What to do in Jamaica
Jamaica Tips: The most beautiful sights on the Caribbean island
White sand beaches, reggae sounds and rum - Jamaica is one Attitude to life! We can promise one thing: all the clichés that are floating around in your head will become reality on a trip to Jamaica.
Or to put it in the words of the locals: "Ya man, no problem man!" It is the Jamaicans who make a trip to the Caribbean island nation so special.
In this blog article we reveal ours personal tips for your trip to Jamaica. We will show you the most beautiful sights and beaches and tell you about our experiences, so that you can prepare your trip to Jamaica perfectly.
Current notice: Even if it is currently difficult to travel to Jamaica, we would like to provide a little anticipation and inspiration with our guide - the next trip is sure to come!
1. Before your trip to Jamaica: First travel tips, experiences & FAQs
What can I expect in Jamaica?
- Dreamlike natural scenery: Waterfalls, jungles, Caribbean beaches and an impressive mountain landscape. The nature in Jamaica is really beautiful.
- Caribbean flair & relaxed vibes: A coconut in your hand, reggae music in your ear and a view of the turquoise blue sea. Jamaica is the epitome of Caribbean vibes. The Jamaicans' joie de vivre is contagious.
- Package tourism: Jamaica is an incredibly popular destination for package travelers. However, it is entirely possible to travel to the country individually.
Is it true that package tourism has taken over Jamaica?
Jamaica is a Incredibly popular destination for package tours (mainly from the USA). This is not least due to the fact that you can fly to the Caribbean island in just under four hours from the south of the USA.
In Jamaica you mainly meet families with children as well as young couples who have theirs here honeymoon spend. At the latest when you see the large all-inclusive hotels on Jamaica's most famous beaches, it becomes clear what type of tourism has prevailed here in the past decades.
However, from our own experience we can confirm that Package tourism is not just package tourism and we really enjoyed our time at the RIU Palace Hotel in Montego Bay, for example. (You can find more about this and our detailed hotel recommendations later in this blog article.)
Jamaica is also supported by Cruise ships controlled. Therefore, sights and beaches near the harbor are often overrun by crowds within a very short time. You just have to know that and ideally show up as early as possible.
Orientation in Jamaica: what is there to see?
The most touristically developed part of Jamaica is clearly that West. in the east and south it's calmer and more relaxed. In general, the regions of interest for tourism can be classified as follows (we will come to the individual sights later):
- Negril in the far west of Jamaica: pure Caribbean feeling! Here is the heavenly Seven Mile Beach.
- Montego Bay (also called "MoBay") & surrounding area: Tourist stronghold with countless hotels. (This is where the cruise ships dock and most international flights land.)
- South coast: More pristine beaches, e.g. Treasure Beach on the western south coast.
- Blue Mountains: The most famous and longest mountain range in Jamaica in the far east. The highest point (Blue Mountain Peak) is 2,256 meters high.
- Kingston: The capital of Jamaica, which is near the Blue Mountains. In fact, there aren't that many sights in Kingston and some leave out the island capital on a tour at all.
Round trip or excursions from a home base?
If you want to travel to both the west and the east, there is no way to go Round trip past. (So as a clue: It takes about four to five hours to get to Kingston from Negril.) You can easily see a lot more of the country.
But it is also possible, for example, that you only concentrate on the most touristically developed west of Jamaica. Then it would be possible in one place to stay overnight and go on excursions from there. If you decide to do so, we can recommend (from our own experience) that you book the trip through TUI.
You can book your trip here:TUI (official website)
Extra tip: Jamaica round trip on your own
It is certainly not the rule to tour Jamaica on your own, but it is definitely possible. In principle there is three options:
- Private Driver: Comfortable & Comfortable
- Public buses and minibuses: Inexpensive
- Rental car: the most flexible and adventurous option
We ourselves were at times traveling with a private driver. On our next trip, we could well imagine booking our own rental car. But be careful: the Road conditions are sometimes really adventurous (hello gigantic potholes!) and the driving style of the locals is anything but defensive. We would really only recommend this variant if you are experienced in driving.
Itinerary through the west of Jamaica (approx. 10 to 14 days)
Maybe you are wondering which route is best for a round trip through Jamaica? If you are more interested in the (more touristic) west, we can recommend the following route.
A little tip: We'll tell you our hotel recommendations for the individual stops further down in this blog article. You can find information about the sights and highlights at the individual locations in the next chapter.
- 1st stop: Negril (= THE beach in Jamaica)
- 2nd stop: Treasure Beach (quiet, relaxed, away from the crowds)
- 3rd stop (optional): Blue Mountains (mountain region, off the east of the island)
- 4th stop: Montego Bay (touristy, but cool excursion destinations)
2. What you can experience in Jamaica: sights & tips
Seven Mile Beach in Negril
Allegedly welcome to Jamaica most beautiful beach! The Seven Mile Beach leaves Island dreams come true. The finest, light sand and turquoise blue water await you here.
So that there is no confusion: The Seven Mile Beach consists of two beach sections, more precisely from a small bay called Bloody Bay and south of it the much longer beach called Long Bay. Bloody Bay tends to be quieter, while Long Bay has more bars, hotels and the like.
Despite all the infrastructure, you can really look forward to dreamy things Caribbean flair looking forward. The hotels are all located behind the palm trees and are (allegedly) not allowed to tower above them.
Seven Mile Beach is generally open to the public, but some sections (especially in front of the large hotels) are private. This has the advantage that only a comparatively few souvenir sellers are out and about. If you like it lonely, head towards south to stroll. The beach here is just as beautiful, only you are almost alone here.
Our tip: Seven Mile Beach faces west. Therefore, you can marvel at wonderfully beautiful sunsets here. Don't miss it!
Top attraction: Rick’s Café
Unwritten law: You cannot leave Jamaica without having been here. Rick’s Café is something of one institution in Jamaica and enjoys Cult status. The restaurant, built on a rock on the edge of the cliff, is definitely one of the most legendary sights in the country.
Rick’s Café is known for his Cliff divers. Locals in particular plunge into the depths from a height of over 20 meters, performing daring head jumps and somersaults.
We got weak knees at the sight of it, but if you can Adrenaline rush want to get, you should take the plunge into the depths. You don't have to start right at the top, there are also several jump ramps that are significantly lower.
By the way, the prices are high for Jamaican standards, but the atmosphere is really great. What could be nicer than having a cool one Red Stripe beer and reggae live music toast the sunset. Speaking of live music: Bob Marley is said to have performed here once. Today they at least still play their old hits here.
Our tip: Catamaran tour to Rick’s Café
You can of course visit Rick’s Cafe on your own. But what we can also highly recommend is a catamaran tour along the coast from Negril.
Our tour started in the early afternoon. First we went to a snorkeling spot. To be honest: The underwater world was nice to look at, but not a very big highlight. But it's quite an experience Jamaica from the boat to get to know. You should definitely take your bathing suit with you, you can borrow snorkeling equipment. Punctually before sunset we docked in front of Rick’s Café.
You can book the tour here: With the catamaran to Rick’s café
We present: One of our highlights on our Jamaica trip! The river walk along Mayfield Falls is Pure jungle feeling.
Along the river there are two waterfalls (the bigger one is called “The Washing Machine”) as well as countless Pools, in which you can swim. The path leads upstream on cascades for about an hour.
It's best to bring swimwear and shoes that you can go into the water in. A Guide is not absolutely necessary, but recommended. He makes sure that nothing happens and shows you one or the other underground cave that you can dive through.
You can book a tour here: Mayfield Falls
Info about the Mayfield Falls
Address:Hertford to Flower Hill Main Road, Pennycooke (we have marked the address on the map for you)
Opening hours: daily from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Entry: USD 20 per person
Further information: There is a small restaurant at the entrance, lockers and you can also borrow waterproof shoes if you don't have your own.
More famous waterfalls in Jamaica
There are a multitude of other beautiful waterfalls in Jamaica. The most beautiful and therefore also the best known are those Dunn’s River Falls as well as the YS Falls.
The problem with Dunn’s River Falls is that they are within walking distance of a ferry port and are therefore usually extremely overcrowded. Things are a little quieter at the YS Falls. So if you have the choice, we'd rather go for the second one. Both falls cost around $ 20 to enter.
Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River
A dreamlike natural backdrop awaits you on a raft trip on the Martha Brae River. “Rafting” is probably the wrong term. You can expect a leisurely ride here rather than an adventurous white water experience. Nevertheless, we can highly recommend the excursion.
The raft is about 6 meters long and you sit slightly elevated at the end of the raft, while the captain stands in front and shows the direction with a bamboo stick. The trip takes one to one and a half hours, depending on the water level. There are a few souvenir sellers sitting on the bank - but they only stop if you want to.
Information about the raft trip
Start and end point: It starts in the Martha Brae Rafting Village (we have marked the address on the map), about 45 minutes by car from Montego Bay. If you are driving your own car, you have to organize a driver back to the starting point at the end point. If you've booked a tour, you don't have to worry about it.
Equipment: You don't get wet if you don't want to. Swimming trunks are advisable, but not a must. You can take your camera with you without any problems.
Price: $ 70 per raft (2 people).
You can book your tour in advance here:Bamboo rafting
Roaring River and Cave
Another attraction in Jamaica that we can recommend is the Roaring River. The river flows underground most of its way until it bubbles to the surface at Petersfield. The pond landscape is really beautiful to look at.
But the main attraction is that Roaring River Cave, a Limestone cavethat you can even swim in. Since the cave is relatively dark, you can only enter it with a guide.
Unfortunately, you can read on the internet that so-called tour guides like to rip you off on site, so we recommend that you be careful when you come with your own car. If you organize the tour through your hotel, the drivers usually know which tour guides are trustworthy.
Information about the Roaring River Cave
Address: Petersfield (we have marked the point on the map for you).
Price: You can visit the springs for free, the cave costs about $ 10 entrance fee. There are also the costs for a guide.
Greenwood Great House
Numerous splendid ones Mansions remind in Jamaica of the former colonial times. One of the best known and best preserved mansions in Jamaica is the over 200 year old Greenwood Great House.
The family of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, the famous English poet, once lived here. The house is one of the few plantation houses that survived the slave revolt of 1931 unscathed. Means: the interior is from the 19th century.
A 45-minute tour gives you a great insight into the history of the family and Jamaica. Incidentally, the house is still inhabited.
About the Greenwood Great House
Address:435 Belgrade Avenue St. James, Jamaica
Opening hours: daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last tour at 5 p.m.)
Price: USD 20 per person
More mansions in Jamaica
Very close to the Greenwood Great House, just 15 minutes by car, is another significant building that we unfortunately did not visit: this Rose Hall Great House. The old mansion is said to be haunted. A tour costs USD 20 per person.
3. Where to Eat in Jamaica: Tips for Restaurants
The most important tip first: If you really want to eat well, then in most cases you should move out of the high hotel walls. Because the real, authentic Jamaican food is mainly in the many small street bars served.
Outside the country's borders is the Jamaican cuisine especially for being "Jerk" known. Meat or seafood is marinated with a spicy-sweet mixture of spices and then prepared using a special grill technique. It's worth trying, but unfortunately there are no vegetarian options for the national dish.
Vegetarians and vegans should look out for the term "Ital". Ital is the name for the diet of the Rastafari (i.e. the followers of the Rastafari movement). Animal products are avoided here as much as possible. Ital food is often (not always!) Vegetarian or vegan.
You shouldn't miss this one either exotic fruits, which find the best conditions in the tropical climate. You can buy fresh fruit, juices or chilled coconuts on practically every street corner.
Our restaurant tips for Jamaica
Zimbali’s Mountain Cooking Studio (30 minutes from Negril): A real insider tip and one of the hippest restaurants in Jamaica is Zimbali’s Mountain Cooking Studio. The restaurant (which belongs to the retreat of the same name) is tucked away in the hinterland of Jamaica, about 30 minutes' drive from Negril. A 4-course (lunch) or 5-course menu (evening) at its best awaits you here. Most of the ingredients come from our own cultivation. Our conclusion: simply great, don't miss it!
Murphy's West End Restaurant (Negril): If you are staying at Negril Beach, you should definitely pay a visit to Murphy's. We were here twice because we liked it so much. The restaurant is best known for its fish and seafood. But there are also a few vegetarian options. You sit outside here, but under a roof - the staff are super nice and helpful.
Just Natural (Negril): Just Natural has been an institution in Negril for many years. Vegetarian dishes, seafood and Italian food are served here. You should definitely try the freshly squeezed juices! The atmosphere in the restaurant, which is more like a tropical garden, is very special, a bit quirky, but absolutely amiable.
Scotchies (Montego Bay): This Jamaican eatery is THE spot for jerks. Allegedly Jamaica's best jerk is served here. We can't confirm that, but you always dine well. The atmosphere at Scotchies is rustic and cozy - you are sitting here in a kind of courtyard or garden.
4. Hotel tips for Jamaica: information & experiences
First things first: Those who expect small boutique hotels will unfortunately have a hard time. In Jamaica are large hotel complexes the rule and not the exception. In particular, the good locations on the beach are largely occupied by well-known hotel chains.
The Package tourism in Jamaica is strongly represented mainly due to the many guests from the USA. Many hotels have therefore also specialized in honeymoon vacationers and offer special packages.
That means: You really have to look carefully at the alternatives to large all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. We still have some hotel recommendations for you. So if you are planning a Jamaica tour through the west, then follow our hotel tips now.
Jamaica round trip: Our hotel recommendations
1st stop: Negril
It starts on the heavenly, snow-white Seven Mile Beach. There is this little hotel gem called Idle Awhile Beach. Unlike in large hotel complexes, it is pleasantly personal and familiar. Simply fantastic!
The rooms are traditionally and tastefully furnished. From some you even look directly at the turquoise blue sea. Our conclusion: it can definitely be endured here. The perfect hotel for the first days in Jamaica!
You can book the hotel here:Idle Awhile Beach
2nd stop: Treasure Beach
Secluded, sleepy and away from the crowds - this is how you can describe Treasure Beach in southern Jamaica. The ideal accommodation for your time there is Jakes.
You will spend the night here in simple, very colorful bungalows or rooms that are built close to nature. You have to like the hippie flair, but one thing is certain: The Jakes definitely stands out from the range of all-inclusive hotels.
You can book the hotel here: Jakes
3rd stop (optional): Blue Mountains
In the east of Jamaica are the Blue Mountains, Jamaica's most famous mountain region. If you want to visit this part of Jamaica as well, we can only warmly recommend the Strawberry Hill hotel. The location in the middle of the jungle and the view towards Kingston are fantastic.
You can book the hotel here:Strawberry Hill
4th stop: Montego Bay
Although we usually prefer small, family-run boutique hotels, we made an exception in Jamaica and stayed at the RIU Palace Hotel in Montego Bay. And what can we say: Good decision!
The hotel (adults only) is located directly on the beach. Our conclusion: In this exclusive all-inclusive hotel you can really switch off - simply wonderful! The ideal hotel for the last few days in Jamaica.
You can book the hotel here:RIU Palace Hotel in Montego Bay
5. Travel expenses Jamaica: This is how much money you need
Currency and payment in Jamaica
The national currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar (abbreviated J $ or JMD). The currency is mostly on site "Jay" called. One euro is about 170 J $.
Due to its proximity and the large number of tourists from the USA, the U.S. dollar (USD) also very common. In regions that are well developed for tourism, many prices are often only written in USD.
We ourselves did well with a combination of US and Jamaican dollars. For example, we paid for tours with USD, smaller purchases with Jays (J $). You can either get Jays directly at the ATM or you can change at an exchange office. Warning: Do not change your money at the airport, because the exchange rate is usually extremely bad there.
Travel expenses in Jamaica: price level and price examples
What does Jamaica cost ...?
- Double room in a nice hotel in Negril: 100 to 200 euros per night (or more)
- Entrance to the famous Dunn’s River Falls: USD 20
- Catamaran tour to Rick’s Cafe: approx. 70 euros
- Cocktail in Rick’s Cafe: USD 7-9
- Meal in a rather simple restaurant for two including drinks: 20-30 euros
As you can probably already see: Jamaica is definitely not a cheap travel destination. Above all, the prices for beautiful hotels and the entrance fees or tours to the sights are very expensive.
Restaurant prices are also sometimes steep (although you can also eat cheaply at street stalls). One of the reasons for this is that a lot has to be imported. And then of course there is also the long flight, which also costs a few hundred euros.
6. More tips for Jamaica: travel, safety & co
Arrival and entry to Jamaica
From Germany there is from Frankfurt Direct flights with Condor to Jamaica. The flight time is approximately 11 hours. You don't end up in the capital Kingston, but in Montego Bay in the west of the island.
Alternatively (or if you are traveling from Austria, for example) you have to stop at least once. Air connections via the USA or Canada (e.g. Toronto). Important: It is essential to remember that you have to apply for an ESTA (USA) or eTA (Canada) here!
The entry Going to Jamaica is straightforward and free. No visa is required for tourist trips that are shorter than 90 days. All you have to do is fill out an immigration form and make sure that your passport is still valid for at least six months.
The best time to travel to Jamaica
Basically, you can travel to Jamaica all year round. The Temperatures are warm all year round and move between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. At night the temperatures drop a little.
The European winter is ideal for a trip to Jamaica, because from December to April rules on the Caribbean island Dry season. Then it tends to rain little - one or two showers cannot be ruled out.
Rainy season prevails in May and June and from September to November. Then there is usually more precipitation. Often it rains really hard for one to two hours before the sun shows up again. Also worth mentioning is the Hurricane season, which in the Caribbean goes roughly from July to November. Hurricanes are most likely in August and September.
We would leave it out personally Christmas as well as other peaks like Easter or Spring Break. Then not only is there a lot more going on, but hotel prices usually also skyrocket.
Safety: Is Jamaica Safe to Travel to?
It's circulating many myths the question of whether Jamaica is a safe or unsafe country to travel to. We would like to briefly clarify this and describe our personal experiences.
The fact is: Of course Jamaica is less secure than Austria or Germany, for example. The reason for this is quite simple: Gang crime. Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world! As bad as it is for the local people, as a tourist you usually don't come into contact with it.
The risk of becoming a victim of a robbery is low - but of course there is, as in any other place in the world. Are more likely Pickpockets, that come up again and again.
We can recommend the following to make your trip to Jamaica as safe as possible:
- Carry valuables close to your body or leave them at home at all.
- In the vast majority of cases, robberies take place in the dark. Avoid dark, secluded alleys at night (especially in the capital Kingston) or inquire (e.g. in a hotel) which areas you shouldn't enter.
- Listen to your common sense. If you have a bad gut feeling anywhere, take it seriously.
What you should always keep in mind: Tourism is an important economic factor in Jamaica. The locals are therefore very interested in ensuring that you can travel through the country with a good feeling. We never felt unsafe in Jamaica ourselves.
For current assessments of the security situation we are happy to refer you to the website of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Jamaica travel information.
7. Map: Sights & highlights at a glance
So that you can get a better overview of the location of the individual sights in Jamaica, we have shown our highlights on this map.
Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links
We were invited by TUI on a trip to beautiful Jamaica - thank you very much! Our opinions and experiences are of course unaffected. This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something via the links, we receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
And now tell me: have you been to Jamaica? What is your experience? Which sights did you particularly like? Do you have any other travel tips that you would like to share with us? We look forward to your comment!
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