With its stunning beaches, Instagram-worthy sites, and vibrant culture, Jamaica should be on everyone's travel list. And the key to a good time is a good plan, whatever your holiday style and whoever you're traveling with. Taking a little bit of time now to make a plan means you can spend much more time on the beach when you get to this incredible destination.
It's time to plan your Jamaican adventure. This is the favorite part for some, while others dread it. But I'll make it easy by listing all the steps to having the perfect holiday at this bucket-list location.
Step 1: Decide When to Visit Jamaica
If you're mostly looking for sun and hot weather, the best time to visit Jamaica is between December and April. This is when the temperatures are warmer, and there's less chance of rain.
If you're not too worried about the rain and less-than-ideal weather, the best time to visit is May to November. This is also the perfect travel time for budget travelers.
Step 2: Book Your Transport
The easiest way to get to Jamaica is by air. Jamaica has domestic and international airports, including the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. If you're looking for cheap flights, browse Skyscanner before your trip.
You can also take a cruise ship from the United States, which will take much longer and increase the trip's overall cost. But choosing to cruise might mean you see more on your trip, and you can enjoy a few cocktails on the open sea too!
Step 4: Decide on Your Budget
It's definitely possible to plan a trip to Jamaica on a budget. As with every destination, there are higher-priced things that those wanting to save money should steer clear of! But you can find plenty of budget-friendly hotels, hostels, and restaurants offering delicious local dishes at reasonable prices for locals and tourists alike.
You can also save money by taking public transportation such as buses, taxis, and even motorbike taxis. Public transportation is widely available in major cities.
A good rule of thumb is to set aside $100 to spend daily. Still, it is possible to spend less if you budget carefully and avoid unnecessary spending.
The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar (JMD). US dollars are widely accepted in Jamaica, so it may not be necessary to exchange your money for JMD. However, if you do choose to exchange your currency, make sure to shop around for the best rates. Stick to reputable exchanges only.
Jamaica is an incredible destination for travelers seeking to explore the Caribbean without blowing their budget.
Step 3: Think About Where to Stay
Jamaica has accommodations for everyone. You can find it all in luxury resorts, budget hotels, and private villas. If you're looking for a luxurious stay, head to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. These cities have some of the best resorts in Jamaica.
For those on a budget, there are plenty of affordable hotels and guesthouses throughout the island. There are also plenty of budget-friendly Jamaican hostels on the island. A decent hostel will cost you about $25 a night, making it a great budget option.
There are excellent choices, whether for luxury or an affordable experience. Traveling during the low season will mean getting the best accommodation rates. September and November are when the island is the wettest and prices are lowest.
Step 5: Plan What You Will Eat, Drink, and Do
Jamaica has many things to do, especially if you love the beach and nature. Try hiking trails, snorkeling, or scuba diving if you're adventurous enough!
Remember to plan a few days to relax on the beaches. The waters of this island are crystal clear, and the sand is white and soft.
There are also museums like the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston that any history buff or music lover should visit.
As for food, Jamaican cuisine is a wonderful mixture of African, European, Indian, and Chinese influences. Popular dishes include rice and peas, curried goat, ackee and saltfish, and jerk chicken.
And if you enjoy a drink, rejoice! Jamaica is known for its excellent rum.
On that subject, head to Kingston or Montego Bay if it's a party you're after. These cities have plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants to entertain you through the night.
If you want to spend time outside the main cities, hiring a car is a good idea, as Jamaica isn't a walkable island. Public transportation is less reliable in rural areas.
Step 6: Learn How to be Safe
Wherever you are in the world, safety is important. That goes for when you're on vacation too! Thankfully there are some easy ways to stay safe when traveling.
Do yourself a favor and do your due diligence. Read over the safety information regarding potential risks in Jamaica before you leave, especially if you are traveling alone.
You can learn more about safety in Jamaica on the US Department of State website.
Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you leave! Copies of important documents and passports should be kept in a waterproof container separated from your main bag. This is for backup in case your items are lost or stolen.
Step 7: Plan Your Itinerary
I've put together this ultimate seven-day itinerary for a trip to Jamaica to inspire you and maybe save you some time.
Day 1: Arrival in Kingston
Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and the perfect place to start your trip. I suggest flying in early in the morning so you can explore the island all day. Many hotels will allow you to drop off your bags in the lobby and explore until check-in.
You'll want to hit the ground running because Kingston has so much to see. I suggest going straight to the Bob Marley Museum or the National Gallery of Jamaica if you're a fan of art, history, or music.
Have a nice lunch in the city and order jerk chicken if you enjoy spicy cuisine.
In the evening, go to one of the town's many popular and vibrant bars, such as the Mango Tree Bar or the Reggae Fountain Sports Bar.
Day 2: Head to Ocho Rios
If you've had enough of Kingston, wake up early and head to Ocho Rios via rental car or bus. It's only a hair more than one hour's drive from the capital, Kingston.
Ocho Rios is home to some of the best beaches in Jamaica. Spend the day lounging on the beach, swimming in the crystal clear waters, or exploring the local attractions.
Ocho Rios is the adventure center of the island. In addition to the beautiful beaches, the Blue Mountains, Dunn's River Falls, and Dolphin Cove can also be found near here.
Day 3: The Blue Mountains
If you want to take full advantage of all the adventures on the island, planning more time in one place is better than skipping from place to place, as you will quickly get worn out.
The Blue Mountains are a fair distance from Ocho Rios, roughly one hour and forty minutes to the park entrance. But they are well worth the effort! These mountains are breathtaking and home to lots of fantastic wildlife.
At the end of your day trip, travel back to your accommodation and get ready to head to Montego Bay.
Day 4-5: Explore Montego Bay
Take the nearly two-hour drive to Montego Bay from Ocho Rios and get ready to soak up some rays. If you want to be in the center of the action and don't care about adventure-seeking, skip Ocho Rios and head straight from Kingston to Montego Bay. You could also fly straight into Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
Montego Bay is the tourist hub of Jamaica. Spend the day exploring the city and its attractions. Make sure to visit Doctor's Cave Beach, one of Montego Bay's most popular beaches.
There's plenty to do here, so you won't find yourself bored. For instance, you can take a boat tour of Montego Bay Marine Park, visit the Rose Hall Great House, or explore the local markets.
Day 6: Visit Negril
From Montego Bay, you can get to Negril in roughly two hours.
Negril is a great place to relax and unwind. It's known for its stunning beaches, such as Seven Mile Beach, one of Jamaica's most beautiful areas. Spend the day soaking up some sun and swimming in crystal clear water. Maybe try out snorkeling?
Day 7: Return to Kingston
On your last day in Jamaica, return to Kingston and spend some time exploring the city before you head home. Visit Devon House, Jamaica's most historic landmark. Take a tour or dine at one of the bars and restaurants on the property. Remember to save a few hours for browsing the local markets and souvenir shops.
Head to bed early to catch an early morning flight or stay out until sunrise, dancing the night away!
Remember, you don't have to do everything in one trip. Pick two or three things that speak to you the most and center your holiday around those. Leave some space in your itinerary for spontaneity and space in your suitcase for those new bikinis you'll purchase!
Ready to Plan Your Trip to Jamaica?
From getting there to accommodation and itineraries, I've covered everything you need to consider for your Jamaican adventure. Now for the fun part – booking your trip and arriving! Pilot is one of the best ways to plan your trip to Jamaica or anywhere else.