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The best time to go to Jamaica plus other common visitor questions answered by a traveling local. Is Jamaica safe? Can I smoke ganja there? What are the people like? When is hurricane season? These question plus tips on getting around and things to do.

Hi, I’m Monique aka IrieDiva from Kingston Jamaica and I will answer your questions about Jamaica today. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to go to Jamaica, is it safe to go to Jamaica, can you smoke marijuana here and what are the people like then you’re in the right place. 

One of the best things about being Jamaican is how amazing it feels when I travel and people recognise my tiny country for all the awesome contributions we’ve made to the world. We’ve got a lot to brag about.

We’ve given the world over 7 genres of music (reggae, ska and dancehall are three of the 7 I bet you know), we’re home to the most famous reggae singer (Bob Marley) and the world’s fastest man (Usain Bolt), we’re known as the happiest place on earth and hello, we’re just all around awesome people.

People have questions about this tiny little nation and what makes it so awesome. Today, I’ve got answers.

This list will answer all the common questions I get about Jamaica whenever I travel or interact with a group of foreigners.

Related: Things Jamaicans Love, Cool Gift Ideas for the Jamaican in Your Life

Where is Jamaica?

We might be famous, but we’re tiny and people don’t pay much attention in social studies and geography classes so we forget about things like geographic locations. It’s fine.

Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean. We’re very close to the southeastern tip of the United States America. In fact, Kingstonians tend to refer to Miami as Kingston 21, a nickname referring to just how close it is to hop over to Miami and how many of us Jamaicans actually live there.

Miami, Florida is a quick 50-minute flight away from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Where is Kingston Jamaica?

Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica. It’s located on the southeastern coast of the island and is the smallest parish in our country. If you’re coming to Jamaica for a vacation, it’s quite likely that you’ll be visiting the North Coast, not anywhere close to Kingston.

Map of Jamaica showing Kingston and Montego Bay

What is Jamaica’s weather like?

The weather in Jamaica is hot and stays hot all year round. We average in the low 30s range (degrees Celcius, that’s in the 80s for the Fahrenheit people) and usually drop to the high 20s at night time. It does get much hotter in the summer but rarely over the scorching 100s reported in places like New York, Texas etc.

We’re a tropical nation and are at risk for hurricanes during the summer to late fall months. Outside of this rainy season, showers usually only last for a couple of hours in the mid-afternoon and affect mostly the hilly interior parts of our island.

When is the best time to go to Jamaica?

Tourists flock to our northern shores during the winter months to get away from their cold climates to thaw out a bit in our milder temperatures. Though we do not experience seasons, it gets a little cooler in the typical winter months making for the perfect tropical climate, not scorching hot but certainly not winter. Not even chilly really.

With that said, hotel prices are higher in the winter months but there are accommodations to fit every pocket here in Jamaica and Airbnb is also a thriving option here. Ultimately, the best time to visit Jamaica is from November to February/March when hurricanes aren’t a threat and the weather isn’t scorching.

What are Jamaican people like?

We’re not much different from you, we’re just much cooler. Jamaica has a reputation for being home to some of the warmest, friendliest, kindest people on earth. If you have a Jamaican neighbour, I bet you can relate. (And here’s a list of cool Jamaican gifts that neighbour would appreciate for Christmas, birthdays, Wednesdays…)

We are also known to be a very aggressive, hard-working nation with a sharp tongue and quick wit. A Jamaican will look out for you always, just stay on our good side or be prepared to hear a few bomboclaat and rassclaats (Jamaican curse words).

Is Jamaica safe to visit?

Jamaica has a crime problem that cannot be denied. However, most of our crime is internal and occurring in parts of Jamaica that you’re probably not going to visit if you come here.

That said, I would watch out for a few things if you do visit and want to explore outside of the walls of your resort (which you should.)

The concerns are going to be similar to those if you’re visiting anywhere else:

  • Do not take taxis without a red plate.
  • Do not venture out alone especially at night without knowing your surroundings.
  • Vet any guides who want to take you to any kind of attraction (check for licences from the Jamaica Tourist Board or just use your instincts and let your resort know with whom and where you’re going).
  • Change your money into local currency if you want to avoid high tourist prices.
  • Just be smart.

Do You Live in a Tree?

See, remember when I said Jamaicans can get aggressive? This is one of those questions I get that I always want to smack someone.

No, I do not live in a tree. I would argue that my house is actually built stronger than yours since it’s built to last through a hurricane.

We have paved roads, clean water running through our tap, high-end mobile devices with good internet speeds to accompany them and all the comforts and accoutrements you’re accustomed to wherever you’re from.

In fact, we’ve even got a couple Starbucks and I know how you guys love your Starbucks.

Can I Smoke Marijuana in Jamaica? Is Ganja Legal?

Jamaica is also known as one of the weed capitals of the world, I won’t shy away from that fact at all. It’s actually funny that smoking ganja here was a criminal act until only very recently.

Now, you can smoke your marijuana in peace, outdoors wherever allowed. It is no longer a criminal offence to be in possession of a tiny bit of marijuana, like really a spliff or two. However, it is an offence to smoke indoors so take it outside and still watch out for rules set by individual establishments.

Here’s an excerpt from Kush Tourism:

For residents of Jamaica, you are permitted to grow up to five of your own plants. For visitors to Jamaica, if you are ill or have a medical marijuana prescription from your home country, you may purchase a permit that will allow you to buy marijuana from special medical marijuana shops or directly from cultivators. As of March 2016, Jamaica has not opened any medical marijuana shops. For tourists looking to buy marijuana, it is exceedingly easy to find and you can likely ask any cab driver or hotel worker for a hook up with no problem. The new law means tourists don’t have to worry about more than a $5 possession fine if caught.

What is there to do in Kingston Jamaica?

Not many tourists visit Kingston unless they’re here for work. It’s a fun city to visit and should make your list if you have time for a day trip. A few things to do as a tourist to Kingston include:

  1. A visit to the Bob Marley museum.
  2. A lunch stop at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records (a sports bar)
  3. A visit to Helshire Beach for fish and culture.
  4. Hit up a nightclub or street dance and get down with the locals (ask about Regency Club, Ribbiz, Pepperseed, Dub Club or Yeng Yeng Fridays)
  5. Have coffee at a Jamaican cafe with some the best coffee in the world – Blue Mountain Coffee (Seek out Rituals or Cafe Blue)
  6. Dinner and a movie date with fine dining at any of our lovely eateries (I love Fromage and Terra Nova Hotel)

How far is Kingston from Montego Bay Jamaica?

Can you do a day trip from Montego Bay to Kingston easily? Yes. It’s only about 2 and a half hours by car if you drive on our North-South highway that connects the two coasts. That means you can be in Kingston by 9 or 10am, see the sights, have lunch and head back out at sunset if you wish. You’ll be back in Montego Bay before 8pm.

I think I’ve covered all the most common questions about Kingston Jamaica and Jamaica in general that visitors usually have. I’m happy to answer any others, just leave them in the comments below.