Arriving in Jamaica
Which airport should I fly into?
The closest airport is Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport (20 minutes).
What travel documentation do I need?
A valid passport is required for all passengers including infants. If you have questions about this requirement or are a citizen of another country, call 1-800-233-4582 (Jamaica Tourist Board).
Should I hire a driver or rent a car?
Our experience is that hiring a driver is the easiest, most convenient way of getting around. We can arrange for a driver to personally meet you at the airport and transport you, using a private, air-conditioned van, directly to Coconut Cottage. The drive is about 20 minutes and is a wonderful first introduction to the island. For rates click here. If you're feeling adventurous and want to travel the island on your own, the two main rental companies are Hertz and Avis.
When might I arrive at the villa?
Guests are welcome to arrive at the villa any time after 3:00 pm and we ask if they can leave on the day of departure by 11:00 am. Early arrivals and late departures are happily arranged when available.
What to Pack
Any Island Essentials?
Anything you might have forgotten can probably be found in Jamaica, but some essentials to remember:
- your favorite sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses (the sun is strong in Jamaica!)
- any prescription medication
- cash in small USD denominations for tipping (porters, tour guides, etc.)
- sneakers for playing tennis at Round Hill, zip-lining, climbing the falls,etc.
- your i-pod - docks are located in every bedroom (a house i-pod stocked with music is also available)
- earplugs or a white noise app (if you are a light sleeper - the tropical birds can sing quite loudly in the morning!)
- Gentlemen - a pair of long pants - Round Hill requires long pants in the dining room after 5:00 pm
- Ladies- you will live in your bathing suit and cover-up - bring several! And a couple of floaty dresses. Maybe a lightweight sweater in the winter months.
This and That
What is the weather like?
Jamaica enjoys typical Caribbean weather: 80's by day and 70's at night. Winter to summer variance is only 10 degrees. It is more likely to rain in May or June and September or October than in other months.
What currency should I use and is there a nearby ATM?
US dollars are accepted island wide. Exchange rates vary if you choose to purchase Jamaican dollars (JAD). You can see the latest Jamaican-USD conversion rate for reference. Credit cards are accepted at Round Hill, grocery stores and most restaurants. Local street and market vendors typically only accept JAD. There are several ATMs in Montego Bay and one in the nearby town of Hopewell.
Is Jamaica safe?
Very safe if you are sensible. Use the same caution in Montego Bay that you would use in any large city. Coconut Cottage is very secure and has a full staff on the property during the day and our wonderful night watchman Matthew in the evening. If you choose to bring jewelry, cash, etc., the villa has a lockable safe for your valuables.
Will my cell phone work?
Take your US cell phone. It will probably work. To be sure, call your provider to ask whether your cell will work in Jamaica and if you have an international plan. The villa provides a complimentary cell phone for your use during your stay for local calls and calls to the US and Canada.
What should I expect?
Jamaica is truly a world away. Its natural beauty is breathtaking and its people charming and laid back. Yet the internet can be spotty, electrical interruptions happen, restaurants open and close based on the bounty of the day and you may have to wait for one of our neighboring goats to cross the road before you can pass. Time slows down. To enjoy your time on the island it is important you come prepared for this.
Where should we dine?
If you feel the need to venture out, there are some wonderful dining choices all over the island. Here are a few of our local favorites (Allan will be happy to arrange):
The Lobster Trap - Authentic Jamaican, ultra-casual spot. Outdoor tables piled high with charcoal-grilled lobster on the edge of the beach. Call first (to make sure that lobsters have been caught that day!)
The Pelican - Casual, family-friendly Montego Bay landmark. Quirky 70’s vibe. Cheeseburgers & unbelievable milkshakes. Wide array of Jamaican dishes as well.
Scotchie's - For genuine jerk – chicken, pork, fish, sausage and more – with fiery sauce and delectable side dishes including festival and rice and peas. This restaurant is a favorite with the locals; on a typical day, you’re likely to see a slap-the-table game of dominoes.
The Houseboat - Floating restaurant in Freeport. In fine weather, go for an upper-deck table and dine beneath the stars. Although the kitchen closes around 10pm, the bar opens every day at 4pm and remains open until whenever the owners feel like shutting it down.
Round Hill - we always find ourselves at Round Hill. Lunches are delicious and are made with ingredients from Round Hill's own organic garden. Every Friday is "Jamaican Night", with an amazing array of local and international dishes, a steel band and a Jamaican floor show. Not to be missed!
What is there to see and do?
Too much to list here, but please don't hesitate to ask for recommendations. Keep checking our blog for some of our favorite things.