The Caribbean Sea is home to many unique island nations, but few pack such a vibrant mix of breathtaking nature and global cultural influence as Jamaica. With the cultural heritage including reggae, jerk cuisine, and voodoo, the nearly 4,000 square mile country has had a large social impact. While those toe tappin’ influences can’t be denied, it is the natural beauty of the island that continues to hook visitors to travel Jamaica. Channel your inner Errol Flynn and check out Jamaica travel programs; let its beaches, mountains, and rivers be your realm of happiness.
This island might have more churches per square mile than any other country, but it also has more opportunities for adrenaline-racing activities than most! For such a small landmass, Jamaica holds its own, both in land and sea adventures.
Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, serves as the cultural and culinary hub of the island and houses most Jamaica tour companies. The spirit of Bob Marley lives on in his former home and among the many reggae festivals, so there’s no shortage of opportunities to wail out a redemption song. If you’re yearning for the pirate’s life, check out the remains of the real Port Royal. Earthquakes might have flattened this former seamen sanctuary to a quiet village, but remains of the people who put fear into the Spanish fleet can still be found underwater if you dive deep enough.
For more water-based adventure trips in Jamaica, indulge in the tropical vibe of northern and western Jamaica. The northern part of the island is home to several beaches that served as the backdrops of some movie classics (Dr. No or Blue Lagoon anyone?), while the west is home to the Martha Brae River. It was here that acting legend Errol Flynn introduced bamboo river rafting. His late night antics are now a major part of Jamaica’s tourism industry, and you can try your own hand at navigating through the old Arawak witch’s waters.
While Jamaica’s coasts boast narrow plains, the interior is dominated by mountains. The mighty Blue Mountain range dominates the eastern part of the country and offers a look into the island’s agriculture. For tireless hikers, there’s even a hiking trail that’ll let you take a peek into Cuba! Who knew Jamaica adventures could be so cool, mon!?
Adventures in Jamaica
Between ziplining down mountain ranges, drinking a freshly-grown cup of coffee, exploring empty surf breaks, eating rude poultry, and seeing the bartenders try their best Tom Cruise impersonations, choosing between travel programs in Jamaica might be the toughest part of your entire trip. Our best advice is to take a deep breath, sip on someTing, and dive head-first into some fun research.
For hiking opportunities through postcard landscapes, check out the Blue Mountain Range. Some of the easier hikes include visiting villages, coffee farms, and waterfalls, while the longest and most difficult day hike will take you to the highest peak for a scenic picnic (Hola, Cuba!). While food is provided, it is recommended you bring proper footwear and clothing for your hikes. There are also guided eco tours that focus on the flora and fauna of the region. If you prefer to pedal around the island instead, hop on a cycle tour that’ll take you through plantations, caves, and isolated villages.
A less strenuous way to enjoy the nature of the island on your Jamaica adventures is a bamboo raft ride down the Martha Brae River. Tours include a dramatic storytelling session about how an old Arawak witch deceived an entire crew of greedy Spanish fleet, samples of regional herbs, and tastes of spices that have medicinal properties. For more bikini adventures, try a hand at windsurfing or snorkeling amidst clear Caribbean waters.
The best time to take advantage of these Jamaica adventures is during the late fall and early winter. The crowds are smaller and the weather remains mostly sunny. Between April and November, there is a higher chance of rainfall, but for a fearless warrior such as yourself, hurricane season is a mere inconvenience, right? Play it safe and keep an eye on the sky, but the unpredictability of the weather forecast also shouldn't prevent any trips!
Costs & Affordability
There’s a price to pay for rum-infused adventure travel with Jamaica tour companies on an island that boasts a very small snake population. However, there are always ways around the tourist traps and plenty of opportunities for affordable tours, so get creative and make some local friends.
The Jamaican dollar is a more colorful version of the American dollar, and its worth depends on where it is being used. Because of Jamaica’s close location to the United States and Caribbean climate, there are many hotels and trips aimed at the well-do traveler. However, tourist season is not year-round, and the rest of the island works with a modest budget. If you opt out of personal transport with AC, public transportation within cities is just a few cents, and cheap street food can be bought at most corners and mercados for less than $5.
Prices for adventure programs are moderate and fluctuate greatly with season. Many of the programs offer transportation to and from adventure spots, special gear, and even food, so make sure to check all that is included (and what is not). Also, don’t be afraid to sniff around after arriving and haggle around a bit. If planned right, there’s no reason to indulge in a few adventures on Jamaica and still have a nice rum punch budget!
If you do need any help with covering transportation, program, or accommodation costs, take a peek at GoAbroad's scholarship directory or start your own crowdfunding project at FundMyTravel! Who wouldn’t want to support you in your globetrotting dreams among James Bond and the world’s second-largest butterfly species?
Accommodation & Visas
For such a small island, jamaica is packed with accommodation options that range from sleeping bags on beach campsites to some of the world’s fanciest 5-star resorts. Tourism has been bustling strong for years and shows no sign of dwindling down, so finding a place to stay or a way to get there will definitely not be a problem.
Lodging type and price change rapidly with location as you travel Jamaica. Multi-day treks tend to come with all gear and sleeping options, usually in the form of tents or dorm rooms (unless you sign up for that romantic cruise down the Martha Brae River, in which case, you’ll probably be spending the night in a wooden villa decorated with dried rose petals). Hostel options throughout the island are many and include basic modernities. There’s also no shortage of higher-end hotels, for those that prefer voice-activated elevators and complimentary drinks at the bar.
Because of its high economic dependency on tourism, Jamaica adventures are pretty easy. As long as your adventure plans are under three months, tourists don’t need entry visas. For specific country peculiarities, check with your local Jamaican embassy. More worrisome is the Caribbean tendency to tropical diseases, such as the zika virus and chikungunya, so check current conditions and pack an extra bottle of bug spray to play it safe.
Benefits & Challenges
Small Size. Jamaica is only 4,244 square miles- about the size of Connecticut. With three international airports, several ports of call for cruise ships, and a good road system; you can arrive, check into your hotel, and be soaking that Carribbean sun in under an hour! And future transportation between cities and base camps is minimal, so you can spend more time doing than getting there.
Language. The official language of Jamaica is English, and it is widely spoken throughout the island. However, there are some local phrases you might hear such as Bill bak (chill) and Hail up (hello). So, if you prefer the ease of communicating in English, but appreciate the opportunity of learning local slang that incorporates Spanish, Patois, and Creole, you’re in luck.
Prices. Depending on where you want to stay, your conceptions of safety, and how you want to do these activities, budgets for adventures trips in Jamaica range widely. Since it is a large tourist destination, prices can vary depending on the time of year you travel and the demand for the activities. Go with the vibe that appeals most to you!
Even if sipping a cocktail on a beach like 007, seeing the concrete jungles that inspired a movement, dreading those locks, or standing where the real Pirates of the Caribbean stood do not interest you at all, there are still countless other adventures offered in Jamaica. So, go out and set a new Olympic record for booking that next trip to Caribbean paradise!