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Jamaica – General Overview

Jamaica is a wildly popular destination for travelers all over the world.  Made famous by their unique style of hospitality and their wonderful culture.  The island offers hundreds of hotels and resorts, many all-inclusive, to make you stay unforgettable.  The white, sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters, coupled with the lush green landscape, streams and waterfalls make this a place of unsurpassed beauty.  There are plenty of adventures to be had for those who are looking for an exciting time, with snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, and water skiing available at many locations on the island.  Jamaica also has a rich history and vibrant culture that is waiting to be explored.  This is a great romantic getaway and  has all the makings of a dream vacation.

Most popular Beach Locations:

In Montego Bay, you can head for Doctors Cave Beach which boasts 5 miles of beautiful white beaches.  The water is clear blue and clam, so it’s a perfect place to swim.  Also in the area is Cornwall Beach which has some of the softest, sugary sand on the island.  Be ready to face the crowds and vendors, because this is on of the island’s busiest beaches.

If you stay in Negril, you will want to check out Seven Mile Beach, which is just what the name implies, seven miles of golden sands perfect for soaking up the sun. Keep in mind, certain sections are nudist beaches where fellow beach goers can bare it all.

Boston Bay Beach in Port Antonio is famous for it’s white sand and blue waters, but also for the jerk-pork stands that are irresistible.  It is also the best beach for surfing, and you can even rent boards and take lessons.

Treasure Beach, near South Coast, is a great place to escape the crowds, but be careful, because there is a dangerous undertow.  Swimming isn’t recommended, but it is great for sunbathing and offers some of the best beach views on the island.

Traveler Facts :

          Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there.

The main airports are located in Kingston and Montego Bay.  Most travelers will arrive via these two airports, or on cruise ships in Montego Bay’s port.  There are also boat trips available from other islands nearby.

          Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc.

Those travelling from the US are required to have a passport and a return ticket, but visas are not required.

          Languages Spoken / official language

The official language is English and it will be easy to communicate, however, many islanders also speak a dialect of patois, which is a combination of several languages.

          Currency

The official currency is the Jamaican dollar, but you will easily be able to exchange US currency at hotels and licensed cambios (banks).

          Tipping

Tipping is appreciated and expected by tour guides, taxi drivers, and in most restaurants an cafes.  However, on many resort properties, tipping is prohibited, especially if it is an all inclusive resorts.  In those situations do not attempt to tip because workers can lose their jobs if they accept any type of gratuity.

          Taxes

You will be taxed $10 arrival tax when you arrive via air ($2 if arriving by sea), and a $27 departure tax when leaving the island.  There is also a 15% VAT added into the price of most items you purchase.

Keep in mind, most prices are suggested and much higher than what merchants expect to receive.  Bartering is necessary and expected by both parties.  The first offer given by the merchant or vendor is usually more than double or triple what they are willing to accept for the item.

          Electricity

The current in Jamaica is 110 volts, the same as in the US, but only 50 cycles and the outlets take only two flat prongs. Some hotels provide 220-volt plugs as well as special shaver outlets, but it is best to inquire with your travel agent or the hotel itself regarding the type of outlets in your hotel of choice.

          Other (immunizations, health issues)

No immunizations are required to enter the country.   It is important to note that theft can be a major problem on the island and it is always best to utilize the safe in your hotel and traveler’s checks are a great idea, because they can be replaced if lost or stolen.  You also should be aware that you will encounter many people who may try to sell you ganja (marijuana) and you need to be aware that it is highly illegal and carries stiff penalties, almost always resulting in jail time.  Be prepared to issue a strong NO to those who ask if you “want to party?”, as spending your vacation time behind bars is not a great way to see this beautiful island.

Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information:

Visitors can be married just 24 hour after arriving in Jamaica providing prior application has been made for a marriage license.

The cost of a license is four thousand Jamaican dollars (approximately US$60 - US$65).

To apply for your marriage license, call our Ministry of National Security & Justice at 1-876-906-4923.

Unlike many countries, Jamaica does not expect you take a blood test before getting married. However, the following documentation is required:

Proof of citizenship - certified copy of birth certificate, which includes father’s name.

Parent’s written consent if under 18 years of age.

Proof of divorce if applicable (original certificate of divorce).

Certified copy of death certificate for widow or widower.

Italian nationals celebrating their wedding in Jamaica must notify their embassy and a certified copy of their marriage certificate forwarded to their embassy to be legalized and translated.

French Canadians need a notarized translated copy of all documents and a photocopy of the original French documents.]

There are non-denominational Marriage Officers who can officiate either at their offices, in their homes or at a place chosen by the couple, and are able to provide witnesses. Marriage Officers charge anywhere from US$50 – US$250.

Tourism Office address, phone and website

Kingston
64 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 929-9200 - 19
Fax: (876) 929-9375
Email: info@visitjamaica.com

Montego Bay
Cornwall Beach
P. O. Box 67
Montego Bay
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 952-4425
Fax: (876) 952-3587

www.visitjamaica.com

Other Travel related websites for the country or location

www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/jamaica

www.worldtravelguide.net/country/130/country_guide/Caribbean/Jamaica.html

www.gocaribbean.about.com/od/jamaica/bb/JamaicaGuide.htm

Climate Information (what the seasons are like & when is the best time of year to travel)

Jamaica’s climate is pretty constant year round, warm and humid.  There are occasional short, tropical showers that come and go quickly, with the rainiest time being May/June and October/November.  Generally the island offers beautiful blue skies and hot temperatures tempered by cool sea breezes.

High & Low Season for travel:

High season in Jamaica runs roughly from mid-December through April. From May through mid-December, the low season offers some amazing deal.

Link to a good Map:

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/caribb/jm.htm

Local Attractions  & Must Do's:

When you are in Jamaica there are tons of things to keep you busy, if you can drag yourself off your beach chair.

Try swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove in Ochos Rios.  And don’t miss the opportunity to climb a waterfall at beautiful Dunn’s River Falls.

Take excursions to the villages and towns with your hotel.  Most will offer guided tours to shopping centers and open air markets.

Many people go to Jamaica to see the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Marley’s home town.

You can also enjoy a number of water activities including: diving, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, and glass bottom boat rides to see some of the beautiful sea life below the crystal clear water. 

Top 5 Most Popular Hotels

One of the best resort groups on the island, Sandals offers 3 locations (Montego Bay, Negril, and Ochos Rios).  All three properties are all-inclusive and offer fun, great food, and unending drinks.  The favorite in the chain is the location in Ocho Rios.

In Montego, stay at the Half Moon Resort, which boasts beautiful ocean view rooms and cottages right on the beach.  There are tons of activities to choose from, or just lie on the beautiful beach and soak up the sun.

Jakes on Treasure Beach is a favorite for the “in” crowd.  It’s off the beaten path, smaller than other resorts on the island, and offers personalized service.

The Couples Resort Sans Souci is strictly for couples, no kids allowed.  There is a spa on property and the beaches are beautiful.  Offering several restaurant styles and numerous bars and snack shops, this all-inclusive is hard to beat.