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Adventures Abound – Copyright © 2004 by Jamaican Tourist Board

Insider's Destination Miniguide: Jamaica

By Nadia Ali

Why go?

Jamaica is billed as the sunshine island and the home of reggae legend, Bob Marley and to the younger generation it is the homeland of Sean Paul. You only have to see the to-die-for adverts that show you blue skies, blue water and sandy stretches of beaches that lure you to this Caribbean paradise.

Here you can stay at the popular all-inclusive resorts such as the couples only Sandals Resort to the eco-friendly hotels and of course the remote getaways for that romantic seclusion. Its beautiful natural coastline offers varying beaches from the rugged hiking pathways to the long stretches of silver sands.

When to go

The best time to go is in November to April when it is the dry season, which fortunately coincides with Spring break. Otherwise, if you are thinking of trying to fit it into the kid’s summer holidays May to October are part of the rainy season. However, that doesn’t mean it rains all the time, it just means it’s more likely to have rain.

How to get there
Read Jamaica hotel reviews

Air Canada, Air Caribbean, Air Jamaica, Air Martinique, Air Sunshine, ALM, American Airlines, American Trans Air, British Airways, BWIA, Cayman Airways, Continental Airways, Delta Air, Martin Air, Northwest Airlines, Sky King and US Airways.

Getting around

Trying to get around Jamaica on a bus is an inexpensive mode of transport, however it is also somewhat chaotic, as they tend to run on their own time and not according to the scheduled timetable. 

You can rent a car but please note that this will really be a test of your driving skills as the tendency in the Caribbean is to drive “how yuh feel.” You’ll notice that honking your car horn marks different things – from the obvious get out the way to the less obvious - saying hello to a friend on the road.

Y ou can take to the high seas on a rented yacht or boat charter to see the coastline of Jamaica . Although be warned the sun does seem that bit more hotter out at sea. 

Best Attraction

Reggae Sumfeast & Reggae Sunsplash are the biggest parties on the island that take place near picturesque Ocho Rios. Of course most of the musical activity occurs outdoors where partygoers are treated to heart thumping bass as well as some other forms of music indigenous to Jamaica .

Most unusual attraction

The Bob Marley Museum is actually his former house that has now been opened to the public and declared a museum. This is a shrine to all that is Bob Marley, including his bullet riddled, star-shaped guitar by the bedside.

 

Best activities/tour

Dunn's River Falls , Ocho Rios is by far the best-known attraction in Jamaica . Here you are treated to 600 feet of terraced waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools down below. There are set times to visit from 9am to 5pm and there is a minimal fee of US$6.00 for adults / US$3.00 for kids – though you can check for current prices with your tour guide or hotel before setting out. For more ideas, find interesting tours in Jamaica.

Best Areas to visit

Kingston

Kingston is primarily the business hub of Jamaica , but it also holds some gems for the art and culture lovers amongst you. Kingston is where you will find the National Gallery of Art, the Little Theatre, Bob Marley Museum , the serenity Fishing Wildlife Sanctuary Zoo, the Rockfort Mineral Bath, and the Kingston Crafts Market. There are also a host of attractions featuring flora and fauna such as the Hope Botanical Gardens . 

Montego Bay

This is the most popular destination for tourists known as the complete resort with luxurious hotels, a 10-mile marine park, Tryall Golf course and an abundance of restaurants and shops. The attractions are natural consisting of mostly beaches and water sports.

Ocho Rio

This is billed as Jamaica ’s garden and the second best tourist area. It has numerous attractions featuring the natural fauna and flora of the country. Tours range from riding bikes through the Blue Mountains to the splendor of the tropical plants on display at the Shaw Park Gardens . Some of the attractions to be found in Ocho Rios are Coyaba River Garden and Museum, Harmony Hall Art Gallery , and the James Bond Beach Club. There are many horseback-riding trails to choose from that take you through unforgettable tropical countryside.

Negril

Negril offers endless, white sandy beaches and is known as Jamaica ’s water sport capital beckoning the surfers, divers and beach lovers. For the kids, you will find Anancy Fun Park where there are go-carts and kiddies rides.

Best lodging

Super Club Hendonism II, Negril Area , Jamaica Tel: + 876 (superclubs.com/destinations/jamaica) Stay in this 23 acres of fun all-inclusive hotel for couples only.  Choose from the 210 suites on offer with 5 bars, all meals cocktails and water sports. Located on the longest stretch of beach in Negril there is non-stop fun from early morning into the wee hours of night.

Beaches Royal Plantation , Ocho Rios , Jamaica . Tel: 1 888 48 ROYAL  (royalplantation.com) Located in Ohio Rio on a reef away from city life here you can truly escape in your own luxury villa with private splash pool where you and the family can unwind. Or check out the luxury of the spa or the fairways of the golf course.

Sandals, Montego Bay , Jamaica Tel: +876 (sandals.com/main/montego/mo-home.cfm) This is one of the premier all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean . Located on it’s own private beach offering everything to make your holiday with your loved one a special treat. From the airport transfer to the gourmet dining choices. water-sports to the anytime snack, everything is inclusive, so it’s up to you to make the most of all this resort has to offer even the wedding chapel.

Pool at the Altamont Hotel, Jamaica. Altamont Court Hotel Pool - Copyright © 2004 by Donahue Jarrett.

Altamount Court Hotel , Kingston , Jamaica . Tel: +876 929 5931 (altamontcourt.com/index.html) 

Located in the capital city of Kingston this downtown hotel is within walking distance of business places, shopping malls and embassies. Breakfasts is complimentary and for dinner why not try the in-house at the Mango Tree Restaurant in an al fresco setting by the pool.

For more ideas, check out unique Jamaica accommodations.

Best eats

Sugar Mill Restaurant: Montego Bay
Located just across the street from the Half Moon Resort’s golf course, this restaurant offers a delightful blend of Jamaican ingredients with an international flair.
Phone: 876.953.2228

Blue Mountain Inn
Located in an 18th century coffee plantation on Blue Mountain , near Kingston . Fine cuisine specializing in steaks and seafood. Reservations are a must.

Telephone: 876-927-1700.

Ocho Rios Village Jerk Centre

Here you can get a real local taste of jerk meat prepared under the canopy of this open-air restaurant. The prices are good and the food better.

Telephone: 876 974 2549

Best shopping

One of the best things to buy in Jamaica is the exquisite woodcarving, done on rich mahogany wood. They tend to reflect traditional African heritage and can be found in all sizes to suit your pocket and suitcase.

Duty-free shops are found in most places and highlight the local art and craft market with homemade baskets, straw hats as well as the usual souvenir items. Make sure you treat yourself to a bottle of the local Blue Mountain coffee or Tia Maria – a Jamaican coffee liqueur to take home.

Money and communication

The currency used is the Jamaican dollar which is roughly US$1.00 to JA$61.75 (as of Nov 9th 04).

Banking hours are generally open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. , Monday through Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. A few are open on Saturdays.

Foreign Exchange Bureaus also operate at all International Airports and Resort Hotels.

The prefix to call from outside of Jamaica is  + 876 + number

Other important things about Jamaica

*English with a West Indian accent is the official language.

*The currency used is the Jamaican which is roughly US$0.50 per JA$1.00

*Jamaica is 10,991 sq km (4244 sq miles)

*Population 2,634,678

*The main religion is protestant

*The time zone is GMT -6

*Dry season runs from – Jan-May and Wet season runs from June –Dec

*Average temperature 80-86F

*The Blue Mountain Peak in the east reaches a height of 2256m (7402ft)

*Departure tax is JA$100.00 Payable in cash.

*Two international airports Norman Manley, Kingston & Donald Sangster, Montego Bay .

*Jamaica 's motto is "Out of Many, One People"

For more information:

visitjamaica.com 

jamaicans.com

cruisejamaica.com

go-jamaica.com  

Tourists Boards

JAMAICA

Kingston
64 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5
Jamaica , West Indies

Tel: (876) 929-9200 - 19
Fax: (876) 929-9375
Email: info@visitjamaica.com

USA
1320 South Dixie Highway
Suite 1101

Coral Gables , FL 33146

Tel: (305) 665 0557
Fax: (305) 666 7239
US Toll Free - 1-800-233-4JTB
(1-800-233-4582)
Email: jamaicatrv1@aol.com

 

CANADA

303 Eglington Avenue East
Suite 200
Toronto , Ontario
M4P IL3 ,
Canada
Tel: (416) 482-7850
Toll Free: (800) 465-2624
Fax: (416) 482-1730
Email: jtb@jtbcanada.com

LONDON
1 - 2 Prince Consort Road
London , England
SW7 2BZ
, United Kingdom
Tel: (44) 207-224-0505
Fax: (44) 207-224-0551
Email: jamaicatravel@btconnect.com

Nadia Ali is a Freelance Writer whose work has been published by Northstar Travel Media, Time Out London, International Living and GoNOMAD.

 

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