27 Top Jamaica Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (2024)

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27 Top Jamaica Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (1)

By Asher Fergusson

Updated on

Jamaica is one of the many gems located in the Caribbean. From aquamarine waters to sandy beaches and hidden waterfalls, the beauty of this island is staggering.

After spending several weeks traveling around the island, I quickly learned the essentials that every traveler should consider. I’ve made a list of the top items to bring, what to wear in Jamaica, what NOT to bring, and FAQs to help you plan a successful and memorable trip.

Get ready to enjoy the “irie” vibe that is Jamaica!

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What to Pack for Jamaica – 27 Essentials

  • 1. Long-Sleeved Swim Rash Guard

    The Jamaican sun is very powerful due to its proximity to the equator and shines bright even in the winter, so a long-sleeved rash guard is the perfect antidote to avoid over-exposure. If you are fair-skinned (like me!) you will be glad to know this one has UPF sun protection of 50+. My wife, who is very olive-skinned, also swears by it because when you are in the Jamaican sun for many hours, it’s easier than you think to get burned.

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  • 2. Neck Wallet

    Due to the high rate of theft in Jamaica, a neck wallet is a crucial accessory to bring with you on your trip. This neck wallet is ideal when visiting particularly crowded or touristy areas, as it’s large enough to hold your passport, phone, wallet, etc., and can be worn discreetly under your clothes. I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing an inconspicuous neck wallet to safeguard your belongings, especially since purses and wallets are easy targets for petty theft.

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Not to scare you, but there is a real security threat in Jamaica and according to Fortinet, there were 19 million cyberattacks in the first half of 2023 alone! When you connect to Wi-Fi in public places such as hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, and airports – you become vulnerable to hackers who can steal your private information, like social security numbers, financial data, and passwords. I learned this the hard way when my credit card number was stolen at our Airbnb on vacation.

    A reliable VPN (like NordVPN) provides you with an added layer of security, so all your sensitive data is safe. It is a safeguard that many people aren’t aware of, but it’s a necessary precaution for any world traveler. We even use a VPN at home! It will also grant you access to websites that may be censored (or even blocked) abroad, like Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube. As an affordable way to surf the web just as you always do, a VPN offers real peace of mind and a truly private connection.

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  • 4. Gorgeous Dress

    Inevitably, you will want to grab a co*cktail or a nice dinner somewhere and a sundress won’t quite cut it. My wife loves this dress and personally owns it in olive green and black. It’s easy to throw on after a long day at the beach, super sexy on all body types, doesn’t wrinkle, and comes in a variety of colors. She also loves that it gives a high-class, expensive look while being surprisingly affordable.

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  • 5. Mesh Slip-On Water Shoes

    If you plan on hiking Dunn’s Falls, kayaking down the Rio Bueno River, or partaking in other water sports and activities – having closed-toe, slip-on water shoes will be necessary for safety and comfort. These are great for protecting your feet from rocks and coral, helping you move from land to sea with ease. The breathable mesh prevents soggy, sweaty feet which reduces any risk of blisters, and their lightweight design prevents you from sloshing around in heavy boots all day.

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for Jamaica

    Keep in mind that your domestic provider will not cover you overseas, and a simple transport to the hospital could cost a fortune! Travel insurance is a non-negotiable that many people don’t realize they need until it’s too late. It protects you against common travel misfortunes like baggage loss, theft, flight cancellations, delays, and medical emergencies if you become sick or injured while abroad.

    Private hospitals in Jamaica will not accept foreign insurance and I knew someone who had to scrounge up cash after having a heart attack on the island because they refused treatment without upfront payment… You don’t want this to be you and it’s best to get a policy that will reimburse you if you unexpectedly become sick.

    Faye is our preferred provider with surprisingly affordable policies and plans to suit all needs. They wire you the money directly to your phone, so there are no surprises, hidden fees, or delays. After being reimbursed when we needed it most, we’re telling all our friends about Faye!

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  • 7. Discounted Tickets to Jamaica Attractions

    Get Your Guide is our go-to booking service for the best local activities and tours. They have top-rated excursions with skip-the-line tickets, allowing you to compare reviews and make the most of your time in paradise.

    For a Jamaican getaway, you must do the popular tours, like ziplining over the infamous Dunn River Falls and snorkeling off a catamaran in Montego Bay. Adventurers will be keen on river rafting and ATF-safaris, while anyone can enjoy crowd-pleasers like horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, and discovering the hidden waterfalls around the island.

    Our favorite (lesser-known) activities were the bioluminescent lagoon night tour lit by algae known as “sea sparkle” that turns neon blue, and we also enjoyed cruising down the peaceful Great River.

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  • 8. Affordable Underwater Camera

    We recommend bringing an affordable alternative to a GoPro or DSLR to capture your Jamaican adventure, both in and out of the water. This underwater camera is compact and durable, so it’s perfect to bring with you on all your adventure activities for both photo and video content. Trust me, after your trip, you’ll be glad you brought along a good camera to capture your favorite moments.

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  • 9. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    A microfiber, quick-dry towel is useful for so many activities in Jamaica. Whether you’re at the beach or on a waterfall hike, this towel dries 10x faster than cotton and will come in handy when you need to wick away moisture quickly. Even if you are staying at a resort, you may find this towel to be more practical than the bulky, heavy ones you will receive. Throw it in your daypack and you’ll find yourself using it as a towel, shawl, seat cover, packing cushion, sweat bandana, changing screen, etc.

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  • 10. Mosquito Repelling Wristbands

    If you are prone to getting bug bites back home, don’t be surprised if you receive double the amount while in Jamaica’s humid climate. From mosquitos to gnats, there are plenty of insects that will want a bite of you. I highly suggest packing these natural mosquito-repelling wristbands in addition to wearing mosquito repellent as an easy precaution against itchy bug bites and potential mosquito-borne illnesses.

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  • 11. Lipstick-Size Portable Charger

    This item is indispensable to pack any time you travel. If you plan to use your device for navigation, translation, music, or photos – you don’t want to get stuck with a dead phone battery. The power grid can be unpredictable in Jamaica and you may have long days out boating on the water, hiking through the rainforest, and far from any outlets. Bring along a lipstick-sized portable charger that you can easily throw in your purse or daypack to ensure you’ll always have an extra source of power on the go.

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  • 12. Luxury Organizers/Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes are a revolutionary way to stay organized on the road! With a variety of colorful cases in different sizes, you’ll never have to dig through your luggage searching for one specific item again. This particular set will upgrade your travels by allowing you to label (tops, swimwear, essentials, etc.) and keep a grab-and-go cube for excursions. It also comes with separate cases for laundry and shoes, so clean items don’t have to touch street-gunky shoes after a day of exploring.

    Available on HeroTravelSupply.com with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “HERO”.

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  • 13. Kid’s Snorkel & Life Vest

    You’ll find that adult scuba and snorkel rentals will be available around the island, but finding options for kids is much more difficult. They may have limited sizes and many won’t fit your child’s face, leading to a miserable experience of saltwater in the eyes. We suggest bringing this full-face snorkel that gives new swimmers more confidence because the mouthpiece sits out of their eye-view and won’t distort their vision. You should also get your own life vests so everyone can safely enjoy the water.

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  • 14. Motion Sickness Patches

    These patches are discreet little miracle workers that you will absolutely need if you’re prone to motion sickness or sea sickness. We’ve tried countless remedies and always seek natural, symptom-free products. This brand is the best one we’ve found because it prevents the drowsy delirious feeling caused by pill forms like Dramamine. Use these as a preventative measure, before getting on a boat, or at the first sign of nausea – simply stick one behind your ears and feel the (almost) immediate relief.

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  • 15. Sand-Resistant Beach Blanket

    A lightweight, sand-resistant beach blanket is the best alternative to your everyday fluffy beach towel. This one is our favorite because you can stake it down with anchors to ensure it doesn’t shift in the wind, plus sand slides right off. It gets very compact when folded, but when open, it can hold up to 8 people! The massive size and quality material make it perfect for family excursions, beach days, and picnics.

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  • 16. Water Bottle with Filter

    While the water in Jamaica is generally safe, there are contaminants, including chlorine, lead, VOCs, pesticides, prescription drugs, and bacteria. For this reason, it is imperative that you invest in a water bottle with a built-in filter. We use the Grayl brand to protect our family because it removes all of the core toxins, as well as sand, sediment, and microplastics. It is a small investment for long-term health and purification; bonus points because it makes water taste noticeably better!

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  • 17. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    From fresh molasses and Carribian rum to handmade art – Jamaica has unique souvenirs that you will want to take home with you. This “just in case” bag is for those unplanned purchases you will likely make. It’s a smart way to save yourself carry-on fees for the flight home since it counts as a personal item bag that fits under your seat.

    The glory of this particular bag is that it folds compactly when empty. But when full, it can carry your blue mountain coffee, coconut oil, Jamaican rum, handmade clothing, leather goods, local artwork, perfume, spices, and more. Don’t forget the wine wings to protect your glass bottles!

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  • 18. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Your bag will be out of sight at times – whether checking your suitcase for international flights or cruising through the islands, you will have to hand over your bag at some point. I had items stolen from my bag after checking them and learned the hard way that luggage locks are a must. Even for backpacks or staying at hostels, pickpockets will target an unlocked bag; visible locks will prevent thieves from even considering it. This set is TSA-approved and 10x harder to crack than a typical 3-digit lock.

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  • 19. Waterproof Phone Case

    In Jamaica, you are constantly surrounded by water, whether it be the vast ocean, stunning waterfalls, or rushing rivers. Make sure to protect your phone by bringing along a high-quality waterproof phone case like this one. It allows you to use your touchscreen through the seal, so we use it to record our kids snorkeling and capture some amazing memories that we’ll cherish for a lifetime!

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  • 20. Floating Wrist Straps for Devices

    If you plan on bringing a device to put in a waterproof case, you’ll want to ensure its protection by adding a floatation strap! There’s no point in waterproofing your phone or camera just to have it sink to the bottom of the ocean, right? Invest in a few floatation straps to bring with you on your trip. They can be used for electronics, hotel room keys, and anything else you’d prefer not to lose!

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  • 21. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    During the wet season (summer to autumn), you’ll need to protect yourself from the elements, so a sturdy travel umbrella is an invaluable item to bring on your trip to Jamaica. This one is high-quality and large enough to fit two people underneath without being as heavy as a standard-sized umbrella. During the dry season (winter to spring), use it as a beach umbrella to offer a bit of shade and respite from the heat.

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  • 22. Dry Bag

    Don’t underestimate the value of a dry bag in a tropical destination. We use ours for kayaking, rafting, tubing, fishing, boating, swimming at the beach, and more. It’s also useful if you’re cruising through the Caribbean and need to take a dingy boat from the ship to a smaller pier (or if you need to walk ashore without your dollars becoming soggy!) This dry bag by earth pak has always kept our items dry, even when fully submerged. Tip: Keep it full of air, fold the top to close, and it will float.

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  • 23. Cooling Towel

    The Caribbean climate brings warmth year-round. With an annual average low of about 70s F (about 21 °C), a cooling towel is a little luxury that is wonderfully affordable. Simply add water, wring it out, and the towel will drop to 20-30 degrees colder than the outside temperature. It’s so refreshing, easy to use, and lightweight so you can wear it around your neck, shoulders, and head while hiking. It will be your secret to sweet relief, even in Jamaica’s most balmy of weather.

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  • 24. Natural Hangover Cure

    If there is anything Jamaica is known for, its the world-class rum! Between the Mai Tais, Mudslides, and Tia Marias – you’ll be thankful to have a natural hangover cure. This liver detoxifier will remove the alcohol from your system more quickly through potent vitamins, electrolytes, and pure Dihydromyricetin. Time on vacation is limited, so take 1-2 anytime you drink; you can take another 1-2 in the morning if you’re still feeling fatigued or have a migraine.

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  • 25. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Accommodations can often have very small countertops and bathrooms with little to no storage. This hanging toiletry bag has been a game-changer for us, preventing spillage and broken bottles from exploding in our bags. You can hang this case on any door, hook, or pole, and it will fold out with 4 large compartments. It’s large enough to hold all of your skincare and haircare products and folds away compactly when you’re done.

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  • 26. After-Bite

    In Jamaica’s hot, tropical climate, it’s important to take every method of defense against mosquitoes. That said, no matter how hard you try, it’s likely you’ll end up with at least a few bug bites by the end of your trip. Don’t make the situation worse by scratching them or risking permanent scars, instead use After Bite to soothe your skin and avoid all the unpleasant itching that comes with mosquito bites.

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  • 27. Beach Bag

    Last but not least, any tropical destination demands a beach bag. This one is stellar because it has a cooler attached to the bottom that you can zip on or off. We bring along a travel towel, reef-safe sunscreen, snorkels, camera, change of clothes, etc., and use the insulated cooler to keep our drinks and snacks chilled through long afternoons in the sun. It’s also sand-resistant, allowing you to swiftly shake it off so you never travel home with grains of sand ever again!

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What should I wear in Jamaica?

What you should wear in Jamaica depends on the activities you will be doing and what areas of the island you will be visiting. For the most part, Jamaica is a warm, humid and a pretty casual country. When deciding on items to bring, think breathable and lightweight.

Avoid synthetic fabrics and pack items like shorts, tank tops, sundresses and sandals. Most of the places you will go in Jamaica won’t require dressy outfits but bring at least one for going out to a nice dinner. If you plan on making a trek to the Blue Mountains near Kingston make sure to bring some sort of lightweight fleece jacket and hiking pants as it can get chilly in the higher elevations, especially at night.

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What should WOMEN wear in Jamaica? – (Click to expand)

What you wear can vary depending on which part of Jamaica you visit, in general what you wear should be comfortable, breathable, lightweight clothing. It can be very humid on the island, so be sure to avoid items made of thick fabrics. Sundresses paired with sandals, along with shorts, tank tops or lightweight blouses are good everyday options. Full-length maxi dresses that can be dressed up or down are another great option for an easy day to night look.
While Jamaica is warm all year long, it does have a rainy season in addition to areas of higher elevation. Bringing a lightweight rain or fleece jacket is a good idea, especially if you are prone to getting cold easily. Bring a pair of sneakers or running shoes to use on hikes and in more rural areas where the streets are not paved.

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What should MEN wear in Jamaica? – (Click to expand)

Men in Jamaica dress more on the casual side, shorts paired with a tee or tank and sandals is common everyday wear. Make sure to always carry sunglasses and a hat to protect your face and eyes. Bring a few button-down t-shirtsfor going out to restaurants and bars at night.
Bring a pair of sneakers or running shoes for hiking and sightseeing, some rural areas won’t have paved roads so skip wearing flip flops when exploring. For high altitude destinations such as the Blue Mountains, make sure you pack a lightweight jacket as temperatures can drop, especially at night.

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What NOT to Bring to Jamaica

  • 1.DON'T bring more than one pair of jeans

    If you do decide to bring jeans, make sure you only bring one pair, they take a long time to dry and are not comfortable to wear in the heat!

  • 2.DON'T bring expensive jewelry

    The risk of losing items on the beach or due to theft is too high! There is no need to wear expensive items in Jamaica. You will only draw unwanted attention to yourself.

  • 3.DON'T bring any valuables

    Jamaica is known for high rates of theft so think twice before bringing all those electronics and other valuables.

  • 4.DON'T bring lots of cash

    Once again this cannot be stressed enough! There is no need to carry large amounts of cash on you. Take what you need with you and leave the rest in your hotel room safe or simply withdraw from the ATM in small increments.

  • 5.DON'T bring your phone or electronics without a proper waterproof case!

    Water will win every time so make sure you purchase the proper waterproofing accessories you will need for any electronics you bring to Jamaica.

  • 6.DON'T bring boots or sneakers

    Unless you plan on doing some extensive hiking in the mountains there is really no need to bring boots or sneakers. I myself did backpack around Jamaica and found that my hiking sandals and an extra pair of flip flops were all I needed.

  • 7.DON'T bring too many clothes

    In Jamaica you will most likely find yourself living in your swimsuit and guaranteed there will be clothing your bag you will never wear. Pack light, save room for the things you purchase while there!

What NOT to wear in Jamaica – (Click to expand)

DO NOT wear clothing that is made from fabrics such as polyester and wool. Jamaica is very warm and humid and heavier fabrics will just trap the heat.

DO NOT wear boots– unless you plan on doing some serious trekking in the mountains there is no need to wear boots in Jamaica. They are heavy and hot on your feet.

DO NOT wear any expensive jewelry. I am mostly addressing the ladies here. If you do want to accessorize your outfit make sure it’s with cheap jewelry that you won’t mind if you lose. Avoid anything made from silver and gold and any precious gems.

DO NOT wear tight fitting clothing. Jamaica is all about enjoying yourself and being comfortable!

What to wear to the beach: When you think of Jamaica, beautiful white sand beaches instantly come to mind. Jamaica’s beaches live up to all the hype, clear blue water and warm sand make for a serene beach going experience. When going to the beach make sure to bring all the necessities to maximize your time and experience! If you are staying at a resort ask to rent gear for snorkeling- there is always something to see under the water!

Beachwear for women: ladies put on your bikini, a cute coverup and some sandals and you are good to go! Bring or wear a hat to protect your scalp from getting sunburnt, depending on your skin it can be very easy to burn even with sunscreen on and you don’t want to get a horrible sunburn on your first day out! If you have fair skin wear a hat and a UV sun guard top for at least part of the time you are at the beach. Bring a beach tote to carry all your essentials and make sure you pack sunscreen, some leave in conditioner to replenish your locks and most importantly water!

Beachwear for men: a tank top, boardshorts and some flip flops will be your staples while in Jamaica. If you haven’t gotten a good base tan yet consider wearing a UV sun guard shirt and a hat to avoid getting burnt. Wear a Speedo if you are going for that full body tan, you won’t be the only one! Make sure you pack a bag with sunscreen, water and maybe even a few beers.

What to wear to go out: Overall, Jamaica is a pretty casual place, however in large cities such as Kingston there are many fine dining establishments where you will want to dress up. The humid climate makes fabric choices highly important. When deciding on an outfit to wear out to dinner or a night out on the town, chose something that is lightweight, breathable and most importantly, comfortable. For women, opt for wearing a patterned maxi dress paired with sandals or an open toed wedge. For men, pair some khaki shorts with a nice linen button down top and some sandals.

What to wear on hikes/waterfall trips: If you are planning any outdoor hikes or excursions make sure to avoid wearing cotton and chose quick drying athletic fabrics instead. You want clothes that are light weight, breathable and will dry fast in case you get wet. Make sure to bring a quick dry towel as it will come in handy for drying off after swimming or wiping sweat away. Pack a day bag with some snacks, beverages, sunscreen and bug repellent.

For women, if you know you are going to a waterfall to swim wear your swimsuit as your base and pair with comfortable athletic shorts and a sporty tank top. Wear some comfortable sandals like Chocos or Keens that you can walk around in even while wet without chafing.

For men, wear some boardshorts or quick dry hiking shorts, an athletic t shirt that you know absorbs sweat well and some comfortable water shoes or sandals.

Seasons of Jamaica

Jamaica essentially has two seasons; hot & rainy. The hot season runs from December to mid-April and is known as the high time for travel. The rainy season or the low season runs from October to November and while still very much warm you will encounter more tropical rain but lower prices at hotels, resorts and even on airfare.

Hurricane season

Jamaica also has a known hurricane season which follows the general Atlantic hurricane season and runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak period being in early August through the end of October. I personally travelled to Jamaica in mid-June and stayed through July and never encountered any hurricane force winds but mother nature is unpredictable. It is good to be aware of the hurricane season as if one does strike the island while you are visiting it could interfere with travel arrangements.

FAQs about a Jamaica Vacation

  • 1. How safe is Jamaica?

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    The island does have a notorious reputation for petty theft and assault, however, you should not let this deter you from traveling to Jamaica. If you are vigilant and practice “street smarts” you shouldn’t run into any trouble. It is important to stay in areas where there are plenty of people around and carry minimal amounts of cash.

    There are some areas in Kingston, Negril and Montego bay that are considered to have a higher risk of crime and violence. It is important to avoid walking around after dark and never venture out alone. Be leery of vendors who try to show you products in a separate location.

  • 2. Do I need a Visa?

    If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada you do not need a tourist Visa to enter Jamaica if you are staying less than 6 months. Check on the Jamaican consulate website for more detailed information regarding Visas. It is also a good idea to check the US State Department website for travel notices if you are an American citizen.

  • 3. How expensive is Jamaica?

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    $1 equals $132 Jamaican dollars. The exchange rate fluctuates but overall Jamaica is inexpensive to visit. If you travel during the high season expect an increase in room rates for hotels and activities. Resorts are in a league of their own but basic hotel rooms or a room in a guest house costs between $40-60 a night, a basic meal can range from $3-20 depending on the restaurant and a bottle of Red Strip beer costs around $1.20.

  • 4. What is jerk?

    Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica where meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice/sauce. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken and it is delicious!

  • 5. What are the differences between taxis?

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    In Jamaica there are licensed taxis and unlicensed taxis. Licensed taxis have a red license plate with white numbers and their rates are regulated by the Transportation Authority. Unlicensed taxis are not regulated by the state and are unmarked. You will spot them when a driver in a normal looking unmarked car tries to flag you down and offer you his services. It is always best to take the taxis that are regulated, they are safer.

  • 6. What language is spoken in Jamaica?

    English is the official language of Jamaica; however, a large majority of people speak Jamaican Creole or Patois. Jamaican Creole can best be described as a mixture of English and West African languages.

  • 7. What is a normal Jamaican meal?

    27 Top Jamaica Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (63)

    The national dish of Jamaica is Ackee and Saltfish. Most people in Jamaica like to eat this combo as a breakfast dish. Ackee is a fruit that grows locally on the island and it is a must try! The dish is served with dumplings that are either fried or boiled. The saltfish is cooked in a small amount of oil with peppers and onions. Another popular dish is hot porridge for breakfast as well as a boiled banana. Boiled bananas are starchy and no longer they have their sweet taste but are often served with meals.

    Fresh fruit juice is also common, my favorite that I tried was a carrot- ginger blend. Also some famous jerk chicken served with a side of rice is a popular dinner that you can find almost anywhere.

  • 8. What’s this about co*ckroaches?

    While visiting the island don’t be surprised if you encounter something scuttling about…these are just your local co*ckroaches and you will see them! They are harmless but if you are not accustomed to seeing them the first experience can be a little unsettling.

  • 9. Can I drink the tap water?

    27 Top Jamaica Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (64)

    The tap water in Jamaica is safe to drink. In some less developed rural areas it would be best to bring bottled water but for the most part water on the island is perfectly safe to drink. In fact, Jamaica has some of the best drinking water compared to other Caribbean nations. We recommend bringing your own filtered water bottle to ensure you have autonomy over the purity of your water.

  • 10. Do I need to tip in restaurants?

    A 10% tip is normal in hotels and restaurants. Check your bill carefully – some restaurants automatically add a 10% to 15% gratuity. Some all-inclusive resorts do not allow guests to tip. Outside of Kingston, taxi drivers often ask for tips, but it is not required.

27 Top Jamaica Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (2024)

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