Backpacking Jamaica

Hey backpackers and everyone who wants to become one!

Jamaica – the land of Rastafari, rum, and good vibes! Jamaica is not the first destination backpackers have in mind, even though the relaxed atmosphere and the warmth of the locals are exactly what backpackers are always looking for. You can easily stay within your budget during your trip with just a few tips.
The flight to the island could be the first obstacle. You should not limit yourself to the main travel season as the flights are obviously more expensive during that time. Since the weather is pleasant all year round, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in the off-season between May and November: the beaches are emptier, and the overnight stays and excursions are cheaper.
Food is also affordable if you keep some distance from the tourist hotspots. Food stands along the roads offer rich and tasty options, such as the famous jerk chicken or bean soup. Look out for the food stands where most locals hang out – this is always a sign of good quality and a great price! The go-to drink is rum, which you can also enjoy during the day. Rum is not only cheap here but also of high quality.
In terms of landscape, Jamaica will blow you away on more than one occasion; even after a few days, when you thought that the white sandy beach and the crystal-clear water couldn't impress you any more you might have to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming – Jamaica really is a true paradise. You’ve never swum in such clear rivers or seen so many waterfalls in such a short time. The experience is particularly rewarding when you find a spot on a river all to yourself, where you just listen to the sound of the water and the calls of wild birds. Then – at the very latest – you will realize that you've arrived in paradise!
After falling in love with nature, the next thing that will happen is you'll fall in love with the locals. Jamaicans are incredibly proud of their island and are happy to share it with and show it to people from other countries. In Jamaica, make sure to always take the time to chat with your neighbour, the salesman at the market or the taxi driver. There really is no hurry, and social interaction is the most important thing. This attitude would blow you away, especially if you just arrived feeling stressed out. Maybe you can take some of the Jamaican lifestyle home with you!

See below for the perfect Jamaica itinerary for an unforgettable journey:


Important Basics

Official Language

English

Capital city

Kingston

Form of government

Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Telephone area code

+1-876

Currency

Jamaican dollar (JMD)

Best time to visit

November to December

Climate

ø Maximum temperature: 32 degrees

Ø Minimum temperature: 22 degrees

Fun Fact

Jamaica is the third-largest Caribbean Island.

Jamaica lies on top of an underwater mountain.

Cities

Ocho Rios

Let’s start your Caribbean adventure! You can either stay in Montego Bay for a while and recover from your jet lag or you can take the bus straight to Ocho Rios, which is located 2 hours further east on the North Coast of the island country.

Luxurious shopping malls meet typical Jamaican markets and shops in the small town of Ocho Rios. However, you can experience pure nature above anything else in Ocho Rios: The region is not called "Eight Rivers” for no reason. To avoid tourist traps, you should first take some time to explore the area on foot instead of joining the first available tour which might be overpriced. Talk to Jamaicans at local markets, as they can give you hints where to go and how to get to the most exciting places without having to spend a fortune. Don't miss out on the crystal-clear water of the Dunn's River Falls.

At Reggae Hostel, you are not only at the heart of the events, but you can also stay for €17 per night in a 6-bed dorm, which is very cheap by Jamaican standards.

Port Antonio

The journey continues eastward to Port Antonio. The bus drives along the coast, so you can enjoy the incredibly green landscape during the bus ride. Port Antonio is considered to be the heart of art and art trade on the island. You can look for souvenirs in The Village, the city's art shopping centre.
An absolute highlight is the "Blue Lagoon" outside the town, which you can reach in just a few minutes by car. Fresh water mixes with salt water here, and when you swim in it, you will notice how the water temperature changes constantly. And the best part: Entrance to the lagoon is free.
In Port Antonio you will stay at the Porty Hostel. In this simple and openly-designed hostel, you can spend a night in a 6-bed dorm for €16. There are also barbecue facilities and a nice garden to let the evening fade away in the hostel.

Negril

To get to the western part of the island, you need to take a slightly longer bus ride of about 5 hours. You’ll never get the feeling that you’ve seen enough of the Jamaican landscape anyway. Public transport is quite reliable, so pack some food and enough water and off you go to Negril.
Once you’ve arrived, you can take a walk along the "Seven Mile Beach". You could walk for hours and hours as the beach is indeed very long.
If you haven't had a chance to experience the island's nightlife until now, Negril is the perfect place to do so. There is live reggae music every night of the week in various locations across the town, and the entrance is usually free. Besides rum, you can also drink Red Stripe, the country’s beer.
In Port Antonio you will stay at the Drifters@OneMile Hostel. You get a single room for €19. You can treat yourself to that from time to time, after all.

Montego Bay

From Negril, you will return to Montego Bay, where your trip around the island will come to an end. If you still have some time, you can stay here for a while. Montego Bay has the most expensive hotels, but also the most turquoise water and the whitest sand of the island. You should definitely jump into the water and go snorkelling. In Montego Bay, you’ll get a dorm bed for €22 per night in the W Hostel, which is located on the West Gate Hills; you’ll have an incredible view over the city.
At International Airport Montego Bay, you can take a flight back to your home country. Or maybe you really feel like island hopping in the Caribbean now?


Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios

Let’s start your Caribbean adventure! You can either stay in Montego Bay for a while and recover from your jet lag or you can take the bus straight to Ocho Rios, which is located 2 hours further east on the North Coast of the island country.

Luxurious shopping malls meet typical Jamaican markets and shops in the small town of Ocho Rios. However, you can experience pure nature above anything else in Ocho Rios: The region is not called "Eight Rivers” for no reason. To avoid tourist traps, you should first take some time to explore the area on foot instead of joining the first available tour which might be overpriced. Talk to Jamaicans at local markets, as they can give you hints where to go and how to get to the most exciting places without having to spend a fortune. Don't miss out on the crystal-clear water of the Dunn's River Falls.

At Reggae Hostel, you are not only at the heart of the events, but you can also stay for €17 per night in a 6-bed dorm, which is very cheap by Jamaican standards.

Port Antonio

Port Antonio

The journey continues eastward to Port Antonio. The bus drives along the coast, so you can enjoy the incredibly green landscape during the bus ride. Port Antonio is considered to be the heart of art and art trade on the island. You can look for souvenirs in The Village, the city's art shopping centre.
An absolute highlight is the "Blue Lagoon" outside the town, which you can reach in just a few minutes by car. Fresh water mixes with salt water here, and when you swim in it, you will notice how the water temperature changes constantly. And the best part: Entrance to the lagoon is free.
In Port Antonio you will stay at the Porty Hostel. In this simple and openly-designed hostel, you can spend a night in a 6-bed dorm for €16. There are also barbecue facilities and a nice garden to let the evening fade away in the hostel.

Negril

Negril

To get to the western part of the island, you need to take a slightly longer bus ride of about 5 hours. You’ll never get the feeling that you’ve seen enough of the Jamaican landscape anyway. Public transport is quite reliable, so pack some food and enough water and off you go to Negril.
Once you’ve arrived, you can take a walk along the "Seven Mile Beach". You could walk for hours and hours as the beach is indeed very long.
If you haven't had a chance to experience the island's nightlife until now, Negril is the perfect place to do so. There is live reggae music every night of the week in various locations across the town, and the entrance is usually free. Besides rum, you can also drink Red Stripe, the country’s beer.
In Port Antonio you will stay at the Drifters@OneMile Hostel. You get a single room for €19. You can treat yourself to that from time to time, after all.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay

From Negril, you will return to Montego Bay, where your trip around the island will come to an end. If you still have some time, you can stay here for a while. Montego Bay has the most expensive hotels, but also the most turquoise water and the whitest sand of the island. You should definitely jump into the water and go snorkelling. In Montego Bay, you’ll get a dorm bed for €22 per night in the W Hostel, which is located on the West Gate Hills; you’ll have an incredible view over the city.
At International Airport Montego Bay, you can take a flight back to your home country. Or maybe you really feel like island hopping in the Caribbean now?

Jamaica Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Montego Bay - Ocho Rios
Home – Montego Bay - Ocho Rios
Flight +Bus
315
Reggae Hostel 6-bed dorm
17
2. Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios
-
Reggae Hostel 6-bed dorm
17
3. Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios
-
Reggae Hostel 6-bed dorm
17
4. Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios
-
Reggae Hostel 6-bed dorm
17
5. Ocho Rios - Port Antonio
Ocho Rios - Port Antonio
Bus
15
Porty Hostel 6-bed dorm
16
6. Port Antonio
Port Antonio
-
Porty Hostel 6-bed dorm
16
7. Port Antonio
Port Antonio
-
Porty Hostel 6-bed dorm
16
8. Port Antonio
Port Antonio
-
Porty Hostel 6-bed dorm
16
9. Port Antonio - Negril
Port Antonio - Negril
Bus
9
Drifters One Mile single bed room
19
10. Negril
Negril
-
Drifters One Mile single bed room
19
11. Negril
Negril
-
Drifters One Mile single bed room
19
12. Negril
Negril
-
Drifters One Mile single bed room
19
13. Negril - Montego Bay
Negril - Montego Bay
Bus
12
W Hostel dorm
22
14. Montego Bay – Home
Montego Bay – Home
Flight
300

Total price.

Flights 600,00
Transportation 51,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodations 230,00
Total881,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Flour dumplings: This speciality is often eaten for breakfast. It is served with bread and jam.

Akee: The fruit is often served with a fish dish as the first meal of the day. For Europeans, it takes some time getting used to it, but it is part of everyday life for the locals.

Soups

Pumpkin soup: The pumpkin soup from Jamaica is very famous and offered in many restaurants. The pumpkin is puréed and flavoured with coconut juice and spices.

Main courses

Jerk: marinated pork or chicken that is smoked and grilled. This is done in a so-called ‘jerk’ grill, hence the name.

Jamaican Pepperpot: This stew is a speciality of the country. Beef or pork is boiled and mixed with local vegetables. It has a good flavour and is a popular feast.

Suckling pig: The piglet is stuffed with rice and paprika, served with grated coconut and thyme.

Ackee: This fruit is often served as a side dish. The classic mix consists of dried cod and ackee.

Drinks

Rum: Jamaican rum is renowned around the world. And it tastes even better in its actual region of origin.

Liqueur: The locals produce their own spirits, which are usually mixed with rum. Should you get invited to eat with some locals, they will surely offer you a taste of it.

Jamaica

The exchange rate for 10 Jamaican Dollars is about €0.07 (as of February 2020). You can see the prices for certain products as well as the cost of living below.

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Look for secluded beaches: Jamaica really has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are also small bays far away from tourist resorts if you want to be by yourself.

Reject the pot: Yes, it's often offered to you in Jamaica, but if you get caught by the police, it involves a heavy fine, so better keep your hands off it.

Avoid eye contact with the sellers: There are many stands, also by the roadsides. This is the best way to avoid looking interested, otherwise you will be involved in an endless sales conversation.

Small talk – Jamaicans love it. They may ask you about your religion or life in your home country. Answer their questions and, above all, be open. 

Don'ts

Don't get into a car with strangers in the cities: If you are looking for a taxi or standing at the roadside, you will often be approached. Only get into an official taxi.

Don't expect help from the police: in Jamaica, the police are a very unstable force, and it is important to know that you cannot always count on them.

Don't raise your voice: Everyone is very relaxed and calm in Jamaica and you should adapt to this lifestyle as well. Stress and uproar are out of place.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

According to Dominican Immigration Services (Dirección General de Migración), foreign passports must be valid for a minimum of six months at the time of entry.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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