This island paradise is a favorite stop for globe-trotters and families alike, but why limit your love to the cold-weather months? Here, five reasons to visit right now.
1. The price
Let’s get down to brass tacks first. It’s low season, which means you can lounge on the white-sand beach and sleep in gorgeous accommodations for a fraction what it would have cost two months ago. And that’s before hotels throw extra amenities into the mix. For example, the überluxe Half Moon Bay Resort in Montego Bay is enticing summer jaunts with meals, drinks, and accommodations for two people starting at $449; that’s 40 percent less than regular rates.
2. The temperatures
No, you won’t be melting under 100-degree skies. Think more around the mid-to-high 80s with nice winds. The sky does open up occasionally, but usually it’s just long enough to cool things down and force you to take a brief, and necessary, time out from the sun.
3. The experiences
One of the best things about Jamaica is its calming flow. There’s just enough to see and do but not so much that you won’t have ample time to chillax in a beach hammock. And when you do decide to get up, there are a host of activities, from Half Moon Bay’s swimming with the dolphins or taking your horses on a beach-side ride (and even into the water) at Half Moon Bay, to the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, Dunn’s Rivers Falls, golfing, snorkeling, tennis, and swimming.
4. The food
There’s no dearth of amazing food in Jamaica, but skip the island specialties and you’ll miss a big part of what makes this island so special. Start your day with a steaming cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Pair it with sweet plantains and the traditional ackee-and-saltfish breakfast. Jerk anything is not to be missed. This spicy wet or dry rub elevates chicken, pork, and fish. Scotchies, in Montego Bay, is the mecca of jerk. Just whisper the name to any taxi driver and he’ll be only too happy to take you there. Traditional Jamaican favorites like bammy (fried cassava), festival (corn fritters) or johnny cakes (fried dumplings) help ease the spices’ burn. And if you’ve never tried slow-cooked oxtail or the vinegary escabeche fish, Jamaica is the place to take the plunge.
5. The people
Upon arriving in Jamaica you’re repeatedly asked if this is your first time visiting. If, as for me, this is a return visit, you’re automatically met with a big, warm grin and the words “Welcome home.” And that’s just what it feels like—a homecoming. Jamaicans are among the friendliest, warmest people you’ll ever meet. Everyone has a smile and warm words. Upon divulging that this was my fourth trip to the island, I was informed that I’d earned “Jamerican” status. And with a handful of newly learned patois terms under my belt, that may just be right.