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A practical guide to Jamaica

National holidays and celebrations

If you're not sure when is the best time to go to Jamaica, ask one of our travel advisers. We'll make sure you make the most of your time, whether you're looking for a Reggae festival, or just a bit of peace and quiet.

Besides the usual Christian holidays at Easter and Christmas, Jamaica enjoys several national holidays and key events throughout the year:

  • New Years' Day: 1st January.
  • Polo Season: From January to August.
  • Accompong Maroon Festival: 6th January. Commemorates the birthday of the national hero, Captain Cudjoe.
  • High Mountain Coffee 10k: January. A popular annual road race.
  • Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival: January or February.
  • Bob Marley Birthday Celebrations: 5th February.
  • Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival: February. Week-long mountain biking extravaganza.
  • Fi Wi Sinting: February. Celebrates African history and Jamaican traditions.
  • Labour Day: 23 May.
  • Emancipation Day: 1st August.
  • Independence Day: 6th August.
  • National Heroes Day: 18th October.

Eating Out

Jamaica's cuisine is popular across the world and has been influenced by the many cultures and cuisines that have converged here, including Spanish, African, Indian, Chinese and British.

Most hotels have Jamaican themed restaurants where you can sample local fare. For authentic dining, we love Jamaica's local restaurants where specialities such as 'callaloo' (fried dumplings), curry goat, ackee and salt fish are some of our favourites.

The 'Jerk spiced' flavouring used in meat and fish, is particularly popular with international visitors but we also recommend trying the lesser known 'Pickapeppa Sauch' and stopping at local street vendors for delicious pasties and roast breadfruit.

Money

The currency in Jamaica is called 'dollar' (JMD).

  • US dollars are also widely accepted in tourist areas, particularly in all inclusive resorts.
  • Local vendors tend to offer better value for your money if you pay in Jamaican dollars.
  • We advise converting the majority of your money into US dollars and a smaller amount into Jamaican dollars. If exchanging British pounds into US dollars, do so from home for the best conversion rate.
  • We recommend converting your money into Jamaican Dollars on arrival to the island at a Cambio exchange for the best rates.

Weather

Jamaica has a humid, tropical climate with warm to hot temperatures all year round but the weather is usually cooler in central areas.

  • Jamaica's coast enjoys the cooling effect of trade winds, known locally as "doctor's breeze" in the day, and "undertaker's breeze" in the evening.
  • Temperatures in Jamaica stay constant throughout the year, oscillating between 25°C and 30°C in the lowlands and 15°C to 22°C at higher elevations.
  • Rainy season runs between May and November or December, with heaviest rains in September and October.
  • Lying in the Atlantic Hurricane belt, Jamaica's hurricane season runs between 1st June to 30th November with August and September being the peak months.

Meterological information

J F M A M J J A S O N D
Average °C 282727272829303030292928
Minimum °C 232222232425262626252524
Maximum °C 323131313232333333333332
Sunshine (hours) 888899899977
Rain (cm) 432321055612159

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Visitor arrivals in Jamaica up by five per cent in first nine months of 2016

Jamaica has recorded a 5.4 per cent increase in tourist arrivals during the first nine months of 2016. The latest figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board reveal that the Caribbean island received 2,876,220 visitors during this period, and gross foreign exchange earnings was also up by five per cent. The country also received a positive rise in travellers from Canada, with a 7.2 per cent increase.

Chief Executive of Sandals Resorts International awarded Order of Distinction in Jamaica

Adam Stewart, the Chief Executive of Sandals Resorts International, has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by the government of Jamaica. During the National Honours and Awards Ceremony at King’s House last month, Stewart was given the award for his outstanding services to the tourism and hotel industry in Jamaica. Sandals Resorts owns and operates a collection of luxury all-inclusive resorts throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica to add 12 more Overwater Bungalows

The popularity of the brand new overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean resort in Montego Bay has been so great that Sandals Resorts has announced plans to construct a further 12 to keep up with demand. The first five unique bungalows with glass floors in Jamaica have not yet opened to the public, and will be the first of their kind in the Caribbean. The resort will add 12 more that are scheduled to open in February, 2017.