What to know about Jamaica

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Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean Sea which is independent since 1962. If you like nature, the heat and to relax, this is the place to be. Besides relaxing there are also many adventures that you can do in Jamaica.

There is much to know about this country. That’s why in this blog I wrote about the following:

Medical number: 911

Police: 119

Information that you must know about Jamaica

Many people know Jamaica because of the reggae music, the Blue Mountain coffee, beautiful beaches, and Jamaican rum. There is much more to explore and do in Jamaica. 

Some general information that you need to know:

  • Capital: Kingston
  • Currency: Jamaican dollar
  • Official languages: English but many speak Jamaican Patois
  • Largest religion: Protestantism
  • Surface: 10,991 km2
  • Inhabitants: 2,973,000 (2021)
  • Independence: 6 August 1962

One of Many, One People

Besides the general information there are some important things you should know before you go:

  • Don’t wear or bring camouflage clothes because it’s illegal to wear camouflage print!
  • Marijuana is illegal in Jamaica!
  • Jamaica is the third biggest island in the Caribbean.
  • One third of the Jamaicans live in Kingston.
  • Some say Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae. Many artists of reggae were born here like Bob Marley, Shaggy, Jimmy Cliff, and Sean Paul.
  • The fastest runner in the world Usain Bolt is from Jamaica. 
  • There is an amazing festival in July called Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay.
  • Jamaica has some delicious coffee called the Blue Mountain Coffee which grows in the Blue Mountains which are the highest mountains in the Caribbean.
  • Blue Mountain range is the longest mountain range in the country. The highest point is at 2 256 meters high.
  • In Jamaica you will find many mosquitos so don’t forget to bring some mosquito spray. A mosquito net can also be handy for a good night sleep with no worries.
  • Appleton Estate makes Rum in Jamaica including the most expensive rum in the world.
  • The Red Stripe beer is the local beer from Jamaica.
  • Many beaches charge a small fee to enter so make sure to bring cash. There are some stunning beaches like Seven Mile Beach and the Cave Beach that you should visit.
  • There is a long pirate history in Jamaica and pirates occupied cities in Jamaica.
  • You can find the largest butterfly that is endangered. Many bird species are living on Jamaica like the beautiful tiny hummingbird.

Tip: there are some scams in Jamaica where they are trying to guide you, but they will ask money afterwards. You should also never change money on the streets, just withdraw money from the bank.  

Weather and landscape in Jamaica

Jamaica has a tropical climate which makes it a warm country all year round. The winter and spring are the dry season so perfect to visit and have a lot of sunshine, but you can visit Jamaica all year long.

There is a hurricane season between early June to late November, but most storms are around August and October. If you decide to travel during the hurricane season, then you need to be prepared. Download the hurricane tracker app and make sure you have all the supplies.

This mountainous island in the Caribbean Sea has a beautiful landscape. There are many mountain ranges like Blue Mountains, Don Figuero Mountains, John Crow Mountains, and Cockpit Country. Besides mountains there are also many big rivers like the Black River, Rio Grande, and Rio Cobre. In Jamaica you can find many stunning waterfalls where you can walk on and have an adventurous trip in nature.

Transport in Jamaica

They drive on the left side of the road so this is something you need to keep in mind. I suggest renting a car because it’s easier to get around the island. You need to be prepared because they can drive chaotic sometimes and make sure to always lock the doors.

It is possible to get around with busses from city to city but it’s difficult to know when the bus is driving and where. They have a route, but they stop anywhere to pick up and drop passengers.

Tip: Read everything about getting around in Jamaica on the Rough Guides.

Food in Jamaica

Saltfish and Ackee is Jamaica’s national dish. It’s made from ackee fruit and salted codfish and many spices. Jerk is something they eat a lot in Jamaica, it’s a style of cooking where the main ingredient is coated in spices and slow cooked on a grill. The ingredient is a lot of the time meat like chicken and/or fish. Jamaicans love spicy food so be prepared when you order something. Another thing you should try is Jerk sauce.

Some dishes you should try out when you visit Jamaica are the following:

  • Pepper Pot soup is a soup with many vegetables.
  • Corn soup is a soup with corn.
  • Red Peas soup with pig tail or beef and red kidney beans and much more.
  • Festival is a fried dumpling usually with jerked meat or fried fish.
  • Bammy which is a savory cassava bread.
  • Callaloo is a leafy green like spinach.
  • Chicken, pork, or fish jerk.
  • A curry with mutton, goat, or chicken.
  • Oxtail, it’s the tail of cattle and a stew dish most of the time served with rice and peas.
  • Fish Escovitch is a fried fish usually Red Snapper. It’s topped with pickled vegetables.
  • Chicken stew and fish stew.
  • For side dish they eat a lot of the time rice and peas with their meals.
  • Ital dish is made by Rastafarian and are dishes with pure and natural ingredients.

There are many delicious desserts besides all the sweet fruits:

  • Sweet potato pudding
  • Gizzada is a small round tart.
  • Coconut drops
  • Banana bread
  • Coconut cake Toto

If you are a coffee lover, you should drink Blue Mountain Coffee. The Red Stripe beer is the local beer from Jamaica. Appleton Estate makes Rum in Jamaica including the most expensive rum in the world. Besides these drinks there are many delicious Jamaican cocktails and of course you must try the Jamaican ginger beer.

There are much more dishes you can try out, this is just a selection. If you want to know what to visit in Jamaica check out the blog 20 places to visit in Jamaica.

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