Jamaica
Jamaica’s accommodation options are numerous, ranging from all-inclusive mega-resorts to charming guesthouses tucked inside fishing villages. To experience Jamaica fully, it’s best to stay at a locally-owned, licensed hotel or guesthouse. A laid-back place where the response to every request is “No problem,” on this island you’ll be hard-pressed to encounter any issue that your hotel or any friendly Jamaican wouldn’t stand ready to solve. Of course, as with any tourist destination, beware whom you befriend and trust your instincts. Generally, however, Jamaicans are some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean and want you to enjoy their country and way of life. English is spoken islandwide, as is patois. The currency is the Jamaican Dollar, but U.S. currency is accepted everywhere. Just know the daily exchange rate because it often fluctuates. Tipping is the norm, and it’s up to you how much you decide to give, as any amount is appreciated. Electricity is on par with the U.S. and Canada at 110-120 volts, and unlike in many other Caribbean islands, the tap water is actually safe to drink. Be aware that you may be approached, particularly in the tourist areas, with offers to purchase marijuana and other illegal drugs. Note that “ganja,” while plentiful on the island, is illegal! Tourism police and undercover cops regularly patrol the beach and tourist nightspots. Road or beachside vendors can get a tad persistent, but a firm “no, thank you” will go a long way. Crime exists in Jamaica as in any other destination, but the island is by no means unsafe to tourists. If anything, most Jamaicans go out of their way to ensure tourists are happy and safe. Petty thefts occur where opportunities arise—leave your valuables at home and don’t flash any jewelry or electronics. Ultimately, beyond the gorgeous scenery, delicious food, and reggae music, it’s the people who make Jamaica a fun and fascinating destination unlike any other in the Caribbean.