Traveling to Jamaica should not adversely affect your health. Finding a good doctor in Jamaica is no real problem, and all of them speak English.
Regional Health Concerns
Keep the following suggestions in mind:
- It's best to drink bottled water in Jamaica.
- If you experience diarrhea, moderate your eating habits and drink only bottled water until you recover. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.
- The Jamaican sun can be brutal. Wear sunglasses and a hat, and use sunscreen liberally. Limit your time on the beach the first day. If you do overexpose yourself, stay out of the sun until you recover. If your exposure is followed by fever or chills, a headache, or a feeling of nausea or dizziness, see a doctor.
- Some of the biggest annoyances in Jamaica are the insects called "no-see-ums," which appear mainly in the early evening. You can't see these gnats, but you sure can "feel-um." Screens can't keep these critters out, so carry your favorite bug repellent.
You don't need to get any particular shots or vaccinations to travel in Jamaica, and most common medicines are available over the counter. If you need special medication, however, try to arrive in Jamaica with an adequate supply for the duration of your trip.
If you're traveling in the countryside, it's wise to take a small medical kit with you containing antacid, antiseptics, calamine lotion, Band-Aids, sunscreen, lip balm, water purification tablets, and insect repellent.
What To Do If You Get Sick Away from Home
Crime & Safety
Except for Haiti, Jamaica is the most potentially dangerous destination in the Caribbean. You can get into a lot of trouble in Jamaica or you can have a carefree vacation. Much depends on you, where you go, and what you do. Women traveling alone or even in pairs are especially vulnerable, as rapes are alarmingly common.
Walking alone at night, or even with a loved one, on a moonlit Jamaican beach is a romantic idea -- but not smart. You could be mugged. And hitchhiking for both women and men is never a good idea in Jamaica. There have been cases of "disappearances" in the remote hinterlands.
Petty crime also continues to be a major problem on the island, especially in the capital city of Kingston. Americans on many occasions have been robbed, the bandit turning violent if he faces resistance.
Bus travel in Jamaica is definitely not recommended. Buses are invariably overcrowded and the greatest venue for the pickpocket to practice his trade.
The good news? In major resort areas such as Montego Bay, the government is hiring more special foot police and bike patrols to enhance security. These megaresorts are virtually walled compounds with 24-hour guards. Smaller inns don't have such protection, however, so make sure that all your doors and windows are securely locked.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.