Unfortunately, crime in Jamaica is something you have to consider. I visited Jamaica in July of 2018 with my husband and stayed in a mix of all-inclusive and local hotels. If you use common sense and prepare yourself ahead of time you should be able to stay safe in Jamaica.
Read on: Full travel guide for Jamaica
Petty Theft in Jamaica
Petty Theft is one of the biggest things you must be aware of in Jamaica, you shouldn't flash fancy jewelry around or wave nice cameras or iPhones conspicuously. Most resorts provide safes to store valuables and this is highly recommended. Do remember that if you are mugged, it is best to hand over your valuables so the violence doesn't escalate.
Violent Crimes in Jamaica
When it comes to more violent crimes - like rape or murder - you should know these crimes are not solely carried out on locals. Unfortunately, tourists have lost their lives in recent years in Jamaica.
Women are not advised to travel alone, especially to rural areas. You should keep your wits about you, even inside resorts. I encourage women to exercise caution when drinking in Jamaica, again, even at resorts.
Drugs in Jamaica
Marijuana, (locally known as ganja) has been popular in Jamaica for many years. It was recently decriminalized in February 2015. This means that even if you are caught with up to two ounces (around 56 grams) the punishment is only a fixed penalty ticket of around $5 instead of an arrest and/or a criminal charge.
Purchasing marijuana remains illegal at this time. But, you will see many people selling it to tourists. Big cities have hawkers selling ganja in joints or brownies all around town. Make sure to negotiate prices - never take their first offer.
How to Call the Police in Jamaica
If in need of police, dial 119, just don't expect them to show up on the spot.
Areas to avoid in Jamaica
Areas to Avoid in Kingston
- Cassava Piece
- Tivoli Gardens
- Trench Town
- Arnett Gardens
- Mountain View
Areas to Avoid in Montego Bay
- Clavers Street
- Hart Street
- Rose Heights
Areas to avoid in Negril
Considered to be more popular than Kingston, stick to the touristy areas which are generally safe.
Final Thoughts on Jamaica
Please don't read this article and make the assumption that Jamaica is too unsafe to visit. Jamaica is a beautiful country you really shouldn't miss. There are many safe places and the islands see millions of tourists a year. As long as you exercise caution you will be fine and I promise you will have an unforgettable trip.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).