Jamaica is known for it’s beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and yes, our tropical attractions. On the other hand, we are equally known to be one of the most violent countries in the Caribbean. With this, I know that many prospective visitors have this one lingering question at the forefront of their minds…”is Jamaica safe?”

Well, the obvious answer is…yes. Jamaica is for the most, safe. This is the reason why many have survived years without encountering even one traumatic situation on the streets. However, just like anywhere else in the world, and in taking into consideration a few peculiar social and cultural differences in Jamaica, for the best experience, it is advised to take precaution for your safety.

Here are a few useful tips to ensure your safety while travelling or staying in Jamaica, especially if you decide to tour outside the resort area.

How to stay safe in Jamaica:

1. Don’t go anywhere alone

You probably can try that at home, but not here. You don’t want to wind up being an easy target. I’ve felt comfortable, though vigilant walking the streets even late at nights in the U.S, however, though I’m from Jamaica, I try to avoid taking solitary trips on the streets, especially at places I’m not familiar with.

2. Don’t wander off without knowing exactly where you’re going

Don’t appear as if you don’t know where you are going. That screams “bait!”. Always do your research. At least know the name of the place that you’re going, which town or city it is located in, and how you can get there.

3. Don’t get into a taxi that doesn’t have a red plate

I would not advise even taking one with red plate as a visitor. It’s best to call a cab, but if you do take a taxi with a red plate, you will need to make note of the plate number and send it to someone who could file a police report for you, just in case “anything” happens.

4. Be vigilant when driving, if you decide to rent a vehicle

There is a wide possibility of things that could happen, however, the worst thing that could happen is you being duped into a robbery. They have a lot of tricks that I can’t even list here. So, if you’re driving and anything questionable happens on the road – like an egg falling out of nowhere on your windscreen, just keep on driving.

5. Don’t flaunt your belongings

This screams “rob me!” The average Jamaican avoids overdressing, wearing expensive jewelry, carrying purses, or flaunting anything else deemed valuable in public. Especially the phone. Don’t use your phone in very secluded places or very crowded public spaces. Observe your environment to see if other people are using smart devices in public. If they aren’t, it must be for a reason.

6. Don’t spend in U.S. currency. If you need to spend cash, try changing out enough to Jamaica’s currency

For one, merchants might assume you are wealthy when they see your U.S dollar, and the obvious – you may not get a good exchange rate deal on the streets.

7. Don’t drive on the right side of the road

If you decide to rent a vehicle and travel independently, remember you are not at home. Please! You would not want to meet into an accident or get into trouble with the law. That’s the worst kind of trip you could have anywhere! We drive on the left side of the road in Jamaica.

8. Don’t stray off main roads/courses, especially alone

jamaica trails

There are some places in Jamaica without GPS and cell signal, so you could end up lost. That’s one reason to avoid straying. Others include the possibility of ending up in the heat of a gang war, a shoot-out, in a highly volatile area, or some places where you end up getting robbed.

9. Avoid dangerous neighborhoods

If you do a Google search, you might see a list of places where visitors are advised to avoid. We will not tell you to avoid them, but you are advised to be cautious. If you need to tour them, do it with a tour guide or excursion company, as some of these places, e.g. Trench Town – the home of Bob Marley, are tourist areas.

10. If possible, avoid travelling at nights

Based on police reports, most crimes and violent activities in Jamaica happen at night, so travelling during the day is the safest way to go about your stay.

11. Be careful of taking photos of locals without asking for permission

Notwithstanding the serious legal implications around this, your action of innocently taking photos of things that arouse your curiosity could wind you up in serious trouble with people who misunderstand your motivations. Simply put, some people are unfortunately ignorant and may feel threatened by you taking photographs of them or people or things near them.

12. Don’t disrespect people on the streets

Jamaicans heavily value respect. Everything is irie once you respect those you meet, especially on the streets. Not because someone has a “rough” exterior means they are aggressive or dangerous. Once you show them respect, they will be very friendly and respectful to you, but once you disrespect anyone, they could end up hurting you. No matter how good it sounds, don’t say things like “bomboclaat” to people in the streets.

13. Ladies, avoid scantily clad clothing on the streets as you may become a victim of sexual harassment

This is the most annoying part about our culture or living in Jamaica. Unfortunately, most Jamaican men on the streets cannot resist the urge to catcall a beautiful woman. This is a common part of our culture, however, some of these same men do not possess great self control. So it is best to eliminate the possibility of attracting predators and victimizing yourself through oversexualizing yourself.

14. Be careful not to fall for scams

Because of our economy, sadly, many Jamaicans turn to unscrupulous and illegal ways to make a living, at the expense of others. Therefore, be vigilant and think critically before you stump up all your life savings to someone on the street.

15. Don’t smoke marijuana in public

As fitting as it may seem, you have to be careful with your use of marijuana, aka weed. While it is now legal, there are still limitations. If you are caught with over 57 grams, you could be fined. Also if you smoke in public spaces.

16. If you somehow have illegal weapons in Jamaica, you could end up in jail

This is a no no. There have been instances of visitors being charged for the possession of illegal firearm. Once in Jamaica, the law also applies to you.

17. Don’t try to mimic the Jamaican accent

This may come off offensive or corny to a Yaadie, especially if you don’t get it right. Not many will identify with your enthusiasm of learning how to speak like a Jamaican and practising it on them. They might think you’re mocking them.

18. If you’re shopping around, especially in the markets, don’t look the merchant in the eye

To avoid badgering, try your best not to stare at or into the eyes of the person selling items on the streets. Even if you’re just shopping around, they are going to think you’re interested and will not stop pestering you. It happens to the best of us here.

19. Dress to protect yourself from the sun and bugs

The weather is extreme hot throughout most of the year, so whenever you’re going out, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen. You might also want to consider wearing protective clothing such as hats or not so heavy clothes that can cover certain areas of your body…well, unless you want to tan. Also protect yourself from bugs such as mosquitoes and sand flies by wearing bug spray, especially in the evenings.

20. Be mindful of car washers who might stop you at stop lights offering to clean your windscreen or vendors selling snacks

The former is also one of the things that annoys us locals. There are car washers positioned at some stoplights across the island. This is one of the unfortunate methods that a few turn to to fend for themselves. It is widespread in the cities. So in order to avoid badgering or robbery, it is best to keep your windows up in very busy areas. The thing about this is that, even when you keep your windows up, they start washing your windscreen without asking your permission, then demand that you pay them. It is pretty generous to give, but do this vigilantly. If they keep badgering you after cleaning your vehicle, for your safety, you may want to tip them. In addition, you may see vendors selling snacks at stop lights. This is something pretty normal, and they are typically harmless, but still be vigilant.

21. Be careful who you ask for assistance if help is needed on the streets

While many are eager to help without any ulterior motif, you might wind up asking the wrong person for assistance. There isn’t a way in which I can tell you to judge who will hurt/deceive you from who will not. What I can say is, trust your intuition. It is always best to seek out civil servants such as police officers if you are in trouble or you’re uncertain about anything. When in a serious emergency, call 119.

22. Don’t leave your personal belongings unattended

In this case, your personal belongings also include your child. Do not ask anyone you do not know to watch your children or any personal item. When walking through crowded public areas, keep your purse/handbag under your arm or in front you. If you have valuable items in your backpack, follow suit. Also don’t walk with your phone on your back pocket.

23. Don’t trade with resort employees engaged in covert trade

If they have to do it privately, that should be a red flag. Chances are, it is illegal. Most formal staff signed an agreement to not engage in business with any of their clients or customers while being employed to the company. You wouldn’t want to get caught up in this ruse, and potentially losing your money if the other party is caught, and their operations seized.

24. Be mindful of natural disasters

Jamaica receives frequent hurricanes between June and November. Depending on the severity of the storm, it could result in serious disaster. If there is a hurricane during your visit, ensure to stock up on non-perishable food items, and to stay abreast to media channels for updates. We are also earthquake prone, as we are located near two plates. You may visit our local natural disaster agency’s website for safety tips and precautions.

If you follow these tips, you will have nothing to worry about. You will be able to enjoy your tour outside the resort space while you immerse yourself into the heart of the Jamaican culture. We all have our parts to play in our personal safety, and most of this has to do with the measures we take and the choices we make to protect ourselves on the streets.

For recommendations on some of the best times to visit Jamaica, you can check out our guide here.

If you’re traveling to Jamaica alone, ensure you take all the necessary measures to keep safe. Read about how you can stay safe while visiting Jamaica. If you decide to visit any resort, be sure to tag us in your photos and videos @resortcaribbean, and follow our socials: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.


  1. […] Explore local markets, such as Kingston’s Coronation Market or Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and discover a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices. Now we don’t recommend you touring Kingston’s Coronation Market alone and without someone that knows the area, worst at night, as there are some areas where crime is highly prevalent. You can check out our guide here on some safety measures to take when visiting Jamaica. […]


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