Best time to visit: December, January, February, March, April
Average high: 30˚C
Average low: 22˚C
Price of meals: 2/5
Holiday type: Adventure / Beach / Culture / Family / Party / Romantic
Jamaica is a tropical island in the Caribbean whose history and culture is as diverse as its flourishing ecosystem. Originally settled by Arawak Indians, Jamaica has been populated by pirates, Africans, Spanish, British, Chinese and Indians, and each culture has left its mark to create a melting pot of culture, music, food and entertainment. From couples and historians to thrill-seekers and families, Jamaica welcomes every type of holidaymaker with a smile.
The island nation’s most famous celebrity export is Bob Marley and his reggae music remains popular in the parties and festivals that take place across the island. Partygoers should not miss the Friday night festivities that take place on the lesser visited Reggae Beach, while those wanting to learn more about the man himself can visit the Bob Marley Museum or visit his birthplace at Nine Mile Village. Bob Marley isn’t the only famous link with Jamaica and James Bond fans may want to head to Oracabessa Bay (commonly known as James Bond Beach) to re-live Sean Connery’s debut outing as MI6’s most famous spy.
The island is not lacking for beautiful and entertaining beaches, although one of the most popular is Seven Mile Beach for a truly Caribbean experience: white sand; turquoise water with tons of fun activities; and clifftop bars serving cocktails with umbrellas. Just be prepared for the calming atmosphere to change when the sun goes down and the reggae and samba beats start pumping.
Adrenaline junkies have their choice of exciting activities, including white water rafting and caving, while more low-key thrill-seekers can enjoy spectacular island vistas from the ridges of the Blue Mountains, or bathe beneath the beautiful waterfalls beneath the jungle canopy. The jungle and ocean are full of diverse wildlife, but the best place to guarantee an up-close encounter with dolphins is to swim with them in Dolphin Cove. Families should check out the haunted Rose Hall or Mystic Mountain for the bobsled experience.
The temperature in Jamaica is consistent throughout the year, averaging 25˚C and rarely going too far over 30˚C or too low beneath 20˚C. However, June to November is the wet season with heavy storms and hurricanes, especially between August and October. December to March is reliably sunny (except in the northeast) but is consequently the high season and so prices are higher and there are more tourists. April and May are still warm and the start of the off-season, so prices are lower and crowds are thinner, but the sunshine and rainfall are less predictable.
While grocery shopping is slightly more expensive in Jamaica than in the UK, restaurant prices average 50% lower, so it is usually more cost effective to eat out. An inexpensive, single course meal costs just £3.50 to £4, while a mid-range meal for two will average £35 for both. Beer is quite cheap at £1 to £2 per bottle and a bottle of water normally costs less than £1. Coffee prices are equivalent to the UK and cost £2 to £3 per cup.
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