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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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Hotel room capacity in Jamaica set to increase by 1,000 by the end of 2017

The number of hotel rooms in Jamaica is set to increase by more than 1,000 by the end of 2017, according to the Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett. The investment in the new rooms is said to exceed US$1 billion, and they include 150 rooms at the Azul Beach Resort in Negril, 600 rooms at the Hideaway at Royalton and Royalton Negril Resort, and 12 rooms at the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay.

Half Moon Resort to start second stage of multi-million dollar renovations in May, 2017

The Half Moon Resort in Jamaica will undergo its second stage of renovations in May, 2017. The US$75 million project will include the upgrade and expansion of rooms and suites, expanded beach areas, plus new restaurants and guest facilities. The refurbishments follow the first phase of work which took place in 2015, and upgraded the Sugar Mill Restaurant, the lobby area, and the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed golf course.

Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica voted seventh best beach in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor has ranked the Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica as one of the top 25 beaches in the Caribbean. The sandy stretch in Negril on the west coast of the island is the longest beach in Jamaica, and it boasts golden sand, high cliffs and the Negril Lighthouse at one end. The stretch is popular with families, and adventure lovers who can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing and kayaking.