Jamaica Local Customs

  • Locals at a Food and Chemical Store in Falmouth
    Locals at a Food and Chemical Store in...
    by atufft
  • Directions to a Restroom
    Directions to a Restroom
    by atufft
  • Locals Working on the Rafts
    Locals Working on the Rafts
    by atufft

Jamaica Local Customs

  • Patois Language

    As a matter of survival, slaves imported to the island learned the English of their master, but also developed a dialect common only to the slave community. Today, Jamaican's retain a dual language skills of an English dialect readily comprehensible to tourists, as well as a vernacular that only Jamaican's understand. The odd use of English on road...

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  • Ganja Plantation

    Well I wasnt sure where to put this tip under: things to do, local custom, general info???? We went to check out a Ganja plantation. Its no secret that lots of weed is grown here but it is in fact illegal.Now having said that: I was told that as long as you dont have a major huge crop you would be alright. Sometimes cops are paid off to leave the...

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  • Jerk chicken

    It is THE country national meal. Personnaly, I dont think it is an amazing meal, but as I like to taste all local food, I tried. The taste is of spicy barbecued chicken, which is pretty good.Of course, have a Red Stripe with it (the national beer) and you will already be half Jamaican ;)

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  • Ackee

    Ackee is the national dish of Jamaica. It's cooked with cod in a dish called ackee and salt fish. Usually served at breakfast, the Ackee ends up looking somewhat like scrambled eggs.

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  • Patois

    One of the fascinating aspects to Jamaica for any English speaker is the way most locals have two languages, both of them ostensibly English. But while the language they will use when talking to you is not so different from their own, when they talk to each other they become instantly incomprehensible. That is because they are in fact talking...

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  • “No problem, mon”

    After just a few days in Jamaica I already knew that these three little words would sum up my experience of the island and capture the spirit of its people. This phrase is the standard reaction to a request for help or for a service; it is said tongue in cheek when you decline an invitation to browse a crafts stall or take a taxi; it epitomises...

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  • Bob Marley

    Few would argue with the idea that the main contribution that Jamaica has made to international culture is its reggae music, and the man who did most to bring that to the world’s attention was Bob Marley. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he has achieved almost cult status on the island, or so it seemed to me. I don’t think a day of our stay...

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  • Traditional foods

    From the first evening we arrived at the Blue House and were offered curried goat for dinner (excellently cooked by Darryl!) we realised that we were going to have plenty of opportunity to sample the local dishes. Most were really delicious, including that first evening’s curry, with only a few appealing rather less to our taste-buds. In all during...

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  • Don't be afraid of "locals"

    I often heard before travelling to Jamaica that I should stay on my resort and not venture out into the towns for fear of the locals. While I heeded the warning during the evening hours (just as much as I do at home) , I never hesitated to visit the town outside of our resort, walk the beach, shop in the market or go horseback riding on the beach....

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  • In memory of Rev. Spratt

    As we were driving along, exactly where I can't tell you, our guide pointed out this rather odd tombstone placed where Rev. Spratt fell from his horse and died. Do you think he might have been related to Jack Spratt who could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean? ;-)

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  • African Heritage

    Almost all Jamaicans are of African heritage. The native populations were wiped out some centuries ago and the different countries that ruled Jamaica brought thousands of slaves from Africa to perform the plantation work. As a result Jamaica has an alnost totally black population.

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  • Language

    The official language of Jamaica is English, although most Jamaicans speak a local patois influenced by a combination of several different languages. It may take some time for you to become accustomed to it. When that happens, though, you’ll have fun trying the local expressions.

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  • ~ Departure Tax ~

    When leaving Jamaica you need to pay a departure tax of ?10 Sterling Pounds or 1000 Jamaican Dollars or 18 US Dollars.Make sure you have this before you get to the airport as i didnt have any cash and all the ATM Machines were out of order at the time (How convienient) and i had to borrow this off a friend.The departure tax is paid at check in when...

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  • the beach = sunsets...so many sunsets!

    We saw so many beautiful sunsets i think most of the pictures i took were of just that....fantasitc view...so here are some of these:)

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  • Rasta man

    Rasta is a religion, true rastaman belives in his holiness Bob Marley and the God in earth the Ethiopian emperor Aile Selassie. Marijuana is a way to join spiritual experiences like the shamans use of herbs. You have to respect their way to live and they respect you.

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  • Let's shake on it.

    Jamaicans are a very friendly and hospitable poeple and shake hands an awful lot more than we in Britain do. It seems quite normal to shake hands with someone you were working with the day before. This is where the problem arises. A simple handshake in the European or American style is seldom enough, and there are all sorts of variations.The...

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  • British Heritage

    In 1654 the control of Jamaica was taken by the English from the Spanish. After the English failed to take Hispaniola from the Spanish (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), they turned to weakly defended Jamaica and the Spanish sailed off to Cuba. Jamaica's independence from Britian is August 6, 1962 and Independence Day is celebrated on...

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  • Relax man !

    The best thing about Jamaica is the easy going way of life. It's a great destination to get some rest and enjoy the beautiful beach.

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  • Rasta culture

    Rastafari & Jamaican Culture Rastafarians pushed Reggae music to the forefront when Bob Marley became an internationally known artist. LanguageMiss Lou was one of the early pioneers trying to preserve Jamaican culture especially 'patois'. Jamaican patios is now sprinkled with 'rasta' terminology. The Rastafarian culture has helped to galvanize the...

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  • Tipping

    In Jamaica, when anyone provides a service to you like loading your bags, driving you to your destination, or whatever, it is customary to tip. Usually about 2-3 US Dollars will suffice, so be sure you bring many US1 dollar bills. Try not to give someone a 5 and expect 2 or 3 dollars back. For some reason, they do not understand the process of...

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  • Respect

    You just have to remeber one rule - respect the people there no matter what they are - this is the only way to be treated good in return too. If you go there you will see for yourself what I have in mind by saying this.....

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  • 1/2 finished houses

    We've noticed many partially finished houses as we've traveled through Jamaica. Various guides have explained that the interest rates are very high in Jamaica (as much as 70%) so people save up and then add onto their houses when they can afford to.

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  • Brown dogs

    Our guide pointed out that dogs in Jamaica are all brown, some small, some large but I don't think I saw a non brown dog the entire trip.This fella was hanging around Alligator Hole, I would have slipped him in my bag if I thought I could smuggle him through customs

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  • Be sure to see the children going to...

    We were struck by the kids going to school in immaculate school uniforms...Catholic schools. Wish I had better pics of them in larger groups. Couldn't understand how the mothers were managing so well...when they often had to be at work early in the AM .. working very long hours. Yet those uniforms were starched and pressed! You can see two of the...

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  • Ackee with Salt fish

    This looks like brains but it's a part of the national Jamaican cuisine. This Ackee fruit is pear shaped, bright red to yellow-orange, and when ripe, splits open to reveal large black seeds, surrounded by soft, yellow flesh. The fruit of the Ackee is not edible. It is only the fleshy parts around the seeds that are edible. The remainder of the...

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  • Bring lots of small bills

    The porters won't ask for a tip but they do expect it.Carry your own bags if you want to save money.

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  • about the weather

    Our favorite time (and everyone else's) is November-April -- Jamaica can be very crowded then. The temperature is fairly stable year-round, so it's possible to visit in other months as well. Winter coastal-area day temperatures are in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C. June-September is usually in the 80s-90s F/30-35 C. Nights tend to be 5-10 F/3-5 C degrees...

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  • Jamaicans are friendly.

    Jamaicans are imported themselves, so they say you only have to be in Jamaica for 5 minutes to be a 'real Jamaican'. The friends we met liked to hear stories about traveling all over, as it is very hard and costly for a VISA (travel permission) for Jamaican residents.

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  • Christmas in Jamaica

    Christmas is a magical time on the island. At midnight on Christmas Eve, the community gathers in the square, sings Christmas carols, and hands out presents to the children. It's a time for love and sharing.

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  • Jamaica is...friendship

    In Jamaica people are friendly, but just little detached at first sight. Maybe they have their troubles, maybe I am Italian and can't speak English well. But this is just my first impression, because if you are nice to everyone, you can meet a lot of friends.

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  • Jamaica is...Rasta

    Jamaica is Rasta. Here people are proud of their African roots. Rasta religion believes Ethiopia is the land of origin. Rastamen call it Zion and the rest of the world is Babylon. The beard is a symbol of their agreement with Jah, the dreadlocks are the symbol of lion's mane and the Holy Bible is their source of knowledge. Their moral principles go...

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  • Fauna

    When wandering around the blue mountains you might just stumble across the local fauna beware it belongs to someone.

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  • Some people may try to befriend you!!!

    Some people may try to befriend you to get money off you,but some people are genuine and friendly.Restaurants add service charge to the bill mostly,but if you are unsure if they have,ask them.Tipping of tour guides is appreciated.Do ask to take a picture of someone beforehand. Here i am trying to fly the plane

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  • Leave that Red Pen at Home

    Don't write on forms with a red pen! The customs official told us it was rude to do so in Jamaica and made us rewrite our entrance forms.Generally when a tip is expected they'll make it clear that they're expecting one. There was no tipping on our resort but we tipped baggage handlers, drivers and tour guides. I never found out whether or not these...

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  • More birds

    I couldn't decide whether to put these 'wildlife' pictures in as 'cultural' or 'off the beaten path' - I decided cultural. We spotted this large white water bird - probably some kind of stork or heron - in Falmouth.

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  • Yet more birds...

    So here's another 'wildlife' picture - we spotted this vulture hanging around near the property of my friend's family, near Falmouth.

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  • Birthplace of Marcus Garvey

    On the way back to MoBay from Ocho Rios, we stopped in St. Ann's Bay - the birthplace of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), one of Jamaica's heroes. Marcus Garvey was a Black Nationalist, a Pan-Africanist and the father of contemporary Black Nationalism. I knew his name from a reggae song so we stopped to have a look.

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  • Doctor bird hummingbird

    Here is a not great photo of the Doctor bird hummingbird at Rockland bird sanctuary in Anchovy. This is the national bird of Jamaica.

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  • Close to nature...

    Coming in towards MoBay from the Cockpit country, we found our way to the Rocklands bird sanctuary at Anchovy. Here we had the opportunity to see some of the fabulous bird life from the Cockpit country, up close and personal!

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  • Jamaican speed bump!

    I imagine there are different names for 'speed bumps' everywhere. In Canada they're 'speed bumps' - in Jamaica, 'sleeping police'!

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  • Rastafarianism

    Jamaica has several major religions: The religion most commonly associated with Jamaica is Rastafarianism. Rastafarians beleive that Haile Salassie, the former leader of Ethiopia, is their leader. Rastafraian generally are free spirted, and believe in the spiritual use of marijuana; also known as Ganja. They speak with a specific accent known as...

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  • January 6th is the Jamaican...

    January 6th is the Jamaican New Year. Thousands of people from all over the island head to Maroon Town for the festivities of Accompung. It's truly a cultural treat.

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  • The cities in Jamaica are very...

    The cities in Jamaica are very difficult to see. Homeless people are everywhere on the street and out in the open for everyone to view. The poverty level is so great that it is very humblling to see people growing up and living that way.

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  • It is standard practice to...

    It is standard practice to tip, in restaurants, at the airport, etc. Talk to the people and enjoy yourself, show respect towards the people and chances are you will receive respect in kind. A bit of advice: Your 'friend' on the street is likely to be trying to make a living. Don't make the mistake of thinking everyone who talks to you is your...

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  • The locals are so laid back...

    The locals are so laid back they're horizontal!! In the all inclusives you get faster service because you've paid for it but out and about the service can be really slow but remember this is they're way of living so try and bite your tounge and not complain.Everyone says 'Irie man', it means loads of different things but you'll hear it all the...

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Jamaica Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Jamaica local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Jamaica sightseeing.
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