I am planning a trip to Jamaica for february of 2014. As I don't know anyone who has personally travelled there it'd be great for some tips. So, here are a few questions...
- For a 13 day trip how much money would be recommended to take for food, transport and activities?
- What are some cheap backpackers or home stay places in Ochos, Negril, Montego and Port Antonio?
- What is the best and cheapest way to get from place to place?
- What are some good tours and how much do tours roughly cost?
- How long would would be recommended to stay in each place listed above?
- Where are the best parties/clubs?
- Are there any particular safety tips for transport, going out, tours and hiking etc
Just want a pretty general idea of what to expect, do and prepare for. My friend and I were estimating to take roughly $2000 for accommodation, tours, food, transport and spending. Would this be doable for 12/13 days?
Not being racist but are you either Jamaican or black? If so, no problem but otherwise I would go to another island in the Caribbean rather than Jamaica. Having said that, a Jamaican guy I know said when he goes home, as soon as he opens his mouth they know he is a tourist (he has a London accent) so up goes all the prices.
Nothing to distinguish the island and there is potential violence there. Our ship docked at Ocho Rios and wandering along the nearby beach was no problem but I had a walk into the nearby town and there was not one but two cops on most corners.
I suppose if a cruise ship passenger gets badly beaten or worse, the ships would go elsewhere so they make sure nothing happens. But not so for casual tourists.
Consider Cuba. Some great people there, and when they say "no problem", they mean it.
Yeah my friend and I are both Caucasian females. Safety was a big concern so we researched a lot and if we stay out of Kingston and away from Dangerous areas we will be fine. Two friends of mine travelled there in December (they are both Caucasian and female) and said the people were amazing so that hasn't deterred us. Hopefully they won't hike up the prices too much!!!!
Jamaica is a great destination if you are looking for an off the beaten path vacation, great food, language and culture. A lot of what people think of as 'Caribbean' is actually Jamaican and not indigenous to other Caribbean countries but has been adapted for the sake of tourism (Reggae & Jerk Chicken are just 2 examples). If you can't tell by now I am Jamaican, (I studied and now live in the US).
I would go to either Negril or Portland. They are on either ends of the island so you'll have to pick one. If you go to Negril you can fly into Montego Bay and take a Juta bus to Negril. There are many budget hotels on the 7 Mile Beach in Negril. It is like the Vegas of beaches, there are so many things to see and do, parties, food, bars, vendors, anything you can imagine is on that 7 mile beach. From Negril you can also go the South Coast and other more off the beaten path destinations like Black River. If you hit the South Coast check out Jake's Hotel on Treasure Beach. Make sure you hit Appleton Estate Rum Distillery for a tour, it has been running non-stop for more than 200 years, they give a great tour and it is arguable the best rum in the world, (sorry for those that are a fan of the Captain, we leave that to the rookies.)
If you go to Portland you'll have to fly into Kingston, again check Juta Tours again for transfers. You should check out Great Huts in Portland, it's on a great beach with surfing and the best Jerk Chicken in the whole island. This end of the island is ideal for hippies! There is no mass tourism, the beaches are less crowded and it's more of an eco-friendly crowd than the opposite end of the island. As most Jamaicans would tell you it's a more 'Rootsy' side of the island. Also this is the gateway to the Blue Mountains and you should try to spend a few days at Whitfield Hall. Blue Mountains is home to the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee, you can buy it cheaply directly from farmers here. It retails for about $35 a pound.
It's cheaper to go to Jamaica with a friend to split hotels and taxis if you can. US dollars are legal so you don't have to exchange money. If you have someone to split hotels with you could do $2000 for a two week trip if not you will need a little more. Let me know if you have questions.
Thank you so much for all of that info!! Cannot wait Jamaica looks like an amazing place. How many days would you recommend staying in Montego, negril, Ochos and blue mountains? Do you think $3,000 would be better to take? What are the domestic airlines in Jamaica like?
If you have the time to burn (2 weeks) and you spend your money wisely you will have a great time. Pick on Lonely Plant Jamaica guidebook, you can check it out of the Library to save money if you want. Helps you travel independently and you can start reading an planning your trip.
If you fly into Montego Bay or Mobay as we call it head straight to either Negril or Ocho Rios (Ochi). If you take the Negril route you can then travel the South Coast until you get to Portland. If you go to Ocho Rios you can continue along the North Coast until you get to Portland and eventually Kingston. In general the North Coast has better beaches and is more developed. See if you can fly into MoBay and out of Kingston so you don't have to backtrack. Air Jamaica is the domestic airline but if you hop from town to town you only have to travel 3hrs max each time.
Also check on the big Reggae Festivals like Reggae Sumfest (in MoBay) or Eastfest (in Ochi) so you cam maximize your money and see a lot of famous reggae musicians all at once. These music festivals are really fun. Looks for guys like Morgan Heritage or Damian Marley on the line up, my favorites. Ann yes Damian Marley is one of Bob Marley's son is he is quite good. Youtube him. Morgan Heritage are the kids of another famous reggae singer Denroy Morgan.
Try to stay in each 3 or 4 so days in each town, just come with laid back attitude and you'll have a blast. Soak up the sun, drink Red Stripe and enjoy the music.
1. For a 13 day trip how much money would be recommended to take for food, transport and activities?
All depends and the "what and how" of your trip - for non-back packing - regular visit to include accommodation and entry to attractions I would budget about US$170/day or backpacking I would say US$70-100
2. What are some cheap backpackers or home stay places in Ochos, Negril, Montego and Port Antonio?
Well most place you mentioned would have affordable accommodation - US$30/night check the web
3. What is the best and cheapest way to get from place to place?
Long journeys along the coast use either of the express services (South Coast Express or the Knutsford Express) they are comfortable and the best price/mile. Near distances there are a variety of options local taxis, mini-buses and public transport in the cities
4. What are some good tours and how much do tours roughly cost?
There are too many to list - In Kingston there are tours such as the Bob Marley Museum, Hiking into the Blue Mountain and Coffee Tours. In the centre of the island I would recommend hiking in the Cockpit Country and on the south Coast - the YS Falls and the Black River Safari.In the east (Portland) Rafting on the Rio Grande and Reach Falls
5. How long would would be recommended to stay in each place listed above? 2 days
6. Each town has their own party spot - in Kingston there is the Quad, Port Antonio the Roof Club just to name a few
7. Are there any particular safety tips for transport, going out, tours and hiking
Hiking tours - best to book with a reputable tour company, don't pick up strangers, use recommended taxis eg from your hotel, avoid lonely places esp at nights and don't flash money or jewelry around.