Jamaica is not all reggae, reggae, reggae. This much-mythologised island in the north Caribbean promises luxury resorts, the glorious glow of sunsets, alluring white sandy beaches, lush green mountains and sparkling waterfalls – all made so much more attractive by the sharp humour of its people. Such an abundance of natural beauty has drawn visitors for centuries. Yet there still remain unspoilt tropical delights waiting to be discovered.
For all the popularity of the island’s highly developed tourist resorts, a discerning traveller can easily find in Jamaica an irresistible kaleidoscope of colour and culture, perfectly balanced with serenity and idyllic surroundings.
The name Jamaica itself comes from the indigenous Arawak Indians and means 'Land of Wood and Water' – a land of plenty, offering everything from simple pleasures to luxurious delights.
The spirit of Jamaica is infectious, as rich as the lilt of the local patois and reggae rhythms. It can be felt at Kingston's Bob Marley Museum and Spanish Town on the south coast, in the protected ocean of Montego Bay Marine Park or nearby at Rose Hall, which is said to be haunted by beautiful Annie Palmer, the 'White Witch of Rose Hall'.
In Ocho Rios, on the north coast, Dolphin Cove and Dunn's River Falls are rewarding attractions – as are the otherworldly Green Grotto Caves at Runaway Bay, which at different points in Jamaican history have acted as a haven for escaped slaves, for gunrunners and 18th-century Spanish soldiers. Fans of the movie Blue Lagoon will find the actual idyllic location near Port Antonio, while rum connoisseurs will enjoy the chance to sample the world-renowned produce at Appleton Rum Estate on the south coast.
Jamaica's climate is tropical: it enjoys constant hot temperatures all year round, though it gets markedly cooler in the higher, central areas.
The summer high of 29 degrees Celsius (83 degrees Fahrenheit) is reached in July, but the temperature only drops to 25 degrees Celsius (76 degrees Fahrenheit) in the nominal depths of Jamaican winter.
The wettest months are between May and November, when short sharp showers can be expected.
The heaviest rains can be predicted in September and October and the hurricane season runs from June to November; however, it is rare for hurricanes to trouble the chilled atmosphere of Jamaica.
The official language of Jamaica is English, but a sometimes impenetrable patois is widely in use.
A passport valid for the duration of stay is required along with proof of ongoing journey, and sufficient means for your stay. The nationals of most countries do not require a visa for stays up to one month. Please check the rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
You will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate, if you are arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area.
Kingston suffers high levels of crime, so you should be alert at all times.
Jamaica can be prone to hurricanes between June and November.
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