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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Everything to know about Jamaica for your upcoming visit. Here is all you need to know about tourist destinations, food and everything else.
I’m guessing, from your question that you will be visiting the island soon and you’d love to brush up on some facts about Jamaica before your trip.
In most cases, unless you are visiting family and friends who live inland, you will be visiting the coastal towns.
The most popular tourist destinations are Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Portland. The country’s capital, Kingston, is not visited very often by tourists who are just on vacation but mainly by persons who are also planning to do a little business as well.
If you are looking for a more traditional, all-inclusive vacation, with many trips to the beach, the best places to find this is Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or Negril.
Kingston has most of our museums and culture tours.
Portland is an ecological wonder, with many water-based activities outside of the beach added to the historical sites and laidback town of Port Antonio. It is also home to the most authentic jerk on the island.
You won’t find many big all-inclusive resorts here. This side of the island is big on eco-friendly accommodations and more intimate vacations, so you will find eco-hotels, villas and small family-owned guest houses.
Ocho Rios has many exhilarating adventures to choose from including the most popular attraction in Jamaica, Dunn’s River Falls.
The South Coast parishes, Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth have also slowly become a part of the tourist destinations and cater to the more nomadic adventures of travellers who would rather not be walled off from the rest of the island. Again, not many all-inclusive or luxurious accommodations can be found here.
They are mainly guest houses and family-owned restaurants and attractions. There is much to explore on the South coast with the many attractions in Westmoreland and Treasure Beach. I’m sure you’ve heard of Appleton Estate and Ys Falls. If you would love to visit them, then a trip to St. Elizabeth is in order.
Trelawny is now one of the most important tourist destinations in Jamaica that has managed to retain its laidback charm.
It is almost a contradiction to see the mega cruise ships on a Wednesday, lining the coast of the town that is still mainly filled with buildings dating back centuries. From here you can take the culture and food tour, (be sure to get patties at Spicy Nice), the Hampden Rum Tour or visit the Luminous Lagoon, one of 5 bioluminescent lagoons in the world.
Our cuisine is one of the best in the world and is usually one of the main reasons people travel here. Our dishes are pretty straightforward, usually, the ingredients are listed in the title, (Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat, Tripe and Beans, Ackee and Saltfish), so there shouldn’t be any need to worry.
But just to be sure, if you have dietary restrictions just ask before or order. Some must-try dishes are easier to adapt to match most diets than others, so you shouldn’t miss out on many of the favourites.
But if you have no reservations about food, here is my list of favourites gifted to you:
The Jamaican way is to start your morning with a cup of tea made from locally sourced plants, what we call bush tea. The favourites are mint, rosemary, fever grass, soursop leaf, pimento leaf, cinnamon leaf, turmeric and ginger. These can also be found in tea bag form.
If you are a little more adventurous then you can try search mi heart, cerasee and dandelion which are a little harder to source but are delicious.
And if you are a snacker, pack a few of these treats for your adventurous days:
Rastafarian cuisine is a must-try as well, you can often find many sip (vegan soup) vendors along the roadside. Many of the vegan restaurants are actually Rastafarian-owned.
Be sure to sample our expansive drink selection as well. Coffee and a wide variety of rum are well known but sorrel, carrot and soursop juices, punches and ginger beer are palate pleasing too.
Many people will be surprised to know that marijuana was only decriminalised in 2015. Since then there have been quite a few weed dispensaries popping up across the island where it is legal to partake in the “medicinal plant”.
Ensure to bring light, cotton clothes in bright colours. Not only will they put you in vacation mode but it does get quite hot here on the island. If you are visiting in the cooler months, back a light sweater just in case.
You will also need:
For a more comprehensive list of travel items for your trip read our article on What to bring to Jamaica.
We use our own currency, the Jamaican dollar. However, USD is widely accepted in tourist areas. It is also easy to use your debit or credit card so there is no need to walk with only cash. While it isn’t popular, apple pay is sometimes accepted.
If you need to visit a Cambio ensure you are visiting an established one or just use the one at your hotel.
The further away you go from the tourist destination the more your need will be for Jamaica dollars, be mindful of that if you plan to visit rural areas.
You won't ever be bored on the island that is home to Reggae and Dancehall and even if clubbing isn’t your style you still won’t be short on options. There are countless attractions, all across the island.
And, that is everything to know about Jamaica. You are now all prepped and ready for your Jamaican adventure.
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Everything to know about Jamaica | Written: October 5, 2022