Booking flights to Jamaica? You made the right decision. The sound of Reggae, the feeling of the white sand beaches between your toes, bikini-clad days and tank-top nights – it’s no wonder millions of tourists continue to fly to Jamaica every year. The third largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica is divided into fourteen parishes and has a lot to offer its visitors. Jamaica’s economy thrives on agriculture, mining, manufacturing, finance and of course, tourism.
The beaches in Jamaica are beautiful, and many come to the country to stay at an all-inclusive resort (a concept the island pioneered) for a relaxing vacation in places like Ocho Rios, Negril, and Montego Bay. For those seeking adventure, Jamaica offers a wealth of activities from diving on Caribbean reefs to zip-lining, and even dogsledding. The nightlife is exciting and bustling in many cities in Jamaica, and every whim is catered for. Jamaica has also become a popular place for couples in love to get married and, without wasting any time, honeymoon on the beach for a couple of weeks.
Away from the all-inclusive resorts, what some would call the “real” Jamaica exists – with a friendly and generous people, mouthwatering cuisine and a wild variety of fruits including the ortanique, unique to Jamaica, a cross between a tangerine and an orange. Kingston, on the east coast, is the capital, and the center of government, business and the cultural scene.
There are some “beware” factors that visitors booking Jamaica flights and hotels should be aware of however, as it remains an island of widespread crime. Tourists flying to Jamaica are advised to be aware of their surroundings, and to not head off the beaten path. Still, the over 2.5 million people who call Jamaica home welcome tourists with open arms. It’s also not uncommon for tourists booking airline tickets to Jamaica to come across some of the island’s alternative beliefs. Some Jamaicans still regard ganja (otherwise known as marijuana) as a sacred plant and believe in its healing power.
Whether your Jamaica flight takes you to a remote hut or a lavish resort, there’s much to see and do on this island. Or, just sit back and relax. After all, you’re in Jamaica, Mon. Here are some tips to help you plan your trip to this beautiful island.
The temperature in Jamaica averages out into the 80’s (Fahrenheit) all year round. Winters – December to March – are a little cooler thanks to trade winds but have little rain. The dry season runs from towards the end of November through April. It’s much warmer in the summer, as July and August can get uncomfortably hot. Hurricanes rarely hit Jamaica, but hurricane season runs from June through November, with September and October being the months that historically are most likely to experience one. September and October also happen to be the rainiest months on the island, with May being Jamaica’s other rainy season. It’s also quite humid in September and October.
The busiest time of year is from December to April where the weather is still warm with little rain. A lot of festivals take place during this time, and Spring Break is big in Jamaica as well. Be sure to book your flights to Jamaica well in advance to avoid overpaying for your flight tickets. Carnival is hugely popular and you’ll struggle to find cheap flights to Jamaica around the weeks it is on. It takes place in March and April depending on whereabouts in Jamaica you are planning to visit. The summer will also see a fair amount of vacationers as well due to the hot temperatures in June, July and August (with August being the hottest), while others may be turned off by the sizzling weather. July typically sees the least amount of rain of these months. All three fall within the hurricane season, though historically, you are more likely to see a hurricane in September or October.
As soon as the peak season finishes in mid-April there is a noticeable drop in tourism until December comes back around again. Cheap flights to Jamaica are a lot easier to find, with some flight tickets available at up to 60% off the peak season alternatives. September and October are typically the least visited months of the year, due to the amount of rainfall they receive historically and the risk of a hurricane. Certain events such as the Reggae Sumfest around late July do cause flights to Jamaica to shoot up in price so secure your flight tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Regardless of what time of year you are planning to visit you should aim to book your flights to Jamaica at least three months in advance, if not more if you can. Even during the off season, you will struggle to find the cheapest flights to Jamaica if you don’t book early enough in advance. Although the off season means fewer crowds, travelers may not see a reduction in room rates as many hotels reduce their services during this time. If you are flexible, then you’ll have the best chance of securing cheap flight tickets and can find some good deals too. If you decide to fly into Montego Bay (Sangster International) then try to sit on the right hand side of the plane for the best views as you descend.
When you head to Jamaica for your dream vacation, the time you spend in the air may seem like a lifetime. However, with a convenient nonstop flight, your arrival on the sandy beaches of Montego Bay, for instance, is six hours from Los Angeles, five hours from Denver, four hours from Chicago, three hours from Washington, D.C. and slightly over three hours from New York City.
Delta, American, United and Southwest are four of the largest airlines with hubs in major U.S. cities that fly regularly to Jamaica, so pick your favorite carrier and book your flight. Be sure to check with your carrier, however, to determine extra charges for baggage because a trip to the Caribbean requires a fair amount of clothing and accessories.
Your trip to Jamaica is a vacation away from the normal wear and tear of everyday living, but there are some important things to bring with you when traveling. Along with your passport, plane ticket and a picture ID, include your ATM card, health insurance information, emergency phone numbers, medications and a good book in your carry-on bag.
If your trip to Jamaica focuses around sapphire blue water, sandy beaches and balmy weather, be sure to bring clothing that is lightweight and breathable. Summer temps in Jamaica hit the high 90’s, so be sure to bring shorts, sundresses, cotton shirts, sunglasses and a hat to protect against sunburn. Many restaurants have a dress code, so a comfortable dress for ladies and casual slacks for men are a must. If you suffer from allergies, pack your epi pen as a hospital may be hard to find in your location. Other sundries like sun protection and bug spray are easy to purchase on the island.
Pack your suitcase with at least two swimsuits if you plan on snorkeling or swimming at the beach. Bring an old pair of sneakers to protect your feet during water sports, and don’t forget a beach bag. A knapsack is a helpful carryall on island excursions. The rainy season falls between May and October/November, making a raincoat or jacket appropriate if you travel during this time or stay in the mountainous areas where the weather is a bit cooler, especially in the evening.
Most places in Jamaica accept U.S. currency, so bring some small bills, such as fives and tens, for miscellaneous purchases and tips. If you have room, pack your entertainment devices. When you travel from the United States to Jamaica a plug adapter is not necessary.
The most important thing to bring on your Jamaican vacation is an attitude of relaxation. Plan on some great food, white sands and fantastic music for a vacation memory to last a lifetime.
There are three international airports in Jamaica, with Sangster International (MBJ) in Montego Bay and Norman Manley International (KIN) in Kingston being the most popular. Here are a few tips for getting to where you need to go from each of these two airports.
Once your flight to Jamaica arrives and you’ve gone through customs and baggage claim, you’ll need to find a way to get to the city center. There are two separate taxi firms that operate from outside of the arrivals Terminal but they won’t be cheap so it’s best to either avoid or only travel if there are a couple of you to split the fare. The best option is a transfer to your hotel so once you’ve booked your flights to Jamaica start enquiring and researching which hotels provide transfers to and from the airport as this will save you a lot of time and money.
There are a couple of options to get you into the center of the capital. You can get a bus directly to the city and it runs all throughout the day. Traveling to the city is easy thanks to the frequency of the buses and the price is cheap too. You can also opt for a taxi from outside of the airport. They are a lot more expensive but if you have a lot of baggage or if you don’t care for a bus journey then they could be your next best bet. Lastly, once you’ve secured your flight tickets it is worth enquiring if your hotel provides free transfers to and from the airport.
After you’ve gotten to where you need to go, renting a car gives travelers the independence to see the country on their own terms, though one must be very cautious if choosing to go this route. Be safe and aware of your surroundings, and don’t go off the beaten path. Traveling in groups is also recommended. If going sightseeing to places like Dunn’s River Falls or Kingston, it might be best to book a tour with many of the reputable vendors that operate on the island.
Bus is one of the cheapest ways of getting around Jamaica, and may suit travelers without a strict deadline. Taxis are an option as well, but be sure to negotiate a fare with the driver before taking off.
There is so much to see and do in Jamaica. From the lush beaches to the many historical sites, and from zip-lining in a rainforest to tubing down the White River, the island has something for everyone. Adventurers, water enthusiasts, history buffs, and lazy beach bums will never want to leave.
Kingston has the best of local art, theater, and dance, and it is said that Reggae was born here. In fact, you’ll find the Bob Marley Museum located in Kingston, dedicated to the island’s famous son. The nightlife is sophisticated and sizzling, and Kingston has excellent festivals, museums, galleries, historic buildings, and, of course, beaches. Crime is a serious problem in Kingston however; exercise common sense, don’t walk around at night, and use only licensed taxis or hotel-recommended transportation.
Montego Bay is Jamaica’s busiest cruise pier and first choice for visitors. The ten-mile shoreline is fronted with coral reefs and blue lagoons and backed with lush green hills. The main tourist area, Gloucester Avenue, sees lots of visitors, shoppers, and hustlers. Active in tourism since 1924, MoBay attractions include bird watching, golfing, music festivals, exciting nightlife, and historic houses. And did we mention the stunning beaches?
Popular with American hippies in the 1970’s, Negril remains free-spirited and best known for its overtly risqué resorts, seven miles of pristine beach, water sport facilities, music, discos and clubs, and the best sunsets on the island. Be sure not to miss the cliff diving at Rick’s Café, too. A fast-growing resort area, Negril is still laid back with prude and nude beaches, a relaxed interaction between tourists and locals, and tropical charm.
The first Jamaican town specifically developed as a resort, Ocho Rios (Ochi) is dedicated to fun, sun, and tourists. There’s lots of shopping, bars, and visitor-oriented restaurants. For a day off from the beach, try a follow-the-leader climb up Dunn’s River Falls or a visit to Prospect Plantation, Cranbrook Flower Forest, Green Grotto Caves, Fern Gully, or Bob Marley’s former home.
The quiet haven of Port Antonio has some of the finest beaches in Jamaica, excellent deep-sea fishing, and several of the most expensive yachts sailing the Caribbean. Port Antonio is the greenest parish in Jamaica, known for its many rivers and waterfalls. Long a favorite hideaway haven of celebrities, it’s also a retreat for eco tourists and European travelers who come for the bamboo rafting, rain forest hiking, scuba diving, surfing and snorkeling.
When you’re ready to leave Jamaica and explore more of the world, Cheapflights can help with that as well. Delta, Jet Blue, American Airlines, Air Canada and Caribbean Airlines are popular carriers who fly out of Jamaican airports, including Kingston Normal Manley International Airport (KIN), Ian Fleming International Airport (IFIA) and Sangster International Airport (MBJ).
Here are some popular routes from Jamaica, where you will find cheap flight deals:
Booked a flight from Jamaica? Whether you’re in Montego Bay, Saint Mary Parish, or Kingston, you may be able to take a transfer directly from the resort or hotel to the appropriate airport. If not, you can book private transfers or shuttle transfers with many area transportation companies. If hailing a taxi, be sure to use a red plate taxi with a meter. A JUTA (Jamaican Union Taxi Association) is also an option, but pricier, with per-passenger fees. Be sure to arrive at the airport at least two hours early, as you would for any international flight.
Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Jamaica airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.
(prices quoted are from London)