Jamaica is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the Caribbean, and is especially known for its all-inclusive resorts. The island is full of storied tourist destinations -- Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, to name a few -- and all have distinct personalities. It's a big country, geographically diverse, and well worth exploring beyond the confines of your resort.
Jamaica Basic Travel Information
- Location: In the Caribbean Sea 90 miles south of Cuba.
- Size: About 4,243 square miles/10,990 square kilometers (146 miles long, 51 miles wide). See Map
- Capital: Kingston
- Language: English, local patois
- Religions: Mostly Protestant, with some Roman Catholics and spiritual sects, including Rastafarians.
- Currency: Jamaican dollar; U.S. dollar widely accepted.
- Telephone/Area Code: 876
- Tipping: 10-15%
- Weather: Hot, tropical and humid along shore; cooler inland, especially in the Blue Mountains
- Jamaica Travel Safety
Many people come to Jamaica just to sit on the beach, but many also make time to explore popular sights like Dunn's River Falls (come early, before the cruise ships arrive) and rafting on the Martha Brae River. Jamaica also has 400 years of history to explore, notably in towns like Port Royal. To escape from the heat, take a drive up into the cool Blue Mountains and meet some real Jamaicans. Montego Bay is known for its nightlife; Negril is a bit more laid back, and Port Antonio quieter still.
Montego Bay, Negril and Port Antonio are all blessed with beautiful beaches, from white-sand strands to quiet coves with wave-carved caves. The beaches on the south shore have wilder surf, but fewer crowds.
Jamaica Hotels and Resorts
Jamaica has a vast attay of lodging options, from small family inns to upscale resorts like the romantic Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall. The Beaches and Sandals resorts are some of the most famous all-inclusive resorts in the world; the Hedonism properties are among the most freewheeling. For a different yet authentically Jamaican experience, check out the Island Outpost chain of small luxury resorts, including Goldeneye, 007 author Ian Fleming's famous mountaintop perch.
Jerk chicken, anyone? In Jamaica, you'll find this spicy local favorite cooking over open fires in steel drums as well as on the menu of upscale restaurants. Sonia's in Negril is known for its authentic Jamaican dishes; the Ruins in Ocho Rios has a beautiful outdoor courtyard. And you have to love a country that has an entire festival dedicated to yams!
Jamaica Culture and History
A rich cultural and historic legacy awaits visitors to Jamaica, from ancient forts guarding old pirate towns to the unique story of Rastafarianism and the mysterious culture of the Maroons. And of course this is the birthplace of reggae music, celebrated everywhere, every day, on this fun-loving island.
Jamaica Events and Festivals
The birthplace of reggae celebrates its musical heritage and much more during year-round events and festivals, which includes a pair of jazz festivals, Bob Marley Week, a marlin fishing tournament, and a distinctly Jamaican take on Caribbean carnival.