When you think of Jamaica, you probably think of resorts and beaches, but this island country offers that and then some. From the hidden waterfalls to the crystalline waters, you’ll learn to appreciate life at slower pace when the surroundings are so beautiful. Whether you’re savoring the spicy Caribbean flavors or you’re swaying to the rhythms of the local beats, this country is a jewel waiting for your discovery. Volunteer abroad in Jamaica to help the struggling communities with the economic and social issues.
Where to Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica
Located west of Hispaniola, Jamaica is right at the heart of the Caribbean Sea. The country has characteristically Caribbean sunny weather, golden beaches, and thriving resort life, but with an African feel. Here are the best places to volunteer in Jamaica.
Kingston. The capital of Jamaica lies on the coast in the southeastern area of the country with urban vibes, and the government and financial transactions here are central to Jamaica’s economy. The majority of volunteer Jamaica programs are here, which focus on assisting underprivileged youth in parishes and schools. In your down time, be sure to visit one of the many parks here, such as Hope Gardens or Emancipation Park.
Montego Bay. Located in the northwestern area on the coast, this city is a popular tourist destination with tourism being pivotal to the economy. While one face of it speaks to typical Jamaican brochures, another area shows its grittiness with the hustle and bustle of traffic. Stroll along the Hip Strip (Gloucester Avenue) and take a bite out of jerk chicken in one of the many local restaurants.
Ocho Rios. A popular port for cruise and cargo ships, you’ll find this city in the northern area on the coast. While you won’t find eight rivers here, you can try climbing the terraced stairs of Dunn’s River Falls. You could also visit Columbus Park, where supposedly Christopher Columbus first landed and where you’ll discover colonial buildings and maritime artefacts. Swim with the dolphins at Dolphin’s Cove or marvel at the highway of ferns at Fern Gully.
How to Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica
From volunteering with kids via education and sports to helping empower citizens that suffer from HIV/AIDs, you’re not limited on volunteer Jamaica options here. While you will be working hard to help those in need, you’ll also be able to explore the culture at the same time. Here are popular volunteer projects in Jamaica.
Education. With overcrowded and understaffed schools, Jamaica is in high need of volunteer teachers to help fill the gap. Your contributions will make a huge difference for the youth with your help. You’ll have the opportunity to teach a variety of subjects, and you could help at primary schools, deaf & blind schools, and coaching sports.
Community Development. Exposed to hurricanes and earthquakes frequently, volunteer Jamaica projects are in need of volunteers to help repair window and roofs, digging pits, and setting blocks to help lessen the impact of future natural disasters. You could also find opportunities to help the staff with disaster management in local areas as well.
Animal Welfare. If you’re an animal whisperer with a passion for these non-human creatures, you’ll rejoice at the plethora of options to assist animals in need. You’ll be rescuing stray animals from horses to dogs to cats and assisting with their treatment. As you’re on an island in the Caribbean, you could trade land for water and also look into marine conservation.
Costs of Volunteering in Jamaica
Not going to sugarcoat this, Jamaica is a developing country with a high rate of inflation. However, Jamaica is a relatively affordable country. Most programs run from just a few weeks, so the cost won’t be too outrageous, and it usually covers the major expenses. If you plan on staying for several months or a year, you’ll need to save more ahead of time and budget wisely. FundMyTravel and scholarships can help cover the expenses.
Accommodations in Jamaica
The accommodation arrangements for volunteering in Jamaica vary greatly when you’re a Jamaica volunteer. You could be staying in an apartment/flat, dormitories, guest housing, or homestays. In most cases, you’ll be staying with a host family, which will you give the opportunity to try some homestyle creole food and learning more about the traditions and customs of the local Jamaicans.
Visas for Jamaica
As in most cases of traveling, you’ll need a passport, and for Jamaica, it’ll need a proof of anticipated departure as well. If you’re planning on staying fewer than 90 days, then you won’t need a visa, but you’ll need to discuss visa requirements with the program coordinator if you’re planning on staying longer than that. GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory can help you get started on answering those questions.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
One of the factors that keeps Jamaica teeming with tourists from all over the world is its tropical climate made even more ideal by the moderating effect of the surrounding sea.
Jamaica has some of the highest crime rates in the world – usually not affecting visitors – but make sure to exercise caution while you’re here. Your personal safety is one of the highest priorities for programs, so heed their tips and advice.
In the meantime, the hospitable locals and the stunning scenery will be “Jamaican” you crazy to come back for more!