Most travellers booking cheap flights to Jamaica will be headed to an all-inclusive resort - the island pioneered the concept 30 years ago - where the beaches are beautiful and bustling, the nightlife exciting and every whim is catered for. There will be loved-up couples on Jamaica flights too, the island has become a popular place to get married and, without wasting any time, honeymoon on the beach for a couple of weeks.
For those seeking adventure, Jamaica offers a wealth of activities from diving on Caribbean reefs to ziplining, even dogsledding.
Away from the all-inclusive resorts, what some would call the "real" Jamaica exists - with a friendly and generous people, mouthwatering cuisine and a wild variety of fruits including the ortanique, unique to Jamaica, a cross between a tangerine and an orange.
Kingston, on the east coast, is capital, centre of government, business and cultural scene. It's a contrast to Montego Bay, on the west coast. Jamaica's second city is more laid back with stunning beaches, championship golf courses, grand Colonial-era estates and hedonistic nightlife that make MoBay an unmissable destination.
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The temperature in Jamaica averages 27 C all year round. Winters are a little cooler thanks to trade winds but have little rain. It’s much hotter in the summer with high humidity in September and October. Hurricanes rarely hit Jamaica, but hurricane season is in September. The upper mountains get about 76cm of rain each year and can be much cooler. Kingston and the south coast have moderate rain all year, but summer gets a bit more rain.
When to fly to Jamaica
Mid-December to mid-April, taking in the Christmas, New Year's, Carnival and Easter holidays, is when most travellers arrive on their cheap flights to Jamaica.
Low season spans mid-April to mid-December. Although this means fewer crowds, travellers may not see a reduction in room rates as many hotels reduce their services during the off-season. May and June and October and November are when Jamaica gets most of its rainfall.
Getting around Jamaica
There are six airports around Jamaica that offer convenient pick-up and stopping-off points for domestic flights. After disembarking cheap flights to Jamaica, renting a car gives travellers the independence to see the country on their own terms. Bus is one of the cheapest ways of getting around Jamaica, and may suit travellers without a strict deadline. Taxis too are an option. Negotiate a fare with the driver before setting off.
Jamaica insider information
- It's not the cheapest option, but if you have saved money with cheap flights to Jamaica, a stay at Bond author Ian Fleming's Goldeneye estate would be a vacation to remember.
- Another Bond-related treat is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. It was Fleming's favourite and became Bond's choice too. Only the coffee grown above 914 metres (3,000 feet) can be called Blue Mountain. It's certainly not a budget option but Strawberry Hill, a plantation-style hilltop retreat, is a great base for coffee expeditions. Further up the mountains is Twyman's Old Tavern Estate, a family-owned business that grows, processes and produces Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
- In Ocho Rios, swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove. You can also swim with stingrays at Stingray City on James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, 25 minutes east of Ocho Rios.
- Port Antonio is a quiet haven with butterscotch beaches and fantastic deep-sea fishing. It has long been a favourite hideaway place for the jet set, but it's also popular with ecotourists who come for the bamboo rafting, rain forest hiking, scuba diving, surfing and snorkelling.
- Scotchies in Montego Bay serves the best jerk chicken and jerk pork in Jamaica, all washed down with some Red Stripe beer. Dishes are cheap and delicious.
- The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston is a must-see. There's a cafe there too, Bob's Cafe, that serves his favourite dish - irie (oxtail) stew.