Things to do
No matter what type of vacation you are looking for – No time to get bored in Jamaica… Enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Negril with its 7 mile beach and blue waters – The perfect location for a relaxing day in the sun. Or get a sun downer at famous Rick’s Café while enjoying some music and watching the cliff divers right next door.
The inland offers countless options for world class outdoor activities from hiking to whitewater rafting. If you don’t mind getting a little wet check out Mayfield Falls in Glenbrook for a hike. Friendly and knowledgeable local guides take you through an amazing tour and because the road to get there is not frequented by many tourists it is less crowded than Dunn’s River Falls even in peak season. Our “Active in Jamaica Guide” gives a lot more recommendations for exciting activities including excursions to the Blue Mountains and the “spooky” Cockpit Country.
Jamaica’s nightlife is among one of most vibrant in the Caribbean. From small bars (check out Colette’s in Negril) to great life music at Beezy’s Reggae pub in Ocho Rios – There is something for everyone. A glimpse of local art can be experienced at the National Gallery that shows a great collection of Jamaican art.
Transportation to and on the island
There are many options for direct flights to Jamaica from Europe and North America. While Condor offers direct service to Montego Bay from Frankfurt and Munich, Virgin Atlantic flies from London (Gatwick) and British Airways has direct flights to Kingston.
Travelers from Canada may use Westjet and AirCanada for direct service e.g. Toronto or Montreal. Delta, Spirit, or American Airlines offer direct flights from many US airports including Atlanta, New York, and Miami just to name a few.
Cruise passengers usually arrive in the ports of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or Port Antonio. Each city has its unique attractions and offers options for activities. Check out our guide books for recommendations.
Like most other Caribbean destinations Jamaica experiences a dry and a wet season with the wet months between May and November. Usually rain comes in short showers though and you are still able to enjoy the sun even during wet season. At the coast temperatures range between 23°C (74°F) and 32°C (90°F) throughout the year with minor differences. Travel in the wet season has its perks while you can avoid crowds and save funds.
Because of Jamaica’s location it is prone to Hurricanes during the Hurricane season usually during the wet season months. Luckily this does not happen every year.
The first European “tourist” in Jamaica was Christopher Columbus with his crew in 1494. The settlers believed to have lived on the island since 4000BC include tribes from the Taino and Arawak. Spanish settlers arrived shortly after Jamaica’s “discovery” and established the capital of the island in the 1530’s in what is today known as Spanish Town. Kingston only became the island’s capital in 1872. When Spanish rule ended in 1655 Jamaica became a British colony for the next 300 years and it was in the year 1962 when Jamaica gained Independence from Great Britain.
People and Culture
Jamaican’s express their rich culture in cuisine, language and – or course – music. Jamaica is famous for its spices like jerk seasoning, but also for Blue Mountain Coffee. If you are willing to try some real local dish – how about Cow Foot Soup?!
With their infectious rhythms and sounds, Jamaican people always find a reason to dance and enjoy themselves. In the end it is the people with their smile and positive attitude towards life who bring it all together. Interesting observation – Ties to Africa are closer in Jamaica than in most other Caribbean nations which can be traced back to days of slavery. Up to this day over 90% of Jamaicans have African roots.
Geography & Geology
Jamaica belongs to the Greater Antilles and is located about 150km (93mi) South of Cuba. The island of Hispaniola lies about 160km (100mi) East of Jamaica. Jamaica’s landscape is exceptionally diverse with beautiful beaches, but lush green forests, rivers and the famous Blue Mountains with the highest peak of the island at 2,256 meters (7,400ft). The central Highlands cover most of Jamaica with an elevation of up to 900 meters (2,950ft) above sea level.
Geologically Jamaica was formed by ancient volcanoes which are now covered with limestone in large areas of the island. Caused by erosion so-called karst formations are found in many parts. This results in a landscape with caves, valleys and caverns. Cockpit Country is the most amazing example of a karst formation and also represents the biggest rainforest in Jamaica.