The whole world knows of the small island in the Caribbean for its reggae music, dancehall, sunny weather, relaxed people and unique culture. Jamaica became the ultimate vacation spot and its tropical climate makes it a great destination any time of the year.
Read on and get detailed tips for travel to Jamaica, including when is the best time to travel to Jamaica, can you travel to Jamaica without a passport, which things to try during your visit and more.
Jamaica - Seaside house, picture by Ralf Stainberger on Flickr
Seasons in Jamaica
Jamaican climate is tropical, which means it is hot all year round with a difference of just a few degrees between winter and summer. The main difference between the seasons is the amount of rainfall and air humidity.
Winter is the best time to visit Jamaica — here’s why!
If you are a fan of high temperatures and could use a break from the snow and ice, Jamaica in winter is your ideal destination. Daytime temperatures are around 27-30 °C (81-86 °F) and nighttime 20-23 °C (68-73 °F). Not only is the weather nice, but there is not a lot of rain and the air humidity is low.
From December to March, winds bring some cool air from the United States. This should not worry you because the temperatures remain high. Many would argue that December is the best month to travel to Jamaica.
If you like swimming, snorkeling and diving, visit Jamaica in winter and enjoy all of these activities. The water temperature ranges from 27 to 28 °C (81 to 82 °F). In comparison, the Mediterranean, one of the most popular summer destinations, has sea temperatures from 22 to 27 °C (71 to 81 °F) from July to August.
If you are up for something really special, go visit the Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon near the town of Falmouth. The tour happens at night when you can see thousands of dinoflagellates, tiny water organisms that are producing an electric shade of blue when there is movement. Truly, an experience to remember.
Jamaica - Luminous lagoon, picture by Jamaica Quest Tours
Although January marks the end of the festive season for most countries, Jamaica offers a couple of great festivals during that period. Rebel Salute, one of the most famous reggae festivals in Jamaica takes place in St. Ann. Visit it and celebrate Rastafari culture, food and music. If you are a fan of rock, jazz and blues, visit f. Take a look and find festivals that match your taste the best!
As January to March is the most popular season for visiting Jamaica, be prepared for a spike in room rates. You might get a better deal if you book in advance.
With rain and winds, spring in Jamaica is tricky. Read on to pick the best month to travel to Jamaica.
With northern winds bringing cool air to the island in March, this is one of the coldest months in Jamaica. Remember, we are talking about "the coldest" in Jamaican terms, so do not pack your scarfs and gloves yet! March temperatures average from 21 to 29 °C (70 to 85 °F) — not bad, right? April is a few degrees warmer, but this is also the last dry month. Therefore, April might surprise you with a sudden shower, but rainfall is quite frequent during the upcoming months.
Jamaican rains and winds are not something you should worry about during your spring visit. You will still be able to have an authentic experience of your choice. If you are an active traveler, stay near Ocho Rios and visit Dunn's River Falls and Park. You can spend your day climbing, hiking, relaxing at the beach or just gazing at the waterfall.
If you are a coffee lover, hike 2,100 m (7,000 feet) above sea level and try the famous Blue Mountain coffee. This smooth Arabica coffee is grown in the microclimate of the mountain and only beans that grow from 900 to 1,600 m (3,000 to 5,500 feet) are classified as Jamaica’s most loved coffee.
Foodie in you will love the Kingston Curry Festival, held on May 24th in Kingston, the island's mecca for fine food and entertainment. Try chicken and vegetable samosas, pork or chicken sausages with toppings like pineapple and ginger sauce or a shrimp seasoned with fresh local herbs and spices.
The prices in spring may not be as high as in winter, and you can even come across discounts. However, Jamaica is one of the most popular spring break destinations, so make sure not to get stuck in a hotel with hundreds of party-going students (unless you want to, of course!).
Summer may be the warmest, but not entirely the best time to visit Jamaica. Read about its ups and downs.
Summer is the hottest time of a year in Jamaica, but as we have already mentioned, temperatures are not much higher than during winter. In June and July, the temperature reaches 33 °C (91°F), with June being wetter with occasional thunderstorms. In August, there are fewer rains and winds are calm. Keep in mind that hurricane season starts on June 1st.
As the Caribbean Sea warms up to almost 30 °C (86 °F), you can spend lazy afternoons at Jamaica's beautiful tropical beaches. If you are a bigger fan of rivers, visit the Martha Brae, one of the most historic locations in Jamaica. You can embark on a two-hour raft from Montego Bay to Matibereon and take in all the stunning wildlife.
Jamaica - Martha Brae, picture by Nev Ena on Wikimedia Commons
There is something for those who want to enjoy Jamaica's most famous drink — rum, of course. Go to the Appleton Estate, learn about how rum is made on the island since the 18th century and sip on some of Jamaica's best.
The Jamaican summer calendar is packed with activities. There is everything from Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, where you can listen to both international and Jamaican jazz artists, Little Ochi Seafood Carnival, where you can taste various culinary delights from the sea, to Reggae Sumfest, an annual 5-day music festival, and The National Independence Float Parade and Grand Gala, one of the most significant celebrations of Jamaican culture. Check out other Jamaican events you might like.
If you are looking to avoid crowds and high rates, book a summer vacation in Jamaica. However, keep in mind that there is a good reason that accommodation is cheaper during summer months — you are visiting a Caribbean island during hurricane season.
If you are wondering is it safe to travel to Jamaica during summer, the answer is — yes, just make sure to buy travel insurance in case of bad weather spoiling your plans.
What is happening in Jamaica during low season? A lot!
The probability of hurricanes returns during September and October, which is why the beginning of fall is not a very popular time to visit this Caribbean island. Also, this is the period of the second peak of rainfall. Temperatures vary between 23 and 31 °C (74 and 87 °F). In November, showers are gone but pleasant temperatures remain.
Heavy showers might interfere with your sightseeing plans, but swimming under the rain might just be the memorable experience you need. Visit the Blue Hole near Ocho Rios, and spend your day in Jamaica's little piece of heaven with beautiful waterfalls, rope swings, freshwater pools and trails. You can also pay a visit to the Seven Mile Beach, one of the most famous beaches in Jamaica.
Even though it is considered to be Jamaica's low season, there are quite a few things happening in October. There is National Heroes Day, a 5K for those with special needs, the Food and Drink Festival, and even the Ocean Style Fashion Showcase. For a taste of local cuisine, visit Jamaica in November, as there are a couple of food festivals — Restaurant Week and Nyam Food and Music Festival are some of them.
This is Jamaica's tourist low season, so the prices are lower, too. Keep in mind that many hotels operate with a smaller staff and some hotels may devote this period to finishing their construction projects. If you do not mind it, come and enjoy uncrowded beaches, restaurants and golf courses.
When is the best time to visit Jamaica?
Time for a quick Jamaica travel tip: the best time to visit Jamaica is anytime! Every season in Jamaica offers different benefits to its visitors.
- November to mid-December: best temperatures, the lowest amount of rainfall and air humidity; this is also the easiest time to find the best value-for-money hotel and flight deals.
- Summer: best for traveling on a budget.
- January to March: best for parties and a plethora of events.
Do you need a Visa or other documents?
One of the most common questions travelers have when preparing for a trip to Jamaica is "do you need a passport to travel to Jamaica?". Short answer: yes. Read on to get your documents in order and avoid any unpleasant situations.
- Passport: Everyone traveling to Jamaica must present a valid and approved passport as evidence of their identity and nationality.
- Visa: For the United States and most European countries, Visa is required only for stays longer than 90 days.
Must try things in Jamaica
You cannot go to Jamaica without getting crucial Jamaica travel tips: what are Jamaica’s top attractions and which exciting activities you can cross from your bucket list.
- Dive headfirst at Mayfield Falls: think waterfalls, freshwater pools, unique flora and fauna and cute gazebos.
Jamaica - Mayfiled Falls, picture by Things to do in Jamaica organization
- Have a drink at the bar in the middle of the ocean: an afternoon of fun awaits at the Pelican Bar, located near Treasure beach.
- Become one with the rhythm at the Dub Club: the love for music brings visitors from all over the world to the famous club in Kingston.
- Relax at the Frenchman's Cove: this spot where river and sea collide is perfect for anybody looking for a tranquil excursion.
- Explore the Konoko Falls park: discover one of the islands "best-kept secrets" and its botanical garden, waterfall and a zoo.
- Dip your toes in the white sand of the Half Moon Beach: undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Where to stay when visiting Jamaica
Jamaica is one of the most attractive spots in the Caribbean and it is not hard to see why! It offers gorgeous beaches and amazing waterfalls, as well as a vibrant culture and world-known reggae music. Take a look at interesting Jamaican hot spots that any travel agency in Jamaica would recommend not to miss.
Kingston: Jamaica's capital is a must-see. The city is home to various attractions, from the Bob Marley Museum to the National Gallery of Jamaica.
- Where to stay: Sunlit Sleek Studio Apartment. Located in uptown Kingston, it is just a few minutes away from entertainment, restaurants, local attractions and public transport.
Ocho Rios: Once a small fisherman's village, today a city with plenty of activities, from tubing and zip-lining to rafting. Dunn’s River Falls and the gorgeous Island Gully Falls are in close proximity.
- Where to stay: Jaca Paradise Villa. If you are coming with a group of friends, stay at the gorgeous villa with an infinity pool, a club house and a gazebo.
Jamaica - Ocho Rios, picture by Ruth Peterkin
Negril: This town is popular with honeymooners, as well as groups of friends during spring break! If you want to have plenty of nightlife options, Negril should be your top choice.
- Where to stay: Ocean View Chalet. The private bedroom in a chalet-style house offers the best of both worlds: affordable price and ocean views!
Montego Bay: The second largest city in Jamaica is perfect for a luxurious stay. It has upscale retreats, golf courses and lush green hills. It also offers many direct flight options from the U.S.
- Where to stay: Luxurious beachfront holiday home. This place is as great as it sounds: spacious bedrooms, gorgeous decor, lots of amenities and a pool.
You cannot go wrong with picking a best time for visiting Jamaica. It is just a matter of considering the factors like weather, prices, activities and events, and choosing the conditions you like the most.
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