Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean and was one of the first to develop itself as a major tourist destination. The north and west coasts are the centers of the island’s tourist industry. Jamaica sometimes receives bad press because of violent crime and high homicide rates. Violence, however, tends to be concentrated in the poorer sections of the capital city, Kingston, where tourists rarely venture. The all-inclusive resorts and tourist areas of the north and west coasts tend to be relatively insulated from violent crime problems.
The two largest airports in Jamaica are the Donald Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay, and the Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) in Kingston. The Montego Bay Airport is best for those headed to destinations on the north and west coasts. The Kingston Airport is best for those staying in the Kingston area, on the south coast or to Port Antonio on the east coast.
Jamaica has a wide range of accommodation. The north coast has a wide selection of big hotels and big all-inclusive resorts. Kingston also has its share of hotels, although these tend to be oriented more towards business travellers than leisure travellers. Accommodation on the south coast is dominated by smaller resorts.
One of the biggest attraction of Jamaica for tourists are the beaches. The best beaches in the country are on the north and west coast. The long white sand beach around Negril, on the west coast, is considered by some to be the best in the country. Beaches on the south coast tend to be rockier but also less crowded than their north and west coast counterparts.
KINGSTON AND ENVIRONS
Jamaica’s capital is the largest English-speaking city south of Miami. The city is more of a business destination than a leisure one, and it tends to be neglected by tourists. One reason for travelers’ reluctance to visit the city may be high violent crime rates and outbreaks of widespread violence that sometimes lead to states of emergency. Kingston, however, is also the cultural capital of the country. It is home to theaters, museums, a campus of the University of the West Indies and gave rise to many of the country’s musicians. The most dangerous areas of the city are the areas in the south (downtown) and west. New Kingston, to the north, is the wealthier, and safer place.