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Jamaica is one of my favorite islands. It was the second Caribbean island I visited.
My trip was over 5 years ago having flown into Montego Bay and stayed at Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios (now rebranded by the Moon Palace). It was a great time, no doubt, and I want to check out Negril next.
For the prices of Jamaica, it can be a pretty inexpensive trip to plan and go on if you are departing from within the U.S.. You can get an all-inclusive trip for under $1, 000.
There are certain things I learned while being there the first time that I will keep in mind for the future. First timers for Jamaica, this will prove very helpful so you know what to expect. Ya Mon !
Here are the travel tips to keep in mind:
Hurricane season runs usually from June to November, although tropical depressions may begin as early as May. The beginning of December is usually more rainy than near Christmas time. Keep close tabs on the weather forecast prior to your trip if a storm is on it’s way.
If you are on vacation in Jamaica and a tropical storm or hurricane comes, keep checking with the hotel staff on any precautions you need to take, any emergency evacuation routes and shelters. Most airports in the Caribbean try to stay open as long as they can before a storm. If you have travel insurance, think whether you want to go forward with the trip and have a few days of bad weather or reschedule to another time.
The All-Inclusive Option
Almost all resorts in Jamaica offer an All- Inclusive plan, meaning your drinks and meals are taken care of and you can have as much as you want of them! This sounds great and it really makes things easy since you don’t have to carry your wallet around.
Please watch how much you drink and what is in your drink when at an All-Inclusive in any country. Besides the scare of roofies, I had many Jamaican bartenders make me a “special rum drink” and I did not know what alcohol it consisted of even though it tasted fruity and strong. Not the smartest idea although I was never alone. I was clearly with my boyfriend.
It is easy to dehydrate as you’re outside having the unlimited drink option and it is a danger to do some activities if you’re under the influence – such as boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, biking etc. You should drink a glass of water per alcoholic beverage to not become inebriated.
Personal Tour Guides
Oh yes, in Jamaica there will be many personal tour guides who want to take the business away from the agencies and hotels that offer activities. My tour guide Tony (above in pic) turned out to be great but I waited three days from speaking to him (and others) to trust him and know he was legit. I spent time hanging out with him and others on the beach. A few other couples toured with him the first two days I was there and reported they were happy with his services.
These tour guides will offer you better prices, throw in driving you themselves to an activity and extra perks so you don’t book through the hotel.
I went to Jamaica knowing I wanted to climb Duns River Falls, a 900 foot waterfall, and see some of the rural areas. Tony took me and my boyfriend there in his car, with his security guard, who had a gun. Yepp. They also took us to Bob Marley’s Grave which we did not know about and let us stop along the country side to take pictures! And they let us drink Jamaica’s Red Stripe beer in the car too. Overall, great time and nothing bad happened!
Always decide on the price before you go and definitely check with other people who is safe to go with.
The Streets and Braids
I was intimidated at the time of my travel to leave the resort on my own. My advice is not to if you do not feel confident or be prepared that everyone will be asking for you to buy something from their shop, food, anything they can offer.
The girls who offer to braid your hair will keep re-approaching you nonstop even after you say no. Children have ran after our car asking for money when I was with the personal tour guide going to the waterfalls. Just be prepared for anything to happen and remember practical safety measures if you do not feel safe.
Remember that weed is illegal in Jamaica even though it is almost everywhere the second you step off the airplane. Don’t fall for an under cover cop offering you weed or anything else. The jails there are not nice and who will know that you got arrested in the first place? At Bob Marley’s grave, they offer you “free” joints but ask for a “nice tip” once you leave.
All in all, Jamaica is a great country and if you go with these things in mind, nothing should be a surprise unless it’s a happy one.
I hope to make it to Negril soon! What do you recommend for Jamaica travel?