Shrouded in natural beauty and deep-rooted rhythm, the island of Jamaica sits just off the coast of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A true slice of Caribbean paradise.
If you’re planning a trip to the sun-kissed island, you’ll need to get acquainted with the local currency, the Jamaican dollar (JMD). Although the US dollar isn’t an official currency on the island, it’s often used in popular tourist areas. If you’re heading to a holiday resort, it’s best to enquire which currency is typically used so you can exchange your holiday spends accordingly.
In shops where both Jamaican and US dollars are accepted, paying in Jamaican dollars is generally cheaper, as vendors tend to set their own exchange rates!
Dining out in Jamaica
Revelling in Jamaica’s traditional dishes is a must for foodie lovers heading to the island. Perhaps one of the dishes that best captures Jamaica’s cuisine is steamed snapper with okra; order it at a beachside restaurant and let the salty sea air remind you you’re in paradise.
Jerk chicken is one of the island’s best-known dishes. Think chunky pieces of chicken rubbed in a mouthwatering blend of hot spices cooked over smoking pimento wood – pick up a serving in roadside huts and starred restaurants alike.
You’ll be glad to hear that the cost of eating out on the island is pretty reasonable. As with many tourist destinations, expect to pay higher prices in popular tourist hotspots, and considerably less in local markets and no-frills restaurants. Budget for approximately £3 per person for a meal at a budget restaurant and £17 for a three-course meal in finer surroundings.
The price of drinks
If you’re a beer drinker in the UK, you’ll almost certainly be familiar with Jamaica’s very own lager, Red Stripe. Cheaper to buy on the island than in a UK bar, a pint of the crisp lager on tap will cost you around £1.80.
No trip to Jamaica would be complete without sipping a glass of rum on the rocks on a sweet, balmy evening. A glass of the good stuff will cost around £2.50-£3.50, depending on what you go for. Bona-fide rum lovers would be well advised to take a tour around one of Jamaica’s many rum distilleries. Day trips to distilleries are likely to set you back around £90, but are worth every penny in our opinion!
If soft drinks are more your jam, be sure to try a cold glass of ginger beer, made with fresh Jamaican ginger. An island speciality, it’ll warm your throat and cool you down all at once. Sorrel iced tea, made from the leaves and flowers of Jamaica-grown sorrel fruit is not to be missed for a soothing, refreshing pick-me-up.
Back to alcohol-based specialities: a stay in the birthplace of reggae is the perfect excuse to order The Bob Marley, a three-layer cocktail comprising creme de menthe, grenadine and rum that pays homage to the island’s iconic musical legend.
Out and about
A tropical island, Jamaica’s flora and fauna is begging to be explored. Whether you book a day trip to some of the island’s most stunning waterfalls and lagoons such as Dunn’s River Falls and YS Waterfalls, or opt to go rafting on the Rio Grande, the island’s delights will leave you spellbound. Budget between £8-£16 for entry into waterfalls and lagoons, and around £55 for rafting for two.
The best way to get around the island is by ‘route taxi’, a cheap mode of transport that’s a little hectic, but will take you around the entire island. A route taxi from one town to another is likely to cost you around £0.60-£1.20, but be sure to agree the price before starting your journey. The island also offers a bus service known as the Knutsford Express, which services all of Jamaica’s main towns.
How much spending money should I take to Jamaica?
Jamaica isn’t ridiculously cheap, but prices are far from crazy. Daily spending per person sits around the £100 mark, and this figure will naturally drop if you’re staying in All Inclusive resorts. On average, tourists spend around £20 per person per day on food and drinks in Jamaica.
Tipping in Jamaica
It isn’t uncommon for Jamaican restaurants to add a 10%-15% gratuity onto your bill, so watch out for this before leaving additional tips. If no tip has been added, it is customary to tip anywhere from 10%-18%, assuming you’re happy with the service provided.
Porters generally expect to be tipped around £1-£1.50 per bag, with tips given directly to the person in question. Bear in mind that many All Inclusive hotels have a strict ‘no tipping’ policy in place, so enquire about this before you arrive.
*Prices correct at the time blog was published and are subject to availability. T&C’s apply.