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  • Writer's pictureChristine Hardenberger

Five Tips for First-Time Visitors to Jamaica

Jamaica is a beautiful island to visit, with everything from miles of white sand beach to lush jungles and waterfalls, as well as many great resorts suitable to a variety of budgets. If you're thinking of making a visit to this lovely island, here are some things you probably don't know about Jamaica if you're visiting for the first time!

1. Jamaica is More than Beaches

Many people think of beaches when they think of anywhere in the Caribbean, and you wouldn't be wrong when it comes to Jamaica - there's plenty to enjoy for beach -lovers. But, Jamaica is a gorgeous, lush island full of plenty to do beyond its beautiful beaches. Here are some examples:

  • Explore the magical Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios or the cascading seven-tiered YS Falls fed by natural streams in the south.

  • Coast on a bamboo raft amidst the tropical splendor of Montego Bay’s soothing Martha Brae River.

  • Bobsled, skyride or zipline in Negril.

  • Step back into the island’s long plantation history with a visit to Rose Hall, a Georgian-style mansion in Montego Bay. Discover legendary tales of ghosts and slavery that still haunt the island.

  • Marvel at the workings of the Appleton Estate, a rum distillery that's known for creating one of the world's smoothest and most sought-after rums.

2. Jamaican Patois

The language spoken in Jamaica is English, but when you listen to Jamaicans speak to each other, it can sometimes sound like another language - that's because Jamaicans speak with their own unique patois. For instance, a common greeting in Jamaica is 'Wah Gwaan', rather similar to saying 'what's up' in English. 'Weh Yuh Ah Seh', which literally means 'What are you saying', is what to say when you want to ask how someone is doing. 'Mi Soon Come' means that you'll be right there, or be there in a minute. And yes, 'Ya Mon' is what to say when you want to say 'yes' or 'okay'.

3. Cash & Currency

The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, which is indicated by the same symbol as the American Dollar ($), but in most resort or tourist areas, American Dollars and credit cards are readily accepted. If you are planning to travel to less touristy areas in Jamaica, it's prudent to have some Jamaican Dollars with you, as foreign currency and credit cards may not be accepted.

4. Club Mobay

While I love traveling, one of the things I've never enjoyed (and I don't think anyone does) is dealing with long security or immigration lines. If you're heading to Jamaica for your vacation via Sangster International in Montego Bay, you can make your security experience much less of a hassle by purchasing Club Mobay service, which offers expedited security and immigration as well as a quiet lounge area to relax in while you wait for your transfers or your departing flight. This is especially important with the influx of travelers as travel gets back on its feet.

5. Keep Camo off the Packing List

This one often surprises first-time visitors to Jamaica, and the Caribbean in general. As you put together your packing list, keep in mind that in many Caribbean countries - Jamaica included - it is illegal for civilians to wear clothing of any kind with camouflage, regardless of color.

Ready to learn more about Jamaica? Chat with one of our travel specialists!

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