Last updated: 22 Jun 2019

Jamaica

About

The third-largest island in the Caribbean is also one of the most colourful. Idyllic white sand beaches and vibrant tropical blooms sit on a backdrop of blue mountain peaks. As the adopted home of the Rasta, Jamaica is also a riot of red, gold, and green. Renowned as the birthplace of Bob Marley, reggae remains at the island's musical heart. Rice-and-peas, rum, coffee and cricket are its soul. Local pastimes centre on oral traditions, such as discussing an idea to exhaustion, often over a fiercely fought game of dominoes on a veranda or front porch.

Follow one of many hiking and climbing trails up the Blue Mountains to heights above 2,100m (7,000ft). Shrouded by mists that give the peaks their bluish tinge, the Blue Mountains are home to more than 200 bird species and 800 species of plants.

Dive in underwater gardens, with many sunken wrecks as well as a rainbow of sponges, corals and varicoloured fish. Spot nurse sharks, furry sea cucumber, eagle rays, upside-down jellyfish, tobacco fish and snapper in shallow spurs and grove reefs amidst an assortment of caverns.

Be sure to have a camera at the ready when dolphin-spotting in Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, the cove is home to numerous bottle nose dolphins.
Capital:  Kingston (KIN)
Currency:  Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Language:  English. A local dialect of Patois is spoken conversationally. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 1 876
Time Zones: UTC / GMT -5 (7 hours behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2019:

Jan 1; Mar 6; Apr 19, 22; May 23; Aug 1, 6; Oct 21; Dec 25, 26

Side of the Road: Left
Best Time to go: Year round destination, but high season is from December – April when rates will be higher.
Best For: Eco-tourism, island relaxation, tropical forests
Plugs: Usually 110 volts AC, 50 Hz, though some places use 220 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs (with or without a grounding pin) are mostly used.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated.
Health: Within the main towns, healthcare facilities are adequate but expensive, and doctors may require upfront health insurance. Outside of the main towns, healthcare facilities are limited. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Beachwear should be reserved for the poolside / beach. Some restaurants may have a formal dress code. 
Local Offences / Laws: It is illegal to possess, use or export Marijuana. Possession may lead to imprisonment and deportation. Homosexuality is prohibited.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM’s are widespread. Avoid walking in isolated areas. 
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Jamaica without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 230g of tobacco.
• 2L of alcohol
• 170ml of perfume and 340ml of eau de toilette
• US$500 of other goods (Jamaican passport holders and residents only)
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited items include narcotics, indecent or obscene prints and publications, counterfeit coins, and all publications of de Laurence Scott and Company or Red Star Publishing Company of Chicago, USA relating to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts. If you wish to import meat products for personal use, you must obtain an import licence.

Visa Requirements

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SA Representative

Also accredited to Barbados, Grenada, Guyana,  St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Suriname.
South African High Commission
15 Hillcrest Avenue, Kingston 6
Tel: (00 1 876) 6204840
E-mail: sahctt.consular@dirco.gov.za or sahctt.general@dirco.gov.za

 

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio
  Malaria Risk