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jamaica

Jamaica

Jamaica is a jewel of the Caribbean, with breathtaking landscapes and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet! The Blue Mountains, covered in fragrant foliage and crossed by twisting rivers that turn into stunning waterfalls, are just one part of the magnificent scenery that makes the country unique.

A longtime favorite of the rich and famous, Jamaica has become a popular sunny destination known for crystal‑clear waters, endless white‑sand beaches, spicy jerk food, and laid‑back reggae rhythms.

There’s a wealth of things to do here, from hiking in the mountains to sunbathing on the beach to discovering the culture at various tourist sites.

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What you need to know

What you need to know

Jamaica is a Caribbean island that showcases beautiful, exotic landscapes and beaches of the finest sand. Its capital city beats to the rhythm of the reggae music you’ll hear everywhere in the country. Your Jamaican vacation will also surprise you with the aromatic spices of the country’s African‑inspired cuisine.

Local specialties and culture

Rastafari is a cultural and spiritual movement that began in 1930. It remains part of Jamaican life to this day; you’ll recognize its followers by their dreadlocks as well as their red, yellow, and green clothing—the colors of imperial Ethiopia. Rastafari promotes a message of unity and love as well as peaceful rebellion. Its followers are vegetarians and do not drink alcohol. You might hear them speaking in the Rasta patois, a kind of Jamaican creole.

Paradise for lovers of lush scenery

Jamaica’s mountains dot the land between coffee and sugar plantations, banana groves, coconut trees, and waterfalls. Beyond the heavenly beaches, the rolling landscapes of the Caribbean’s third‑largest island leave no one unmoved.

Know before you go

Know before you go

This Caribbean island has a lot to offer. Your Travel Professional will be able to help you best plan your trip.

Capital

Kingston is a vibrant capital city full of activities for tourists. Reggae enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Trenchtown neighborhood, where Bob Marley played his first gigs. His house, now a museum, is a must‑see, but that’s not all there is to do in Kingston. As a former Spanish colonial city, it mixes European and Caribbean architectural styles, which you can see for yourself at Devon House or the Kingston Parish Church. Curious about Caribbean pirates? Head to the Port Royal district, home to buccaneers until the 17th century.

Language

English

Best time to go

January through April

Climate

It’s summer all year round in Jamaica! The tropical climate brings average temperatures of 20°C and highs of 30°C along with high humidity—perfect for enjoying some time on the beach. During the rainy season, from April to October, storms punctuate the late afternoons. Hurricane season stretches from June to November, but it’s rare to actually see one.

Currency and costs

Jamaican dollar

Electricity

  • 110 volts
  • Type A plugs: two flat prongs, with one slightly longer than the other
  • Or Type B plugs: just like Type A but with an additional round prong

Getting there

There are lots of flights from Canada to Montego Bay, in northern Jamaica. You’ll be just a step away from the seaside resorts!

What to wear, eat, and buy

What to wear, eat, and buy

What to pack

Take light, comfortable clothing—it’s very hot and sunny. Don’t forget a hat and some sunscreen! If you’re planning to explore Jamaica’s mountainous landscape, make sure to bring your hiking boots. For going out in the evening, bring a light jacket to protect you from the cold breeze.

Food and drinks

Blending the flavors of Africa and India, Jamaican cuisine is among the most creative in the Caribbean.

Food

Jerk: Jerk is the name of both the marinade and the method of cooking the meat. Mostly made up of allspice and habanero peppers, the marinade is used on pork, chicken, and fish, which are then smoked on the grill.
Patty: A pastry filled with beef and spices, perfect for a meal on the go.
Curry goat: A very spicy curry made with goat meat.
Ackee and saltfish: Jamaica’s national dish consists of cod cooked with tomatoes, onions, and ackee, a lychee‑like fruit. It’s eaten for both breakfast and dinner.
Escoveitch: Called “run down” in the rest of the Caribbean (insert link to South Destinations page), this is a dish of fish and vegetables simmered in coconut milk.

Drinks

Rum: Jamaican rums are second to none. Appleton and Myers both stand out as strong, aromatic rums.
Beer: Red Stripe is a local lager that’s nice and refreshing under Jamaica’s hot sun!
Coffee: One of the most famous (and expensive) coffees in the world is Blue Mountain, grown in the mountain range of the same name.

Tips

You should leave a tip of around 15% in restaurants and cabs.

Shopping and souvenirs

Want to bring a little Caribbean ambiance back home with you? Here are some ideas for Jamaican souvenirs to put in your suitcase:

  • Reggae albums
  • Rastafari hats
  • Wooden sculptures
  • Spices
  • Blue Mountain coffee

Top 10

TOP 10 : Jamaica

1. DUNN’S RIVER FALLS

Located 3 kilometers west of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the Dunn’s River Falls alone are a great reason to visit this part of the Caribbean. The waterfall reaches 55 meters high, made up of a series of falls that creep along a distance of more than 600 meters, sliding between rocky terraces and dotted with small natural pools between the falls. If you’re the adventurous type, you can even climb all the way up these sloping falls. You’ll find that it’s a fairly simple and popular tourist activity, and it’s not uncommon to see human chains form to ease the way.

2. BLUE MOUNTAINS

“Blue Mountains” means both the large verdant tropical forests, home to gorgeous, brightly colored flowers, and also, of course, the delicious, high‑quality coffee. If you’re thinking about Jamaica as your next vacation destination, make sure to include the Blue Mountains on your itinerary. They’re even more impressive than you can imagine. The range has some of the tallest mountains in the Caribbean, peaking at 2,256 meters (7,402 feet). The views from the summit are absolutely unbeatable, and the range is often called the “Garden of Eden” because of all the extraordinary plants and animals that live there.

3. RIO GRANDE

Nature lovers will have a great time taking a bamboo raft down the Rio Grande. The river was recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and is the longest river on the island, stretching 3,034 kilometers. The Rio Grande Valley crosses the Blue and John Crow Mountains, so you can enjoy breathtaking views of the tropical landscape as you float along with the current. It’s an excursion where you can unwind and have an adventure; try following it with a visit to the city’s market and the Errol Flynn Marina, one of the world’s loveliest small ports.

4. IRIE BLUE HOLE

Also called Blue Hole Jamaica, the Irie Blue Hole is located about 25 minutes outside of Ocho Rios, near Saint Ann and Saint Mary. It hasn’t yet become a popular tourist attraction, and that’s what makes it so special: there are no lines, no roaming vendors, just a natural beauty hidden in the stunning tropical forest.

5. RASTAFARI INDIGENOUS VILLAGE

The Rastafari movement is a philosophy in itself. You’re welcome at the entrance to Montego River Gardens. The visit provides an authentic human experience as you observe the village. You’ll also learn more about a lifestyle based more on principles than rules, in a place where the sense of community has a deeper meaning. All meals are shared among the residents of the village; the food is always vegetarian and cooked on‑site. The lifestyle here is modest, based mostly on sharing and communing with nature.

6. NINE MILE

The town of Nine Mile sits in Saint Ann Parish and is where legendary singer and activist Bob Marley was born in 1945 and died in 1981. For fans of reggae music, the museum dedicated to the memory of the “King of Reggae” is worth a stop.

7. RICK’S CAFE, NEGRIL

This famous bar and restaurant perched on top of a cliff is a great place for eating, drinking, and dancing, but the best reason to go is to watch people dive off the 35-foot cliff and admire the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It’s an exciting spectacle in an entrancing atmosphere. If you’re brave, you can even try jumping yourself!

8. BLACK RIVER AND THE YS FALLS

The Black River is the longest river in Jamaica. It’s a popular tourist destination not just for river safaris but also because some spectacular natural attractions can be seen there, including the YS falls. These waterfalls reach 36 meters in height and are famous as the largest set of waterfalls in Jamaica. The best way to explore this unique area is on a pontoon boat, which will let you admire the Black River’s outstanding ecology and learn more about the history of the region. You might also spot some wildlife: there are more than one hundred species of birds here, including herons and snowy egrets, as well as a large and unfortunately threatened population of crocodiles.

9. SEVEN MILE BEACH, NEGRIL

For those who like long walks, white sand, and crystal‑clear waters, Negril Beach stretches 11 kilometers and has been named one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world. Small restaurants and beach bars offer local products. Don’t be afraid to explore some of the elegant and delicious traditional Jamaican dishes!

10. APPLETON RUM FACTORY

Rum is the country’s star drink, and there’s plenty to learn about its history. A visit to Jamaica’s Appleton rum factory teaches you about the production and bottling process; you can even press your own fresh sugarcane juice as part of the tour! Fun fact: roughly 16,000 tons of sugar and 10 million liters of this world‑famous rum are produced every year. After a fascinating tour, visitors can hardly wait for the tastings, where they can learn more about the products before buying and get a whiff of all the rums the factory makes—and, of course, have a few sips!

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