Jamaica

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Jamaica Money-Saving Tips

Go All-Inclusive

In Jamaica, all-inclusive resorts consistently offer the best value. If you're lucky, expect comprehensive packages for less than $100 per person per night.

Getting around

Hire only a JUTA taxi (Jamaica Union of Travelers Association) with a red Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) license plate. The drivers are certified by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the cars are air conditioned.

Hire a guide

First-time visitors to the island should hire a guide with a vehicle. This can be arranged at most resorts.

Behind the wheel

Driving is not for the faint of heart as cows, goats, and chickens can make cameo appearances at inconvenient times. Should you choose to brave the roads, the speed limit is 31 mph in town and driving is on the left side.

B&B

If staying in a resort just isn’t your cup of tea, check into a B&B. Rates are reasonable and breakfast is authentic. Two of the best include Aunt Merle's in Manchester and Blake’s in Spanish Town.

Money talks

The rate of exchange fluctuates depending on the foreign money markets with an average rate of US$1 = JA$71. Most services accept U.S. currency, but carry a few Jamaican dollars for shopping at the markets.

Pack an umbrella

The average temperature is 82°F, with mountain temperatures in the 50s. Average annual rainfall is 78 inches, with hurricane season from June 30-November 30.

What to buy

Stick to made-in-Jamaica products such as Blue Mountain coffee, fiery scotch bonnet pepper sauce, rum, wood carvings crafted by roadside artistes, and jewelry made from coconut shells. Bargaining is expected, but be respectful and pay fair value to the vendor.

Eat local

Street food is safe and delicious. Popular snacks include bammy (a pancake-shaped bread), cho-cho (similar to a potato), and dukunu (sweet cornmeal dumplings boiled and wrapped in banana leaves).

Don’t inhale

Contrary to popular belief, ganja (marijuana) is not tolerated and tourists caught with it are subject to severe punishment, including prison.

Bug off

Mosquitoes can be pesky, so pack a Deet-based bug spray if you’re heading to the hills or into the jungle wetlands.

Stay connected

Cell phones work via Digicel (www.digiceljamaica.com) or Cable & Wireless (www.cwjamaica.com), but roaming charges are high. Rent a cell for local calls and buy a phone card for calls back to the U.S.

Beware of duppies

Superstitions are as Jamaican as reggae and rum. A howling dog at night signals a duppie (ghost) is near; never open an umbrella indoors; and do not sweep your house after dark or your family may leave you in the morning.

Saying “I Do”

Couples can be married 24 hours after arriving if prior application has been made for a marriage license and notarized birth certificates have been produced. No blood tests required.

Say a Little Prayer

Jamaica is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having more churches per square mile than any other country. Parish churches welcome tourists at Sunday morning mass, but mind the strictly enforced dress code: no shorts, bathing suits, or skimpy tops.

Travel safe

Take precautions like leaving your passport and jewelry in the hotel safe. The resort towns are safe, however, and Kingston is kinder these days, except in the West End when an election is looming.

Mark the Calendar

The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival (www.airjamaicajazzandblues.com) heats up Montego Bay in January, Bob Marley’s birthday is celebrated Island-wide on February 6 (www.bobmarley-foundation.com), and the Calabash Festival, held in Treasure Beach in May, is the largest literary festival in the English-speaking Caribbean (www.calabashfestival.org).

Jamaican breakfast

This time-honored tradition features salt fish and a bright yellow tree-fruit called ackee as the main attractions. Add a side of callaloo (similar to spinach) and a dash of pepper sauce to kick start your day.

Drive South

Villa prices tend to drop as you drive south and escape tourist hubs around airports. To score nicer accommodations, consider renting a car and venturing to less-touristed locales, such as the cliffs at South Negril or Port Antonio, on the northeast shore of the island.

Rent a Villa

If traveling with a group of people, rent a villa, which for a fraction of the price offers nicer accommodations and much more freedom than most all-inclusive resorts. SunVillas.com lists deals on properties island-wide.

Comparison Shop

Resorts tend to charge more than local guides for excursions to popular attractions, such as Dunns River Falls. Ask around for prices before booking any day trips.

Compare Rates to Jamaica






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