What Not to Do in Jamaica: 30 Ways to Take Your Vacation from Good to Great

What Not to Do in Jamaica: 30+ Tips to Make Sure You Have the Best Vacation Ever!

Jamaica is an amazing vacation destination. It is unquestionably one of the top Caribbean go to places and has the accolades to prove it. As you think about planning your trip, here’s a list of what not to do in Jamaica with 30 ways to take your vacation from good to great!

1. Don’t assume that just because Jamaica is an island it is small. It isn’t.

See Discovery Bay Jamaica on the map. Credit – mapsdotcom

At 4,411 square miles, it’s about the size of the state of Connecticut. It would take some effort to see the entire island in a one week visit.

With six distinct regions to choose from, pick the area that best appeals to your taste.

If you want non-stop nightlife, don’t pick Discovery Bay; pick Negril. If you want the best family-friendly location to take advantage of many different attractions, then, yes, Discovery Bay would fit that bill.

Read our article: How the Heck Am I to Decide Where to Stay in Jamaica.

2.Don’t worry about whether you will enjoy Jamaica. You will.

There is something for everyone here. Just be sure you pick the right area for your needs and interests.

Activities run the gamut from golfing, to zip lining, to scuba diving, to hiking, to browsing art galleries,  to chilling on the beach and everything in between. Check out our Things to Do page to give you some ideas.

3. Don’t automatically choose an all-inclusive resort.

All-inclusive vacations make you think you can leave your wallet at home; but, you can’t really.  They are also not necessarily cheaper or better. The food is generally not that great.

Jamaica has a wide range of lodging options – from all-inclusive hotels to non all-inclusive hotels to guest houses and villas.

Read this article – All Inclusive versus Non All Inclusive –  Which is the Better Deal?

Or this one –Jamaica All Inclusive Vacation: 7 Things to Think About Before Your Book.

4. Don’t ignore the villa option if you are traveling with a group.

Mais Oui Villa in Jamaica offers space galore. Perfect for multi-family group vacations in Jamaica

Not only will you save money but you also get a lot more space, luxury, and privacy than a comparable hotel.

Jamaica perfected the villa vacation experience and, until recently, thanks to AirBnB and HomeAway/VRBO, this had been a well-kept secret among those well-to-do or in-the-know travelers.

Read these blog posts to find out more:

How to Choose the Perfect Jamaica Villa Rental for Your Needs

What’s Your Vacation Style: Jamaica Villa Vacation Rental vs Hotel?

5. Don’t assume that beachfront is the “bees knees”.

Consider a stay just off of the beach and you will be surprised at how much further your money goes.

6. Don’t believe that you have to stay holed up in your resort.

The impression that Jamaica is a dangerous place to vacation is greatly over-exaggerated. Jamaica has the same travel advisory status as the UK, France, and many of the other popular holiday destinations.

There is so much more to see and do in Jamaica than just hanging out at your hotel. Not experiencing the island and its culture is a big mistake.

7. Don’t stick to American food.

Jamaican food is absolutely divine. What’s the point of coming to Jamaica to eat Burger King and KFC?

Scotchies Jerk Pork

You absolutely must try jerk chicken and jerk pork. If you are a seafood lover, try the steamed or escoveitched fish. Try Red Stripe beer or the award-winning grapefruit drink called Ting. Jamaican food will envelop and excite your palate!

8. Don’t forget your insect repellent.

Like the rest of the Caribbean, and even some areas of the United States, there are mosquitoes.

9. Don’t think it is old-fashioned to wear a hat.

A hat and sunscreen will go a long way to protecting you from the sun. Don’t ruin your vacation with a bad sunburn.

10. Don’t wear swimsuits without some sort of cover up in public, especially on the streets.

Times are a changing but swimsuits are generally considered beach and pool wear. On top of that, you will attract unwanted attention.

On top of that, you will clearly identify yourself as an inexperienced tourist and  potentially set yourself up to be taken advantage of.

11. Don’t forget water shoes.

They come in handy with almost any on-water activity. You can rent or buy them in Jamaica; however, they can be purchased quite cheaply in the US. Check out: A Must Read Before You Pack for Your Vacation to Jamaica or the Caribbean

12. Don’t look for illegal drugs or other illicit items.

Trouble is often not too far behind these activities. Jamaican jail is not a cool way to spend your vacation time.

13. Don’t assume that your new best friend who you met hanging out on the beach or the bar is your soulmate.

“How Stella Got Her Groove Back” was a movie! You could find yourself being someone’s Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama. It happens!

14. Don’t forget that you aren’t at home.

Some things will be different or even unavailable. Go with the flow. That’s part of the beauty of travel.

15. Definitely, don’t take the expressions “Soon come” or “Around the corner” or “Just up the road” literally.

And don’t act annoyed if you have to wait. You will end up waiting even more.

Jamaica is on island time. Relax a little. Take the “don’t worry about a thing ‘cause every little thing is going to be alright” attitude and you will be just fine.

16. Don’t forget to bring enough of your prescription medicines to last for your entire trip.

It is not easy getting prescription refills in Jamaica.

Not only will this require a doctor’s visit: but, the pharmacies will most likely only have a British, not American, version of your medicine.

Always travel with your medicines in their original prescription bottles, bearing your name, to make in easier if you end up needing to get a refill.

If you are on narcotic pain medicines, pay special attention here.

Bring enough with you. Getting refills for narcotic pain medicines carries its own special challenges since local doctors are reticent to prescribe narcotics even for locals.

Do make sure that the amount of that you bring into the country reflects the prescription bottle. Do not bring illegal drugs with you into Jamaica! In the unlikely event that you are stopped for a random search at the airport, you want to be able to prove that your pills are both legal and are for personal use, not commercial distribution.

17. Don’t leave your common sense behind.

While serious crimes against tourists are uncommon, crimes of opportunity such as petty theft do occur.

Don’t flash large wads of cash, flaunt expensive jewelry and equipment, especially fancy cell phones and cameras. Don’t pick up strangers, leave your drink unattended at the bar to hit the dance floor, or wander into dark areas, including the beach, at night.

Hmmm. These are the same precautions you would make use of anywhere in the world!

Read this article: Is Jamaica Safe?

18. Don’t forget that the concept of “respect” is very important in Jamaica.

Always begin each conversation with a polite “Good morning” or “Good evening” or some other form of greeting. Absolutely do not forget this. It is expected, even if you are asking a beggar on the street for directions.

If you like this article, why not pin it for later

What Not to Do in Jamaica and Why

19. Don’t take pictures of people, including children, without first getting permission.

This goes back to the concept of respect.

Let’s say you are out and about and see a beautiful scene of someone selling beautiful fruits at a roadside stand.

Before you grab your camera and indiscreetly start clicking away, ask permission to be on the safe side. Remember, each human being at least owns the right to his or her image and has a say in how that image is eventually used.

Most people will say, “Yes” and may even pose for you. Some will say “No”, usually if they don’t trust you. Someone who is dressed up in a costume will most likely want a tip, just like they would in Vegas or Times Square.

20. Don’t assume Jamaicans don’t speak English.

While Patois is the language of the people, English is the official language of the island. Unless you are Barack Obama, speak to the locals in English.

21. Don’t make eye contact with vendors in the craft market.

If you do, they will think you are interested in buying their wares or will try to get you interested by telling you that it doesn’t hurt to look. If you aren’t used to haggling, read this article: How To Survive the Craft Market in Jamaica.

22. Don’t drive yourself in Jamaica … unless you are a very confident driver who ideally has driven on the island before or are comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road in vehicles with the steering wheel on the right side.

If you can handle it, then fine. Otherwise, it can be a stressful experience. Hire a driver instead. The peace of mind is worth it.

If you choose to use a taxi service, only use one that has the red PP plates and be sure to negotiate the fare before you get in the vehicle.

23. Don’t forget to tip.

This is an expectation in the tourist areas, especially on the northern side of the island.

At villas, tipping a minimum of 10-15% of the cost of the rental is standard. At nicer restaurants, look to see if the tip is included on your bill. Tour guides also expect to be tipped.

24. Don’t feel that you have to change most of your money into Jamaican currency.

The decision depends on where you are staying and what you intend to do while you are on the island.

The US dollar is widely accepted on the northern coast of Jamaica, which is the more touristy area. In Kingston and the more inland areas, prices are almost always in Jamaican dollars.

Prices at grocery stores, casual restaurants, market vendors, and gas stations all over the island are in Jamaican dollars; however, attractions and better restaurants that cater to tourists have prices in US dollars.

Don’t forget, many places accept credit cards.

25. Don’t forget to let your credit card company know that you will be in Jamaica.

For your protection, they could freeze your card because of the unexpected charges in a foreign country. This doesn’t happen often, but if it does, it could be a great inconvenience for you.

26. Don’t expect to use your American Express card in Jamaica.

It is not accepted at most places. Stick to Visa or Mastercard.

27. Don’t forget to get an international plan on your phone to be able to use your phone in Jamaica – unless you don’t mind a massive surprise phone bill.

Most US carriers have plans that are about $10 per day. Don’t forget your kids’ phones, unless you can get them to pinky swear to keep their phones in airplane mode.

28. Don’t be afraid of swimming in the sea.

Go ahead and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The chance of a shark attack in Jamaica is infinitely less than being struck by lightning during your lifetime. Read this article – Sharks in Jamaica: Why Jamaica Wouldn’t Make the Cut for an Episode of Shark Week

29. Don’t forget to do your part to protect Jamaica’s resources.

Have a “look but don’t touch” attitude when you go snorkeling or scuba diving. Not only can contact kill the reef, it is actually illegal to have coral, dead or alive, in your possession.

Avoid single use plastics as they end up in our sea.

Be conscious of your energy consumption as Jamaica has one of the highest rates of electricity in the world. So, please, remember to turn off the air-conditioning when you leave your room.

30. Don’t be afraid to go to Jamaica in hurricane season.

Hurricane season is officially June 1st through November 30th every year. August through November have the best deals on hotel rates and fewer crowds than high season making a trip worth the gamble.

The National Weather Service monitors for hurricanes and so there would be sufficient warning. Always get trip insurance to protect your investment.

For more information read these articles:

Planning a Jamaica Vacation? What You Should Know About Hurricane Season in Jamaica

Travel Insurance for a Jamaica villa rental … What a Rip Off! Or is it?

BONUS TIPS of What Not to Do in Jamaica in a COVID-19 World:

1. Don’t stay anywhere that doesn’t have a COVID-19 plan.

Stay Safe Together at Mais Oui – COVID19 risk reduction program

Jamaica reopened to tourists on June 15, 2020. All properties are required to have a COVID-19 plan in place. If the place you are staying does not have one, don’t stay there. Anyone can get COViD. Why take a chance staying somewhere that doesn’t take your life nor their staff’s life seriously?

Read our our Stay Safe Togethr Program.

2. Don’t forget to wear a mask in Jamaica

Under Jamaican law, masks are required in public places. Wearning masks, good hand hygeine, and socail distancing are a big part of Jamaica’s strategy to keep the number of COVID-19 cases low.

So when you wonder about what not to do in Jamaica, avoid these 30 “don’ts” and you’ll have an absolutely wonderful Jamaican vacation experience.

Do you have any other what not to do’s that I might have missed?

Comment below or drop me an email. I will consider adding your suggestion in the next update

‘Til next time.

Think and dream Jamaica!

Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian

Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.

Visit our website: https://MakeItJamaica.com

Give us a call: 833-MAISOUI (624.7684) toll-free or 914.709.0457

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!