South Coast Travel Information
Local time is GMT -5.
Electrical current is 110 volts, 50Hz. Flat two- and three-pin plugs are in use.
The official language of Jamaica is English but a local patois is also spoken, a mixture of English, Spanish, and various African languages.
Dengue fever and malaria are risks in Jamaica so visitors should take measures to protect against insect bites, though prophylaxis is not considered necessary. No vaccination certificates are needed for entry into Jamaica, but yellow fever certificates are required for travellers coming from an infected area. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended for travel to Jamaica.
Although generally safe, the tap water can cause stomach upsets and visitors are advised to drink bottled water if on short trips. Private medical facilities are of a reasonable standard but can vary throughout the island, and facilities are limited outside Kingston and Montego Bay. Medical treatment can be expensive so insurance is advised. If you require prescription medication it is best to take it with you, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor naming the medication and explaining why you need it.
Outside the all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, where tips are part of the package, visitors should tip 10 to 15 percent for taxis, personal services, room service and restaurants where a service charge is not already included in the bill. Parking attendants, bellboys and porters also expect a small tip.
There are high levels of crime and violence in Jamaica, especially around Kingston, and tourists should be alert, not resist in the event of attempted robbery, and avoid walking or using public transport at night. If you are self-driving do not give lifts to strangers. When travelling to or from the airport in Kingston avoid the Mountain View route. Travellers on the Hummingbird route should also be cautious at night. Avoid walking alone in isolated areas or on beaches, even in daylight hours. Jamaica is prone to hurricanes between June and November and is in the earthquake zone.
Contrary to popular belief, smoking ganja (marijuana) is illegal in Jamaica. Homosexuality is also prohibited.
Business in Jamaica is surprisingly formal, with proper titles used and suits and ties the norm despite the tropical climate. Introductions are usually made with a handshake and an exchange of business cards. Punctuality is key, and socialising is an important aspect of the business meeting. Business hours are usually from 8:30am to 4:30pm or 5pm on weekdays, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
The international access code for Jamaica is +1, in common with the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean, followed by 876. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom); the outgoing code is not needed when calling the US or Canada. City or area codes are not required. Direct international telephone services are available, and operators can also facilitate calls. The local mobile phone operators use various networks, including GSM, which is compatible with most international networks. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts, and access is also available from most hotels and parish libraries.
Travellers to Jamaica over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 227g of other tobacco products; 946ml alcoholic beverages and wine; perfume up to 150g; and goods for personal consumption to the value of US$500. Prohibited items include products made from goatskin (e.g. drums, handbags and rugs).