If you are in Jamaica on vacation, you will quickly learn the ins and outs of the culture and people who call this paradise Island home. Here is a quick guide to help you get started at exploring Jamaica. It provides useful information about Jamaica that every visitor should know before visiting.
- Air Canada 876-924-8211
- Air Europa 800-238-7672
- Air Jamaica 800-523-5585
- Air Turks and Caicos 876-926-1762
- American Airlines 800-433-7300
- British Airways 800-247-9297
- Caribbean Airlines 876-922-3460
- Cayman Airways 800-422-9626
- Copa Airlines 876-968-5330
- Delta Airlines 800-221-1212
- Fly Jamaica 855-933-5952
- JetBlue Airways 800-JET-BLUE
- Spirit Airlines 877-211-1546
- United Airlines 800-231-0856
- Virgin Atlantic 876-971-8917
- WestJet Airlines 800-538-5696
Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston
888-AIRPORT or 876-924-8452-6
Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay
Most Jamaican ATMs (called ABMs) accept international bank cards with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Plus logos.
Buses are a cheap way to get around, although it will be an unfamiliar experience to most Westerners, since bus stands are rarely marked and vehicles do not follow a strict schedule. Some resorts offer bus excursions to different tourist sites. Check with your hotel’s concierge for more information.
Jamaica enjoys a tropical climate, characterized by high temperatures and humid conditions year-round. Average temperature ranges from 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) to 99 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
Though it’s known for warmth and sunshine, the island sees two rainy seasons from May to June and September to
November. Also, hurricanes may pass over the island primarily from June to September.
If it rains during your stay, don’t worry. Most times, the short tropical showers provide a welcome break from the afternoon heat.
Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted throughout the island.
The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaica Dollar. Licensed “cambio” (exchange) centers and commercial banks are accessible in all resort areas. Official currency exchange rates vary daily, so it’s advisable to shop around for the best rate before converting your cash.
Customs and Duty
United States residents who have been out of the country for 48 hours or more may take home items valued up to US$800 once every 30 days without incurring duty. Adults may include 200 cigarettes, 100 non-Cuban cigars and one litre of alcohol. A second liter of alcohol is allowed duty-free if it is produced by a Caribbean Basin country. Family members who return home together may combine their personal exemptions on a joint declaration. Visit http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/kbyg/customs_duty_info.xml for more information.
Canadian residents who have been out of the country for more than 48 hours can claim up to CAN$300 worth of goods without paying duty if they carry the goods with them. After each absence of seven days or more, they can claim up to CAN$800 worth of goods without duty. Except for tobacco products and alcohol, they do not need to have the goods with them. Visit http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca for more information.
United Kingdom residents 17 or older may take home duty-free two liters of table wine and one liter of spirits or liquors, or two litres of fortified or sparkling wine or other liquors; 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars or 250 g of tobacco; 60 cc of perfume and 250 cc of eau de toilette; plus other goods worth up to £145. Travelers cannot group their allowances. For more information, visit hmrc.gov.uk.
There is a $37 departure tax that must be paid upon departure. However, most airlines include this tax in their airline tickets.
In Jamaica, drivers must keep to the left, although some flexibility is required to avoid collisions with pedestrians and domestic animals. The speed limit is 30 mph (50 kmph) in urban areas and 50 mph (80 kmph) on highways. Given the mountainous terrain, rural roads are often winding, bumpy and narrow.
Visitors can rent cars in most major towns and cities, and, usually, clients must be no less than 25 years old in order to rent.
The driver and all passengers are required to wear safety belts, and children under 3 years old must travel in infant carriers or child safety seats. All drivers are required to carry a valid license. Jamaica recognizes valid international driver’s licenses, but visitors from North America may use their country’s license for up to three months per visit, and United Kingdom residents may use theirs for up to one year.
In Jamaica, the use, sale and possession of drugs such as marijuana (ganja), cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin and any other controlled substances is illegal. Offenders are subject to severe punishment, including arrest, fines and/or imprisonment.
Standard electrical service is similar to that of the United States and Canada: 110 volts, 50 cycles AC. However, there is 220 volts service available at some hotels.
On public holidays, all government agencies, schools and most private businesses are closed, and much of the country celebrates. Please plan accordingly.
- New Year’s Day January 1
- Ash Wednesday March 1
- Good Friday April 14
- Easter Monday April 17
- Labor Day May 23
- Emancipation Day August 1
- Independence Day August 7
- National Heroes’ Day October 16
- Christmas Day December 25
- Boxing Day December 26
The official language of Jamaica is English, although most locals speak Patois, a colorful dialect.
As with any place in the world, you should always remember to follow basic precautions to avoid possible predicaments.
Keep all luggage in view at all times and your personal effects close to your body; don’t carry large amounts of cash; and avoid wearing expensive jewelry outside of your resort.
Taxis are the most convenient mode of transportation, but they are not always the cheapest. All registered taxis in Jamaica are required by law to have red “PPV” license plates. You are advised not to board any taxi operating illegally.
Although taxis have meters, drivers will rarely use them and will instead negotiate a fare with you. It is best to discuss this fare with the driver before boarding the taxi. The fastest and most economical taxis are those used by locals, called “route taxis” — cars that drive a designated course and pick up and drop off passengers at will. These are shared cabs that will usually pack several people willing to go on the same route.
It is customary to leave a 10 to 15 percent gratuity at restaurants. Please make sure to check your bill, as some establishments will have already included the gratuity in your total.
All piped water in Jamaica is treated and purified in accordance to international standards. You may drink, bathe and brush your teeth with it.