Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean islands and the largest
of the English speaking Caribbean islands. The island covers approximately
4,244 square miles (10,991 sq km) and is 146 miles (235 km) long. Widths
vary between 22 and 51 miles (35-82km) The country is very mountainous;
with the highest point the Blue Mountain Peak, reaching 7,402 feet (2,256
m) Jamaica abounds in fine beaches and scenic beauty, and has some 120
rivers. On August 6, 1962, after more than 300 years of British rule,
Jamaica became an independent country. Today, Jamaica remains part of
the Commonwealth of Nations.
The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar. The current
Exchange Rate in Jamaica is fluctuating between 36 and 40 Jamaican dollars
to 1 U.S. dollar. It is best not to exchange money at the airport; their
rate tends to run low. The best exchange rates tend to be at the Cambio’s
(located at various spots throughout Montego Bay and Negril), banks
or hotels. Do not exchange all of your money when you get to Jamaica.
It’s best to exchange it as needed; you will lose money converting
Jamaican dollars back to U.S. dollars when you depart Jamaica. Use traveler’s
cheques whenever possible; it is the safest way to travel with money.
Keep all exchange receipts. They will be required when exchanging any
unused Jamaican money to U.S. money prior to departure. Most shops and
restaurants accept all major credit cards. You may want to notify your
credit card company in advance to be sure you are set up to access your
card outside of the country.
Jamaicans speak English and speak it eloquently,
but with their own musical lilt, unique sentence patterns, and some
words that have survived from West African languages. When Jamaicans
speak Patois, a blend of English and African, the discussion may be
almost incomprehensible to the visitor at first, but in a little while
you catch the rhythm and begin to pick up expressions. Proverbs and
place names express the vitality of Jamaica talk: for "Mind your
own business", there is "Cockroach no business inna fowl-yard";
for being corrupted by bad companions, "You lay down wid dawg,
you get up wid fleas" -- and for the pretentious, "The higher
monkey climb, the more him expose." Both British and Biblical place
names abound -- Somerset and Siloah, Highgate and Horeb. There are Awawak
towns called Liguanea, Spanish ones like Oracabessa, and entirely Jamaican
names like Rest-and-Be-Thankful, Red Gal Ring and Me-No-Sen You-No-Come
(If I don't send for you, don't come).
United States Citizens: All US Citizens are required to present a valid passport. No visa is required for tourists and tourists are allowed to visit the
island for a period not exceeding six months. Non US citizens should contact a JTB office for more information.
Eastern Standard Time, Jamaica does not observe
Daylight Savings Time.
It’s not hard to find a taxi in Jamaica;
they are literally everywhere. Official taxis have red license plates
with white numbers; they are the only ones to use. Be sure to negotiate
the exact cost in Jamaican currency before getting into a cab. Better
prices can be negotiated with large groups. Don’t ride alone;
always stick with the buddy system.
The temperature in Jamaica ranges from the
high 80’s in the day to the low 70’s in the evenings. Don’t
forget your sunscreen! The sun is extremely hot and, even if you tan
easily, you will burn. You don’t want to ruin your spring break
with painful sunburn. Jamaica’s rainy season is in May and October;
bad weather during spring break is almost unheard of!
There isn’t one in Jamaica; Montego Bay
is known for being the “capitol of casual.” Unlike some
of our other destinations, where club attire is key, shorts, t-shirts
and flip-flops will work just fine.
No worries, your blow dryers and clothes irons
will work without adapters.
Restaurants do not include tips in your bill.
Please be sure to tip the people who take care of you. Your waiters,
bartenders and room maids are vastly underpaid and many of them rely
on your tips.
Collect phone calls to home are expensive, about $10 U.S. for every
3 minutes. The best way to call home is to purchase a Jamaican Calling
Card when you arrive. A 5-minute calling card usually costs about $200
Jamaican; U.S. it’s about a dollar a minute. Email is another
way of letting home know you’re still alive. Ask your STS representative
for Cyber Café locations.
Keep all medication with you at all times.
Do not put it in with your checked luggage and keep it in the prescription
It is best to keep a “No Problem”
mind set while in Jamaica. Nothing happens in a hurry in this laid-back
country. While the Jamaicans will do anything for you, it will be on
their time. Just about every local you see will offer to get you anything
you want; some will stop at “no” and some will be overly
persistent. Don’t get annoyed or angry. Try to keep in mind that
this is a third-world country and they are just trying to make a living.
Their key word is RESPECT; show some and they will undoubtedly do the
same. A good way to get around without having to stop or be stopped
at every vendor is to walk quickly like you have someplace to be. Don’t
say things like “catch me tomorrow when I have some money,”
they will remember, just be polite and say “no, thank you.”
Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy. Queen
Elizabeth II is represented by a Governor-General. The island's government
is patterned on the British Parliamentary System, with an Upper and
Lower House. A general election is held every five years. There are
two main political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party, (JLP) and the
People's National Party, (PNP). A new party, the National Democratic
Movement, (NDM) has emerged, although it is not represented in parliament.
Getting Married in Jamaica
Provided that you have applied for and have been granted a marriage
license by the Ministry of National Security, a couple can be married
just 24 hours after arriving in the island.
Required Documents -These documents must be either originals or notarized
copies and must be in English.
1. Proof of citizenship - certified copy of birth certificate, which
includes father's name.
2. Parental permission in the form of parent's written consent, if under
3. Proof of divorce (if applicable) - certified copy or original Certificate
4. Copy of Death Certificate for widow or widower.(if applicable) Blood
Test - No blood test is required. However some couples do this with
a private physican while in the country.
Where to Apply
The Ministry of National Security and Justice, 12 Ocean Blvd., Kingston,
Office hours: 8:30am - 5pm, Mon-Thurs; 8:30am - 4pm, Fri.
The Marriage Cermony
The marriage must be performed before 8:00 PM and two witnesses must
be present at the ceremony and for the signing of the marriage certificate.
Call the hotel or villa where you will be staying and have them make
the arragements. They know the process and how to get things done quickly.