Jamaica

Jamaica

image: jamaican boyThousands of travellers have been seduced by the dark beauty of Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean. In its time it has been owned and conquered by the Arawaks, the Spanish, British and finally became the home of African displaced slaves. During the 16th and 17th century it became something of a pirate kingdom, home to legends like Henry Morgan and “Blackbeard”. It’s become the stuff of travel legends – welcoming people, sun-kissed golden beaches, and endless parades of colour and fun, but off the tourist trail there’s a real, but poor, unique cultural island.

Commercial tourism picked up in Jamaica in the 1980’s after the political turmoil and unrest surrounding the country’s independence in the 1960’s and 70’s and is now the nation’s main industry. It’s known for great reggae music, great vibes and great beaches. 

image: jamaican ladyJamaica is a small island about the size of Connecticut 90 miles south of Cuba. Although known for its beaches, its landscapes are breathtaking and diverse, from hills and crags to deep lush valleys, mountain streams and, of course, long sandy beaches. It’s great for hiking and hill walking – a spine of moutain hills dominate the island, the peak of natural beauty being the Blue Mountain Peak. A third of the island’s population now lives in the capital of Kingston. Parts of the city are dangerous and you shouldn’t walk around alone at night.

Climate

Jamaica is perfect for play, it combines a tropical thick and warm airs with a semi-tropical high humid climate, thinning in the mountainous area.

The average annual temperature is around 80 – 90 F (27 – 32C) but much cooler in the mountains at night. The rainy season falls May and June, then again in September and October. It is prone to the odd hurricane, which way occur from July to October so between November and April are probably the best times to visit.

Cash

Jamaica is a fairly poor country that lives well on limited means so it is perfect for shoestring travel. On the black market you can change US dollars for Jamaican for the best exchange rate, but theft is rife so traveller cheques are a safer bet.

$1 US = $47 JMD
1 Euro = $42 JMD
£1 = 67 JMD.

Dress

Jamaica is hot, hot, hot, so dress for the sun, be sure to bring a good sun cream. Sexually harassment from eager Jamaican men is a big problem for women, so it’s best not to dress to revealing if you don’t want attention.

People

Of the population of two and a half million, and most of the people are of Afro-Caribbean heritage, with a large Jewish community, known as the Israelites. African culture and religion is big, in particular Anasi folk tales. Forms of Christianity are the dominant religion as well as Rastafarism.

Language

The dialect of Jamaica is inherently regional, the Jamaican Patois is a lyrical and colourful language which, although sounding like English combines Spanish, Portuguese, and West African to a hotpot which can lose the visitor! Simple changes like “Dem” is “Them, “Me” is “I” and “that” is “dat” make it a modern jazz dialect that has passed around the world.

Travel

Public transport is great in Jamaica, minibuses, taxes and big buses zoom around the towns and provide a fun and novel way to explore the real Jamaica.

Food

Good food is synoymous with Jamaica, there’s plenty of small restaurants with fish, spicy “jerk” grilled meats like goat and chicken, seafoods and exotic fruit and veg like Ackee.

Visas

US and Canadians can enter Jamaica with a valid passport, others should check with your local visa authority to find out if you will need a visa.

Jamaica

Globe Trekker

View episode

Galleons, Pirates & Treasure

Globe Trekker

View episode

The Good and Bad Food Guide

Globe Trekker

View episode

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Globe Trekker

View episode

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Globe Trekker

View episode

Ultimate Caribbean

Globe Trekker

View episode

Cuba's Sugar Trains

Tough Trains

View episode

A Taste of Jamaica: Ackee -...

Read article

A Taste of Jamaica: Jerk Meat

A Taste of Jamaica: Jerk Meat

Read article

Where to Stay: Castle Cave,...

Read article

A taste of Jamaica: Curried...

Read article

High up, skin up, Brew up:...

Read article

Freedom of Africa:...

Read article

Join the party on Negril Beach, Jamaica

Join the party on Negril...

Read article

Speciality Foods of the...

Read article

Easter Carnival, Jamaica

Easter Carnival, Jamaica

Read article

Relax in Jamaica's desert...

Read article

Port Antonio, Jamaica: The Most Exquisite Port on Earth

Port Antonio, Jamaica: The...

Read article

Caribbean Sounds: Calypso

Read article

A Short History of Slavery and Sugar Cane in Jamaica

A Short History of Slavery...

Read article

Travel Writers: Airborn

Read article