along your way, which in Jamaica includes greeting strangers who might randomly say hello, rather than just passing you by.
Expert travel tip 101: do not leave Jamaica without taking at least 1,000 photos! Okay, well maybe not that many… but it is a good idea to take lots of photos to set your memories in stone. This way you’re able to reflect later on your amazing Jamaica vacation, and share the most memorable moments with friends and family. While embarking on amazing tours, photos might be the last thing on your mind, but be sure to pause for a couple photos at each location.
Breathtaking views can be enjoyed throughout all of Sandals Negril.
Jamaica is one of the most incredible places in the world to vacation and planning properly will ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all the awesome things the island has to offer when you get there. If you’ve already booked your trip and are not sure what to pack, read our ‘What to Pack for a Vacation in Jamaica’ post which will help ensure you have everything you need ahead of your amazing Jamaica getaway!
Expert tip: Bring copies of your passport and booking confirmation with you to the airport in case electronics fail.
Avoid getting into cars with strangers, especially cars without a red number plate. Even if you may consider that you might have made a friend, keep in mind that anyone you meet during your vacation is still pretty much a stranger that you have limited information about. If you want to get around quickly, take a red-plate cab, or even public transport. Red-plate cabs are authorized and licensed to operate. They are also insured. White plates are not.
Plan how you will get to specific locations, and make arrangements to get back to your resort, before venturing out. Be smart, and know it’s alright to say no, even if you think someone might be offended.
Wearing camouflage print is illegal in Jamaica, and in some cases packing clothing items of this type can result in them being confiscated at the airport. Only the local army is permitted to wear this print in Jamaica, so do yourself a favor and leave your camouflage items at home. It won’t make you invisible from local vendors anyway!
Jamaica is one of those places where it’s best to keep it as understated as possible. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry when out, and walk with minimum cash. Pay attention to the personal information you share, as it relates to where you live, how many cars you own, and things of this nature. Leave expensive electronics in your room (preferably in the safe) when you head out on tours, so you don’t end up losing them.
Going off-the-beaten-track is fun to think about, but not always a good idea in a strange destination where you don’t know your way around and aren’t on a paid tour. For tourists especially, exploring in this way is not recommended in Jamaica. Stick to highly populated areas, and if you’re in Jamaica for a low-key activity like backpacking, it may be best to do so with an experienced guide.
Hitchhiking is a no-no in Jamaica, as is traveling to remote or unfamiliar areas at night. Highly popular tourist areas are usually fine in the nighttime but be sure to make proper arrangements to get to and from the location and find out as much information as you can from your resort concierge before you go. In terms of going to the beach at night, stick to the resort beach which is usually patrolled by private security.
If you plan on taking out a rental for your vacation, keep in mind that you’ll need to drive on the left side of the road in Jamaica. Driving in Jamaica can seem a bit haphazard to visitors, so it’s best to stay alert while navigating the roadways. There are often lots of potholes in some areas, so if you must drive while on the island, do so in anticipation of a bumpy ride!
Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica, which might be surprising to some considering how closely it has been linked to Jamaican culture over the years. In Jamaica you can actually be arrested for possession of marijuana. In most cases though, possession of small amounts is likened to a petty offense, but to be on the safe side you’re just not going to want to be caught walking around with an illegal commodity. If you are approached but not interested, don’t worry! Declining politely will suffice.
Sandals Montego Bay is the Original Sandals, and it just happens to be set on the best and most exclusive stretch of beach in Montego Bay.
Jamaica is an insanely popular place to vacation in. This tropical paradise is a favorite among many singles, couples and families from all over the world - and most visitors return year after year. TripAdvisor even ranked Jamaica the #1 Caribbean destination to visit. Use your common sense, relax, and let the good times roll. From tropical beaches to majestic waterfalls, from lush mountains to luxurious resorts - Jamaica has it all. Expect to be treated like a King and Queen on this island.
Beaches Negril’s Pirates Island, an 18,000 square foot waterpark along the ocean’s edge.
Now that we’ve covered all the basics and shared the most important travel tips, you are that much closer to an amazing Caribbean holiday in Jamaica. You are unlikely to regret this choice, especially if you’ve selected a luxury all-inclusive resort like the family friendly Beaches Resort or the couple’s oriented Sandals, both of which will ensure your every need is met, and that your Jamaica vacation is truly unforgettable!