Planning a beachy getaway and thinking about Jamaica for your destination? Let me break down what to expect, pros and cons of this destination, and more.

About Jamaica

According to Britannica, “Jamaica, island country of the West Indies. It is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea, after Cuba and Hispaniola. Jamaica is about 146 miles long and varies from 22 to 51 miles wide. It is situated some 100 miles west of Haiti, 90 miles south of Cuba.” The size of this island is similar to the state of Connecticut. The landscape of this island is mostly mountainous. However, you will find lush green dense forests and sandy beaches.

Regions to Visit

When planning your trip to Jamaica you have options on where you would like to stay. While we visited we stayed in Runaway Bay, which was about an hour from Montego Bay where we flew into. About the regions and your options:

Montego Bay – I would describe this as a big busy city. There is a lot to do, but it is very touristy. Upside is it is very close to the airport and does have some beautiful beaches.

Negril – Known for the 7 mile beach of white sugar sand. Great destination to just enjoy the beach and relax.

Ocho Rios – Very touristy and a great place to go shopping and enjoy excursions.

Kingston – The capital of Jamaica and the largest city in Jamaica. It is filled with attractions like the Bob Marley museum.

Jamaicans – The Locals

The people of Jamaica do speak English, but you will likely hear locals speaking Patois/Patwa, which is an English-based creole language with West African influences. While this language is English based you likely will have no idea what the locals are saying or the meaning of the phrase. Here are some phrases you may hear and their meaning:

“Inna di morrows” – See you later

“Bless Up” – Have a good day

“Wah Gwaan” – What’s up?

“Mi deh yah, yuh know” – I’m doing well

“Lickkle more” – Goodbye or see you later

Locals are extremely friendly, but if you decide to try and speak Patois/Patwa just be careful as it can be seen as mocking or disrespectful. However, during our experience on the island locals loved it when we tried speaking the language. It gave them a good laugh anyway!

The Weather

Being an island nation the weather is very unpredictable and can change quickly. Meaning, it might be perfectly sunny and calm on the coast, but when you get up in to the mountains it may be storming. We visited during their winter (November-April) and found that it rained almost everyday, but it would pass quickly. Most mornings we woke up to a rain storm that would be over by 7 or 8 am. The temperature was normally in the high 80s (Fahrenheit) and a bit humid. I have never visited in the summer (June to August), but I understand that it gets hot with average temperatures in the 90s. They also have two rainy seasons which are May-June and September-November.

The Food

Jamaica is known for jerk. Which I learned from locals that it is not so much about the actually seasoning or even sauce, but more so how long it is marinated for. Traditional jerk style foods are slow cooked and actually take days to prepare. No matter where you go to grab food you will likely find jerk on the menu and you must try it while you are there. Other common foods you will find include:

  • Yams/sweet potatoes
  • Ackee fruit – which must be ripe in order to eat otherwise it is toxic
  • Oxtail – the tail of cattle
  • Curry goat/chicken
  • Beans and rice
  • Festival – which is like a dense bread
  • Bammy – similar to a starchy dense version of polenta
  • Plaintains – prepared sweet or savory
  • Callaloo – kind of like kale

Pros to Visiting Jamaica

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Warm sunny weather
  • Caribbean sea – which is quite warm and calm
  • Friendly locals
  • English is their primary language
  • Cannabis is decriminalized and widely used – if that’s your thing

Cons to Visiting Jamaica

  • COVID-19 restrictions – the country in general (as of December 2021) is quite strict when it comes to masks and you must be vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country.
  • Cost – In comparison to other comparable places like Mexico and the Dominican Republic, it is quite a bit more expensive. Not only travel to Jamaica, but I found things just generally were more expensive like excursions, transportation, the spa, etc.

Key Takeaway About Visiting Jamaica

Jamaica is a fun destination especially if you are a beach lover. I would recommend checking out this beautiful island, but know that there are more affordable destinations that are similar, but cost quite a bit less. Safe travels!

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