Best time to go to Jamaica

temperature & rainfall

Temperatures vary little in Jamaica, averaging mid to high 20°Cs year round, although the wet and humid summer months are slightly warmer. Peak season in Jamaica starts in the week or so before Christmas, and carries on til mid Apr. Weather-wise, this is the best time to go to Jamaica, and it also lets Europeans and North Americans dodge the miserable winter back home, but book well in advance and expect higher prices. Late Nov-earlyDec provide a quieter, and better value, alternative.

When to go to Jamaica

a month by month guide

Mid December all the way through January, February and March to mid April is peak season, when prices rise, and places will get very busy. The weather is at its best though. If traveling at this time, book well in advance, and spend some time away from the most popular beach spots – and preferably inland.

Around Easter, in March and mid April, spring break crowds arrive. If frat boy parties are not your thing, avoid busy resort areas at this time.

May, June, October and November are the wettest months in Jamaica, with the eastern side of the island receiving the heaviest rainfall. The rain eases off in late November to December, so this is a great time to travel ahead of peak crowds and prices.

June 1 marks the start of the official hurricane season, with hurricanes historically most likely to occur in late August and early September. Along with October, this is generally the cheapest time to visit Jamaica.

The weather is hot and humid all year round, with the heat and humidity picking up in May when the rains arrive, and peaking in July.

Things to do in Jamaica

What to do in Jamaica & what not to

Things to do in Jamaica…

While in Jamaica, you simply have to pay your respects to Bob Marley, the artist and activist who put the country on the global map. In Kingston, you can visit two of his former homes. The colonial house where he lived from 1975 until his death is now the Bob Marley Museum, where passionate tour guides teach guests about the man and his music – often through song! Equally as fascinating is the restored Trench Town Culture Yard – the famous ’government yard‘ where Marley was taught guitar and penned No Woman No Cry. The yard houses artifacts including guitars, a rusting campervan and Bob and Rita Marley’s single bed.
We can’t imagine ever getting sick of jerk chicken, rice and peas, but should you need a few more culinary choices on your Jamaica vacation, you can wander around a market, stop off at the ubiquitous roadside food stalls, or take a cooking class in a Rastafarian village. Curry goat, peanut porridge, ackee and saltfish patties, fried plantain, and syrupy sugarcane… Jamaica’s cuisine is a delicious fusion of all the cultures that have settled here.
Take a hike. Ramble in the dense forest of the Blue Mountains, scramble 180m up the stunning Dunn’s River Waterfall, take a walking tour of a Maroon village, stroll along the fourmile-long, Seven Mile Beach, and wander along nature trails, looking out for hummingbirds and vibrant flora. There are plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs in Jamaica, and work off all that rice.

Things not to do in Jamaica…

Stay in an all inclusive resort. We can’t fathom why you would want to stay in an identikit resort on an island which is as bursting with personality as Jamaica. As well as being packed with mountains, waterfalls and historic villages, Jamaica has culture, and it’s one of the most fascinating and accessible in the Caribbean. Enjoy the gorgeous beaches, of course, but be sure to venture beyond to discover Jamaica’s real wealth.
It’s easy to stereotype Jamaica as a nation of spliff smoking, reggae listening, dreadlocked Rastas, but don’t reduce all Jamaicans to this simplified parody. First, only around one percent of Jamaicans identify as Rastafarian. Second, Rastafarianism is a recognised religion which was developed in the 1930s, although it was popularised globally by Bob Marley and reggae music in the 1970s. Rastafarians believe in the repatriation of black people to Africa, eating ‘clean’ foods and avoiding alcohol, and consider former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (aka. Ras Tafari) to be God. Do your research, and respect the local culture.
Be openly gay. In 2006, TIME magazine dubbed Jamaica the “most homophobic place on earth”; little has changed since then. Its archaic laws forbid sex between men, and its culture is dominated by “hypermasculinity” which stands in direct opposition to homosexuality, as well as by the conservative values of the Christian church. Some resorts claim to be open to all, but stepping outside the gates as a gay couple is another issue. Read more in our LGBT travel guide to Jamaica.

Jamaica travel advice

tips from our friends in Jamaica

Aled Evans, from our leading Jamaica supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares his top tips and personal favourite experiences for Jamaica vacations:

Staying safe

“As with travel anywhere, there are areas that you should not visit. This is when the use of a good local guide is important, as knowing the local area and where to go and how to get there is vital. Certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay should not be visited by tourists.”

Why join a small group tour?

“If you like traveling with likeminded people who want to get away from the all inclusive hotels, then a small group tour gives you that option. Keeping the group small means interaction with your guide and local people is maximised, while costs are kept lower than traveling on a private tour or excursion.”

Making the most of Jamaican culture

“There is so much more to Jamaica than the all-inclusive hotels. Get out and see the island and the local culture. Meeting the local people and interacting at markets is definitely a highlight. The food is fantastic – don’t be afraid to stop and try something from a roadside BBQ stall. If the locals are eating there, you know it is going to be good. Jerk chicken straight off the BBQ washed down with a cold can of Red Stripe is a culinary experience that is difficult to beat!”
Written by Vicki Brown
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Photo credits: [Page banner: pshanson] [Temperature chart: eric molina] [Helpdesk: Jannes Pockele] [Staying safe - tour guide: Derek Hatfield] [Making the most of Jamaican culture: Greg Walters]
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