"Jamaica-love it or hate it!" Top 5 Page for this destination Jamaica by Dabs

Jamaica Travel Guide: 2,494 reviews and 4,971 photos

What part of Jamaica should you go to?

It's rare to find someone that is ambivalent about Jamaica, travelers seem to either really love it or really hate it. Although the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is my favorite escape from the bitter cold and wind chills of Chicago, Jamaica is a close second and has been our springtime escape for 7 out of the last 9 years.

Travelers to Jamaica are not short of options when it comes to visiting this lush tropical island. There are three major resort areas in Jamaica and each have their merits:

Negril has the best beaches and long stretches that you can walk freely on. Bloody Bay is a nice secluded bay with several resorts or you can stay along the 7 mile beach either at all inclusives or small hotels. This would be my recommendation for 1st time visitors.

Ocho Rios resorts are located about 2 hours from the airport in Montego Bay and are a little more isolated, you can use the beach at your resort or go to public beaches but there isn't a long stretch of beach to walk. You are closer to Kingston, the Blue Mountains, Port Antonio and Dunn's River if you stay in Ocho Rios. Pick your resort carefully as some of them are older and a bit worn.

Montego Bay has the resorts closest to the airport. Between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are some of the nicest properties in Jamaica-the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon and Jamaica Inn

All inclusive or not?

The all inclusive format is very popular in warm weather destinations, all food, drinks, tipping, activities and water sports are included in most of them in Jamaica.

Who might want to opt for an all inclusive? If you are a big eater, big drinker, plan on spending most of your time at the resort or plan on doing a lot of diving, then an all inclusive will be a good deal. If you are not a seasoned traveler and the idea of Jamaica makes you a little nervous, an all inclusive is perfect for you.

We normally don't stay at all inclusives when we travel and indeed there are many options around the island for non all inclusive lodging. But this is the place we seem to go when we need a no-brainer, get out of the Chicago cold, stressed out at work, lay on the beach vacation in February or March and all inclusives are just easier to book and that means less research for me.

From Chicago (and other major cities in the US), the best deals can usually be found through package dealers such as Apple, FunJet, Air Jamaica, Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity.

We have stayed at the Sunset Beach Resort in Montego Bay (March 2002, March 2004, February 2008, March 2009, March 2010), the Grand Lido Negril (March 2003) and Couples Ocho Rios (Feb 2005).

Is Jamaica dangerous?

I often see posts on travel boards, people that say Jamaica is so dangerous that they will not travel there. We have ventured outside of the resorts on each of our trips, sometimes with a local guide, sometimes on our own and we have never felt unsafe.

Besides, so many travelers to Jamaica, especially those who stay in all inclusives, never see anything besides the airport and their resort in Jamaica. Many of the resorts are fenced off, those that are not have security guards keeping people who are not guests out.

And people who travel there on a day trip from a cruise ship I think see the worst that Jamaica has to offer. They are besieged at the docks with people trying to sell ganja, braid your hair, provide taxi service, etc. If you are visiting Jamaica on a cruise, do yourself a favor and hire a private guide and you will enjoy your visit so much more!

Get out and see the country!

No matter where you stay on the island, there are opportunities for day trips out to see some of the lovely Jamaican countryside. Even if you opt for the pampering of an all inclusive, go out and see one of the beautiful falls, take a lazy raft ride down one of the rivers, take a drive through Cockpit country or the Blue Mountains.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful beaches, warm water, lots of rum
  • Cons:Having to get back on the plane to Chicago!
  • Last visit to Jamaica: Mar 2010
  • Intro Updated Jul 1, 2010
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Reviews (34)

Comments (31)

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    Not likely that I will tour other than on VT - so, really enjoyed your photos & detail. Strange about those brown dogs! Grazie, <(•¿•)>

  • jusdenise93's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2009 at 10:50 PM

    Jamaica is my dream vacation, love the beaches and i've met people from Jamaica but i really do want to meet locals.

  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2009 at 11:23 PM

    Excellent Jamaica tips - would have loved to have seen the manatees. Maybe next time! Cheers!

  • Dec 10, 2008 at 7:43 PM

    Wow! love all your tips! Was hoping you could help me. DH & I booked at Riu Negril4 Feb. Now friends R joining us & wants us to look at Mo Bay. I've done a lot of research on Negril and am having a hard time switching. Do you prefer one over the other?

  • MariePisces's Profile Photo
    Aug 22, 2008 at 3:48 AM

    Hey good page :) The tips on danger and the all inclusive packages were helpful ta :)

  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2007 at 9:36 AM

    Wow, what an amazing color of the waters, Jamaica seems to be so incredibly beautiful, there is a place ther called PORT ANTONIO which I am mad to vsit one day!;)

  • american_tourister's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    Your pics of the Appleton tours make me thristy here in dry Kuwait.

  • Apr 23, 2007 at 5:47 PM

    hello im mackenzie i was jut wundering if you got my meassage bye

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2007 at 8:37 AM

    Excellent tips,Kristi. We'll be taking a cruise this summer and Jamaica is one of the stops...Montego Bay. This has been so-o-o helpful! THANKS...

  • ray_d's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2007 at 5:21 PM

    The hotel information is indeed detailed. Thank you.

Dabs

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