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  • Writer's pictureGemz

GUIDE TO JAMAICA

Jamaica is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean and with good reason. I'm sure you have heard of the Jamaican ethos “don’t worry, be happy”. Jamaica is famous for it's jerk seasoning, stunning beaches and with some of the best resorts in the Caribbean, Jamaica is an island that should be on everybody's bucket list.


There’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise, whether you love adventures outdoors, you are with your extended family or you are a couple looking for some high-end pampering, you are sure to find it here.


No matter what kind of traveller you are, we’ve got you covered with the definitive guide to Jamaica





What Does It Look Like?


From pristine white sand beaches, thick, vine-filled jungles and soaring mountains to beautiful sunsets, rugged cliffs and vibrant cities: Jamaica has it all.


There are four main areas which most tourists visit: Kingston, the capital city; Ocho Rios, a garden paradise full of resorts; Negril, a laid-back, somewhat hedonistic beach town; and Montego Bay, a busy commercial hub full of shopping and restaurants.


Each region has its own personality which I have broken down for you.


Kingston Kingston the capital city, is not a typical tourist destination. This is due to the high crime rates. Uptown is safer than downtown, though it is not recommended going out at night, even in the safer parts of town. It is, however, home to one of three airports on the island, and if you’re going to stay on the east side of the island, chances are you will fly into the capital.





Montego Bay The busiest tourist destination on the island, Montego Bay (or Mobay), is packed full of high-end and family-friendly resorts as well as shopping, world-class food and drink and plenty of activities. It is also very close to an airport and one of the most popular ports for cruises.





Negril Negril is a smaller town on the far west side of the island, best known for its laid back atmosphere during the day and wild nightlife. This town is great for bachelor and bachelorette parties, couples who enjoy going out and group holidays without the kids.







Ocho Rios Ocho Rios, on the north side of the island towards the east, is close to a lush paradise full of waterfalls, including the famous Dunn’s River Waterfall, a lush spring surrounded by thickets of jungle flora. This town is great for those who enjoy participating in outdoor experiences and interior explorations but it’s a heavily developed tourist town there is no escaping that fact, so if you don’t like being surrounded by high rises, I'd recommend skipping this one.





When to Go


There’s not really a bad time to go to Jamaica, its a beautiful place with loads to do but I would avoid the height of hurricane season (August to November).


High Season vs. Low Season Winter in Jamaica is what most people consider the best time to visit, and with good reason. While most of us are suffering through freezing weather, snowstorms and 4p.m. sunsets, Jamaica boasts average lows from 69 to 71 degrees and highs from 80 to 83 degrees.


Based on flight numbers and booking numbers, Jamaica’s high season is mid-December to mid-April. If you want to go during this time, make sure to book at least two to three months in advance and be prepared to pay more for flights, accommodation, tours, and everything else too.


If you’re adamant on visiting during winter, you can avoid the worst of high season price mark-ups by booking as early as mid-November.


If You Like It Hot If you want to save money and don’t mind the Caribbean heat, July and August both average highs of 88-89 degrees and very low precipitation, which means plenty of sunny skies and beach days.





Avoid October (End of May and June) October is the worst month to visit Jamaica. Not only is it peak hurricane season, October averages 6.54 inches of precipitation, meaning there’s a high likelihood of getting caught in a storm while you’re there.


June is almost equally as dicey: with highs in the upper 80s (almost 88 degrees on average!) and 4.8 inches of precipitation, that is a recipe for a rained out holiday.


MAKING LATE MAY/ EARLY JUNE THE CHEAPEST TIMES TO VISIT





Getting There


There are three airports: Norman Manley International in Kingston, Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, and Ian Fleming International in Ocho Rios. You’ll very likely fly into Kingston or Mobay, as the Ocho Rios airport is very small, largely serving other Caribbean destinations, and as a result, is rather expensive to fly into.


You can also get to Jamaica by one of their three busy seaports: Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, or Falmouth, which is the newest port on the island. Thanks to its popularity, Jamaica is served by all major cruise lines - You can book your cruise with Master Travel and Events or you can contact us to discuss your requirements


If you’re looking to arrive in style, you could even charter a private yacht, where you could either make port at one of three secure marinas or drop anchor anywhere along the 350 miles of coastline.




Most resorts will have pick-up and drop-off service for people flying into and out of the country.


If you’re into a more DIY trip, try renting a car . We recommend using Flexibleautos.com for the best price but as they are trade only, please contact Master Travel and Events. Your agent will be able to give you some guidance as the roads can be pretty rough. Make sure you don’t leave any belongings visible, and do some research before you go!!


Where to Stay


Where you stay will largely depend on what you want to do, what kind of group you’re travelling with and your budget.


Friend Groups


If you’re looking to host a bachelor or bachelorette party opt for the pool parties and live music offered by Breathless. This all-inclusive has an events calendar packed to the gills with theme parties, reggae nights, DJs, and more.


You can book Montego bay hotels by contacting Master Travel and Events here


For those who prefer a little more quiet to the typical night club atmosphere of Jamaican singles resorts, this is for you. With treehouse-style rooms on the grounds and some of the best hikes on the island close by, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise—until you’re ready to hit the town, that is. Negril, after all, is ground zero for Jamaican nightlife.


You can book Negril hotels by contacting Master Travel and Events here


Families


This all-inclusive is close to Mobay airport is any travel-loving family's dream. Always-on-call concierges will help you with every need you may have and you can book tours here, to avoid the worry of the logistic of the Island You can also spend ample time splashing around in the pool and dancing at one of their many shows.


A sprawling beachfront resort, the Grand Palladium is perfect for active families. Check out the daily activities they host at the pool, where you can splash around without worrying about getting in anyone's way. Or maybe volleyball is more your style? If that doesn't suit your family's fancy, there's always ping pong and pool at the on-grounds sports bar. Or, heck, catch a nightly show. If your kids are more grown up, there's even a disco where you can dance the night away.


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here


Luxury Seekers


Goldeneye Hotel & Resort, Oracabessa Located on the estate of Ian Fleming, the very same who conjured James Bond, Goldeneye is a historic slice of private paradise dotted with individual oceanfront cottages and overwater villas. You can take your villa’s private kayak and explore the lagoon. Feel free to wander over to one of the best spas on the island and get the A-list treatment. Or, heck, why not treat yourself to world-class Caribbean cuisine while watching the sunset from the gazebo grounds?


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here



Half Moon Resort, Montego Bay The only four-star accommodation on the island, Half Moon does everything in style. Treat yourself to spa treatments, spend the afternoon working on your handicap at its 18-hole golf course, ride horses on a private beach, work on your backhand, and so much more. Stay in a traditional hotel room or rent a private villa, all of which are staffed with a personal cook, butler, and housekeeper.


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here


Hideaway at Royalton, Negril An adults-only, all-inclusive resort, this extraordinary oasis will make you feel like you’re the only people in the world. Offering 24-hour room service, premium drinks, exclusive use of an infinity pool, beachfront massages, and so much more, the luxurious touches you’ll find at the Hideaway will give you a reason to lose your passport.


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here


Zoetry, Montego Bay

The word "serene" comes to mind when trying to describe this quiet, upscale resort in the Rose Hall neighbourhood of Mobay. With their Endless Privileges service, you can enjoy a well-appointed suite, personal concierge services, high-end food and drink, and even a complimentary trip to their world-class spa.


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here


Lower Budget Package Stays


For those looking for a splash of luxury but at the CHEAPER end of the scale - we recommend RIU Hotels. Perfect for those with a lower budget.


You can book this hotel by contacting Master Travel and Events here


What to Do


Jamaica is your activity-filled oyster. Crack it open and enjoy.


Outdoor adventures


If you’re looking to get rugged while exploring the land of wood and water, you’re in luck. Whether you want to swim in fresh water or hike to the top of a mountain, no matter where on the island you stay, you can do all this and more.


Blue Mountains: Jungle hikes, coffee plantations, and more. The island’s highest peaks change drastically from sea level to fog-covered summits, but be prepared with plenty of DEET and water—it’s very muggy in the interior. Book a coffee tour or even a mountain biking tour to see the best of the mountains.


Waterfalls: Of course, Dunn’s River Waterfall is the waterfall to which all other falls answer in Jamaica, with its spectacular pools and easily accessible location. That doesn’t mean it’s the only falls you can or should visit. Forty miles east of Negril, for example, is Steven’s Aqua Nature Park, which boasts refreshing, cool fresh water swimming and even a small waterfall.


Bioluminescent Bay: Feel like having an otherworldly experience? Visit Luminous Lagoon, near Falmouth, to swim in glowing waters at night.


Rest & Relaxation at a Spa Jamaica is home to no shortage of world-class spas, whether day spas or resorts. Most of the island’s best spas are in the northwest, near Mobay and Negril, so keep that in mind when booking your accommodations.


Located on the cliffs of Negril, this award-winning spa offers everything from deep tissue massage to facials and even chakra realignment. Whether you’re flying solo or you and your significant other want a relaxing rub-down at sunset, Tanya’s offers a peaceful atmosphere and regularly receives rave reviews.


Strawberry Hill Field Spa: Located in the heart of the Blue Mountains, this hotel spa takes luxury and relaxation to a whole new level. They have an extensive menu of massages, body and face treatments, and even activities like yoga and guided hikes.


Watersports

Snorkeling, diving and kayaking....

Any resort worth the land on which they reside will offer watersports on their beachfront properties. If you want to really go above and beyond walking out to your resort’s beachfront, you can book a tour with any number of tour operators on the island, and in fact, you can even turn to your travel advisor to pick the best operator for your budget and interests.


Markets Fresh tropical fruits, cute handmade tchotchkes, carefully curated local crafts, coffee, ginger candy. The delights of Jamaica are yours for the taking (purchasing!!) If you visit any market like the Ocho Rios Craft Market.


Dancing Dancehall music was invented in Jamaica, so of course you should go out on the town and dance the night away. Literally. Jamaica is home to no shortage of bars and clubs that stay open ‘til sunrise.


What to Eat and Drink


Whatever you do, do not skip the fresh fruit and fish at your local market.

Looking for the best dang jerk chicken? That depends on who you ask. Most will tell you to scour the streets of Negril and pick the cart with the longest lunch line. That will definitely help. If you’re slightly less adventurous and want a true blue restaurant rec, try Scotchies Drax Hall just outside of Ocho Ríos or Peppers Jerk Center in Falmouth.


For flights, accommodations and activities, throughout Jamaica, visit Master Travel and Events or contact us.

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