Jamaica Travel 101

Jamaica is a little slice of Caribbean heaven, so it's no wonder you want to travel there. But where to begin? Read on for our overview of when to go, where to stay, and what to do.
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Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay, Jamaica  (iStockphoto)

Nicknamed the Land of Wood and Water, Jamaica is a top Caribbean destination for sun and sand. But there's more beyond the beach. The island is made up largely of limestone, some of which has dissolved over time to create famous networks of underground rivers and caves. Because of these natural aquifers, the water is safe to drink. (We promise! Even cruise ships fill their drinking water here.) So whether you're planning a honeymoon or just a fun getaway, this primer on Jamaica travel will get you started.

When to Go
Jamaica’s high season is December 15th through April 15th, meaning that the weather is optimal but also that it's hard to find good deals. If you can, travel outside of peak season for hotel-room prices that are sliced in half. Locals say not to worry about hurricane season (and there's always travel insurance), but if you plan to visit in, say, the middle of June, realize that even though the temperatures are in the mid-80s, the humidity can be high. It's certainly not a reason to skip the great deals, and the ice-cold Red Stripe beers will help.

Areas of Jamaica
Many nice towns, such as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, are situated along the northern coast. Other tourist areas include Negril, Port Royal, and Kingston, Jamaica's capital and home to one million people. The only two airports on the island are in Kingston and Montego Bay, so if you're not staying in those cities, it can be a few hours’ drive to your destination.

Montego Bay: Montego Bay has everything from golf and water activities to shopping and nightlife. The North Coast Highway, near the Montego Bay airport, is called the "Elegant Corridor" in reference to the multitude of five-star resorts that line that section of road.

Ocho Rios: Ocho Rios, two hours east of Montego Bay, has the most attractions in one area. These include Mystic Mountain, Dunn's River Falls, and Dolphin Cove (see the next page for our rundown on the island's attractions).

Negril: Close to an hour and a half from the airport in Montego Bay, Negril lies on the far west end of the island. This area is laid back and known for its cliff diving and sunsets.

Kingston/Port Royal: Kingston is the seventh-largest natural port in the world, so this area is busy with large cruise ships and cargo ships.

Places to Stay
Jamaica’s largest industry is tourism, and it is most known for all-inclusive resorts and hotels, which means great deals can be found. Ask a handful of married couples, and you're sure to find at least one that had their honeymoon in Jamaica. Well-known couples' resorts include the Sandals properties and Half Moon Resort near Montego Bay. If you're looking for a more intimate experience where the staff will treat you like family, skip the big resorts and select a smaller inn or hotel like the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, where Marilyn Monroe honeymooned, or Round Hill Hotel and Villas, near Montego Bay, which were designed by Ralph Lauren. Check out our photo galleries of Jamaica Inn and Round Hill to get a taste of the sweet life.

Published: 25 Dec 2012 | Last Updated: 26 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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Best Hotels in Kingston

$159-$195
Average/night*
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#1
Spanish Court Hotel
$195
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#2
The Courtleigh Hotel and Suites
$145
Average/night*
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#3
The Knutsford Court Hotel
$300
Average/night*
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#4
Jamaica Pegasus Hotel

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