Jamaica - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events
Facts for the traveller for JamaicaVisas: US and Canadian citizens do not need passports for visits up to six months if you have other approved documentation of citizenship. All other visitors must arrive with a passport, but most western travelers do not need a visa.
Time: GMT/UTC -6 (UTC)
Electricity: 110V ,60Hz
Weights & measures: Imperial
When to Go to Jamaica
Jamaica is a year-round destination thanks to its idyllic tropical maritime climate. Seasons are virtually non-existent and daytime maximum temperatures along the coast hover constantly around 80-86°F (27-30°C). Even up in the Blue Mountains temperatures are only just under 68°F (20°C) for most of the year.
If you plan on spending time on the east coast or in the Blue Mountains, you may wish to take account of the so-called rainy season, which extends from May to November with two peaks: May/June and October/November. Although this time of year is a little more humid than others, rain usually falls for short periods (normally in the late afternoon) and it's quite possible to enjoy sunshine for most of your visit.
The peak tourist season runs from mid-December to mid-April, with Christmas and Easter the busiest weeks. During this period the resort areas of the island are flooded with foreign tourists and hotel prices are highest. You can save wads of money (40% or more at some hotels) by visiting during the less-crowded low season which lasts from May to November.
Jamaica hosts a full calendar of musical, artistic, cultural and sporting events. Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest are the biggest rages on the island, held about one week apart in July/August. Sunsplash is held near Ocho Rios, Sumfest in Montego Bay. Both are frenetic beachy music festivals, with A-rated fun and X-rated dancing. Carnival in March or April, the week after Easter, takes place on the university campus in Kingston and at various other places around Jamaica. It's a big blow-out, mainly for Jamaicans, with reggae, calypso and dancehall soca the main booty-shakers, but it's also a tourist attraction in its own right.
There are a number of yacht races on the calendar: the Pineapple Cup Yacht Race, held each February, starts in Miami and finishes in Montego Bay, a distance of 800-plus miles (1288-plus km). Cricket matches are held from laneway to lawn throughout the year. In April, the West Indies team takes on an international challenger in the Cable & Wireless Test Match in Kingston. Jonkanoo is a traditional Christmas celebration in which revelers parade through the streets dressed in masquerade. The festivity has its origins among West African secret societies and was once the major celebration on the slave calendar.