How to do Jamaica on a shoestring budget

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From party-ready Negril to laid-back Montego Bay, Jamaica’s variety makes it one of our favourite Caribbean Islands. And while it remains less expensive than some of its neighbours, costs can still add up if you’re not careful. Jump start your savings with a cheap flight (found on Cheapflights.co.uk, of course). Then read on to discover even more ways to save.

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Time your trip right

Beautiful sunrise over the sea

Jamaica’s low season runs from summer through to December and overlaps with hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Sandwiched between rainy season and the winter crowds, December is a sweet spot where both weather and affordability collide.

Location is key

Paradise Destination

Montego Bay boasts one of the Caribbean’s largest airports, making flights easier to find and more affordable to book. For even more savings, consider staying on the less touristy south coast, about two hours by car from Montego Bay. With public beaches, cheap local eats and a relaxed vibe, your stress will melt away.

Find cheap eats

Local Fruit Stand in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
photo credit: Veni via iStock

Jamaica is known for its ackee (a bright yellow fruit) and saltfish breakfasts, meat patties for snacks, and jerk chicken or pork for lunch and dinner. National chain restaurants Tastee and Juici Patties offer authentic interpretations of the nation’s popular meat patties. You won’t have to go far to find a street-side or beach-side stand serving the country’s favourite jerk (meat that is marinated for hours in peppers, pimento seeds, scallion, thyme and nutmeg, then cooked over an outdoor pit lined with pimento wood). Arguably the most celebrated roadside jerk shack is Scotchie’s in Montego Bay, but Rick’s Café in Negril is also a popular spot for jerk and drinks. Perched on the West End Cliffs, Rick’s Café is also known as a classic beach bar where intrepid bar-goers take a plunge off the cliff into the waters below.

Freebies are your friends

Girl on Jamican beach

There are plenty of free things to do in Jamaica, from walking Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach to watching the sunset and enjoying live reggae in Montego Bay. Ask the staff at your accommodation and at restaurants and bars for suggestions too.

Go budget

Montego Bay

Jamaica boasts more than 24,000 guest rooms, from fancy 5-star resorts to less expensive options like private villas, small inns and guesthouses. These options offer comfortable accommodation and warm hospitality for a fraction of the price of larger, luxury resorts. In areas like Montego Bay, which has more guest rooms than any other part of the island, there is a higher chance for lower room rates as resorts compete to offer the best deals. Hostels are also an option. Try The Bird’s Nest or Mobay Kotch in Montego Bay, Reggae Hostel in Ochos Rios or Catcha Falling Star Gardens in Negril.

Journey off the beaten path

Falmouth - Jamaica
photo credit: Global_Pics via iStock

Most of the mega resorts and tourists are in Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios, so heading further afield to places like Kingston, Port Antonio and the south coast can mean big savings. The capital, Kingston, features attractions like the Bob Marley Museum, housed in the late musician’s former home and recording studio, and Port Royal, the former pirate capital of the Caribbean. Kingston is one hour from the Blue and John Crow Mountains, the longest mountain range in Jamaica. Nestled between twin harbours on the island’s northeast curve, Port Antonio is popular for eco-tourism. Visitors can swim, snorkel, or dive in the 200-foot deep Blue Lagoon, go rafting on the Rio Grande, admire Somerset Falls and relax on the sand at Frenchman’s Cove and Boston Beach. The remote South Coast is the ideal place to enjoy a quiet holiday. Each town in the region has its own charm like the Georgian architecture in Black River, the sugar plantations in Savanna-La-Mar, the colourful gardens of Christiana and Quashie’s River Caves in Trelawny.

Try new places

Caribbean town.

In a country-wide effort to accommodate tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board plans to add more than 1,100 rooms in 2017 and 12,000 more rooms between 2018 and 2021. This is good news for travellers as new hotel openings often bring added savings during “soft” and grand openings. During a soft opening, the resort’s facilities may not all be up and running or there may be construction still underway, so check with the property prior to booking. However, booking a stay at a newly-opened hotel provides the chance to try a luxury property first and for greatly reduced rates. Some of the new properties scheduled to open this year include Jewel Grande in Montego Bay and The R Hotel in Kingston.

Consider a cruise

Ocho Rios, Jamaica with Cruise Ship

Depending on the time of year, it might be good value to visit Jamaica as part of a Caribbean cruise. Popular ports of call for cruise ships include Falmouth, Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio. There’s plenty to see and do with just one day in port. Falmouth is on Jamaica’s northern coast between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, making it easy to access either hotspot. In Montego Bay, visit Rose Hall plantation, which is said to be haunted by Annie Palmer, who murdered three husbands before meeting a gory death at the hand of her slave lover, and taking a dip in Doctor’s Cave Beach, which is believed to have healing powers.

Thinking about a Jamaica holiday? Start searching for flights and hotels on Cheapflights.co.uk.

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How to do Jamaica on a shoestring budget was last modified: August 17th, 2017 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (302 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.