• Jacqueline Cameron

16 Helpful Tips for an Enjoyable, Safe, and Secure Jamaican Vacation (Part 1)

Updated: Sep 4

Jamaican Experience; Jamaica Attractions; Jamaican Culture; Jamaican People; Jamaican Products; Jamaica Travel Tips and Assist


Animal Farm & Nature Reserve is my perfect getaway - a sanctuary where I have cultivated my love for Mother Nature’s most precious blessings. It is my home away from home, the place where I find ultimate peace.
Enjoy Rafting at Animal Farm and Nature Reserve, Hanover, Jamaica

Jamaica is an amazing place for a holiday, and there are few places in the world where you can find such a rich, authentic, and culturally oriented experience. If you are ever looking for a place of warmth, happiness, and adventure, then Jamaica should be your next vacation destination. This beautiful island has become one of the most popular vacation spots in the western hemisphere for so many reasons.


As a Jamaican local, I have many tips on how to enjoy your vacation while staying safe and secure. In Jamaica, exercise extra safety precautions – be alert not alarmed. Use your common sense and you should have no troubles traveling in Jamaica. Being aware of and applying these tips can make your Jamaica vacation more fun and help keep you safe!


1. Before Booking, Know What You Want To Do

Ocho Rios Bay Beach also referred to as “Turtle Beach” is nestled between Sunset Jamaica Grande on the eastern side and Ocho Rios Cruise Ship pier on the western end. Its brilliant white sand, crystal clear water and captivating view of the Caribbean Sea are complemented by other amenities.
Brilliant White Sand Adorns Ocho Rios Bay Beach!

Jamaica is one of the biggest islands in the Caribbean, which means there’s plenty to do during your vacation. Ahead of your trip, do some research to see which attractions you’d most like to see and which activities you would like to do. This will help with planning your accommodation. Knowing where you’d like to go, and how far places are from the various resorts on the island will help you decide where to stay. Ideally, you’ll want to book resorts which allows easy access to these sites.


Looking for kid-friendly accommodation? Booking.com website features "the 10 Best Family Hotels in Jamaica."


2. Join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Simply enroll your trip with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you’ll begin to receive information from the Embassy about your vacation destination.
A Smart Traveler: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock.com

When travelling to a foreign location, signing up for free services like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Simply enroll your trip with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you’ll begin to receive information from the Embassy about your vacation destination. This service makes it easy for the U.S. Embassy and your friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

3. Getting Around


One of the cheapest ways to get around Jamaica is by renting a car.
Arrange Airport Transfers Ahead of Time (Photo credit: Debbie Ann Powell/Shutterstock.com)

Getting your airport transfers organized upfront is important for any trip. This helps to avoid getting there and having no idea how to get around or how much it should reasonably cost for a taxi or rental. Avoid being overcharged, left stranded, or even hassled by drivers who may or may not be authorized, and make sure your transfer arrangements are finalized before you leave home.


One of the cheapest ways to get around Jamaica is by renting a car. There is a difference between a route taxi (public transport operating like a bus) and a taxi (transport for hire). It's best to arrange a driver in advance, preferably a day in advance to get around.


For a fun experience, discover Jamaica with Island Transfer and Tours, a family-owned business with over 10-years of experience serving travelers with private airport transfers and excursions.

4. Bring Differentiating Passport Holders


Keep track of everyone’s passports by placing them in unique passport holders.
Wow! I Love These Passport Holders!

Traveling can be fast paced and in a lot of ways stressful, especially when you’re travelling with a large family that includes kids. Keep track of everyone’s passports by placing them in unique passport holders, perhaps even with name tags so you can find the one you need fast. The time you save (and the sanity you get to keep) will be worth it in the end.


5. The Use of the Local Currency is Highly Appreciated

So it's wise to use USD to pay for the tourism expenses and JMD to pay for local expenses.
Jamaican Currency (Photo credit: larry1235/Shutterstock.com)

It’s a good idea to convert some of your money into local currency, as you may need smaller bills or coins if you’re shopping, for tipping, or other things that may come up. In many cases, locals are not able (or are unwilling) to give you change in USD, so you may end up getting short changed if you use USD as your primary spending currency while on island.


Bring USD cash (about USD200 per person) when coming and use the ATM to access JMD. If you are coming from UK or the European Union, still bring USD. USD is accepted across the island, but the exchange rate varies. So it's wise to use USD to pay for the tourism expenses and JMD to pay for local expenses.


If you’re going to use USD, bring along smaller bills. Keep your money safe in a fanny pack, money belt, or in the safe in your room. When heading out on tours, only bring along the money you’ll need for the day. Keep in mind that USD50, converted to the local currency (about 7,750 JMD) goes a long way for one day in Jamaica.


Expert tip: Call your bank before your trip as if your bank does not know you are travelling, they may view it as a suspicious activity and block your card. Calling your bank ahead of travel would cancel the possibility of panic calls after arrival. You can get local currency from most ATMs on the island, or you can go to a local bank to get your money changed.

Most airports offer currency exchange services, as do the concierge desks at most resorts such as Sandals and Beaches resorts.

Check the currency exchange rate in Google a day before your trip.



6. Look to Your Left When You Cross the Road

In most Caribbean islands, motorists drive on the left, as opposed to the right in the US. When crossing streets in Jamaica you may find that you need to make a more active effort to check the left (as well as the right) to avoid oncoming traffic.
Appreciate a Quiet Jamaican Town.

It can take some time to get used to the different ways of doing things in a foreign destination but being aware of differences can save your life. In most Caribbean islands, motorists drive on the left, as opposed to the right in the US. When crossing streets in Jamaica you may find that you need to make a more active effort to check the left (as well as the right) to avoid oncoming traffic.


7. Travel Health in Jamaica


Mosquitoes are the second most dangerous animal on the planet (after humans), and kill millions of people each year due to their ability to carry and spread diseases.
Mosquito Bite Prevention

Travel with insect repellent because Jamaica has mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and chikungunya virus, especially after long periods of rain. Also, follow these preventative measures to cut the chances of mosquito bites.

Vaccination from Yellow Fever is required before entering Jamaica but only if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever-endemic country. Other travel vaccinations recommended for Jamaica by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention include, Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies.


During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica has added numerous safety measures in efforts to control the spread. Our protective protocols are regularly adjusted and based on the changing status within the country as well as around the world. Before planning your trip, please visit the Jamaica Tourist Board and Ministry of Health websites for up-to-date entry requirements, statistics, and COVID-19 measures to better know what to expect during your vacation.


If you get sick or injured overseas, your medical bills could be expensive. Make sure you pack travel insurance, with 24/7 emergency help. For Americans, your current credit card provider may offer travel insurance as one of their benefits. The creditcards.com experts created a guide that covers what’s included in travel insurance and how to assess what coverage you need based on your trip type, destination, and length.


8. Give One of the Roadside Jerk Shacks a Try!


Jamaican Jerk Chicken is Grilled chicken marinated in a spicy sauce that is traditionally served in Jamaica. The poultry is seasoned with a jerk sauce or marinade that combines allspice, cinnamon, chiles, garlic, thyme, onion, nutmeg, lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
How About Scotchies Jamaican Jerk Chicken?

World-famous Jamaican Jerk Chicken is grilled chicken marinated in a spicy sauce that is traditionally served in Jamaica. The poultry is seasoned with a jerk sauce or marinade that combines allspice, cinnamon, chilies, garlic, thyme, onion, nutmeg, lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Since this sauce burns quickly and easily on the grill, the chicken is slowly cooked to let the flavors of the sauce penetrate into the meat and to help the meat retain moisture.


On a regular day, you probably wouldn’t be picking up food from a shop on the side of the road, but in the Caribbean, this is considered usual. There are many roadside stops which serve delicious snacks, including jerk shacks which can be found all over the island. They may not be much to look at, but the food is usually very tasty and low cost. These spots are also good places to meet with locals, and other travelers alike.


If you want a good jerk meal right at your resort, resorts such as Sandals and Beaches both have authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack restaurants right on property. This might be a bit of a safer option for guests with a sensitive stomach.


9. Jamaica So Nice Launches the Travel Tips and Assist Group


Frenchman’s Cove beach is a hidden treasure; picture perfect with soft, golden sands and sapphire water- shaded by a canopy of emerald trees. Our beach is a unique place where sea and river combine to create a tropical paradise.
My Favorite Beach: Frenchman's Cove Resort Beach

The Jamaica So Nice Travel Tips and Assist Group was launched on Friday, August 27, 2021. The objective of this Group is to share the Jamaican experience through our attractions, culture, products, and people. Our aim is that you have fun while staying safe and secure on the fascinating island of Jamaica. So, if you need information, or have a concern about travel to Jamaica, do contact us:

"Jamaica So Nice Travel Tips and Assist" Group on Facebook

Contact | Jamaica So Nice


References

#Jamaica #Jamaicasonice #JamaicaAttractions #JamaicanCulture #JamaicanPeople #JamaicanProducts #KidFriendlyAccommodation #JamaicanDishes #JerkChicken #AnimalFarmandNatureReserve #FrenchmansCoveResort #IslandTransferandTours #TravelHealth #Covid19 #TravelInsurance #JamaicaSoNiceTravelTipsandAssist #Tourists #Travelers #Visitors #JamaicanDiaspora #Safety #Security #Crime #Travelersafety #Fun #Onelove


Join the community on our Facebook and Instagram pages, Jamaica So Nice.


Please like and share this story.


If you liked this story, join our email list to have the blog delivered to your inbox weekly.


Jacqueline Cameron

An entrepreneur with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. Jackie represents an e-commerce business called "Jamaica So Nice" which offers authentic Jamaican products. She speaks about it with animation, "I love the experience of living in Jamaica, and I introduce Jamaica to the world through the "Jamaican experience," which is captured in our people, culture, products and attractions."


She is a blogger, content writer, engineer, corporate planner, project manager, and musician. Jackie loves to see people transformed through her work