When to Go in Jamaica

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With its fabled weather balmy all year, Jamaica is more and more a year-round destination. Nevertheless, it has a distinct high season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the island.

Reservations should be made 2 to 3 months in advance for trips during the winter. At certain hotels, think about booking a year ahead for Christmas holidays or February.

Off-Season

The off season in Jamaica (roughly mid-Apr to mid-Dec) amounts to a summer sale. In most cases, hotel rates are slashed a startling 20 percent to 60 percent. Some package-tour charges are as much as 20 percent lower, and individual excursion airfares are reduced from 5 to 10 percent. In addition, airline seats and hotel rooms are much easier to come by. It's a bonanza for cost-conscious travelers, especially families.

Avoid Spring Break

Throughout March and into mid-April, it's spring-break season in the Caribbean for vacationing college and high school students. Expect beach parties, sports events, and musical entertainment and if the idea of hundreds of partying college kids doesn't appeal to you, beware. When you make your reservations, ask if your hotel is planning to host any big groups of young people.

Off-Season Advantages

Although Jamaica may appear inviting in the winter to those who live in northern climates, there are many reasons why your trip may be much more enjoyable if you go in the off season:

A less-hurried way of life prevails. You'll have a better chance to appreciate food, culture, and customs. Swimming pools and beaches are less crowded -- perhaps not crowded at all. Year-round resort facilities are offered, often at reduced rates, which may include snorkeling, boating, and scuba diving. To survive, resort boutiques often feature summer sales, hoping to clear excess merchandise. You can often appear without a reservation at a top restaurant in, say, Montego Bay and get a table. The endless waiting game is over: no waiting for a rented car, tee time, or tennis court. Some package-tour fares are as much as 20 percent lower, and individual excursion fares are also reduced between 5 and 10 percent. Accommodations and flights are easier to book. Finally, the very best of Jamaica attractions remain undiminished in the off season -- sea, sand, and surf, with lots of sunshine.

Jamaican Independence Day

Jamaica jumps to life with music and dancing as the island commemorates the anniversary of its independence, which took place in 1962. Costumes depicting different aspects of Jamaican culture sashay through the centre of Kingston during the gala parade. Celebrations run up to Emancipation Day on the 6th of August, when traditional Junkanoo dancers recall the days of slavery and modern day Jamaican culture is celebrated in all its exotic glory.


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