It’s the land of Reggae music, Bob Marley, and Jerk chicken. Along with so many other wonderful things, it’s the land of my families’ origin. It’s Jamaica Mon! When most people think of Jamaica they think of all-inclusive resorts and guided excursion. I am here to tell you that as a part-time vacation resident of Jamaica, Jamaica can be a very budget friendly destination if you are willing to skip the all-inclusive traps and venture out just a tad bit.
For many years resorts have preyed on the media’s attention to the crime in Jamaica creating a dependent sense of fear. I won’t deny that there are rather unsafe parts of Jamaica but that is everywhere. You wouldn’t tell another traveler not to visit the United States because Detroit and Philly are dangerous. Well, same applies to Jamaica. As always you should always be aware of your surrounds and use caution when traveling in an unknown city.
So now the answer to you all’s question: Is it possible to travel Jamaica on a limited budget?….. and that answer is YES, conditionally. If you are a Glampacker rather then a Backpacker, you may find Jamaica to be very expensive.
Below I have compiled a few tips and tricks to put Jamaica within anyone’s budget.
• Skip the all-inclusive resort for an Airbnb or Bed & Breakfast. Depending on the length of your stay you could save hundreds or even thousands. Click here to save $40 on your first Airbnb stay. If you are staying in Ocho Rios check out Reggae Hostel. They offer private basic rooms A/C for an affordable price. If you are in the beautiful Negril them I recommend Travelers Beach Resort. Located directly on 7-Mile beach this bungalow style hotel is absolutely perfect for your stay.
• Eat locally. If you do decide to stay at a resort or budget hotel, DO NOT eat at the restaurant on site. Most likely the food isn’t authentic and is dulled down for Americans. While in Montego Bay, head over to the Pork Pit for a mouthwatering grilled pork. Mongoose Jamaica Restaurant & Lounge in Ocho Rios never disappoints. If you’re trying to be budget conscious, walk 5 minutes past Mongoose Jamaica Restaurant & Lounge towards the police station for the best jerk chicken grill stands. It is only 500 JMD for 2 pieces of chicken and bread. It will be much more delicious and satisfying. Plus you’ll save money by not spending 1500 JMD for a tasteless spaghetti.
• Skip the private shuttles and Knoxford express when you can. For about 500-1000 JMD you can take the “Route Taxis” from major towns like Montego Bay to Ocho Rios…… which is usually about a 1500-2300 JMD ride. It is not as comfortable and of course, the taxis don’t have wifi but the amount of money you’re saving is definitely worth it. As the front desk or your host how to get to the bus station, it usually is within walking distance. Each bus will run along a specific route and like the hopper bus in London, you can hop off and on wherever you please, the amount is set always. Road Affair has an amazing comprehensive list of prices and travel times for major cities in Jamaica.
• HAGGLE HAGGLE HAGGLE! Never sign up for a guided tour online. They are almost always rip-offs. On trip advisor the Blue Lagoon in Portland was $60 USD per person. Instead I drove to the Blue Lagoon and once on site there were tons of guides there waiting to take people out. We ended up agreeing to $50USD for 2 people!! That’s a savings of $70 USD…. enough money for another night stay at out Airbnb. If catching the bus, be sure to specify you want to be let out at he Blue Lagoon drop off, not the entrance road.
• Don’t be afraid to say no. After all, this is Jamaica and on every corner, someone will try to convince you that the thing they are selling is exactly what you need. Want to know the truth? You don’t need it and you won’t think twice about it once it’s out of your face. Say no and keep it moving….. of course unless you really, really do want it. And even if you do, haggle haggle haggle and come to an agreement on a reasonable price. The starting price should never be the final price when buying goods and services off the street.
• Spend days enjoying nature and taking in the scenic views Jamaica has to offer. 7- Mile Beach offers the most pristine and clear waters while Black River boast beautiful wild life and terrain. Get rid of that need to always be doing, drinking, or smoking something! Not only is the rest and relaxation good for your body and mind….. it’s great for your wallets!
Now that I’ve equipped you with some tips to conquer Jamaica on a budget, what are you doing still here? Go check out my tips for planning cheap vacations and book those flights!