Jamaica Travel Guide

Useful Tips

Everything you need to know before you fly to Jamaica

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Average Trip Cost

NA

When To Go

December to March

Currency

Jamaican Dollar

Ideal Length Of Stay

7 to 14 days

About Jamaica

With its award-winning beaches, turquoise bays, and year-round sunshine, Jamaica has an authentic Caribbean feel, but the island’s vibrant cultural heritage makes it a place quite unlike any other. 

Jamaica’s unique personality derives from a melting pot of influences from all corners of the globe, expressed as one through its infectious people and their laidback lifestyle.

Whether it’s the delicious aroma of jerk chicken barbecuing on the beach or the sound of reggae rhythms floating through the streets, Jamaica never fails to impress, enthrall, and surprise visitors in equal measures.

A host of attractions and activities abound, watching a spectacular sunset at the cliff-top Rick’s Cafe in Negril to taking a refreshing dip in a lagoon at Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. Jamaica enjoys a longstanding association with the stars.  Once a magnet for Hollywood icons such as Errol Flynn in the 1950s and 1960s, Port Antonio’s recent high-end tourism developments have seen a return to its glamorous heyday, a time when the world’s attention was first brought to the charm and character of this beautiful island. 

Author Ian Fleming penned all the James Bond novels in Jamaica, while more recent famous visitors to the island include Prince Harry, Grace Jones, and Kate Moss.  Jamaica is also the birthplace of Island Records, created by Chris Blackwell, who signed several major artists, including island-legend Bob Marley and U2.  

Where To Stay In Jamaica

Visitors to Jamaica stay in a wide variety of accommodations, including private rental, guesthouses, and luxurious all-inclusive hotels.  Some of the best hotels in Jamaica include:

Montego Bay:

  • Half Moon
  • Round Hill Hotels & Villas
  • Sandals Montego Bay

Negril:

  • The Cliff Hotel
  • The Rock House
  • Sandals Negril

Ochi:

  • GoldenEye
  • Jamaica Inn
  • Sandals Royalton Plantation 

Port Antonio:

  • The Trident Hotel
  • Geejam Hotel
  • Frenchman’s Cove Resort 

Activities In Jamaica

Major tourist activities in Jamaica include:

  • Touring the capital city of Kingston and visiting the Bob Marley Museum
  • Visiting historical sites like the Rose Hall Great House 
  • Climbing the Dunn’s River Falls 
  • Hiking to the top of the Blue Mountain Peak, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 
  • Diving off Rick’s Café cliff 
  • Rafting on the Rio Grande or Martha Brae
  • Swimming at the Luminous Lagoon 

Facts About Jamaica

Size:

4,411 square miles

Population:

2.9 million

Official Language:

English

Demonym:

Jamaican

Capital City:

Kingston

Government:

Unitary Parliamentary with British Constitutional Monarchy

Telephone Country Code:

876

Driving:

left side of the road

Local Beer:

Red Stripe

National Dish:

Ackee & Salt Fish

Main Airport:

Donald Sangster International Airport

Electricity:

110 V/50 Hz – plugs are US standard two and three-prong

Visa Information For Jamaica

Visitors from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and most European countries do not require a visa to travel to Jamaica.  All visitors to Jamaica must have a current passport that is valid for six months after the visit and onward plus return ticket. 

How Long Does It Take To Get A Visa For Jamaica

With a valid passport and supporting documents, it typically takes two to three weeks for a Jamaica visa application to be processed by the nearest Jamaican High Commission. Visitors from non-Commonwealth countries are typically granted a period of no more than six months’ stay on the island, while Commonwealth citizens are allowed a maximum of 12 months. An extension is possible through an application with the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).

Is It Safe In Jamaica

In comparison to major American and European cities, Jamaica is relatively safe, but petty crime is an issue in tourist areas. As such, it is recommended that visitors be vigilant at all times, especially when away from the major hotels.  Tourists to Jamaica should take extra precautions to safeguard their passports, money, tickets, mobile phones, and other valuables, especially when in Kingston, Spanish Town, and Montego Bay.  

How To Get To Jamaica

Most visitors to Jamaica arrive at the Sangster International Airport (IATA: MBJ, ICAO: MKJS) located 3 miles east of Montego Bay.

From Canada, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • Air Canada Rouge: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
  • Air Transat: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
  • Sunwing Airlines: Calgary, Edmonton, Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson  (Seasonal: Halifax, Hamilton (ON), London (ON), Moncton, Ottawa, Regina, Saskatoon, Sault Ste. Marie, St. John’s, Sudbury, Vancouver, Windsor, Winnipeg)
  • Swoop: Hamilton (ON)
  • WestJet: Toronto–Pearson
  • Seasonal: Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg

From the United States, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • American Airlines: Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia (Seasonal: Boston, Chicago–O’Hare)
  • Caribbean Airlines: New York–JFK (Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale)
  • Delta Air Lines: Atlanta, New York–JFK (Seasonal: Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul)
  • Frontier Airlines: Philadelphia
  • JetBlue: Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK, Orlando
  • Southwest Airlines: Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
  • Spirit Airlines: Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (Seasonal: Detroit)
  • Sun Country Airlines (Seasonal): Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • United Airlines: Chicago–O’Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark (Seasonal: Washington–Dulles)

From the United Kingdom, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • British Airways (Seasonal): London–Gatwick
  • TUI Airways: Birmingham, London–Gatwick, Manchester 
  • Virgin Atlantic: London–Heathrow

From Europe, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • Evelop Airlines (Charter): Madrid
  • Condor (Seasonal): Frankfurt 
  • Neos Seasonal: Milan–Malpensa, Verona
  • Nordwind Airlines (Seasonal charter): Moscow–Sheremetyevo
  • Sunclass Airlines (Seasonal charter): Stockholm-Arlanda
  • TUI fly Belgium: Brussels
  • TUI fly Netherlands : Amsterdam
  •  

Within the Caribbean region, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • Aerogaviota: Havana, Holguín
  • Cayman Airways (Seasonal): Grand Cayman
  • InterCaribbean Airways: Kingston–Norman Manley, Ocho Rios, Providenciales
  • International AirLink: Negril

Within Latin America, book flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica via:

  • Copa Airlines: Panama City 
  • LATAM Perú: Lima

Note:  The other major airport in Jamaica is the Norman Manley International Airport (IATA: KIN, ICAO: MKJP), located in Kingston.  Most of the airlines that fly to Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay also fly to Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.   One significant difference to highlight is Caribbean Airlines based in Kingston, which connects Jamaica to most other destinations in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Airlines routes from Kingston Jamaica include flights to:

  • Antigua, Barbados, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Cayman, Miami, Nassau, New York–JFK, Port of Spain, Saint Maarten, Toronto–Pearson (Seasonal: Orlando) 

When To Go To Jamaica

The most popular time to visit Jamaica is from mid-December to mid-April when the weather is warm, sunny, and typically dry.  From August to October is the low season as temperatures are hot and muggy; also, there is an increased risk of tropical storms.

Major events attracting visitors to Jamaica include: 

  • January: Accompong Maroon Festival
  • March: Jamaica Rum Festival 
  • April:  Jamaica Carnival 
  • April: Jamaica International Kite Festival
  • May: Calabash International Literary Festival
  • July: Reggae Summerfest
  • August:  Montego Bay Jerk Festival 
  • November: Jamaica Food & Drink Festival 
  • December: Jamaica Marathon 

Weather In Jamaica

Jamaica has a pleasant tropical climate year-round, but there are two seasons – the dry and wet seasons. From December to April, you can expect sun and clear skies. From June to September, there are frequent short bursts of heavy rain, but far fewer crowds. The exceptions are the northeast, like Port Antonio, where it’s rainy rear-round; and the southwest coast, where it’s almost always dry. Peaks times for tourists in Jamaica is during Christmas and the weeks surrounding it, as well as during US Spring Break (late March to early April).  

Getting Married In Jamaica

Marriage Requirements:

Only a Marriage Officer licensed in Jamaica can legally marry a couple.  An officiate of your choice may conduct the ceremony, but a local Marriage Officer must be present to sign the marriage form and make the official marriage pronouncement. Marriage Officers can also provide witnesses for the ceremony.  In advance of the wedding, you will need to apply for a marriage license through the Ministry of Justice.

Documents Required:

 In addition to the completed application for marriage, both the bride and groom will need their:

  • passports 
  • birth certificates along with driver’s licenses or other forms of identification
  • certificates of no impediment or single status report

Also, if applicable: 

  • divorce papers i.e., decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse
  • proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor
  • proof of name change by Deed Poll, stamped and signed by a solicitor

All documentation must be original or certified copies.  Also note:

  • Italian nationals celebrating their wedding in Jamaica must notify their embassy and have a certified copy of their marriage certificate forwarded to their embassy to be legalized and translated.
  • French Canadians need a notarized translated copy of all documents and a photocopy of the original French documents.

Residency Requirement:

visitors can be married 24 hours after arriving in Jamaica, providing prior application has been made for a marriage license. 

Fees:

The cost of a marriage license is: JM$4000 [approximately US$60 – US$65].

Witnesses: 

Two witnesses that are not immediate family members must be present at the marriage ceremony.

Marriage Procedure:

The required documents will need to be taken to the Ministry of Justice to obtain the marriage license.  

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