Jamaica holidays

Jamaican holidays are so varied! One day you’ll discover plunging waterfalls and the Martha Brae River, and the next you’ll be snorkelling in a marine park. Immerse yourself in the Caribbean culture and explore the Blue Mountains, vibrant jungles and golden sandy beaches. In the evening‚ wind down by taking in the stunning views of the tropical ocean or stay up late dancing until dawn to Jamaica’s homegrown reggae music. You’ll soon find this island is full of breathtaking landscapes, mouthwatering local dishes and the friendliest people.

Things to do

For dreamy Caribbean views and laidback hours stretched out under the tropical sun, you’re onto a winner with Jamaica. Relax on the sands of Seven Mile Beach and sip fresh fruit cocktails under the fronds of a huge palm tree, soaking up the sounds of the waves, sea birds and, above all, Bob Marley.

Or, for a more exciting tropical exploit, set off up Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios. Making your way right through the gushing water, you’ll need your swimming kit and water shoes rather than walking gear! The climb to the top is one of the most memorable things to do in Jamaica, so it’s a real must for both older families seeking a forever experience and couples looking for a romantic adventure.

Refuel with delicious street foods like spicy jerk chicken, curried goat, and peppered shrimp. Think the kids won’t like the local flavours? Your little globetrotters might just surprise you! Look for family-pleasers such as buttery funchi (polenta), the meat-and-veg sancocho stew, and sweet, coconutty cassava cake for an easy-in starting point.

After your lunch has gone down, why not take a boat trip to Lime Cay for some of the best snorkelling in Jamaica? The beaches on this uninhabited coral island are astonishingly lovely, too. It’s hard to believe Kingston, Jamaica’s bustling capital, is just across the water when you’re chilling in a paradise like this! The mood at Lime Cay’s buzzing at weekends, though, with a youthful party vibe - so go with the flow and get ready to let your hair down.

If top-notch golfing holidays are more your thing, book a round or two at the spectacular Runaway Bay Golf Club, just one of the world-class courses you’ll find in Jamaica. Looking for more challenging sports? Join a 12-hour hike up Blue Mountain Peak via the notoriously steep Jacob’s Ladder; go bobsledding, river rafting, horse riding or surfing; or whizz through the treetops on an exhilarating zipline ride - there are several to choose from, so take your pick!

Where to go

There are tons of sights to fill your holiday to Jamaica - it’s an irresistible place to explore. If it’s spectacular scenery you’re after, head west to the Mayfield Falls. Immerse yourself in lush greenery and play in the shallow river with its series of small but beautiful cascades. This knockout highlight is just outside Negril, where you’ll find some of Jamaica’s most popular beaches and buzzing West End nightlife, as well as the legendary Rick’s Cafe. Known for cliff-diving and good times, it’s been voted one of the best bars in the world. It probably goes without saying that Negril is holiday central, so you might well find your dream hotel here. How about a luxe hideaway on the clifftops, or a family paradise on the sands?

There are more crowd-pleasers over in Montego Bay (aka Mobay). From gentle adventures like a leisurely ride on a bamboo raft to posing with Usain Bolt’s statue for an Insta-worthy photo opp, you’re sure to find all sorts of things to do in this cultural melting pot of a resort.

Montego Bay is also home to the infamous Rose Hall Great House. This lovingly restored 18th-century beauty may look stunning but its walls could tell some brutal stories. Visit the museum to learn about the harsh lives of the enslaved Africans who worked the sugar cane plantation, and take the guided tour for spooky tales of Annie Palmer - a supposed White Witch and murderer whose ghost is said to haunt the house. There’s even a night-time option… if you dare!

Fancy bobsledding, ziplining or riding a chairlift through the rainforest? Make your way to Mystic Mountain, one of Jamaica’s biggest and best spots for outdoor adventures. It’s just one of many reasons to visit Ocho Rios, on the north coast. Other top attractions in this popular resort include the all-day beach parties at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, mud buggying at Yaaman Adventure Park and, when you’re ready for some quiet time, the much calmer setting of Turtle River Falls & Gardens.

But if this is all sounding a bit action-packed for you, check out Runaway Bay. Peace, quiet, romance… this is one of the most chilled out resorts on the island. It’s perfect for honeymoons, anniversary breaks and laid-back family escapes. When you’re not playing on the white sands or floating around your hotel’s pool, you could be horse riding on the beach, exploring the subterranean Green Grotto Caves or enjoying the low-key nightlife with a rum punch or two.

More travel guides

We also have travel guides for top destinations in Jamaica including: Montego Bay | Negril | Ocho Rios | Runaway Bay

Map of Jamaica

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25-29 ℃

Enjoy a tropical climate with T-shirt weather throughout the year. Winter is generally drier than summer while still wonderfully warm.

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10 hours

When you travel on holiday to Jamaica, fly to Sangster International Airport, Norman Manley International Airport or Ian Fleming International Airport

 

Jamaica is best for...

Adventurers: Visit Dunn’s River Falls, one of the country’s most incredible sights. Scale this vast, cascading waterfall that’s steeped in history for a breathtaking start to your holiday.

Culture seekers: The birthplace of Reggae music, take a Bob Marley tour or just stroll along the Hip Strip in Montego to hear this island’s iconic sound. Plus, plantations, Georgian architecture, and numerous historic sites give a great insight into the country’s difficult past.

Sun soakers: Seven Mile Beach in Negril is famed for its white sand, clear water, and palm trees. Dig your toes in and lie back under the Caribbean sky.

Fast facts for Jamaica

Language: The language spoken in Jamaica is English.

Currency: The currency used on the island is the Jamaican Dollar ($) although US Dollars are accepted in popular tourist areas.

Local time: Jamaica is 5 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Sangster International Airport. Montego Bay is 30 minutes away, Negril 1 hour and 15 minutes, Runaway Bay 1 hour and 30 minutes, and Ocho Rios 2 hours.

Flight time from UK: The flight time to Jamaica is 9 hours.

Tourist information: You’ll find all sorts of top tips and handy hints on the Visit Jamaica tourist information website.

Visa and health: Before your holiday, check the FCDO’s Jamaica travel advice for all you need to know about visas, health and more.

Getting around Jamaica

By taxi: JTB approved taxis are the best way of getting around during your holiday, especially as many drivers are happy to act as tour guides for a fee. Booked taxis from your hotel will probably be priced in US Dollars, while those you flag down will be in Jamaican Dollars. Always check the currency and agree on a price before your journey - taxis have meters, but they tend to go unused. Remember that fares are always negotiable, so start off by offering half the amount the driver asks for and go from there.

By car: If you do decide to hire a car to get around under your own steam, remember that while Jamaicans drive on the left, just like in the UK, there are lots of differences too - so make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for. For starters, you’re likely to encounter potholes and wandering cattle around most bends. And check there are rear seatbelts if you’ll have back-seat passengers!

Events in Jamaica

Bob Marley Week: If you love Bob Marley’s music, time your holiday for the start of February and the annual celebrations in the run-up to his birthday on the 6th. Some of the greatest Marley tribute acts can be seen during this incredible festival.

Carnival: Easter is carnival time in the Caribbean and Jamaica’s version is known as Bacchanal. With pounding soca and calypso music on every corner, the streets of Kingston become a flurry of sequins and feathers so have your camera at the ready!

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival: Just one of Jamaica’s celebrations of jazz, this annual event in May/June attracts musicians and music fans from all over the world. Reggae may be King in Jamaica but jazz gets much respect too.

Reggae Marathon: Local and international runners pound the streets of Negril each December, and whether you’re participating or spectating there are some great spin-off events to enjoy too. How about the Pasta Party on registration day or the Finish Line Beach Bash?

Jamaica safety and security

Do I need a passport?

Yes, you’ll need a valid passport to visit this stunning island. In addition, while there’s no risk of yellow fever in Jamaica, you will need to present a yellow fever certificate.

For further information on Jamaica passport requirements, visit the UK government’s Jamaica page.

And, to find out about yellow fever certificates and other health advice, click through to the NHS Fit for Travel information for Jamaica.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re a British national, you don’t need a Jamaica visa to enjoy your holiday to the Caribbean. So long as you’re going for no more than 90 days, anyway (the date you need to leave by will be stamped on your passport) - and that’s not a problem for most holidays! You can check the details on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website, including how to apply for a longer stay should you need to.

If you’re not a British national, you can find out what you need to do from the Jamaican Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).

Should I get travel health insurance?

Yes! We recommend that everyone has valid, suitable travel health insurance. You might think you won’t need it but the costs of getting ill, having an accident or suffering a medical emergency can be huge when you’re away from home. The right travel insurance offers financial protection against these unforeseen circumstances and more.

Policies can vary between providers, so it’s well worth checking yours to see exactly what is and isn’t covered - even better, compare a few before you buy. In addition, if you’re planning to make the most of all those adventures Jamaica has to offer, such as diving and climbing, it’s a good idea to check that you’re covered.

Any other tips?

  • It might sound a bit odd but try and avoid clothing that is orange or green. Each colour is associated with one of the major political parties and you might not want to unwittingly pledge your allegiance to one or the other.
  • Forget what you think you know about the ganja culture in Jamaica - recreational marijuana is illegal and possession of even a small amount incurs penalties. Police perform regular vehicle checks.
  • The tap water is safe to drink, so there’s no need to fret about only drinking bottled water. Similarly, ice and salads are considered to be safe.

Jamaica weather

Temperature: 25-29°C.

When’s the best time to go?

Set in the Caribbean Ocean, the island enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures rarely dropping below 25°C. However, if you really want to make the most of the sunshine, book your break between July and September, when the temperature hovers between 30°C and 33°C.

Jamaica does have a rainy season, which tends to fall between September and October. During these months, the humidity shoots up and the rains hit the island (usually heaviest in the afternoons and evenings). If you’d rather be under a beach umbrella than a brolly, aim to arrive in the summer.

What should I pack?

Anyone getting ready for their holiday to Jamaica should be sure to pack sunscreen; the weather can get very hot, with a high UV factor, and it’s all too easy to end up lobster red rather than film-star brown. Wear clothes that are light and comfortable, such as loose tops and bottoms made from linen and cotton. It goes without saying that you’ll be packing your swimwear, but it’s worth pointing out that you should only wear it at the pool or on the beach.

Up there with sunscreen should be insect repellent. While the still, sapphire lagoons and lakes add to the island’s romance, they’re also the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Repellents containing DEET are the best way to ensure you don’t come back sporting itchy bites.

And lastly, if you’re into scuba diving but watching the pennies, you might want to take your own equipment, as it can be more cost-effective than hiring it out there.

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