Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Beaches, Sights & Tips – Sommertage

Jamaica Travel Guide: The Best Beaches, Sights & Tips – Sommertage

white sand beaches, sounds of reggae and rum: jamaica is a way of life! we can promise you one thing: all the clichés floating in your head will come true on a trip to jamaica .

or, to put it in the words of the locals, “man, no problem, man!”, Jamaicans are what make a trip to the Caribbean island nation so special .

In this blog article, we reveal our personal tips for your trip to Jamaica. We show you the most beautiful views and beaches and tell you about our experiences, so you can perfectly prepare your trip to Jamaica.

1. Before you head to Jamaica: Tips for your first Time, Experiences & FAQs

what can i expect in jamaica?

is it true that jamaica is invaded by package tourism?

Jamaica is an incredibly popular destination for blended tourism (primarily from the US). That’s because it takes just under four hours to fly to the Caribbean island from the southern United States.

in jamaica, you mainly meet families with children and young couples who spend their honeymoon here. Then, when you see the big all-inclusive hotels on Jamaica’s most famous beaches, it’s clear what kind of tourism has taken hold here in recent decades.

however, from our own experience, we can confirm that not all tour packages are the same. for example, we very much enjoyed our stay at the riu palace hotel in montego bay. (You can read more about this and our detailed hotel recommendations later in the blog article.)

jamaica is also frequented by cruise ships. therefore, the sights and beaches near the port are often overrun with crowds in no time. you just have to know that and it is better to introduce yourself as soon as possible.

getting around jamaica: what is there to see?

The most touristic part of Jamaica is clearly the west. the east and the south are calmer and more relaxed. In general, the tourist regions of interest can be divided as follows (later we will go into details of the places of interest):

round trip or excursions from a base of operations?

if you want to visit both the west and the east, then you can’t go past making a round trip. (To give an indication: it takes between four and five hours to get from Negril to Kingston). you see a lot more of the country this way.

However, it is also possible to concentrate on the well-developed tourist part of West Jamaica. From here it is possible to stay in one place and make small excursions. if you decide to do this, we can recommend (from our own experience) to book the trip through tui.

You can book your trip here: tui (official website)

bonus tip: roundtrip jamaica on your own

It’s certainly not the norm to tour Jamaica independently, but it’s definitely possible. In principle, there are three options:

  1. private driver: convenient & comfortable.
  2. public buses and minibuses: cheap
  3. rental car: the most flexible and adventurous option

We ourselves travel with a private driver sometimes. For our next trip, we can definitely imagine booking our own rental car. but beware: the road conditions are sometimes very adventurous (hello, giant potholes!) and the driving style of the locals is also anything but defensive. so we would really only recommend this option if you are an experienced driver.

west jamaica itinerary (approx. 10 to 14 days)

You may be wondering what would be the best route for a round trip through Jamaica. If you are interested in living the west (more touristy), we recommend the following route.

A little tip: our hotel recommendations for the individual stops are provided further down in the blog post. information on sights and highlights at individual locations are in the next chapter.

2. travel guide: what you can experience in jamaica (beaches, places of interest and tips)

seven mile beach in negril

welcome to purportedly most beautiful beach in jamaica! the seven mile beach makes island dreams come true. the finest light-colored sand and turquoise blue water await you here.

To avoid confusion, Seven Mile Beach consists of two sections of beach, a small bay called Bloody Bay and a much longer beach to the south called Long Bay. Bloody Bay tends to be quieter, while Long Bay is home to more bars, hotels, and the like.

Despite all the infrastructure, you can really expect the Caribbean style of your dreams. all hotels are located behind palm trees and (supposedly) are not allowed to exceed them in height.

Seven Mile Beach is basically open to the public, but some sections (especially in front of the big hotels) are private. this has the advantage that there are comparatively few souvenir vendors. if you like it more secluded, you should walk south. here the beach is equally beautiful, but you are almost alone.

our tip: seven mile beach faces west. therefore, you can admire beautiful sunsets here. You can’t miss it!

Top Sight: Rick’s Café

unwritten rule: you can’t leave jamaica without having been here once. Rick’s Café is something of an institution in Jamaica and enjoys a cult status. built on the edge of a cliff, the restaurant is definitely one of the most legendary attractions in the country.

rick’s café is famous for its cliff jumpers. From a good 20 meters above the ground, locals in particular dive into the depths, performing daring dives and flips.

We got weak in the knees ourselves just looking at them, but if you still want to get an adrenaline rush, you should take the plunge. you don’t have to start at the top, there are several platforms to jump from that are much lower.

The prices are high by Jamaican standards, but the atmosphere is really cool. What could be better than toasting the sunset with a good red line beer and live reggae music? Speaking of live music, Bob Marley is said to have even performed here once. At least his old hits are still played here today.

our tip: catamaran ride to rick’s cafe

of course, you can visit rick’s cafe on your own. but we also recommend a catamaran ride along the coast of negril.

Our tour started in the early afternoon. first, we went to a place to dive. to be honest: the underwater world was quite nice to look at, but not quite the highlight. However, it is quite an experience to get to know Jamaica from a boat. snorkeling equipment can be rented, so you should definitely take your swimsuit with you. we docked in front of rick’s cafe just before sunset.

you can book the tour here: by catamaran to rick’s café

Mayfield Falls

introducing: one of our highlights on our trip to jamaica! the river ride along mayfield falls is a pure jungle feeling.

Along the river there are two waterfalls (the largest is called “la lavadora”) and countless pools where you can swim. the trail leads upstream along waterfalls for about an hour.

It is best to wear a swimsuit and shoes to get into the water. a guide is not essential but is recommended. they’ll make sure nothing happens and show you an underground cave or two to dive into.

you can book a tour here: mayfield falls

information on mayfield falls

address: hertford to flower hill main road, pennycooke (we’ve put the address on the map for you).opening hours: daily 8am-4:30pmadmission: usd20 per personmore info: there is a small restaurant at the entrance, lockers and you can borrow waterproof shoes if you don’t have your own.

other famous waterfalls in jamaica

there are many other beautiful waterfalls in jamaica. the most beautiful, and therefore the most famous, are dunn’s river falls and ys falls.

The problem with Dunn’s River Falls is that they are within walking distance of a ferry port and therefore tend to be very crowded. ys falls is a bit quieter. so if you have a choice, we’d go for the latter. both waterfalls cost around 20usd entrance fee.

Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River

a wonderful natural environment awaits you on a raft trip down the martha brae river. “rafting” is probably the wrong term. it’s more of a leisurely ride than an adventurous whitewater experience. however, we highly recommend this trip.

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 gives direction with a bamboo stick. the trip lasts from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the level of the water. there are some souvenir vendors on the shore, but you only stop if you ask.

information about the raft trip

Start and End Point: Rafting begins at Martha Brae Rafting Village (we’ve marked the address on the map), about a 45-minute drive from Montego Bay. if you are traveling with your own car, you will need to arrange for a driver to take you back to the starting point at the end point. if you have booked a tour, you don’t have to worry about that. team: you won’t get wet if you don’t want to. a bathing suit is advisable, but not required. you can take your camera without any problem. price: 70 usd per raft (2 people).

you can book your tour in advance here: bamboo rafting

Roaring River and Cave

another view of jamaica that we can recommend is the roaring river. The river flows underground for most of its journey until it bubbles to the surface in Petersfield. the scenery around the springs is really beautiful to see.

But the main attraction is the Roaring River Cave, a limestone cave that you can even swim in. since the cave is relatively dark, you are only allowed to enter with a guide.

Unfortunately, it is said on the internet that so-called tour guides like to rip you off here, so we recommend that you be careful if you come with your own car. if you arrange 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 place on the map for you).price: you can visit the springs for free, the entrance to the cave is about 10 dollars. the cost of a guide is additional.

big green wooden house

many magnificent mansions in jamaica are reminiscent of the old colonial era. One of the most famous and best preserved mansions in Jamaica is the Great Greenwood House, which is over 200 years old.

the family of elizabeth barrett-browning, the famous english peot, once lived here. The house is one of the few plantation houses to survive the 1931 slave revolt unscathed. The interior furnishings therefore date from the 19th century.

A 45-minute tour gives you a great insight into the history of the family and Jamaica. the house is still inhabited today.

information on the great greenwood house

address: 435 belgrade avenue st. james, jamaica opening hours: every day from 9 am to 6 pm (last tour at 5 pm) price: usd 20 per person

other mansions in jamaica

very close to the greenwood great house, just 15 minutes by car, is another important building, which unfortunately we did not visit: the rose hall great house. the old mansion is said to be haunted. a tour costs 20 usd per person.

3. Where to Eat in Jamaica: Tips for Restaurants

first of all, the most important advice is that in most cases, if you really want to eat well, you have to go outside the high walls of the hotel. this is because true and authentic Jamaican food is served primarily in the many small street restaurants.

Outside the country’s borders, Jamaican cuisine is best known for its “asshole”. here, meat or seafood is marinated with a mixture of hot and sweet spices and then prepared using a special grilling technique. It’s worth a try, but unfortunately there are no vegetarian options for the national dish.

vegetarians and vegans should search for the term “ital”. ital is the name of the diet of the Rastafarians (that is, the followers of the Rastafari movement). here, animal products are avoided as much as possible. therefore, Italian food is often (not always!) vegetarian or vegan.

You should not miss the exotic fruits, which enjoy the best growing conditions in the tropical climate. you can buy fresh fruit, juices or frozen coconuts on practically every corner.

our restaurant tips for jamaica

zimbali mountain cooking studio (30 minutes from negril): all tip, one of the best restaurants in jamaica is the zimbali mountain cooking studio. The restaurant (which belongs to the retreat of the same name) is tucked away in the Jamaican countryside, about a 30-minute drive from Negril. you can expect a 4 course (lunch) or 5 course (dinner) menu of the best dishes. most ingredients are homegrown. our conclusion: simply the best, don’t miss out!

Murphy’s West End Restaurant (Negril): If you’re staying in Negril Beach, you should definitely visit Murphy’s. We went here twice because we liked it so much. the place is best known for its fish and shellfish. but there are also some vegetarian options. you sit outside here, but it’s covered – the staff are very friendly and helpful.

just natural (negril): just natural has been a negril institution for many years. It serves vegetarian dishes, seafood and Italian food. 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 charming.

scotchies (montego bay): This Jamaican restaurant is the place to go for jerk. The best idiot in Jamaica is supposed to be served here. We can’t confirm that, but it is good food. the atmosphere at scotchies is rustic and cozy – you sit here in a kind of patio or garden.

4. hotel tips for jamaica: info & experiences

first thing to note: if you’re expecting small boutique hotels, you’ll unfortunately have a pretty rough time of it. in jamaica, grand hotel facilities are the rule, not the exception. the privileged beach locations are especially occupied by well-known hotel chains.

package tourism in jamaica is strong, especially due to the large number of guests from the united states. therefore, many hotels also specialize in honeymooners and offer special packages.

this means: look carefully for alternatives to the big all-inclusives in jamaica. however, we have some hotel recommendations for you. So if you’re planning a West Jamaica round trip, here are our hotel tips.

jamaica roundtrip: our hotel recommendations

1st stop: black

Let’s start at the snow-white Seven Mile Beach paradise. there you will find this little hotel gem called leisure beach. Unlike the big hotel complexes, the atmosphere here is pleasantly personal and familiar. simply beautiful!

the rooms are traditional and tastefully decorated. you even get a direct view of the turquoise sea from some of them. our conclusion: this is a great place to stay. the perfect hotel for your first days in jamaica!

you can book the hotel here: idle awhile beach

second stop: treasure beach

Secluded, quiet and off the beaten path – that’s how you can describe Treasure Beach in South Jamaica. the ideal accommodation for your time there is jakes.

You will stay in simple, natural and very colorful bungalows or rooms. very unique! You have to like the hippie style, but one thing is for sure: Jakes definitely stands out among all-inclusives.

you can book the hotel here: jakes

3rd stop (optional): blue mountains

in eastern jamaica are the blue mountains, jamaica’s most famous mountainous region. If you also want to visit this part of Jamaica, we highly 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

fourth stop: montego bay

although we generally prefer small, family-friendly 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: at this exclusive all-inclusive hotel you can truly unwind. simply wonderful! the ideal hotel for your last days in jamaica.

you can book the hotel here: riu palace hotel in montego bay

5. Travel Expenses Jamaica: How much Money you will need

currency and payment in jamaica

Jamaica’s national currency is the Jamaican dollar (abbreviated j$ or jmd). locally, the currency is often called “jay”. one US dollar is equivalent to about 140 j$.

Due to the geographical proximity and the large number of tourists from the United States, the United States dollar (USD) is also widely used. many prices are often written in usd in well-developed tourist regions.

We found that having a combination of US and Jamaican dollars worked well. for example, we pay for tours with usd and use jays (j$) for smaller purchases with jays. you can get jays directly at the ATM or you can exchange them at a bureau de change. note: do not change your money at the airport, because the exchange rate there is usually extremely bad.

Jamaica travel costs: price levels and examples

how much does it cost… in jamaica?

As you probably already know, Jamaica is definitely not a cheap travel destination. Prices for good hotels and entrance fees to places of interest are especially expensive.

Restaurant prices can also be high (although you can also eat cheaply at street stalls). This is partly due to the fact that there is a lot to import. And then, of course, there’s the long flight, which also costs a few hundred dollars.

6. more jamaica travel tips: arrival, safety & co.

arrival and entry to jamaica

From Europe there are direct flights to Jamaica. (for example with condor from frankfurt or with british airways from london.) the flight time is about 11 hours. Flight connections via the united states or canada (for example, toronto) are also popular. important: remember that you have to apply for an esta (usa) or an eta (canada)!

From the United States, there are many direct flights to Jamaica. No matter what your departure airport is, you will most likely not land in the capital Kingston, but in Montego Bay, in the west of the island.

the entrance to jamaica is simple and free. there is no visa requirement for tourist trips lasting less than 90 days. you just need to fill out an entry form and make sure your passport is valid for at least six months.

The best time to travel to Jamaica

You can travel to Jamaica throughout the year. the temperatures are warm all year round and range between 25 and 30 degrees centigrade. at night, temperatures drop a bit.

European and North American winter is ideal for a trip to Jamaica, since the Caribbean island has a dry season from December to April it tends to rain little at this time , although occasional rain is not excluded.

The rainy season is from May to June and from September to November. there is usually more precipitation during this period. it will often rain heavily for an hour or two before the sun comes out again. It is also worth mentioning the hurricane season, which lasts in the Caribbean from approximately July to November. the probability of hurricanes is highest in August and September.

Personally we would leave out Christmas as well as other peaks like Easter or spring break. not only is it much more crowded, but hotel prices also tend to skyrocket.

Safety: Is Jamaica a safe destination?

There are many myths circulating around the question of whether Jamaica is a safe or unsafe destination. we would like to clarify this briefly and describe our personal experiences.

The fact is, of course, Jamaica is more insecure than, say, Europe. the reason is quite simple: gang crime. Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. As bad as this is for the locals, as a tourist you don’t normally come into contact with him.

The risk of being robbed is low, but of course it can happen, just like everywhere else in the world. pickpocketing is more likely, which can happen from time to time.

This is what we can recommend to make your trip to Jamaica as safe as possible:

what you should always keep in mind: tourism is an important economic factor in jamaica. therefore, the locals have a great interest in you being able to travel around the country with a good feeling. we ourselves never felt unsafe in jamaica.

For current assessments of the security situation, we would like to refer you to the official UK Government website: Jamaica Travel Advice.

7. map: views & highlights at a glance

To give you a better overview of the location of each landmark in Jamaica, we have marked our highlights on this map.

disclaimer: invitation & affiliate links

tui invited us to travel to beautiful jamaica. Thank you! our opinions and experiences are of course not influenced by this. this blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. this does not change the price for you at all. Thanks a million from both of us!

and now tell us: have you ever been to jamaica? What experiences did you have? What views did you like the most? Do you have any other travel tips that you would like to share with us? We look forward to your feedback!

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