Q: What Timezone does Jamaica Uses?
A: Jamaica uses Eastern Standard Time. Jamaica does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Some prefers to use GMT -5.
Q: What currency do I use in Jamaica?
A: The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaica Dollar (JMD). The Jamaica rate of exchange changes daily. It is advised to change your currency into Jamaican money when you arrive in Jamaica, not before you depart your own country. Upon arrival in Jamaica use a Cambio which specializes in Jamaican money and other currency conversion, (the SuperPlus in the Westgate Plaza in Montego Bay is a good one -- you can exchange currency, buy liquor and urban goods as well) do not exchange currency in the airport, you will get more for your money at a Cambio. For more information on currency click here or here for currency conversions.
The US dollar is also accepted in Jamaica, although you will be given your change back in JA -- bring a calculator with you so you know what you are suppose to be receiving back. Don't expect roadside merchants to have exact change if you give them US dollars, it is best to pay them in JA. If you choose to carry US dollars on you make sure they are in small bills, nothing larger than a US$20, although smaller is better.
Q: Are there ATM machines in Jamaica?
A: Yes most banks have ATM machines. The ATM will dispense Jamaican dollars and some now dispense USD. There is normally a charge for using the machines, and they have daily limits of about $200-300. Your US bank will charge your account at the current exchange rate.
Treasure Beach does not have an ATM -- the closest ATM is in Black River. The Crossroads Grocery will exchange currency.
Q: What personal documentation is required for international travel to Jamaica?
A: Proof of citizenship in the form of a passport is required, no visa is needed (Japaniese Citizens staying over 30days need a visa). For more information on how to obtain a US Passport click here.
Q: What airlines service Jamaica?
A: Air Jamaica, Delta, Northwest, US Airways, Air Canada are major carriers. British Airways flies non-stop from London. Tourism is Jamaica's leading industry, so reserve flights early. Several charters operate from the East Coast, the Midwest, and Europe.
Q: What are the international airports in Jamaica and where are they located?
A: Sangster International Airport is located in Montego Bay and is your primary destination if you are traveling to: Montego Bay, Negril, along the North coast to Ocho Rios, Oracabessa, Runaway Bay and including the South West coast to Treasure Beach. Norman Manley International Airport is less than 20 minutes outside Kingston, Jamaica's capital city. This the best airport to use if going to Port Antonio.
Q: Is Jamaica safe? Shoul dI be worried about cities like Kingston?
A: Here is what TripAdvisor has to say about safety in Jamaica:
Jamaica is not the crime ridden, "danger lurking around every corner" island that it is so often painted to be. Visitors (especially first time visitors) are often warned by others to not venture off the confines of their resort. To not do so would be to miss out on the opportunity to really see and experience the wonderful and diverse culture that thrives in Jamaica.
So, what about all those scary crime statistics? Fact or fiction? Actually, a little of both. Jamaica does have a problem with gang violence and turf wars that is confined generally to parts of Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Each of those towns have mostly safe areas and are worth visiting. The crime will have little impact on the average tourist providing they do not stray into the crime hot spot areas. Seeking local knowledge or reading Jamaican news sites will guide visitors away from dangerous areas. Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low. There are occasional crimes of "opportunity", i.e. petty theft, pickpockets and purse snatching's, but they are few in number and probably occur less frequently than the same things that happen back in the tourist’s homeland on a daily basis.
General safety tips are the same as any savvy traveler would take when visiting a place with which they are unfamiliar. Do not carry large amounts of cash on you; do not go off with "friendly" strangers; don’t flaunt expensive jewelry (better yet, leave the gemstones at home --- you are on vacation after all); don’t wander around alone at night either in the cities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or on the beach in Negril. Most importantly, don’t check your common sense right along with your luggage at the airport. Sure, Jamaica is paradise, but if you get drunk and stupid someone, just like in Boston or Omaha, will likely take advantage of the situation. Once you get a feeling for the laid back atmosphere of the island and it’s citizens and take normal travel precautions, you can get on with the best part of any trip to Jamaica --- soaking up the sun, jamming with the music, eating wonderful local foods, and best of all, getting to know some of the wonderful, warm Jamaican people.
In 2006 there were a total of 82 crimes against tourists: most of them petty larceny. There were 57 in Negril, 13 in Ocho Rios and 12 in Montego Bay. This is significantly less than the rates for most major American cities.
Q: Are there any health risks in Jamaica?
A: There are no major health risks and no vaccinations required unless, in the last 6 weeks, you have visited: Asia, Africa, Central & South America, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad or Tobago.
Q: What Language is Spoken in Jamaica?
A: The official language of Jamaica is English, but the Jamaican "Patois" or local creole- is spoken throughout the island.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Jamaica enjoys typical Caribbean weather with temperatures in the 80's and 90's by day and in the 70's by night. Winter to summer variance is only 10 degrees. The South Coast, Treasure Beach area, is typically a bit warmer and much dryer than the North Coast, where you may need a sweater during the winter evenings.
Weather-wise, temperature isn’t that much of an important factor: winter is usually warm by day and mild to cool by night, and summer months are hot. The rainy season extends from May to November, with peaks in May, June, October and November. Rain usually falls for short periods (normally in the late afternoon), and it’s quite possible to enjoy sunshine for most of your visit during these months. However, note that in Portland parish, it can rain for days on end.
Tourism’s high, or ‘winter, ’ season runs from early-December to mid-April, when property rental prices are highest. Many properties also charge peak-season rates during Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.
Q: Is the local water safe to drink?
A: Water in Jamaica is usually safe to drink right from the tap. All drinking water in Jamaica is purified and filtered by the most modern methods. If preferred, you can buy bottled Jamaican spring water from local stores, hotels and restaurants.
Q: What electricity voltage is used?
A: Electricity is essentially the same as US: 110 volts, 50 cycles (US is 60 cycles). Converters are not necessary for US appliances. Flat two- and three-pin plugs are in use.
Q: How should I tip:
A: Visitors should tip 10-15% of your villa rental is suggested for the staff to be distributed the day you leave. A suggested guideline:
If your villa has a butler we suggest:
Cook – 40%
Butler – 30%
Housekeeper – 20%
Gardener - 10%
Q: When is lobster season?
A: The lobster season is the same for all of Jamaica. Lobster season is July 1 - March 31. You should not buy fresh lobster during April 1 - June 30.