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With idyllic, white sand beaches, towering cliffs, and majestic views, the Caribbean island of Jamaica is a perfect retreat from the rush of everyday life. A popular honeymoon destination, singles’ party spot and backpacker stop-off, Jamaica attracts an eclectic array of holiday-makers. But surrounded by western travellers, it’s easy to forget that Jamaica is actually a pretty poor country, with a fairly high crime rate. While this shouldn’t be a deterrent from visiting and experiencing this magical island, it’s definitely something you should be aware of.

Jamaica Boatman
Jamaica Boat men by Frank Roche on Flickr

We’ve put together some safety tips that everyone, be it newlyweds or gap year kids should adhere to:

1. Though they receive high revenues from the tourism industry, Jamaica is a fairly poor country. Never discuss wealth, or material possessions anywhere that could be overheard. Even those of modest means probably will have more than many of the locals.
2. Leave valuables locked up safely in the room. Only take as much money as needed for a single day, and avoid wearing expensive or meaningful jewellery. If approached by someone who wants to take anything, do whatever they ask. It is not worth the risk of getting hurt, and if valuables are in fact locked up, the loss will not be high anyway.
3. Do not walk alone at night unless absolutely unavoidable. In that situation, stick to well-lit places in the main areas of town. Only go on hiking, boating, fishing or scuba expeditions with a licensed and reputable tour guide, even if the person has been recommended by a hotel or restaurant.
4. Be careful about the intake of alcoholic beverages. Unless a ride back has already been arranged, choose to do the majority of partying from the safety of a hotel bar or restaurant. Those that are visibly intoxicated make easier targets. Eat well, and sip bottled water throughout the stay to ensure that day drinking stays in moderation as well.

Jamaica by Sarah Ackerman on Flickr

5. All-inclusive resorts have a number of appealing benefits to those choosing to escape to Jamaica. The cost of a vacation can be drastically reduced by opting to stay at such a place, as food, drinks, and recreation activities are included in the price of the resorts. Tourists can rest a little easier knowing that they are safe and well-protected at all times of the day. Of course, a drawback of booking such a spot is that many feel that they won’t be able to experience the “real” Jamaica. Day trips out of the resort with a hotel guide can help ease the restlessness.

The benefits of booking a vacation to Jamaica far outweigh any possible negatives. Adventure, romance, relaxation, and history await those who come to the glistening shores of the island nation. As long as visitors stay aware of their surroundings and come to the island well-prepared and informed, a dream vacation is easily within their grasps.

A number of travel agencies offer holidays to Jamaica. If you’re based in the UK, you can get an all-inclusive deal with First Choice and probably fly BA to the land of sun, good music and great food!

Pull up jamaica
Jamaica flag by Nicolas Oren on Flickr

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