10 things I wish I knew before going to Jamaica

Mahnoor Izha 30 September 2020 1646 views 5 min. read

Since the world is finally recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, things have nearly started to get back to normal. Countries have lifted travel restriction bans, and airlines have resumed their flying operations. Although travelling for leisure will still be on hold till the next year, but it shouldn't stop us from planning our future vacations. After all, we have to catch up on this year's travels, especially the beachy and breezy summer holidays. Speaking of beaches, you should travel to the melting pot of reef-lined beaches, mountains, and rainforests mixed with a laid-back vibe, street dancing, and reggae music called Jamaica. If this doesn't ring a bell, then chances are you probably live under a rock but don't worry because you have no idea what a marvel you have in store for you. First up, let's answer some of the questions that might arise in your mind after learning a bit about this place!

1. Where is Jamaica?


Jamaica is a Caribbean island nation of the West Indies located between Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It is the third-largest island in the Caribbean Sea and has previously been colonized by Spain, followed by Britain. That is probably why its official language is English, but its national language is the native Patois. The capital of Jamaica is Kingston, also known as the largest city on the island. Kingston Jamaica is sprawling around its southeastern coast, thus making it the chief port of Jamaica. Kingston has a museum solely dedicated to Bob Marley, the king of reggae music. His music is perfect reminiscent of this country's style laid back, calm, and heart touching. He is the one who put both Jamaica and reggae music on the global map.

2. What is the weather like in Jamaica?

white boat

Being in close proximity to the sea, the weather is tropical, which results in humidity and temperature in Jamaica being high. The average temperature in Jamaica ranges between 19 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius, and for the Americans, 33 degrees Fahrenheit to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. It faces two major rainy seasons within a year, from May to June and September to November, with peak hurricanes from August to October. Therefore, you should pack light and breathable clothes for the vacation with your raining gear, i.e., umbrellas and raincoats. Keep an eye on the meteorological reports to avoid getting caught in a storm or hurricane. Don't forget to pack a light jumper for the fresh and breezy evenings.

3. What's the best place to visit in Jamaica?

aerial view of jamaica

Hmmm, Luxury resorts with huge rooms facing the sea and sandy beaches might be the most attractive trait of Jamaica. Well, in all honesty, it is pretty fair, to say the least. From picturesque beaches for Instragrammable content to fascinating marine life under the water for Youtube travel vlogs to tranquil spots for increased creative flow - they all are the best places to visit in Jamaica. Change into your swimwear and head on to these beaches to relax while soaking up the warm sun. - Seven Mile Negril Beach - Doctor's Cave Beach at Montego Bay - Blue Hole - Runaway Bay Beach - Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth Also, don't forget to pack your sunscreen to avoid looking like a strawberry!

4. Is there any adrenaline fueled adventures?

boy jumping

There are plenty of adrenaline activities, especially water sports offered in Jamaica for the junkies who live off the regular dose of thrilling experiences. - Go for water rafting in the Martha Brae River. - Cliff diving and snorkelling at Seven Mile Beach - A fun-filled day of hiking, swimming and enjoying a picnic at Dunn's River Falls & Park - Bobsledding at Mystic Mountain - Scuba diving at Negril and Montego Bay - Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a safari tour here among the rainforest, coffee fields, and waterfalls full of exotic plants as well as animals. - Bamboo rafting at Rio Grande River

5. Are there any cultural and historic sites?

museum in jamaica

Because of its rich cultural and political history, you will come across many cultural landmarks for tourists throughout the country. A local millionaire owns the famous Bob Marley Museum, which used to be his old house. Then there is the Appleton estate for rum lovers, where they can witness the making of rum in a scenic valley as well as devour it in a bar within the estate. Next up is the Montego Bay Cultural Centre which preserving the island's history through its local art and craft. Spanish Town, an ode to the era when it was ruled by the Spanish colonists, is the home to monuments, and Anglican churches are one of the best places to visit in Jamaica. Fort Charles in Port Royal is the reminder of its colonization by the British as they built it after the invasion. Some others include Discovery Bay and Seville Heritage Park, also known as the "birthplace of modern Jamaica," which is a tribute to Jamaica's indigenous culture.

6. The most important question of all "what about the food?"

jamaica cuisine

Especially in Jamaica, food is of utmost importance. You will probably be tired of swimming all day on beaches or walking around the cities taking pleasure in its unique architecture. Particularly its exotic food consists of seafood, fruits, and vegetables cooked in striking spices. For example, Ackee and Saltfish, a curry of ackee with tomato, onion, and garlic with salted cod served with rice, is the national dish of the island. Street-side carts serve mouthwatering Jerk Chicken, curried goat, and oxtail stew to world-famous ice creams. Rice and beans with fried plantains, sautéed local spinach called callaloo, and flat coco bread are also common components of local cuisine. Run Dung is a fish stew, usually mackerel cooked with almost the same ingredients as the ackee and codfish with the addition of coconut milk. Jamaican vegetable and beef patties are famous around the world because of their lip-smacking flavour. Last but not least, their decadent and robust coffee, as well as the local alcohol, is a must-have.

7. Is it safe to travel to Jamaica?

jamaican police

Currently, Jamaica is on the USA's level 2 advisory; in other words, you will have to be extra cautious of your surroundings. It has one of the highest death per capita rates in the world, along with an equally high street crime rate. However, most of the crimes are committed by locals on locals; hence, tourists are deemed safe there with a few rare exceptions. Just avoid visiting less populated areas at night and be hyper-aware while in Spanish Town, Montego Bay, and Downtown Kingston.

8. What is the common Jamaican stance on the LGBTQ community?

pride flag

Homosexuals and transsexuals are allowed to visit the country, but they cannot practice any public display of affection. Same-sex relations are illegal and frowned upon there. Moreover, some cases of sexual assault, harassment, and even murder have been reported before. Most LGBTQ members are abandoned by their families; hence, it is advised to shush the secret of your sexual orientation and refrain from any physical affection in public. However, things have improved as compared to the past, but Jamaicans are still having a hard time accepting this.

9. What is the vibe of this island?

Just like its weather, the Jamaicans are also warm and cheerful. The locals exude a chill and laid-back energy, which is guaranteed to impact you. You will experience an overall relaxed environment where everyone is friendly, easy-going, and pleasant. Street dancing, reggae music, and drum circles give this island its unique vibrancy and liveliness. Cut yourself slack from the busy life by unwinding on the beach or make the most of its happening nightlife like a wild party animal. Book a ticket to a nearby music festival to dance your feet off, hop on a yacht party for a private sailing tour or dive deep down a sea to hang out with the fish.

10. What are other important things to consider before travelling to Jamaica?

night view of kingston

Now before finishing up this guide, let me bombard you with some random but crucial information for a tourist before coming here:

  1. US Dollar can be used in all the major cities except offbeat and remote areas. It is advised to also keep local currency with you while in Jamaica.
  2. Tap water is safe and healthy to drink, so don't bother to splurge on fancy bottled water. So, yay!
  3. Time zone = UTC-5.
  4. Although marijuana is illegal and its possession is considered petty theft, but for tourists, it is quite trouble-free to have it from local dealers.
  5. US nationals can drive there using their American driver's license.
  6. The electrical power in Jamaica is 110 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

With the diversity this island has to offer, you will never have a dull moment. From breathtaking sceneries to the eye-catching architecture, delectable cuisine, and luxury resorts, you are bound to come back from your travel to Jamaica with a heart full of love, a mind full of memories, and a gallery full of social media content.