One thing you should consider for your holiday plans is traveling to Jamaica and if your are in Miami, we have provided you with the ultimate travel guide.
Jamaica, an Island in the Caribbean has an economy heavily dependent on tourism; it has an average of 4.3 million tourists a year with half of its income coming from services such as tourism. So a lot has been invested into the tourism sector and you’ll be sure to have a good time should you decide to travel there. The best time to go to Jamaica is November until mid-December, when resort and flight deals are great and peak season hasn’t arrived yet. If you don’t mind the crowds, your best bet is to visit Jamaica from mid-December until April, when the weather is optimal for a beach vacation.
There are a few things you should know if you’re considering traveling to Jamaica. Jamaica is regarded as a bilingual country, with two major languages in use by the population. The official language is English, however, the primary spoken language is an English-based creole called Jamaican Patois (or Patwa). Christianity is the largest religion practiced in Jamaica. About 70% are Protestants.
The musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, and, more recently, dancehall and ragga all originated in the island’s vibrant, popular recording industry. The island is famous for its Jamaican jerk spice, curries, and rice and peas, which is integral to Jamaican cuisine. Jamaica is also home of Red Stripe beer and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
The transport infrastructure in Jamaica consists of roadways, railways and air transport, with roadways forming the backbone of the island’s internal transport system. There are three international airports in Jamaica with modern terminals, long runways, and the navigational equipment required to accommodate the large jet aircraft used in modern and air travel.
If you are in Miami, you should really consider vacationing in Jamaica. Traveling to Jamaica is made easy with two major airport hubs, an airport for smaller aircrafts, and as many major cruise ship ports here on the island. With so many convenient access points, arriving close to your preferred location is a breeze.
Choosing that preferred location may be a bit harder of a task. There are six distinct resort areas in Jamaica that are each vying for your attention. They’re all unique locations with standout attractions and distinguishing energy. You can opt to stay in the middle of a lively city, find a far-flung location that’s a soothing sight for sore eyes, or pick a spot somewhere in the middle so you get to see it all.
You might drum up lots of questions when you start to plan traveling to Jamaica. We’ve got some specific Jamaican vacation tips you’ll want to know before you go. So we have come up with a guide that will ease your travel plans, from places you can stay, things you can do, upcoming events, and travel requirements.
If your Caribbean vacation involves Jamaica travel, first you need to determine what area of Jamaica is the best to visit. When choosing the best places to stay in Jamaica, all-inclusive resorts will be at the top of the list, as Jamaica is known for all-inclusive resorts like Sandals and Secrets resorts.
Here are a few places you should visit if you’re traveling to Jamaica:
1. Montego Bay
Montego Bay is often considered the best place to stay in Jamaica. It is the second largest city in Jamaica, and the airport has several direct flights from the United States. Montego Bay is also one of the main cruise ship ports in Jamaica. If you want a little bit of urban adventure to mix in with your beach explorations, Montego Bay is the best city to stay in Jamaica as it has a nice mix of both.
While there aren’t as many serene sandy beaches in the Montego Bay area, many say it’s the best part of Jamaica for snorkeling. You’ll find a wider variety of Jamaica resorts here, too, if you are looking for budget or mid-range options. Montego Bay has the largest concentration of adults-only all-inclusive resorts, so it could be considered the best place to stay in Jamaica for couples, too.
Affordable luxury hotels to stay in Montego Bay
- Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa
- Secrets St. James Montego Bay
- Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay
- Sandals Montego Bay
- Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island
- Silent Waters Villa
Best things to do in Montego Bay
- Croydon Plantation
Croydon Plantation is a working farm nestled in the foothills of the Catadupa Mountains in Montego Bay. One can sample a variety of pineapples, citrus fruits and other exotic fruits while enjoying a breathtaking, panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
- Rose Hall
Rose Hall is a very impressive Georgian mansion that sits on the hillside of Montego Bay. The popular Jamaican Great House offers visitors the opportunity to see the beautiful interior of the house, as well as learn about the history of the plantation on their tour. If you want a different experience, do the night bewitched tour which focuses on the legend of the “white witch”, Annie Palmer who murdered her three husbands.
- Gloucester Avenue (Hip Strip)
Take a stroll down Montego Bay’s most hip and trendy street lined with cafes, art galleries, souvenir shops and more. Some popular places along the strip are Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Doctor’s Cave Beach.
- Reggae SumFest
Reggae Sumfest is a week-long festival held in mid-July where big-time Jamaican reggae artists come to perform.
- Aquasol Beach Park
Aquasol Beach Park, which is along the hip strip in Montego Bay, is a great attraction to visit with the entire family. The theme park has a wide selection of water activities, a go-kart racing track, a kid’s snack bar, sports bar and of course the beach.
- Indigenous Rastafarian Village
Learn about the Rastafarian way of life by visiting the Indigenous Rastafarian Village just outside of Montego Bay. The guided tour takes visitors throughout the village including the village kitchen where one can learn about the Ital diet and different vegetables, as well as the herb library where guests can learn about the medicinal benefits of plants. The tours always end with a traditional drum and chanting session.
Explore various things you can do in Montego Bay in this vidoe.
Another very popular Jamaica resort area is Negril, Jamaica. A newer resort area, Negril is best known for Seven Mile Beach, one of the best beaches in the world. At night, Seven Mile Beach becomes one of the best party beaches in Jamaica, making Negril a top choice of where to stay in Jamaica for singles.
If all-inclusive resorts aren’t your style, there are many options in Negril, including beach cottages and bungalows. The town itself is small and laid-back, with enough entertainment to keep you occupied without the chaos of larger cities in Jamaica. For the nice mix of culture and beaches, Negril is the best place to stay in Jamaica for first-time visitors.
Affordable Luxury Hotels to stay in Negril
- Villas Sur Mer
- The Caves
- The Cliff Hotel
- Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa
- Azul Beach Resort Negril by Karisma
- Royalton Negril
Best things to do in Negril
- Seven Mile Beach
Negril’s Seven Mile Beach is Jamaica’s most popular beach. It boasts miles of white sand, only to be interrupted by the turquoise blue water. Even though Seven Mile Beach is crowded, populated with vendors, and spoiled with shops, hotels, and bars, the majestic blue water and white sand are truly a must-see in Jamaica.
- Royal Palm Reserve
The 300-acre Royal Palm Reserve is home to 300 animal species and 114 plant species, including the Morass Royal Palms which can only be found in western Jamaica. Visitors can walk the mile long boardwalk through the forest or climb the 40-foot observation tower for a great view of the Silver Spring Mountains. Either way, this is a great thing to do if you want to break away from the addictive Seven Mile Beach in Negril for a few hours.
- Booby Cay
This small island, named after the booby birds, is a great getaway from the chaos of Negril, as it’s only a short boat ride away. The most popular things to do on the island are snorkeling, sunbathing, and picnicking, but there are many other things to do if those don’t tickle your fancy 🙂 Be sure to eat a fresh grilled lobster or fish from one of the local vendors while you’re there.
- Rick’s Cafe
Grab a drink or a meal at the popular cliff-side bar, Rick’s Cafe. The cliff-hanging cafe is a popular spot in Negril to watch courageous people jump off of the 35-foot cliff into the turquoise blue waters below. For a real treat, visit while the sun is setting or at nightfall when it’s not crowded and you can enjoy a drink while listening to the waves crash on the rocks.
- Mayfield Falls
This hidden waterfall has 9 natural jacuzzis and a series of 21 small, spaced out cascades. The “Washing Machine” is the tallest of these falls, at about three meters. The beautiful mountain drive to the falls, and the lack of huge tourist crowds makes Mayfield Falls a nice alternative to Dunn’s River Falls.
3. Ocho Rios
A popular cruise ship stop along Jamaica’s northern coast is Ocho Rios. This is where you’ll find the famous Dunn’s River Falls, one of the most photographed spots in Jamaica. Ocho Rios is probably the best part of Jamaica to visit if you are looking for some outdoor adventures beyond the ocean, or if you are looking for reasonable accommodations.
Ocho Rios has everything from luxury all-inclusive resorts to budget beach hotels. In addition to jungle hikes and waterfalls, Ocho Rios has some excellent beaches, too, like James Bond Beach, famous from the 007 books and movies.
Affordable Luxury Hotels to stay in Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
- Sandals Royal Plantation
- Jamaica Inn
- Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club
- Whispering Seas Jamaica
Best things to do in Ocho Rios
- Dunn’s River Falls
Dunn’s River is by far one of Jamaica’s most popular attractions. Visitors get the opportunity to climb the breathtaking waterfall that cascades directly into the ocean. After climbing the falls you can relax and soak up the sun at the beach.
- Shaw Park Garden
Situated high up in the hills of Ocho Rios, this 25-acre lush botanical garden is a great attraction for nature lovers and families. Stroll through the garden, take in nature’s beauty, get a spectacular view over Ocho Rios and admire the beautiful waterfall surrounded by tropical flowers and other plants unique to Jamaica.
- Coyaba Gardens
The Coyaba Garden, located in Ocho Rios, offers visitors an array of activities in just one location. Stroll through the botanical gardens, climb the smaller and less touristy Mahoe Falls for a great view over Ocho Rios and the Caribbean Sea or see some Taino artifacts at the Arawak Museum.
- Green Grotto Caves
Take a journey through the 12-meter deep limestone caves to explore an underground lake and see majestic stalactites and stalagmites, bats and other exquisite dripstone formations.
- Bob Marley Mausoleum
Bob Marley fan? Visit the birthplace and final resting place of the reggae legend. In the small village of Nine Miles you’ll learn more about his home and childhood. The small museum is run by Bob Marley’s family.
- Harmony Hall
Harmony Hall is one of the most recognized arts and crafts galleries in Jamaica, with international recognition. Here, art lovers get to admire paintings, sculptures, and ceramics created by some of Jamaica’s finest artists.
4. Runaway Bay
Wondering where to stay in Jamaica with Family? Runaway Bay is just ten miles from Ocho Rios along the northern coast of Jamaica. The area grew up around the Cardiff Hall Estate, an 18th century plantation house. The name Runaway Bay comes from the fact that it was once an escape route for runaway slaves.
Protected by a huge coral reef, Runaway Bay is one of the most beautiful areas of Jamaica, with the green grotto caves becoming a popular tourist destination to explore. This is also where you can visit Bob Marley’s childhood home. Runaway Bay has the perfect mix of quiet, laid-back beaches with just enough alternative attractions to pull you from your lounge occasionally.
Affordable Luxury Hotels to stay in Runaway Bay
Best things to do in Runaway Bay
- Green Grotto Caves
A good choice for rainy days, these caves offer 45-minute guided tours that include a look at a subterranean lake. The cave has a long history as a hiding place for everyone from fearsome pirates to runaway slaves to the Spanish governor (he was on the run from the British at the time). It’s a good destination if you want to see one of Jamaica’s caves without going too far off the beaten path. You’ll feel like a spelunker, since you must wear a hard hat throughout the tour.
- Puerto Seco Beach
This public beach looks out on Discovery Bay, the location where, according to tradition, Christopher Columbus first came ashore on this island. The explorer sailed in search of freshwater but found none, naming the stretch of sand Puerto Seco, or “dry port.” Today the beach is anything but dry; concession stands sell Red Stripe beer and local food, including jerk and patties, to a primarily local beach crowd. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.
Wondering where the best place to stay in Jamaica is? Kingston is the capital of Jamaica, and the largest city on the island. If you are looking for a cultural experience and to interact with more locals than resort staff, then consider staying in Kingston. Kingston has several museums, including the Bob Marley museum, plus historic mansions and the largest botanical garden in the Caribbean.
Take a ride on the double decker bus, or hop a ferry over to Wolfe Island. There’s also a farmer’s market and several excellent restaurants in Kingston. No matter where you stay in Jamaica, adding a few days in Kingston will give you a better sense of Jamaican culture.
Affordable Luxury Hotels stay in Kingston
Best things to do in Kingston
- Emancipation Park
Emancipation Park offers a very peaceful, relaxing and green oasis alternative to the very busy and bustling Kingston. Relax under the palm trees, have a picnic with friends, jog around the 500m track or admire the beautiful 11-foot sculpture in the entrance of the park, which symbolizes Jamaica’s emancipation from slavery.
- Blue Mountains & John Crow Mountains National Park
Jamaica’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blue Mountains, is unspoiled and a preserve paradise for nature lovers offering drop-dead gorgeous mountain vistas, hiking trails, waterfalls, and exotic plants and animals. This 200,000-acre tropical rainforest is home to over 200 birds, 800 species of endemic plants, and the home of the famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Popular things to do here are hiking up to the highest peak (7,402 feet) of Jamaica to watch the sunrise and a tour of a coffee plantation.
- Bob Marley Museum
Get an insight into Bob Marley’s life as you explore his Kingston home and recording studio. Walk through his bedroom to see his favorite guitar, or check out the room filled with media clippings of his final tour and so much more.
- Paint Jamaica
Head over to Fleet Street in Kingston to witness how street art is not only transforming abandoned buildings and street corners to exhilarating and vibrant murals, but also bringing life and hope back to their community. Once you are done, head across the street to Life Yard, the first sustainable garden in the area to have a delicious farm-to-table meal cooked by young Rastafarian community members.
- Coronation Market
Coronation Market, which is located in the heart of Kingston, is what we like to consider the essence of the real Jamaica! The market has everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes and electronics. If you are not in the buying mood, you can always just stuff your face with some delicious street food or bask in the unique and crazy ambiance that is Coronation Market. The best day to visit the market is Saturday.
- Devon House Mansion
This national heritage site in Kingston was the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire,
George Stiebel. Today, the residence is a museum open for public tours and private events, such as weddings. The other buildings on the property host several shops, including the popular Devon I Scream shop where one can cool off with a nice, tropical flavored ice cream.
- Hellshire Beach (Fisherman’s Beach)
Also known as Fisherman’s Beach, Hellshire Beach is a popular weekend getaway for Kingstonians to lay back and relax while eating at some of the best fish restaurants in Jamaica. If you are looking for an authentic local beach and good fried fish you must put this on your “things to do in Jamaica” list.
- Liberty Hall
Learn and appreciate the works of the founder of Pan-Africanism and Jamaica’s national hero, Marcus Garvey, at this multimedia museum.
- Hope Gardens
Hope Gardens is the largest public green space in Kingston, occupying 200 acres of land. This oasis of tranquility is home to a collection of endemic and exotic botanical collections, a forest garden, an ornamental pond, a cactus garden, an orchid house and so much more.
6. Port Antonio
With so many Caribbean cruises and all inclusive resorts, it might seem difficult to find a spot in Jamaica that’s off the beaten path. Surprisingly, Port Antonio has largely managed to stay off the tourism radar, despite being featured in Hollywood movies like Cocktail and Club Paradise. If you want to get away from the crowds of tourists, and have a nice little chill beach town, Port Antonio is your best place to stay in Jamaica.
Affordable Luxury Hotels to stay in Port Antonio
Best things to do in Port Antonio
- Blue Lagoon
Take a dip in the 200-feet deep natural emerald lagoon in Portland that not only changes color during the day, but also gives visitors a unique swimming experience with constant changes of temperature due to the mix of warm Caribbean water and cold water from the underground streams. You might also recognize this attraction, as it was the lagoon featured in Brooke Shields’ movie, “The Blue Lagoon”.
- Village of St. George
Located in Port Antonio, Village of St. George is said to be the most unique shopping mall in Jamaica. Built as a tribute to European architecture, its interior and exterior feature sections of Georgian, Gothic, Tudor and Art Deco architectural styles.
- Rio Grande
Go bamboo rafting where it all started, on the Rio Grande. Previously, locals used the raft to transport bananas from the plantations to the harbor in Port Antonio. Today, one can take a 2-3 hour leisurely float down the river, with stops along the way to grab something to eat or to jump into the river for a swim.
- Reach Falls
The cool, refreshing and crystal clear falls nestled in the lush tropical forest of the John Crow Mountains is a breath of fresh air compared to the crowded and touristy Dunn’s River and YS Falls. Swim in the sparkling turquoise water pool caused by the 22-foot cascade of the Driver’s River, explore the underwater cave, or trek upstream the Driver’s River.
- Winnifred Beach
Spend the day relaxing on the beach and hanging out with locals at one of Jamaica’s most authentic and local beaches! Be sure to grab a delicious Jamaican dish from Cynthia’s Restaurant!
- Navy Island
Navy Island, located just half a mile from Errol Flynn Marina once owned by the famous actor Errol Flynn, is now an unspoiled island densely covered in vegetation. Here you can find a few hiking trails, the ruins of an old hotel and deserted beaches.
- Boston Bay (Boston Beach)
No trip to Jamaica is complete without a visit to the birthplace of jerk! Head over to Boston Bay to eat authentic jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish and so much more. After stuffing your face with jerk meat, head over to Boston Beach for a swim or go surfing.
7. Treasure Beach
Another hidden gem of Jamaica is Treasure Beach, which encompasses several small fishing villages along the southern coast of Jamaica. Treasure Beach is home to artists and poets, with no all-inclusive resorts in sight. If you choose to stay in Treasure Beach, you’ll only have smaller hotels or guest homes to choose from. If you are looking for an authentic Jamaican vibe without the crowds of tourists, or chaos of the cities in Jamaica, then Treasure Beach is the spot for you.
Hotels to stay in Treasure Beach
Best things to do in Treasure Beach
- Appleton Estate Rum Tour
Take an interactive and informative tour of how Jamaica’s most popular rum, Appleton Estate Rum, is made. Of course, you also get to sample a wide variety of rums, raw sugar cane, and rum creams.
- Pondside Lake (Wally Wash Pond)
Wally Wash Pond, as known by locals, is Jamaica’s largest freshwater lake, located about six miles from Black River. The morass surrounding the lake is home to a variety of birds and fishes. Wally Wash is not yet popular among tourists as it’s not the easiest attraction to get to.
- YS Falls
The YS Estate offers visitors not only a beautiful seven-tiered cascading waterfall surrounded by the lush jungle, but also a wading pool fed by underground springs, canopy rides, beautiful views and river tubing. It’s easy to spend all day here if you’re looking for things to do in Jamaica with great views and lots of activities.
- Treasure Beach
Treasure Beach is not a beach. Rather, it’s the name of an unspoiled, sleepy fishing village in the south of Jamaica. The village is home to four beaches – Frenchman’s Bay, Calabash Bay, Billy’s Bay and Great Pedro Bay. Unlike the popular beaches in Jamaica, these black sand beaches are practically deserted and are truly a place to lay back and relax.
- Lovers’ Leap
The beautiful area east of Treasure Beach, known as Lovers’ Leap, is a 1700-foot cliff overlooking the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. If you don’t want to just admire the beautiful surroundings, you can take the 3-hour hike down the cliff to Cutlass Bay and enjoy the beach. Legend has it that two enslaved lovers jumped to their death together to escape being separated from each other.
- Black River
Take a boat safari through Jamaica’s largest freshwater wetland on the south coast of Jamaica. The 33-mile long wetland is a great place to spot various species of birds, learn about a variety of plants including mangroves and of course, see crocodiles.
- Pelican Bar
Located half a mile off the coast of Treasure Beach, Pelican Bar is a rustic, wooden bar built in the middle of the ocean. Here you can literally spend the entire day doing absolutely nothing besides drinking a few cold ones, sunbathing, and swimming in the shallow waters. If you make it to the south coast of Jamaica, you don’t want to miss visiting Jamaica’s most unique bar.
- Bamboo Avenue
Take a drive along the two and a half mile stretch of road lined with giant bamboo plants forming a shady tunnel known as the Bamboo Avenue. Bamboo Avenue is located in the Holland area of St. Elizabeth
Upcoming events in Jamaica
Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (November 17 -19): is a three-day tournament involving eight (8) college basketball teams from the United States in fierce competition. A winner will be crowned at the end of the three days of the competition.
This is set to be a fixture on the Jamaican calendar and an excellent opportunity for you to come to Jamaica and support your favorite college team!
Telephone – 336-306-6454
Reggae Marathon Negril (December 1-2) – this is a premier International Marathon that features participants worldwide. In addition to the Marathon, there is a Half Marathon and a 10K to facilitate a broader cross-section of participants. The two-day event includes an exciting party and displays of running-related art and craft products.
Traveling from Miami to Jamaica
Visa and Passport Requirement
US citizens enjoy visa-free travel to Jamaica for 90 days. However, US citizens are still required to provide some travel documents such as
- Valid passport
- Hotel itinerary
- Flight itinerary
- Travel insurance
A passport is always required for international aviation travel. As a result, individuals and minors flying to Jamaica must have a valid passport book. Furthermore, while there is no requirement for a tourist visa to visit Jamaica for up to 90 days, you must have confirmation of return. This can be a return ticket or a flight schedule that must be presented to immigration officers.
Covid 19 Requirement
The Jamaican Government lifted the travel restrictions on April 16,2022. Therefore, you do not have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. However, although you are not required to be vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to be vaccinated before traveling internationally.
Please make sure that you complete the immigration/customs C5 card online. This is just to ensure faster processing when arriving at the border. Alternatively, you can complete the form in-flight if you haven’t done so before departing from the US.
US citizens returning to the US from Jamaica do not have to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or proof of recovery. This is because the CDC lifted the entry requirements for US citizens returning to the US on the 12th of June, 2022.
Visit Caribbean latest travel requirements covid-19 update to get more information on the covid-19 guidelines.
Transportation from Miami to Jamaica
The distance between Miami and Jamaica is 1761 km. The road distance is 2082.2 km. The cheapest way to get from Miami to Jamaica is to bus via Orlando which costs $120 – $290 and takes 28h 41m. The quickest way to get from Miami to Jamaica is to fly which costs $90 – $420 and takes 4h 27m.
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Enjoy your vacation and stay safe!