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Know Before you Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa for travel to Jamaica of up to 90 days. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after returning from Jamaica.
If you are travelling from or through the United States, and are not a US national or resident, you will need to obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), ideally at least 72 hours prior to departure. ESTA has replaced the paper form that used to be filled in prior to landing in the US. The authorization costs $ 14 USD and needs to be paid by credit card. Canadian nationals are exempt and do not need an ESTA.
It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
There are no particular requirements for Jamaica, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and Zika is currently a risk in Jamaica. Check the latest information about Zika warnings. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
While tap water is generally safe to drink in larger cities and tourist areas, street vendors selling shaved ice are best avoided.
Insider Tip: Prescription medication can be very hard to come by outside major cities, and Epi-Pens are not available anywhere on the island.
Insider Tip: Prescription medication can be very hard to came by outside major cities, and Epi-Pens are not available anywhere on the island.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Jamaica. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Insider Tip: While their police force is understaffed and corruption is an issue, tourist police are on duty in some resorts towns and can be identified by their white hats, white shirts, and black trousers. Seek them out if you need help.
Sockets use the US-style two-pronged (Type A) or three-pronged (Type B).
At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.
When to go
Jamaica’s climate is tropical marine with warm temperatures year-round. The rainy season is May-November, but September and October see the heaviest rainfall. December-March is peak season with dry, sunny days, but it also comes with the highest prices. Ocean breezes cool things down in the evening, providing a very pleasant climate.
Insider Tip: Jamaica is in the Atlantic hurricane belt and vulnerable to storms from August-October, but they experienced fewer direct hits than other Caribbean nations.
The national language is
English is the official language of Jamaica, resembling parts of both British and American English. Jamaican Patois (pronounced patwah), also referred to as Jamaican or Jamaican Creole, is widespread as well. While largely based in English, there are notable differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.
Common Jamaican Words & Phrases:
Likkle more See you later
Wah gwaan What’s up?
Jamrock Jamaica (the country)
Tank yuh Thank you
Yah mon Yes
Jamaicans are known for their laid-back, frank style, but manners still go a long way, and children never talk back to elders. Smiling to locals and greeting shop owners with “good morning,” “good afternoon” or “good evening” is expected and appreciated. It’s “island time” here so punctuality is not always adhered to. Locals are also quite religious with church-going and biblical references as part of their Christian life. Homosexuality is taboo and some acts are illegal, so it’s best not to engage in behaviors publicly that could be interpreted as such.
Jamaican men can be somewhat aggressive toward women (especially foreigners), cat calling and making sexual comments. Best to ignore them and not go to bars or clubs alone.
Insider Tip: Jamaica has the highest number of churches per capita in the world.
The local currency is Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
The US dollar is widely accepted and will be your main currency. You may want to carry some Jamaican dollars for small purchases outside resort areas, but for most expenses it’s unnecessary. Only exchange what you think you’ll need because converting back from the JMD can be a bother. Keep all exchange receipts as you’ll be required to show them in order to exchange.
There are ATMs in the large cities, but they only dispense Jamaican dollars and some travelers have reported difficulties using them. If you have trouble, try a different machine. When withdrawing money, always do it when the bank is open—never at night. Credit cards are accepted at most larger businesses within the tourist areas.
Insider Tip: Since both US and Jamaican dollars are used, confirm which “dollar” is being quoted before paying. The Jamaican dollar is worth less, so ambiguity is sometimes used to separate tourists from their money.
Locals don’t tip, but it is generally expected from tourists (except where prohibited).
- Restaurants- Some will include a 10-15% service charge, but it’s not always noted on the bill, so ask before leaving an additional tip. If there is no service charge, 10% is standard.
- Cabs- No tipping, but you can round up the change if you want.
- Hotels- Tip bellmen $1-$2 USD per bag.
Insider Tip: Some all-inclusive resorts have a strict no-tipping policy.
While many travelers associate Jamaica with beachwear, that isn’t true island-wide. It’s casual, but not too casual. Shorts aren’t commonly worn in town, nor are bathing suits or other revealing clothes. Because religion plays such a big role, dress tends to be more conservative. Lightweight pants, shirts and dresses are best. Sundresses are great to throw over a swimsuit for walking around. Upscale restaurants and clubs may call for slightly nicer clothes, but nothing fancy.
Insider Tip: Hotels and resorts often sell travel-sized toiletries, but they are significantly marked up. Best to bring what you need.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops
- Light sweater or jacket for breezy evenings
- Mosquito repellant
- Sunglasses and hat
- Microfiber towel or sarong for beach-boing
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid
- All prescriptions
Be sure to check out our Sustainability Checklist for more tips on how to respect the environment and local culture while travelling.