Traveling to Jamaica Soon!

Things to Know When Traveling to Jamaica

Vaccination requirements

There are no mandatory vaccination certificates required before entering Jamaica unless traveling from a yellow fever area originally.  Jamaica is generally considered a low-risk country to visit in terms of health issues, although the level of medical care may be a different standard than that found in western countries.  Dengue and Leptospirosis are considered health risks in Jamaica, and both are spread by biting insects.  There is also a small malaria risk, although not enough to necessitate taking preventative medication.  These sicknesses can be avoided by using insect repellent and mosquito nets for sleeping.  Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B are recommended for added safety.  The tap water is safe to drink but on rare occasions can cause stomach troubles, so it is safer to drink bottled water where convenient.  Should you require medical assistance, the private hospitals generally offer a good standard of care, although they can be expensive.  Prescription medication should be brought from home accompanied by a medical certificate that has been signed and dated by your doctor.  It is important to keep all medication in its original containers when traveling. 

When to travel to Jamaica

Jamaica has beautiful tropical weather and is generally warm all year round.  The ideal vacation time is from December to April, making it a great winter escape for tourists from the Northern Hemisphere.  The rainy season is from June until the end of November and is also known as the “Hurricane Season” for good reason.  Hurricanes can occur during this period and it is wise to be familiar with the emergency protocols just in case.  On the island, the Jamaican Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management manages any emergencies that may occur.  The chances of being in an emergency situation are low, and the ticket prices fall dramatically around this period making it an economic option.   Regardless of the season, it is wise to register with the Smart Traveller Enrolment Program (STEP) website, so that your country is better equipped to help you in the unlikely event of an emergency.

The culture of Jamaica

Language

Jamaicans speak English, and most Jamaicans at least understand the local Patois (pronounced Pat-wa) which is a combination of several different language roots.  The Jamaican accent is melodic and extremely distinctive.

Music and Dance

Music and dance are intrinsic parts of Jamaican culture and draw from its rich history and diverse cultural roots.  Dancehall styles of dance have become linked with its music.  Otherwise known as Reggae, this distinctive rhythmic music symbolizes the laid-back, fun culture of Jamaica for people around the world.  Championed by perhaps one of the most famous Jamaicans, Bob Marley, the sounds of Reggae have been recreated countless times internationally by many different musicians.

Food

The most iconic food from Jamaica is spicy jerk seasoning, often used with chicken and other meats.  A local fruit named ackee and saltfish is two items worth trying for the Jamaican experience. When being offered food in a more formal setting, it is polite to wait until the host has invited you to start eating.

Religion

Religion is an important part of Jamaican culture, which has the highest number of churches per capita in the world.  Christianity is the most common religion and is represented by many different denominations.  Rastafarianism is practiced in Jamaica but has a surprisingly small number of adherents in contrast to its fame.

Etiquette and customs

Politeness and courtesy are highly regarded in Jamaica as a mark of a well-raised person.  Although customs and attitudes are changing, men tend to occupy a more dominant role, with females regarded as homemakers.  Until you become more familiar with a person, it is best to address them with Mr. or Ms. until a closer relationship develops.

Sport

Cricket is the most important sport in Jamaica.  Football, athletics, netball, and other sports highly regarded in England are popular, with rugby union and rugby league becoming more popular.