Jamaica is a beautiful Caribbean island visited by millions of people each year, but very few of them see the real Jamaica. When I say real Jamaica, I am referring to the parts of Jamaica that don’t cater to tourists.

If you ask us, it’s actually a shame, because Jamaica’s true gems are beyond the beaches and borders of Negril, Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.

If you want to discover Jamaica beyond the typical tourist locations, here are six ways to help you get a taste of the real Jamaica on your next vacation to the island of one love.

1. Connect with locals

We fell in love with Jamaica not because of the gorgeous beaches, the cheap weed or all-inclusive resorts, rather it was because of the friendly, hospitable and genuine Jamaicans we met. Because of them and the experiences we shared with them, we were able to get an authentic and real experience of Jamaica.


When you are in Jamaica go beyond the typical hi, and try to connect with the people that make Jamaica, Jamaica. After all, there is no better way to experience a culture or country than through its people.

Another great way to connect with locals and experience the real Jamaica, is with the “Meet the People Program”, operated by the Jamaica Tourism Board. This free program matches visitors with locals based on common interests, professions and hobbies. It truly gives visitors a real and authentic experience because the 700+ Jamaicans that partake in this program are not paid to be nice to you, they are volunteers who really just want to share their beautiful island with you!

2. Take local transportation

There is no better way to travel around Jamaica than with route taxis. When you take route taxis in Jamaica, not only will you save money and meet locals but you also get a small taste of the everyday life of Jamaicans and a glimpse of the real Jamaica.

If you’ve read anything on the internet about route taxis, you would think it’s dangerous, sketchy, crowded, or too complicated. But all of that is crap! Except maybe the crowded part :D.

Nonetheless, we took route taxis everywhere and not once did we feel unsafe! We tried them, love them, and completely recommend them, especially if you want to experience the real Jamaica.

3. Stay at a local guesthouse instead of an all-inclusive resort

When you stay in all-inclusive resorts, you make the deliberate choice to seclud and shut yourself out of the very place you have come to visit. Not to mention you agree to give your money to large corporations that don’t give it back to the community.

However, when you stay at local guesthouses, you know where the money is going, and you have the opportunity to interact with locals who can give you suggestions on places to visit not found in your typical guidebook. How do you think Lonely Planet gets all their information?

4. Eat at local restaurants

Go to local restaurants to get a real authentic taste of Jamaican cuisine. No all-inclusive resort can make rice and beans like big mama nor replicate the taste of juicy and spicy jerk chicken cooked over pimento wood.


5. Leave the coast of Jamaica and go inland

Jamaica has so much more to offer than its coastal areas. If you give Jamaica a chance and venture away from the coast it will blow you away with it’s diverse landscapes and natural gems. Leave the coast for a few days and head inland to discover small traditional villages and hidden waterfalls, explore Jamaica’s diverse ecosystem, and hike some of the best hiking trails in the Caribbean.

Some of these great inland locations are the Blue Mountains, Mandeville, and Cockpit County.

6. Travel with us to Discover the Real Jamaica!

Want to experience the real Jamaica but don’t want to do it alone? Then join us as we explore and discover the real Jamaica with a small intimate group that takes you beyond the superficial and isolated experience offered by inclusive resorts and through Jamaica’s best kept secrets. Learn more about this unique experience here.

The real Jamaica awaits you!

About the Author

Ben & JazzyBen & Jazzy

Hey, we are Ben & Jazzy, long-term budget travelers and the founders of Road Affair. We want to help you turn your travel dreams into reality, regardless of your budget. Follow us for comprehensive and useful budget guides, money-saving tips and inspiration for your next trip.

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