Jamaica Travel Tips
For such a tiny island, Jamaica has left an indelible mark. Each year millions of travelers from around the globe rank this island destination on the top of their bucket list, curious to uncover firsthand what makes the island nation so great. Whether you’re in search of a relaxing beach retreat, celebrating your recent nuptials or seeking adventure, these Jamaica travel tips will help ensure you have an irie time.
Arrive in Style
Regardless of airport, airline or class flown, start your Jamaican vacation in style with VIP Attractions’ arrival meet-and-greet services. Club Mobay (or Club Kingston) staff welcomes you at your gate, where you are then expedited through customs and immigration. Luggage assistance and lounge access is provided while awaiting your transportation. It’s the perfect option for families with small children, seniors needing assistance, unaccompanied minors, wedding parties or anyone looking to save time, especially during travel’s high season.
Where to Stay
One of the first destinations to introduce all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica boasts an abundance of these big-box accommodations along the North Coast’s hot spots. If you prefer a more private, secluded or unique lodging experience, consider one of Jamaica’s villa communities or boutique hotels.
Hermosa Cove: These Caribbean-style boutique villas were built on a 12-acre property once visited by Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Just five minutes from the Ocho Rios city center, villa proprietors Clayton and Deb Korver have created a secluded retreat that seamlessly integrates the local community into the villa experience. Trident Hotel: The newest addition to the Geejam Collection, the 13-villa Trident Hotel channels “Port Antonio’s 1960’s jet-setting prime.” Just minutes from the world-famous Blue Lagoon, this boutique hotel is home to Mike's Supper Club, a plush cabaret lounge overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Tryall Club: Once a sugar plantation, this now Green Globe-certified country club and private villa resort community is the perfect getaway for tennis and golf aficionados and the discerning leisure traveler.
There’s more to Jamaican food than jerk chicken. In fact, Jamaica’s flavorful cuisine boasts a mixture of influences from Spain, Britain, India, China, Africa and its indigenous peoples. So put down the hamburgers, say no to pizza and fries, and give one of these local hot spots a try:
Jamaica Epicurean Escape: This annual two-day food festival celebrates “excellence in Jamaican food” with a side of live music and cultural exhibits and performances. Top chefs, restaurateurs and bartenders from across the island (and abroad) offer tastings and cooking demonstrations of Jamaican favorites and unique culinary creations.
Jamaica Culinary Tours: In collaboration with Falmouth Heritage Walks, Jamaica Culinary Tours offers a walking food tour amid the backdrop of the city’s Georgian architecture. Less than three hours in duration, it’s a perfect shore excursion for cruisers arriving at this port.
689 by Brian Lumley: If your travels lead you to Kingston, make reservations at this gourmet Caribbean and fusion restaurant inspired by the 2013 Jamaica and Caribbean Chef of the Year, Brian Lumley.
Meet the People
One of Jamaica’s most prized possessions is its warm and welcoming people. To better facilitate cultural exchange between tourists and Jamaicans, the Jamaica Tourist Board created the Meet the People Program. In operation since 1968, this initiative matches individuals and families visiting the island with local ambassadors based on your interests, hobbies or profession. Your experience can range from a home-cooked dinner at your ambassador’s home to hiking in the Blue Mountains; it’s totally up to you.
The Meet the People Program is truly a unique Jamaican experience that offers direct insight into the culture of the people. Signup is available online prior to your departure or upon arrival via your hotel’s concierge.
The hardest part of any trip to Jamaica is leaving. Thankfully VIP Attractions has made goodbyes a little easier with their VIP departure services. Similar to arrival, you’re offered fast track through immigration and security and lounge access that includes complimentary Wi-Fi, food and beverages, and even a sound-proof playroom for kids. Need to relax and unwind? Shower facilities and spa services are also available minutes before takeoff.
Here are Samantha Brown's tips to help you keep your cool on your next family vacation.