What not to do in Jamaica?
December 1, 2005 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I have one week in Jamaica. I have advice on what I should do there - but what tourist activities should I avoid?

My wife and I have booked a trip to Jamaica over New Years. We're in one of those all-inclusive places on Montego Bay. I've gotten a lot of advice from others on fun activities to try (scuba recommended, have booked a bike trip down Blue Mountain) but was wondering about activities that we would be better off skipping. For example, several people have told me to not bother with climbing the waterfall, and one person mentioned that the public park was a much better shopping area than the touristy duty free mall.

We only have a week, and this is a big-budget trip for us - may not be able to afford anything similar for a long time. Help me make the most of it by telling me what isn't worth the effort (and no, I'm not trying to ask whether I should get high or not - just legitimate things to do while there, thanks)
posted by caution live frogs to Travel & Transportation around Jamaica (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Bootsnall is a good source or maybe Thorntree?
posted by iamck at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2005

There is this Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth. Supposedly, if you were to go out on a boat or kayak or swim in it, where you disturb the water, the microorganisms get all glowy.

Don't go if it's cool in the 50's or 60's or if it has just rained. Not so glowy.
posted by CrazyJoel at 3:35 PM on December 1, 2005

I disagree on climbing the falls. It's fun.
posted by wsg at 4:17 PM on December 1, 2005

Don't get upset that your driver is engaging in near-suicidal behaviour. If that sort of thing bothers you, pretend it's a roller-coaster.

Don't go and try to find the "real" Jamaica. Stick to the resorts, beaches, and touristy stuff.

Don't expect awesome crafts. You'll be able to enjoy a fantastic array of t-shirts, wooden cats, smoking utensils, and free samples of rum.

Don't forget that marijuana is illegal in Jamaica. seriously.

Don't forget to chill out with a rum drink and have a great time!
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:16 PM on December 1, 2005

When I went to Jamaica, I felt perfectly safe and felt free to explore the "real" Jamaica. I didn't stay in an all-inclusive and intentionally avoided the touristy places*. I had one of the best times of my life. The locals there are all ready to party and have fun with you, especially if you spread a bit of cash around. It won't be much money for you, but it will mean much more for them. Some people I was with were freely partaking of the herb in public with no problem, but YMMV. I have to disagree with the people above and tell you to get to know the locals. We met a lot of fun people. We stayed up all night one night playing dominoes in some woman's garage/night club with a Rastafarian named Fire Lion. A pretty different experience from the all-inclusives, I assume.

*I am a small white woman, not the least bit physically intimidating. But, I've also lived in south central LA without really having any problems.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:30 PM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

Avoid Kingston and Spanish Town, especially on a Friday night. It is "Boys night" and my Rasta friends would literally lock the wives and children in the basement and then go out on the town to eat fish and party. Generally, Boys Night ended when we got shot at by somebody (in my case the keyboardist of a famous reggae band...) This was in the 1980s, though.

Otherwise, I agree with Kamikazegopher. When you are in the back country or small towns, there is usually a local Big Man (Guest house owner, bar owner, Rasta Bingi), and it helps to make his acquaintance. When you meet people, they would often ask "Who ya deal wit?" and when I answered "Mr. Big." the reply would be "Seen. You're safe here."

The police often have shills sell pot to tourists, and then raid the rooms at guest houses. If you get caught carrying a small amount, bribe your way out with discretion. Never travel carrying pot - cops set up roadblocks everyplace. They aren't trying to stop drug traffic, merely hoping to get some bribes. Rastas usually do not carry pot on their persons, but hide it in baggies in wooded lots around town. If you do buy herb, don't buy a lot, never more than you are willing to throw away if you have to.

One time in Port Antonio an acquaintance asked me if I wanted to go out one Friday night. My answer was "OK, but only if it does not mean hopping on some unknown persons motorbike and heading into the hills where we end up in some bad situation involving Rude Boys or Police or guns or something." My buddy thought about this for a second and said "Right. We stay home then."
posted by zaelic at 3:15 AM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - I'll let this run a little longer to see if anyone else has a personal experience to share...
posted by caution live frogs at 10:02 AM on December 2, 2005

I'll second not skipping the falls - ESPECIALLY if you can bribe someone to let you in after hours. It's pretty damn sweet when you have it all to yourself...
posted by johnsmith415 at 12:06 PM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Huh. Several people have told me that the falls are kind of an injury waiting to happen, and the whole "hold hands in a human chain on the way up" thing wasn't looking appealing. I may reconsider.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:50 PM on December 2, 2005

We asked our cabbie to recommend a local beach, and he took us for a nice fifteen minute ride to a practically touristless beach with beautiful sand, cold drinks, and a little gift shop with more interesting stuff than we found anywhere else. Plus, he came back for us in three hours.

We skipped the falls, but others in our group went and were disappointed. The mountain bikers in our group really enjoyed the Blue Mountain run, and I hope you will too.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:22 PM on December 2, 2005

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