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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in jamaica

Free Travel guide A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in jamaica, Bed and Breakfast!

Quick Facts
Governmentconstitutional parliamentary democracy
CurrencyJamaican dollar (JMD)
Areatotal: 10,991 sq km
land: 10,831 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Population2,680,029 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageEnglish, patois English
ReligionProtestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%

Jamaica is an island-nation in the Caribbean, located to the south of Cuba and to the west of the island of Hispaniola

Map of JamaicaMap of Jamaica
Map of Jamaica

jamaica Travel Guide :



Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes:

  • Clarendon
  • Hanover
  • Kingston
  • Manchester
  • Portland
  • Saint Andrew
  • Saint Ann
  • Saint Catherine
  • Saint Elizabeth
  • Saint James
  • Saint Mary
  • Saint Thomas
  • Trelawny
  • Westmoreland

Many detailed maps at



  • Kingston (Jamaica)Kingston, the capital, is located on the southeastern coast of the island. There are two major sections to this city: 'downtown' and 'uptown.' It is in the area considered 'uptown' on Hope Road to be precise that the Bob Marley museum is located. Kingston was for sometime Jamaica's only city and is still the commercial capital of Jamaica. You will notice that the city is assigned the equivalent of zip codes, (Kingston 5, Kingston 10, etc.) which is a good representation of how truly large this city is, especially for an island such as Jamaica.

Kingston offers much in the way of tourism, but this is generally overlooked by those who see Jamaica only as a destination of beaches. This is definitely the cultural capital of Jamaica, with its theatres, museums, art galleries to name a few of the city's interesting offerings just waiting to be explored.

It should be noted, however, to exercise general safety precautions while in Kingston. Like any large city anywhere in the world, it is home to a higher number of crimes than the rest of the island. Common sense and precaution should ensure a pleasant experience.

  • Montego BayMontego Bay (commonly referred to as Mo Bay) on the island's north shore, is the second city in Jamaica, after Kingston. Montego Bay has long since earned the title of 'tourist capital of Jamaica.' It receives the bulk of international flights, being home to Sangster International Airport, the larger of Jamaica's two main international airports.

Today the city is known for its large regional hospital (Cornwall General), port facilities, second homes for numerous upper class Jamaicans from Kingston as well as Americans and Europeans, fine restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Surrounding coast land is occupied by numerous tourist resorts, some newly built, some occupying the grounds of old Sugar Cane plantations with some of the original buildings and mill-works still standing. The most famous of these are the "White Witch's" Rose Hall and Tryall - both of which now sport world-class golf courses.

  • NegrilNegril is famous for its miles of white sand beaches. One of the most beautiful towns in Jamaica, it has a more laid back atmosphere than that of Montego Bay. A popular tourist attraction here is Rick's Cafe, which is known for the cliffside it is built upon, where tourists can take a courageous leap into the Caribbean Sea below. However, the Cafe is currently inaccessible; during Hurricane Ivan, the cafe slid off the cliffside into the sea below. It is slated to be rebuilt and to reopen at a date yet to be determined. Be wary in Negril. Higglers and hustlers all but outnumber the (frequently burnt-out and dissipated-looking) tourists.
  • Ocho RiosOcho Rios (commonly referred to as Ochi) is located on the northeastern shore of Jamaica. A popular destination for cruise ships and tourists alike, it features a bulk of resorts and tourist attractions. There are many conveniences, such as supermarkets and restaurants. A local airport provides charter plane access from the larger airports in Montego Bay and Kingston. Ocho Rios is also home to the world renowned Dunns River Falls, a beautiful falls that visitors can pay to climb.
  • Port AntonioPort Antonio on the eastern point of the island, is still relatively unknown by most tourists, but it has for years been the hideaway of royalty and stars alike. It is easy to see why. Its seclusion is what gives this town its charm. The beaches are beautiful, albeit a bit rocky. However the seclusion from throngs of other tourists is a huge payoff. The people are extremely friendly, and the whole city rings with a unique character all its own.

Other destinations


Tourist resorts

Some tourists visiting Jamaica prefer to stay at resorts. A number of these resorts are all-inclusive, meaning that a single fee pays for just about everything including room, food, drink, and activities.

Some well known resorts:

  • Hedonism II - Negril
  • Hedonism III - Runaway Bay
  • Grand Lido
  • Sandals and Beaches Resorts Negril, Dunns River, Montego Bay, Whitehouse
  • Couples - A wonderful Honeymoon destination

It is always wise to check out good travel books and find an alternative to all-inclusives. Tipping is not permitted at all-inclusives, and the people who work there are paid very little. Guests are driven to shops and attractions which have made a deal with the resorts' owners, so there is rarely an opportunity to explore the real Jamaica and meet the people.




Get in


By plane

  • Both Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Donald Sangster International AirportDonald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay receive hundreds of international flights daily. There are smaller airports in Negril and Ocho Rios, which can be accessed by smaller aircraft, such as Air Jamaica's shuttle and private and hired out aircraft.

By train

Jamaica has about 250 route miles of railroad, of which 77 is currently active to handle privately operated bauxite (aluminum ore) trains. Passenger and public freight service ceased in 1992, but increasing road congestion and poor highway conditions have caused the government to re-examine the commercial feasibility of rail operations.


By car

  • Jamaican roads are not renowned for their upkeep. Roads in and around major cities are generally overcongested, and rural roads can be dangerous, especially in inclement weather. Alert and courteous driving is advised at all times. There are very few north-south routes as well, so travel from the north to the south can involve treks on mountain roads. These trips can induce nausea in the more weak of stomach, so it is advisable that if you suffer from motion sickness to bring dramamine or similar medication. Roads can be very narrow, and be especially alert when going around bends.

Jamaica, as a former British colony, drives on the left. Make note of this when driving, especially when turning, crossing the street, and yielding right of way.

There are relatively few stoplights. These only are generally found in major city centers, such as Montego Bay, Kingston, and Ocho Rios.

Renting a car is easily done, and it is advised to go through a major international car rental company such as Hertz or Avis, but good Jamaican rental companies exist, such as Island Car Rental Do your research before renting and driving.


By bus

  • Once you arrive on the island by plane, you will travel by bus to your resort destination. Be prepared to offer a tip to the luggage handlers that load your luggage into the bus. The ride is much different than you are probably used to. Many resorts offer excursions by bus. Check with the resort's office that is in charge of planning day trips for more information.

By boat



  • Evelyn's in Whitehouse near Montego Bay - Far from palacial, very reasonable prices, right on the beach, and the food is heavenly!

  • Tryall Club Villas ( - Villas at the Tryall Club near Montego Bay.

Wide selection of luxury villas and charming cottages at Silver Sands, Duncans, Trelawny. On-line availability.


Get around

Don't be afraid to take Jamaican local buses. They are 10 times cheaper than tourist taxis. Don't let those taxi drivers rip you off.

Local taxis are an interesting way to get around and far cheaper than tourist taxis. They are often packed with people, but they are friendly folk and glad to have you with them. To get a local taxi, stand by the side of the road and draw a circle as you point at the ground. You'll be surprised how quickly you get one. It will just look like a local's car, which is precisely what it is.

A great friend, translator/Patois instructor and driver can be found working on the beaches frequented by tourists. They are professionals who assist tourists in enjoying the beach. They will get drinks and snacks from the snack bars; rent small and larger watercraft - glass bottom boat trips, jet-ski rentals etc.; set up parasailing adventures and many other diversions, and they will guard your gear for you while you swim.

They are polite, well-dressed, intelligent and kind; they are gentlemen. They know their island like the backs of their hands, and the best routes to take everywhere every time.

They know the local fishermen, and they will arrange snorkeling and/or scuba diving trips to places without crowds of fellow water-lovers. The only crowds one sees there are exotic, brightly-colored fish.

Such gentlemen will also know exactly where to shop to find anything you require, and at the best prices. They always know the fairest price for everything, including their own services.

A great way to enjoy a vacation in Jamaica is by renting a car (Island Car Rental is best) and allowing yourself to relax while your friend takes you through breathtaking countryside to various destinations.





Always stay up-to-date on the exchange rate and carry a calculator. It's easy to assume everything will be inexpensive when US$1 is the equivalent of JA$62.50 (9 Sept 05), but you'll want to avoid paying US$9 for a bottle of imported shampoo. Buy products made on the island. They are cheaper and you are supporting the local economy.

Prices are usually higher in tourist areas like Negril and Ocho Rios. Shops in "tourist traps" usually have higher prices than native ones, and you'll see the same items on offer in them.

Fruit and vegetables in Jamaica are glorious, gorgeous and inexpensive. Try the ones you've never had before so your palate can have a holiday too.



Jamaican food is a mixture of caribbean dishes with local dishes. Although Jamaican food gets a reputation for being spicy, local trends lean towards more versatile food variety. Some of the caribbean dishes that you'll see in other countries around the region are rice and beans (which is cooked with coconut milk) and patties (which are called empanadas in spanish speaking countries). The national dish is Ackee and saltfish, and MUST be tried by anyone visiting the island. It is made with the local fruit called Ackee, which looks like scrambled eggs, but has a unique taste of its own and dried codfish mixed with onions and tomatoes. You probably won't get a chance to try this food anywhere else, and if you really want to say that you did something uniquely Jamaican, then this is your chance. Another local food is called bammi, which was actually invented by the now extinct Arawak (Taino)Indians. It is a flat floury cake normally eaten during breakfast hours that kind of tastes like dried bread. There is also hard-dough bread, which comes as a solid loaf, so you must make your own slices. It is normally eaten raw, but I recommend toasting it, for when it is toasted, it tastes better than most bread you'll ever eat. If you are looking for dishes with more meat in them, you can try the jerk flavoured foods. The most popular is jerk chicken, although there is jerk beef and jerk pork. The jerk seasoning is a spicy seasoning that gets spread on the meat like barbeque sauce. Keep in mind that most Jamaicans eat their food well done, so expect the food to be a bit drier than you are accustomed to. There is also curry flavored foods such as curry chicken and curry goat (yes, I said goat) which are very popular in Jamaica. Of course, if you don't want to try the local food, you can be sure to find a McDonalds and KFC is every major city in Jamaica.



There are many drinks in Jamaica to be found. Standards such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola can be found, but if you want to drink local soda, you can try Champagne cola or grapefruit soda called "Ting" cola and also Ginger Beer a non alcoholic beverage made from ginger. The majority of soft drinks come in glass bottles, which are a novelty in the western (and especially North American) Hemisphere. If you are looking for something a bit "harder" you can try the local lager called Red Stripe (which is exported to many countries in the west, so there is a good chance you have already tasted it). Most beers can be found in Jamaican pubs and hotels. A local hard drink is Jamaican Rum, which is made from sugar cane. It normally tends to be overproof and drank with cola. DRINK WITH CAUTION! It's not designed for someone who is drinking for the first time. Since Jamaica is from a British heritage, the drinking laws are 18 and over, but they don't generally enforce it as strict as it would be in the Western countries (minus the ones with no drinking laws, of course). Don't come to Jamaica thinking you'll be able to drink whatever alcoholic drink you want; you'll be able to drink eventually!





Unemployment in Jamaica is at a high. The government does not invest in venture to turn over capital but instead sells government paper to banks and overseas financial entities at very high interest rate. In an effort, as they say, to balance the budget which the People National Party (P.N.P) has been trying to do some 16 years now a prominent member of the party describe this as been the most massive transfer of resources from the poor to the rich that has ever occurred in this country since the abolishment of slavery. A whole lot of people who should be gainfully employed in the work force are not as a result of government policies. The garment industry for example has seen a sharp decline over the years due to soaring interest rates. so now banks make money, not by lending money to potential investors, but by buying government paper so the unemployment in the country is as a direct result of government policies. Agriculture, manufacturing, and various other sectors are in a shambles causing many workers to find alternatives.


Stay safe

As in any foreign country, should any emergency situation arise, especially at the domestic level, it is advised to immediately contact your government's embassy or consulate. Governments usually advise travelers staying in the country for an extended period of time to notify their embassy or consulate so they can be contacted in the case of emergency.

Note that homosexuality is not generally considered acceptable in Jamaica, and will often lead to attacks and even murders in Jamaica. It is not a good idea to flaunt homosexuality in visible sight of locals. Do not display affection to people of the same sex in Jamaica if locals are near - Jamaica is not a country renowned for its tolerance for homosexuality.

Marijuana, although cheap, plentiful and powerful, is illegal on the island. Be discreet, have a trustworthy source, and remember it's liable to be much stronger than what you're used to.


Stay healthy

Medical facilities on the island are not always up to par with health care standards of your home country. Falling ill can sometimes result in major medical fees. Therefore, it is advised to buy travel insurance, as this will ensure piece of mind in emergency situations.

The water quality is generally good and safe to drink. However, Jamaicans generally boil their water, and it is likely best to follow the Jamaican people's example. Water service in rural areas can sometimes go out for several hours at a time.

This writer experienced great discomfort for close to a week after drinking Ocho Rios tap water, and so recommends drinking only boiled or bottled water.



The Jamaican people are a very generous and warm people. Returning this warmth and friendliness is a great way to show them you appreciate their country.

Chances are, you will be approached at one point or another during your travels in Jamaica for money. Do not feel pressured into giving money. A strong 'me allright' and walking away is usually the best advice for instances such as this. This also applies in the infamous straw markets. These people do this on or near a professional level. Do not feel that if you say no that this is a poor representation of yourself or your nation to the Jamaican people. These instances are generally scorned throughout the island. But it is to be expected, as there are many in the country who live in very poor financial condition. There is a trap one can be sucked into all too easily, since you never know when to give and when not to. It's very similar to being approached in any major city.

That being said, if you befriend or encounter one of the many wonderful Jamaican people and you wish to give a friendly gift, that is perfectly acceptable and welcome. Just exercise common sense when it comes to money.

Cultural respect is far more important. You are guests on their island. Respect the environment and the people. It is a simple rule of thumb that should always be applied when traveling abroad.




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