English is the official language of Jamaica and everybody speaks it, though what you will hear among locals is Jamaican Creole (or patois), which features a unique spin. The vocabulary and pronunciation are different and it can be tough on the ear. “Waah appen?” (“What’s happening”) is a popular saying that means “what’s up?” Spanish can be heard more in Kingston.
The Jamaican dollar (JMD) is the official unit of currency, although US dollars are widely accepted especially near the cruise ports. There’s little chance of mixing the two up as US dollars are worth tens of times more than Jamaican dollars. Cambio exchangers give better rates than the airports and banks and are open longer, while American Express, VISA, and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs, known as ABMs, are ubiquitous and accept foreign cards, while traveler’s checks are best made out in US dollars.
Jamaica time is EST (Eastern Standard Time), which is five hours behind GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) in the summer.
There is a combination of 110V and 220V systems on the island. 110V, 60Hz runs on two-pin sockets (the same as the US), while the older 220V, 50Hz operate on three-pin sockets like the UK. Most are 110V, but double-check with your hotel to see if you need an adapter. iPhone chargers run on both systems.
Jamaica has the same country code as North America, +1, and the island area code is 876. Mobile phones can be used island-wide, with the exception of some inland areas. US phones will be in roaming, but you can purchase a local SIM card or rent a pay as you go phone for communications. Internet cafés are located in all resorts and towns, and hotels three-star and above usually have Wi-Fi.
Visitors can bring in 200 cigarettes (225 g of tobacco or 50 cigars), and 2 liters of alcohol. Returning to the US, you can take 200 cigarettes, a liter of alcohol and up to US$ 400 in gifts (perfumes, electronics, etc).
Jamaica Tourist Board, 64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston: +1-876-929-9200/19, or Montego Bay, 18 Queens Drive:__ +1-876-952-4425 http://www.visitjamaica.com/
Consulates in Jamaica
US Embassy, Kingston: +1-876-929-4850 Canadian Consulate, Kingston: +1-876-926-1500 UK Consulate, Kingston: +1-876-510-0700 German Embassy, Kingston: +1-876-926-6728 Chinese Embassy, Kingston: +1-876-927-3871 French Embassy, Kingston: +1-876-978-0210
Emergency services: police: 119, ambulance: 110.