Jamaica

Highlights

  1. Kingston: Bob Marley Museum, Blue Mountains
  2. Negril: 7 Mile Beach, Scuba Diving
  3. Treasure Beach
  4. Ocho Rios
  5. Port Antonio
  6. Nine Mile
  7. YS Falls
  8. Dunn’s River Falls
Food & Drink

Jerk Chicken, Patty, Callaloo, Coco Bread, National Dish: Ackee & Saltfish, Jamaican Rum, especially Rum Cream

Captial: Kingston

Population: 2.89 million

Total Area: 10,991 sq km / 4,244 sq mi

Highest Point: Blue Mountain Peak (2,256 m / 7,402 ft)

Calling Code: +1-876

Motto: Out of Many, One People

Jamaican Dollar JMD

  • JMD 10 = 0.06 € = US$ 0.7
  • JMD 1,580.51 = 10 € = US$ 11.54
  • JMD 1,369.95 = 8.66 € = US$ 10

You can find ATMs easily, but they often charge high transaction fees or sometimes don’t work. Therefore, I preferred paying with credit card when possible.

If you buy something at the beach, the street or take a taxi you need cash. It’s ideal if you have an idea about the price before you buy something, so you won’t get ripped off. Since many vendors don’t have change it’s best to have the appropriate amount of money ready instead of big bills.

I was surprised by the prices in the supermarkets and stores. Some products were even more expensive than in Germany! This is due to the fact that not many things are produced on the island itself. And everything that is imported gets 16.5% tax on top. Because of these high costs, also the fruits, vegetables etc. from Jamaica are relatively expensive. This made me quite angry considering Jamaicans don’t make that much money. However, transportation and rent are cheaper than in Europe.

Official: English

National: Jamaican Patois (or Patwa)

Jamaica is considered a bilingual country because two major languages are used. English is the official language and is used in all parts of public life like the government, legal system, media, and education. However, Jamaican Patois is the primary spoken language. It’s an English-based creole language with influences from West Africa, which was developed in the 17th century.

Many words are similar or even the same as in English and with a somewhat simplified grammar. Since the pronunciation is very different, it was not easy to understand for me though. Most people spoke English (with an accent) to me, so I still didn’t fully comprehend it even after living on the island for three months. It sounds very melodic and poetic. Of course, it is used in many Reggae and Dancehall songs. So you probably already heard it. 😉

🚘 Taxi: Most taxis in Jamaica are so-called route taxis. They only go to certain areas, don’t leave their route and pick up and drop people off along the way. If you want to go from one area to another, it costs double or triple the price because they have to pay a fee for leaving their area. That’s why some visitors feel like they are being ripped off when they take a taxi all the way across the city. With the route taxis, it’s much cheaper, but you have to take two or even more different ones.

There are route taxis within a city and those that go from one city to another. For each route, there is a fixed price everyone has to pay. Make sure to find out beforehand how much it is so you don’t pay too much. 😉 Depending on how many people travel on a route, the taxis between cities can be everything between cars and buses. You can recognize them by their red license plates. But be careful: There are also private chartered taxis with red license plates! The only way to know the difference is by their cost. So make sure to only enter the taxi after you agreed upon a price.

There is no schedule for these taxis. Instead, they simply wait until there are enough people in a car or bus and then leave. I’ve seen cars fill up within minutes and then there were times when I waited for an hour. This is definitely the cheapest way to travel across the island, but you should make sure to bring time and patience.

For some reason, traveling on Sundays is not that easy. Since there are not many taxis, it takes even more time and can be more expensive. (Here you can read about my struggles traveling from Negril to Treasure Beach on a Sunday. >)

Example: Montego Bay to Negril, ca. 2 hours, two cars, JMD 480 (3 €/US$ 3.8) – 1. route taxi MoBay to Lucea for JMD 230, 2. route taxi to Negril JMD 250


🚍 Bus: There is also a bus company that connects many cities. It’s called Knutsford Express and is a more comfortable way of traveling because you can just stay in one bus the whole way. Especially on Sundays, I recommend taking the bus. 😉

Example: Kingston to Negril, ca. 5-hour drive, JMD 3100 (20 €/US$ 25)

Kingston and Montego Bay are Jamaica’s biggest cities and have some crime issues. Obviously, you should avoid the areas where gang violence and shootings are common. However, the smaller towns are much safer than the cities. I definitely prefer visiting those places, but am also happy to explore the cities, just with more precautions.

Most attacks on tourists are robberies. So don’t wear jewelry, an expensive watch or anything else that screams “I have money”. If you do, you are much more likely to become a target. Furthermore, take only what’s absolutely necessary and keep your valuables close to your body. In addition, I have two phones, one that often stays at home and an older phone that would be “ok” to be stolen. Nonetheless, make sure to only use it when necessary.

When walking, try to have a confident, upright posture and don’t show any fear or unease. A “victim posture”, as the name suggests, attracts criminals, not only in Jamaica. 😉 Moreover, be cautious and aware of the people around you. In the unfortunate event of a robbery, stay calm, never argue or fight the aggressor, and give them what they want. In most places, you should not walk around at night.

As a foreigner, and especially as a single woman, you will be approached by many Jamaicans who want to sell you something, just chat or tell you “it doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend if he’s not here”. If a nice “no, thanks” isn’t enough, I usually say it in again more angrily, keep walking and ignore that person. Moreover, don’t be fooled by some people who want to help you or offer you something to smoke. A lot of times, they expect money afterward.

If you take precautions and are prepared for a robbery, you have nothing to be scared of. So far, I traveled to Jamaica three times and stayed a total of four months with no problem!

🌐 General Info
Captial: Kingston

Population: 2.89 million

Total Area: 10,991 sq km / 4,244 sq mi

Highest Point: Blue Mountain Peak (2,256 m / 7,402 ft)

Calling Code: +1-876

Motto: Out of Many, One People

💰 Currency
Jamaican Dollar JMD

  • JMD 10 = 0.06 € = US$ 0.7
  • JMD 1,580.51 = 10 € = US$ 11.54
  • JMD 1,369.95 = 8.66 € = US$ 10

You can find ATMs easily, but they often charge high transaction fees or sometimes don’t work. Therefore, I preferred paying with credit card when possible.

If you buy something at the beach, the street or take a taxi you need cash. It’s ideal if you have an idea about the price before you buy something, so you won’t get ripped off. Since many vendors don’t have change it’s best to have the appropriate amount of money ready instead of big bills.

I was surprised by the prices in the supermarkets and stores. Some products were even more expensive than in Germany! This is due to the fact that not many things are produced on the island itself. And everything that is imported gets 16.5% tax on top. Because of these high costs, also the fruits, vegetables etc. from Jamaica are relatively expensive. This made me quite angry considering Jamaicans don’t make that much money. However, transportation and rent are cheaper than in Europe.

💬 Languages

Official: English

National: Jamaican Patois (or Patwa)

Jamaica is considered a bilingual country because two major languages are used. English is the official language and is used in all parts of public life like the government, legal system, media, and education. However, Jamaican Patois is the primary spoken language. It’s an English-based creole language with influences from West Africa, which was developed in the 17th century.

Many words are similar or even the same as in English and with a somewhat simplified grammar. Since the pronunciation is very different, it was not easy to understand for me though. Most people spoke English (with an accent) to me, so I still didn’t fully comprehend it even after living on the island for three months. It sounds very melodic and poetic. Of course, it is used in many Reggae and Dancehall songs. So you probably already heard it. 😉

🚘 Transport
Taxi: Most taxis in Jamaica are so-called route taxis. They only go to certain areas, don’t leave their route and pick up and drop people off along the way. If you want to go from one area to another, it costs double or triple the price because they have to pay a fee for leaving their area. That’s why some visitors feel like they are being ripped off when they take a taxi all the way across the city. With the route taxis, it’s much cheaper, but you have to take two or even more different ones.

There are route taxis within a city and those that go from one city to another. For each route, there is a fixed price everyone has to pay. Make sure to find out beforehand how much it is so you don’t pay too much. 😉 Depending on how many people travel on a route, the taxis between cities can be everything between cars and buses. You can recognize them by their red license plates. But be careful: There are also private chartered taxis with red license plates! The only way to know the difference is by their cost. So make sure to only enter the taxi after you agreed upon a price.

There is no schedule for these taxis. Instead, they simply wait until there are enough people in a car or bus and then leave. I’ve seen cars fill up within minutes and then there were times when I waited for an hour. This is definitely the cheapest way to travel across the island, but you should make sure to bring time and patience.

For some reason, traveling on Sundays is not that easy. Since there are not many taxis, it takes even more time and can be more expensive. (Here you can read about my struggles traveling from Negril to Treasure Beach on a Sunday. >)

Example: Montego Bay to Negril, ca. 2 hours, two cars, JMD 480 (3 €/US$ 3.8) – 1. route taxi MoBay to Lucea for JMD 230, 2. route taxi to Negril JMD 250


Bus: There is also a bus company that connects many cities. It’s called Knutsford Express and is a more comfortable way of traveling because you can just stay in one bus the whole way. Especially on Sundays, I recommend taking the bus. 😉

Example: Kingston to Negril, ca. 5 hour drive, JMD 3100 (20 €/US$ 25)

🔒 Security
Kingston and Montego Bay are Jamaica’s biggest cities and have some crime issues. Obviously, you should avoid the areas where gang violence and shootings are common. However, the smaller towns are much safer than the cities. I definitely prefer visiting those places, but am also happy to explore the cities, just with more precautions.

Most attacks on tourists are robberies. So don’t wear jewelry, an expensive watch or anything else that screams “I have money”. If you do, you are much more likely to become a target. Furthermore, take only what’s absolutely necessary and keep your valuables close to your body. In addition, I have two phones, one that often stays at home and an older phone that would be “ok” to be stolen. Nonetheless, make sure to only use it when necessary.

When walking, try to have a confident, upright posture and don’t show any fear or unease. A “victim posture”, as the name suggests, attracts criminals, not only in Jamaica. 😉 Moreover, be cautious and aware of the people around you. In the unfortunate event of a robbery, stay calm, never argue or fight the aggressor, and give them what they want. In most places, you should not walk around at night.

As a foreigner, and especially as a single woman, you will be approached by many Jamaicans who want to sell you something, just chat or tell you “it doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend if he’s not here”. If a nice “no, thanks” isn’t enough, I usually say it in again more angrily, keep walking and ignore that person. Moreover, don’t be fooled by some people who want to help you or offer you something to smoke. A lot of times, they expect money afterward.

If you take precautions and are prepared for a robbery, you have nothing to be scared of. So far, I traveled to Jamaica three times and stayed a total of four months with no problem!

😍 Highlights
  • Kingston: Bob Marley Museum, Blue Mountains
  • Negril: 7 Mile Beach, Scuba Diving
  • Treasure Beach
  • Ocho Rios
  • Port Antonio
  • Nine Mile
  • YS Falls
  • Dunn’s River Falls
Food & Drink

Places I visited from December 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018

Blonde rasta girl with coconut at beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay >

The first and last stop of my journey in Jamaica.
Rasta girl at Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Negril >

I stayed there for 2.5 months, found a job and met many nice people.
Rasta girl in ganja field near Negril, Jamaica

Blue Hole >

A short drive from Negril, this place had not only healthy water, but also ganja fields.
Rasta girl at Lovers Leap overlooking ocean in Southfield, Jamaica

Treasure Beach & Lovers Leap >

A peaceful beach, and an amazing panoramic view.
German dreadlock girl with Rastafarians smoking ganja in Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston >

I went to Jamaica's capital to feel its vibes, retrace Bob Marley's footsteps and visit the Blue Mountains.
Rasta girl scuba diving in Negril, West End, Jamaica

Scuba Diving >

In total I did 20 dives and learned a lot about the Jamaican underwater world.

Airbnb

I stayed in many cool Airbnb places in Jamaica. Would you like to try it as well? Perfect! If you sign up through the link below, you get a $35 travel credit!

Or learn more about Airbnb and my experiences here >
.
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