Need to Know
Banks / Currency: Licensed cambio centers and commercial banks are accessible in all resort areas. The official currency exchange rates vary daily, so it’s advisable to shop around for the best rate before converting your cash. Most of our ATMs accept international bank cards, with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus logos. Banks also give credit card advances, change traveller’s checks and other financial services.
Climate: We enjoy a hot and humid tropical climate all year round, which is exactly what you want for a relaxing vacation. Temperatures range from 19 degrees Celsius (66 Fahrenheit) to 32 degrees Celsius (99 Fahrenheit). Even though we’re known for our sunshine, we have two rainy seasons a year, from May to June, and September to November. Hurricanes may pass over the island during the months of June to November, so keep an eye on the news.
Clothing: Lightweight, breathable fabrics are the way to go here on the island. Shorts, swimwear and flip flops keep you chilled on our beaches. A thin sweater will keep you cozy in the evenings. And semi-casual wear for women, and a jacket for men, will get you into all of our fine dining restaurants. Whatever you do, don’t pack too much, as you’ll want to take some of our special clothing back home with you.
Communications: Jamaica is well connected to the rest of the world. Direct international telephone service operates in all areas, 24 hours a day, and telephone operators will gladly facilitate collect, third-party or credit card calls. E-mail and Internet access is available too, usually at hotels and parish libraries, but also at local Internet cafes. Three daily newspapers and five weekend newspapers will keep you in the know, while some hotels and gift shops receive the international editions.
Driving: Here on the island, we drive on the left side of the road. The speed limit is 50 kmph (30 mph) in built-up areas, and 80 kmph (50 mph) on highways, and all drivers are required to carry a valid license. Jamaica recognizes valid International Driver’s Licenses, but visitors from North America may use their country's license for up to three months per visit. Car rental is available in most major towns, cities and airports, but you can be no younger than 25 years old to hire a car yourself.
Drugs: In Jamaica, the use, sale and possession of drugs such as ganja (marijuana), cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin and any other controlled substance is illegal. Violators are subject to severe punishments – specifically arrest, fine and imprisonment. Don’t ruin your vacation.
Electricity: The electrical supply in Jamaica is 110 volts/50 cycles standard, and electrical appliances use plugs that are two-pronged and flat (such as those used in the United States and Canada). Bring along any adaptors of convertors you might need if this doesn’t suit some of your appliances and chargers. Most hotels will provide you with hair dryers, alarm clocks, radio and a clothes iron, but make sure you find out first.
Language: Officially, we speak English but we like to mix it up with our own island version of patois. It takes a little getting used to, but you’re sure to have lots of fun trying out a few of our expressions. Look at our Patois page to learn some words and phrases before getting here.
Pets: We love animals here on the island, but we do ask you to make sure your pets are healthy if they are coming along with you on your trip. In keeping with international standards, the importation of all live animals into Jamaica requires an import permit from the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, prior to arrival in Jamaica. All animals must be rabies-free, and must never have been rabies vaccinated. Dogs and cats (with permits) are allowed into Jamaica only from Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Eire. For more information, contact the Veterinary Services Division: tel. 876-977-2489 or 876-977-2492. To secure a permit, fax a letter of request to 876-977-0885.
Time Zone: Jamaica falls within the Eastern Time Zone (UTC/GMT -5 Hours) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. At approximately 18 degrees north of the equator, the island falls within the tropics, and as such does not experience drastic seasonal changes in sunrise and sunset times. Year-round, the island averages between 11.5 and 12.5 hours of sunlight per day.
Water: Jamaica has hundreds of natural springs and rivers, both above and underground. Over the years, we have developed extensive water treatment and supply systems island-wide, so all drinking water in Jamaica is purified and filtered by modern methods. Our water is safe for you to drink, clean your teeth, bath and wash clothing in. If you choose not to drink the water, rest assured - there are many brands of Jamaican spring water that meet or exceed the highest international standards, available at most shops and restaurants.