Advice & Help

Spring Break in Jamaica!

Spring Break Guide (it’s more than just a Party!)
Looking for a place to spend your Spring Break? How about Jamaica? Jamaica has a lot going for it as a destination like; they speak English (well, sort of), superb weather, natural beauty, friendly people and, of course, heart-pumping Reggae Music!
Now, just choosing Jamaica and hopping on a plane is not enough planning. First, you have to choose a place to stay and Jamaica has at least three major party places to choose from.

Jamaica’s Ultimate Party Destination. Negril is a small fishing village that has been converted to a tourist destination so everything is right at your fingertips. Miles and miles of sandy beach with shallow, calm water and live bands and party bars along its length. Because this is mainly a Tourist Town, the local residents and establishments are geared towards making your stay a memorable one. Accommodations along the beach range from the All Inclusive to the small “Mom and Pop” places that only rent rooms. Accommodations across the main road from the beach are considerably less expensive for the budget traveler. Negril also has an area called the Cliffs where beaches are rare and the sunsets are spectacular and the prices are considerably lower for accommodations. Check out the 2005 Party Schedule!

Montego Bay: Unlike Negril, Montego Bay is a major Jamaican city interspersed with tourist amenities. Most of the tourist related activities are scattered along Gloucester Avenue popularly known as “The Hip Strip”. Except for the bustling downtown area where you won’t find much in tourist related activities and places to stay, hotels and restaurants are mainly situated along Queen’s Drive, Gloucester and Howard Cooke Drive. Beautiful beaches along this stretch are Doctor’s Cave Beach, Cornwall Beach and Walter Fletcher Beach. Many of the organized Spring Break activities are on or near these beaches. Check out the 2005 Party Schedule!

Ocho Rios: or “Ochi” as it is called is a major cruise ship port so many of the organized activities occur within walking distance of the port. Much of the allure of Montego Bay and Ochi as a Spring Break destination are the less expensive accommodations and a more “kicked back” and typically Jamaican atmosphere.

Now you know where you want to go, here are some tips on keeping safe and having a good time while on your vacation

Money Jamaica uses the Jamaican Dollar as its currency although the value of one US Dollar is slightly more than $60 Jamaican Dollars so you will mostly see $100 , $500 and $1,000 bills. You don’t really need to get Jamaican money before you arrive on the island as around all resort areas, licensed ‘cambios’ and ‘bureaux de change’ are easily and readily accessible. Jamaican Banks located island wide, will exchange most all currencies, Traveler’s Checks or give credit card advances. Jamaican ATMs accept most international bankcards with Visa, MasterCard, Cirus and Plus logos. At the ATM you will receive Jamaican currency, automatically exchanged and withdrawn from your account for a nominal fee. For the convenience of Foreign Travelers, many places will display prices during Spring Break in Foreign Currency. Don’t expect your change to be correct if you use Foreign Currency so it is recommended you use only exact amounts.

Drinking and Drugs:) The “official” drinking age in Jamaica is 18 years old. Most establishments, however, will not ask for proof of age before serving alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly and keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and non-alcoholic beverages and always pace yourself as the hot sun will take its toll. Remember to eat a hearty meal before you go out drinking as the presence of food in your stomach will help increase your alcohol tolerance. Do not Drink and Drive while under the influence of alcohol. You should also be very careful swimming after the consumption of alcohol. Stay in shallow water and in sight of your friends. Although marijuana and Jamaica are often used in the same sentence, the Jamaican authorities treat it as an illegal substance. The use, sale, and possession of drugs such as ganja (marijuana), cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin and any other controlled substance are against the law. The punishments are severe as you can be arrested, fined and imprisoned. You would not want to spend your time in a Jamaican prison. Do not attempt to purchase, use, consume or transport ANY drug. If there is someone trying to sell you drugs, be firm and say NO!

Keeping in Contact with Home Calling home is not a problem from most anywhere in Jamaica and especially during Spring Break. Jamaica is well connected to the rest of the world. Direct international telephone service is available in all areas 24 hours a day, and telephone operators will gladly facilitate collect, third party or credit card calls. International or “World Talk” calling cards are available from Cable & Wireless offices and other distributors island wide. International faxes, cables and telegrams can be sent from most hotels and post offices. Email and Internet access is available too, usually at hotels and parish libraries, but also at local Internet Cafes.

Other recommendations:

Stay together. Don’t be separated from your friends in a strange place. There is always safety in numbers.

Wear good sunscreen and sun block! Nothing will spoil a great vacation like 2nd degree burns. Keep covered when ever possible while out in the sun or even in the shade. You will be in the tropics and the time it takes to burn is dramatically reduced.

Take tours and get out to see the natural beauty of Jamaica. Your best story about Jamaica shouldn’t be how much alcohol you consumed. Take home a souvenir of your experience in pictures or a piece of Jamaican art.

Have a great vacation.

About the author

Bill Evans