Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea with a population of 2.75 million, is situated west of Hispaniola and south of Cuba, about 870 km (540 mi) south east of Miami. Jamaica shares maritime borders with the Cayman Islands (UK), Colombia, Cuba, and Haiti. Jamaica covers an area of 10,991 km², making it slightly larger than Cyprus, or slightly smaller than the U.S. state ofConnecticut. Jamaica's capital and largest city is Kingston, other major cities are Spanish Town and Montego Bay. Official language is Jamaican English, mainly spoken is Jamaican Patois or Patwa, an English-based creole language with West African influences.
Tourists regularly enjoy the spoils of the island's mountainous landscape, with caves, caverns, rainforests, beaches and rivers during daytrips on the island, but stay primarily in the tourist resort towns of Montego Bay and Negril on opposite sides of the island. While my stay was brief at 4 nights, I could have stayed longer as I really only experienced the Montego Bay and mountainous areas of the island. There is so much to see and do, and despite the warnings of other less intrepid tourists, it's worth a trip into the local hotspots to meet and party with the local people. They are so welcoming, very laid back and friendly (and while there is likely a good amount of pot to be had, you might be surprised to hear that recreational cannabis is still not legal in Jamaica (GO DENVER!:) THis is, after all, the land of "ayri" (alright).
There is a multitude of all-inclusive resorts to choose from on the island for couples only and families, with great pricing across all ranges. While Jamaica is a bit of a haul to get to-especially if you are from the west or west coast (this usually requires a red eye or overnight flight), once there, you can easily access transportation through your travel provider (usually packaged with your resort).
The best time to visit Jamaica is November to mid-December. That's when the island's already beautiful weather (ranging from mid-70s to the high 80s all year-round) is the most pleasant and the hotel and flight deals are the easiest to find.
Deirdre Oss is a veteran city planner, mother of two awesome teenagers, and wife to an amazing husband and travel partner. A city girl for generations, her home and heart are in Denver, Colorado with family and friends across the country and the pond. Over two decades working in city planning provided the foundation for her to explore different cities through the lens of community planning to create places for people to thrive in daily life and beyond. This perspective allows her to travel with an eye toward local economy, transit, and special neighborhoods that appeal to both residents and tourists.