Jamaica is a safe destination for white tourists. Of course, this is if you take the usual precautions. Recently, Jamaica saw an increase in tourist arrivals from the US. The local government is also helping Jamaica gain a better reputation than before.
Jamaica is popular for being the birthplace of reggae music. And not only that, but dub and ska also got their roots from this Caribbean Island.
Add to that is its magnificent natural beauty that ranges from beaches to rainforests. Jamaica is truly a place worth visiting.
But when it comes to crimes, Jamaica has a reputation that needs to improve. Tourists don’t get an exemption from theft and other petty crimes (although I should say they are quite rare).
Despite the small number of petty crimes against tourists, you can’t help but wonder. Is it safe for a white tourist to visit Jamaica?
The answer is yes.
And I am going to talk about a whole lot of topics. I will give you tips on how to travel alone. Aside from that, I will also give you an idea of places you should and should not visit.
Jamaica and Safety
When it comes to safety issues, Jamaica is worrying more about gang-related crimes.
But I should emphasize that these crimes do not target tourists.
Of course, when in Jamaica, you must stay out of dodgy corners. When you do that, you will be safe.
So, when it comes to safety, the island is safe.
Jamaica could be at its safest in many years.
Choosing the Neighborhood
Another factor that affects safety in Jamaica is the type of neighborhood you are staying in.
Some corners of each city can be sketchy. It would be best if you try not to stay in these places.
One such example is Montego Bay. It may be cheap in this part of the country. Travelers on a budget come here often.
But the level of petty crimes is higher here compared to other parts of the country. Despite this, should you choose to stay here, you still can. Just be more careful, especially if you are wandering out at night.
September to November are months that belong to the hurricane season.
When hurricanes hit the island, they can cause damage to properties. Traveling and exploring the island would be impossible during these months.
And yes, it would be unsafe.
List of Contents
How safe is Jamaica?
Jamaica is safe if you are careful. There are areas suitable for tourists. There are also other areas that you should not even visit. But generally, Jamaica is a country safe for travel.
This island nation gets a bad rap when it comes to its level of violence and crime.
Upon seeing news on TV, you might wonder if visiting is worth it.
Aside from gangster-related crimes, there are hurricanes to think of. Plus, there is the occasional tsunami that batters coastal areas of the island.
But these concerns are not Jamaica as a country. You cannot define the country with these things.
Jamaica has beautiful beaches and rainforests that you can explore. There are mountains and swamps that you can see.
Aside from these, the food in Jamaica is yum. And its colonial architecture is something you should not miss.
There is no doubt that this country has more to offer than hurricanes or petty crimes.
Jamaica is a country worthy of a visit.
As mentioned earlier, Jamaica is safe. You just have to be careful, as always.
The touristy areas of the country are super safe. Aside from them being safe, they are also beautiful.
In recent years, the country is seeing a decline in the number of petty crimes against tourists. And that should be good news.
Is Jamaica more dangerous than the US?
The numbers show that Jamaica is more dangerous than the US. With a crime index of 67.65%, Jamaica is higher than the US by about 19%. Even the safety scale is lower in Jamaica at 32.35% compared to 52.05% in the US.
When it comes to crimes, Jamaica gets a bad rap.
As mentioned in the earlier section, Jamaica has a lot of petty crimes. But when it comes to more violent crimes, the island nation also has its own fair share.
Compared to the US, Jamaica has more homicide incidents, with 60 for every 100,000 inhabitants. Compared to the US with 49 for every 100,000 inhabitants.
But as you may well know, these homicides happen in gang-related activities. They do not involve the tourists.
Because of these numbers, Jamaica sits at 5th place when it comes to violent crimes. This is slightly higher compared to the US, which sits at 7th place.
The US, however, has a greater number of gun-related crimes compared to Jamaica. In this aspect, the US has the most significant number of gun-related crimes in the world. Jamaica is at 71st place.
The same is true when it comes to rape cases. The US is in 9th place in the world. Jamaica, on the other hand, sits at 13th place.
With these numbers, Jamaica is showing to be more dangerous than the US.
It should be, however, discussed that crimes in Jamaica do not target tourists. Sure, there are petty crimes of pickpocketing most of the time. But when it comes to violent crimes, the tourists are out of the picture.
As mentioned earlier, when in Jamaica, it is wise to avoid certain places to stay safe.
Stay in the island’s safe areas.
What are the safest places in Jamaica?
Jamaica has areas you should and should not visit. Port Antonio is a safe place to explore. Negril and Ocho Rios are also areas safe for tourists.
Despite what we hear about Jamaica, it is a safe country for tourists.
But as I mentioned earlier, there are areas you should and should not visit. And we’ll talk more about each of them here.
The Safe Side
The safer parts of Jamaica are resorts. Urban areas are also safe.
Most of these safe areas are well-developed. Not only do they provide you with decent accommodation, but they also provide security 24/7.
Here are the places that are safe to visit.
Port Antonio sits right on the northern part of the island.
This town provides you with a lot of natural attractions. These attractions are waterfalls and animal exhibitions. There is also a Blue Lagoon in this part.
When it comes to culture, Port Antonio can certainly deliver more than any other town in Jamaica.
Aside from that, the level of crime here is also low.
On the northwestern side of Jamaica is Negril.
Here, the beaches are many. Aside from the beaches, Negril also offers you jaw-dropping scenery as well as a horde of cultural attractions.
If this is your first time in Jamaica, make Negril your base to explore.
On the northeastern side of Jamaica is Ocho Rios.
This is the country’s most popular destination.
Ocho Rios used to be a fishing village. As of this time, Ocho Rios has many of the island’s resorts. It is family-friendly.
The level of crime here is also low.
The Dangerous Side
As you already know by now, not all parts of Jamaica are safe for tourists.
As a rule, consider that the more urban the area is, the safer it is for you. But there is always an exception.
There are a couple of cities you should keep your eyes on.
These two cities are hectic and are more populated than the others. Should you decide to visit these places, make sure to take extra precautions
The capital city of Jamaica is Kingston.
It is the capital and one of the busiest cities in the country.
Here, you will find many attractions. But when it comes to the level of crime, it is higher than the other cities in the country.
Kingston is where you will find the most gangster-related activities. There are robberies. Violence is rampant.
I should mention two places in Kingston – Cassava Piece and Grants Pen. Avoid these places at all costs.
You can visit the other parts of the city provided you visit during the day.
Like Kingston, Montego Bay is also known to tourists.
The reason for this is because of its many hotspots.
But be careful. This is because Montego Bay records a lot of petty crimes like pickpocketing day in and day out.
If you have your valuables with you, don’t go here.
I am not saying you should not visit Montego Bay.
Yes, you can. But when you visit, make sure to be careful. Always watch out for your valuables.
What should you not do in Jamaica?
There are a few things you should not do in Jamaica. Things like not wearing camouflage clothing are important. The same is true with avoiding taking cabs with strangers or hitchhiking. Remember these, and you’ll be safe.
Jamaica is a perfect destination for a holiday.
The country is where you will experience rich and authentic culture in all senses of the word.
Like traveling to other destinations, it is crucial to know what you should and should not do.
Knowing them would make your Jamaica vacation safe and fun.
Below are a few things to do when visiting Jamaica.
Jamaica is a big island. It is one of the biggest islands in the Caribbean. What this means for you is that there are always a lot of things to do on your holiday.
Before flying to the island, make sure to do your research.
Which activities should you choose?
Deciding on the attractions you want to visit can help you decide on the accommodations as well.
The perfect accommodation should be near the locations you would like to visit.
The Local Currency
Bringing cash in local currency always helps.
You need the local currency for when you go shopping. You also need this when you give tips or to pay for your rides.
Remember that when you pay them in US dollars, Jamaicans may not give you change in USD. This could shortchange you if you bring everything in US dollars.
You can exchange your USDs at the airport. Some banks can exchange your USD for the local currency. If you have your card with you, you can also withdraw from an ATM.
To the Left
Now, this may be something you have to get used to.
But when crossing the street, always look to the left.
Most of the Caribbean destinations have motorists that drive on the left side of the road.
Sunblock and Insect Repellants
The sun is always out on this sunny island.
And because the sun is always out, the sea will always be as inviting.
As such, it is always a great idea to bring with you your sunblock. Also, make sure to bring a hat and insect repellents.
Clothes should be comfortable. And when going out to the beach, bring your towel.
Excursions by the Resort
Most of the resorts in Jamaica can book your excursions. Make sure to take advantage of this.
Sometimes, a taxi driver would offer to bring you to the best spots in the country. Don’t trust this.
There are times when a driver would bring you to a spot he likes. This spot may not necessarily be something that you wanted to see. As such, you would be missing out on the best places on the island.
Aside from that, taxi drivers tend to overcharge tourists.
And not only that, but some taxi drivers would also have you share the car with their friends or family members. And I know you don’t want that to happen.
Trust the resorts when it comes to booking your excursions.
Talk to the hotel staff. They can help you plan and schedule your excursions.
Now that we are finally done with the DOs, let’s check the things you should NOT do.
Taxi with a Stranger
The number plates of cabs in Jamaica are always in red.
If you are taking a taxi, don’t share it with strangers. Also, never get into a car without a red number plate.
Don’t trust anyone on your travels.
You may have happily shared a bottle of beer with the person earlier. But technically, this person is still a stranger.
You still don’t know the person.
To be safe, go with red-plate cabs. It is only these red-plated taxis that the government authorized to operate.
Aside from the authority to operate, they also have insurance. These are those you cannot find in cabs with white plates.
One thing that you should know is that camouflage printing is not allowed in Jamaica. It is, in fact, illegal.
Most clothing of this print is always confiscated at the airport.
The reason is that in Jamaica, only the local army can wear camouflage print.
Don’t Be a Show-off
Jamaica is one of those destinations where it is best to be humble.
Don’t wear all your pieces of jewelry while on that tour. And when walking the streets, make sure to have less cash with you. As I mentioned earlier, just bring along the amount you need.
Expensive electronics do not have a place in the streets. Leave them inside your room. And if there is a safe to leave them in, use that.
When sharing personal information with strangers, be careful as well. You should avoid talking about your salaries, the cars you own, etc.
As much as possible, don’t show it all off.
First, hitchhiking is dangerous when in Jamaica.
The same is true with going out in dark alleys at night.
Going out at night in touristy areas is fine. But never venture into less familiar places. As much as possible, stick to the more touristy places.
The Matter with Marijuana
You might be drinking with some buddies and decide to light that joint.
If there is one thing I should emphasize, it is that marijuana is illegal in Jamaica.
It doesn’t matter if you grew up seeing reggae and Rastafari linked to images of marijuana. It is illegal on this island. And yes, the cops can arrest you if found in possession of such a substance.
Possession of marijuana may be a petty crime.
But are you willing to spend a few hours explaining to the police? That should destroy your vacation if it happens.
If somebody approaches you with it, decline politely.
I’m sure they would understand.