Jamaica moves to a laid-back reggae beat and the island’s reputation as a musical powerhouse precedes it (largely thanks to Bob Marley). Apart from the vibrant nightlife and dancehall scene, Jamaica plays host to sublime beaches, jungle-clad mountains and a mouth-watering culinary tradition. So stick on some reggae, pour yourself a glass of rum and read our guide of things to know before travelling to Jamaica…


Climate & Weather in Jamaica

Blessed with a tropical climate, Jamaica is warm year-round. However, this heat is accompanied by showers, and rainfall can occur throughout the year. Generally, the wet season takes place between June and November, characterised by heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. This is also when the Atlantic hurricane season happens, and although direct hits are unlikely, hurricanes do pass close to Jamaica every four to five years. Peak rainy season is between August and October, with heavy rain, strong winds and sometimes flooding. Dry season falls between December and May, with February as the driest month – this is considered to be the best season in which to visit Jamaica.

Currency in Jamaica

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar (J$), however US dollars are also accepted by some businesses. ATMs are available throughout the country, although you may wish to exchange some cash beforehand as they can be harder to locate in more rural regions. Small change is best for buying from street vendors and using public transport. Most shops and restaurants will accept credit cards and bringing an international card (with no transaction fee) is recommended. While tipping isn’t required or expected, it is a nice way to show appreciation for good service and support the local economy; between 10 and 20% is standard for a tip.

Transport in Jamaica

The main modes of transport in Jamaica include buses, taxis and motorbikes. A network of public buses link towns across the island, although they often don’t operate on a set schedule; embrace island time if you wish to travel by bus – they do tend to run every 15 to 20 minutes and most major towns have a designated bus park or transport centre. There are two types of taxis in Jamaica; route taxis and charter taxis. The former run like buses are less expensive, while the latter are taxis that you can call ahead and book with a set fare. Always be sure to use registered companies and avoid unlicensed street taxis; most hotels and resorts have assigned taxi drivers. In some towns, motorbikes are also a popular form of public transport, acting like route taxis and taking passengers to specific points. Car hire is available at airports in Kingston and Montego Bay, however driving here is not for the faint-hearted and locals tend to drive fast through the cities and along winding mountain roads. Road conditions are also poor, with inadequate signage, bad maintenance and poor lighting.

Etiquette in Jamaica

Local attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean and in Jamaica, responses to same-sex relationships can be hostile with some acts classified as illegal. LGBTQ+ travellers should be aware that public displays of affection may unfortunately attract unwanted and negative attention. It’s considered friendly to greet people on the street, particularly in rural areas, and passing without acknowledgment is seen as rude. While the vibe in Jamaica is generally laid-back, beachwear is usually frowned upon away from the sand and it’s appropriate to dress more conservatively when eating at restaurants. Wearing clothing with camouflage print is illegal in Jamaica and reserved for the local army.

Health & Safety in Jamaica

Unfortunately, crime is an ongoing problem in Jamaica, with gang violence and shootings occurring in inner city neighbourhoods; these parts of town are best avoided by tourists. The motive for any crime towards tourists is largely robbery, so you should take steps to protect yourself and your belongings. Be vigilant to your surroundings, don’t wander the streets and beaches after dark or head to unknown neighbourhoods without researching their safety first, and don’t flaunt any expensive possessions or jewellery. Frequenting the same restaurants can make you a target for theft and it’s advisable to avoid taking public buses at night. Be sure to have travel insurance for your belongings, remain attentive to your possessions in busy areas and avoid using your mobile phone in the street. Always keep your passport, travel documents and other valuable items in a safe place; use hotel safes and report any suspicious activity around your accommodation.

If travelling during hurricane season, take out travel insurance that covers this, download a hurricane tracker app, bring spare battery packs, a flashlight, first aid kit and comply with any evacuation orders. Jamaica’s tap water is safe to drink in some parts of the island, but not in rural areas and you should steer clear of ice sold at street stands. While bottled water is widely available, it’s a good idea to bring a filtered reusable water bottle to avoid plastic waste.

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya have been confirmed in Jamaica, so taking steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes is highly recommended. Medical treatment can be expensive, so ensure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover any costs.

Things to Bring to Jamaica

Mosquito repellent is a must to avoid being bitten, while Jamaica’s toasty climes make suncream, sunglasses and a hat essential for sun protection. It’s a good idea to bring enough toiletries with you, as these products can be expensive to purchase once there. As you’re likely to spend time enjoying the island’s idyllic beaches, waterproof bags and electronics cases can be helpful, as well as water shoes. A discreet money belt is a good way of storing cash when out and about.

Contact one of our Jamaica specialists