Planning your trip
Whether you choose to spend your time lazing on postcard-worthy beaches, soaking up the culture or exploring Jamaica’s natural wonders, our specialists have the first-hand knowledge of the Caribbean to provide the logistical advice and plan a trip that works for you. We regularly visit ourselves and work closely with our local partners in Jamaica to stay up to date with country developments.
Visa & passport requirements
UK citizens don’t currently require a visa to visit Jamaica. Nationalities of other countries should check their visa requirements.
British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Jamaica. Visitors are usually granted entry for a maximum of 90 days. If you are coming through the USA, you may need to apply for an ESTA. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
US citizens can visit Jamaica without a visa for 90 days, but require a valid US passport with at least one clear passport page, and documents to prove anticipated departure from Jamaica.
There’s currently no risk of yellow fever in Jamaica. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all visitors who are one year and older and are arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.
There’s currently no risk of malaria in Jamaica, but other insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever have been known to occur. The UK and US health authorities have classified Jamaica as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. It’s highly recommended to protect yourself from mosquito bites with adequate clothing and repelling agents.
What to pack
While Jamaica is balmy year-round, you might encounter cooler evenings if you’re visiting between December and February, so be sure to pack accordingly. Also, be aware that shorts and flip flops are often prohibited in many in fine-dining restaurants.
Please note that it’s against the law to wear camouflage clothing in Jamaica (including children) and to carry items made of camouflage material. These will be confiscated and not returned.
The country voltage is 110V and 50Hz, with a two flat-pin parallel plug.
English is the official language of Jamaica and used for all official purposes. In fact, Jamaica is the third-most populous English-speaking country in the Americas, trailing only the United States and Canada.
Although most Jamaicans speak Jamaican Creole, English or a combination of the two, in certain regions of the country it’s not uncommon to hear other languages as well.
Money & tipping
The official currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar (JMD). In some areas popular with visitors, you can also use US dollars, though you’ll likely receive Jamaica currency coins as change. Credit and debit cards are accepted in popular areas, and you can withdraw Jamaican dollars from ATMs.
Service staff and hotel workers expect to be tipped. A service charge of around 10-15% is usually added automatically to the bill in many hotels and restaurants. If the service charge hadn’t been automatically added, then it’s customary to leave at least 15%. As always, tipping is based solely upon the diner's discretion.
As a rough guide for other services, consider tipping a taxi driver $1 to $2 (150 to 300 JMD) or more, depending on length of trip, and a private driver about $5 to $8 (700 to 1,100 JMD) per couple. Tour guides might receive a tip of around $12 to $15 (1,670 to 2,100 JMD) for the guide and $6 to $8 (850 to 1,100 JMD) for the driver, per couple.
Though there are a total of three international airports, you’re most likely to land in Montego Bay. While you’re on the island, you’ll find that Jamaica is a compact country and getting around is relatively easy. When you travel with us, all your transfers will be with a private driver and itineraries will usually focus on Montego Bay, Ocho Rios or Port Antonio.
Keeping in touch
Jamaica’s country code is +876. We suggest that you speak to your phone provider before you visit to purchase international data packages. Wi-Fi is widely available in all hotels and most restaurants, especially in the cities, but you may find coverage spotty in more rural areas.
Customs & etiquette
Most businesses will be closed on Sundays — some even close on Saturday afternoons after the busy morning markets. Beaches can be busy on Sunday afternoons, when many residents enjoy Sunday lunches with their family.
Food & drink
Jamaica’s cuisine is a medley of influences that reflects the island’s complicated history, a blend of indigenous, African, European, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern foods. You’ll find an emphasis on spice that ranges from tongue-tingling to searing.
Probably the most popular example of that affection for spice is a mix of allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers known as jerk. Applied as a marinade, dry rub or sauce, this fiery mixture is applied before meat is slowly cooked, usually over a wood fire. Aficionados say that the incendiary results are addictive.
Other signature dishes include: pepperpot, a stew that includes quimbombó (okra), callaloo (a popular green similar to amaranth) and meat; sumario, a dish that combines different types of fish and vegetables cooked in coconut milk, peppers and spices; and green papaya chutney.
The island offers a wide selection of eateries, from elegant dining in Montego Bay to beach shacks where you can grab fried fish.Like other islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica boasts a robust rum distilling industry and you’ll find rum-based drinks on most menus.
Events, holidays & festivals
The first week of February sees reggae fanatics and Rastafarians come together in the city of Kingston and Montego Bay to commemorate the life and music of Jamaica's best-known musician, Bob Marley. Expect concerts, karaoke contests, exhibitions, lectures, fashion shows and other events related to Marley.
April sees a weeklong series of parties and street parades to celebrate Jamaica’s annual carnival (Bacchanal). A spectacle of shimmering sequin costumes, vivacious dancers and delectable soca sounds, locals and visitors alike join in the celebration as the technicolored processions sweep through the streets to the beat of pounding steel drums.
Easter is widely observed across the island and Good Friday is marked with church services in the morning and fish dishes for dinner. Be prepared for the closure of many local shops, restaurants and cafés during this period. Easter Monday then officially marks the start of the beach picnic season, and you’ll see cookouts occurring in public parks and homecomings and regattas held on the out islands.
The Ocho Rios Jazz festival takes place in June, featuring a combination of international and home-grown artists.
In July, Montego Bay hosts Raggae Sumfest, the largest music festival in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The event draws the world’s best reggae stars as well as reggae fans from across the globe. As a result, expect Montego Bay to be busier than usual when visiting in July.
- 1st January – New Year’s Day
- 17th February – Ash Wednesday
- Friday before Easter Sunday – Good Friday
- Monday after Easter Sunday – Easter Monday
- Fourth Monday in May – Labour Day
- 10th July – Independence Day
- First Monday in August – Emancipation Day
- Third Monday in October – National Heroes Day
- 25th December – Christmas Day
- 26th December – Boxing Day
Jamaica offers a wealth places to stay, from larger world-renowned resorts with a wide range of amenities and activities, to a handful of smaller, independent options including luxurious, oceanfront villas surrounded by manicured lawns and chic rainforest treehouses.
We’ve hand-picked a wide selection, so you’re likely to find something that suits you, whether you’re a family looking for plenty of activities and pool time or a honeymooning couple looking for a secluded retreat.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
When to go to Jamaica
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Jamaica.
3 hours 30 minutes (New York to Kingston)