Why and when to travel to Jamaica

Why and when to travel to Jamaica

An insider’s guide to Jamaica, featuring the island’s best hotels, restaurants, bars, attractions and things to do, including how to travel there and around. By James Henderson, Telegraph Travel’s Jamaica expert. Click on the tabs below for the best beaches, including the top spots to stay stay, eat and drink.

Why go?

Jamaica is the liveliest, most captivating and most compelling island in the English-speaking Caribbean – and among the most beautiful too. It has the beaches and the hotels, but Jamaica also has more depth, with culture in its history, art and of course its music. The Caribbean experience is stronger here – Jamaica takes familiar strains from around the Caribbean and amplifies them.

When to go

The best time to visit is when the weather is at its worst and coldest in the UK, between mid-December and mid-April (the official winter season). In Jamaica this is also the driest part of the year. However, prices are at their highest then, so you may want to consider the shoulder season, up until July, when hotel prices reduce by as much as a third and the weather is not that different. The summer months are hot and sometimes muggy. You may want to avoid September and October because of the risk of hurricanes and November because it is the rainy season.

Why and when to travel to Jamaica

Know before you go

Flight time

London to Jamaica takes between nine and 10 hours.

Currency

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, or ‘J’, which floats on the international exchange (currently £1 = J$175 approx). However, many people use the US dollar (hotel bills are quoted in this currency). You should check the rate and make the calculations to see what exchange rate you are being offered.

Local laws and etiquette

Personal safety is an issue in several islands around the Caribbean. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach nor in a car. Do not walk in remote areas in the main towns nor on remote beaches, certainly not at night. If in doubt ask your hotel reception what they do. Largely speaking the Jamaicans are charming and if you stop to ask them advice or directions they are delighted to help. Be careful when you are approached, however – consider what you would do at home if approached by someone you didn’t know – and act in a similar manner.

Rio de Janeiro Hightlights and Copacabana

Rio de Janeiro Hightlights and Copacabana

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, on the South Atlantic coast. Rio is famous for its breathtaking landscape, its laidback beach culture and its annual carnival. The harbour of Rio de Janeiro is comprised of a unique entry from the ocean that makes it appear to be the mouth of a river.

Additionally, the harbor is surrounded by spectacular geographic features including Sugar Loaf mountain at 395 meters (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak at 704 meters (2,310 feet), and the hills of Tijuca at 1,021 meters (3,350 feet). These features work together to collectively make the harbor one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

It is a common mistake to think of Rio as Brazil’s capital, a distinction it lost on 21 April 1960 when newly built Brasilia became the capital. Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Christ The Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue, the stadium of Maracanã and Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) are all well-known sights of what the inhabitants call the “marvelous city” (cidade maravilhosa), and are also among the first images to pop up in travelers´ minds, along with the Carnaval celebration.

Sadly, most people also know Rio for its violence and crime. The drug lords and the slums, or favelas, are the tip of very old social problems. The favelas are areas of poor-quality housing, slums usually located on the city’s many mountain slopes, juxtaposed with middle-class neighborhoods. But now, with the UPP’s (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora = Pacifying Police Unit) almost all the favelas are safe to go, because the police took the area from the drug dealers, so you can go there for some cultural gathering. A pretty calm and safe favela is “Morro do Pinto”. It is so calm that it doesn’t look like part of this urban Rio and it is in the center of the city.

Rio de Janeiro Hightlights and Copacabana

The South Zone holds most of Rio’s landmarks and world-famous beaches, in an area of only 43.87 square km (17 mi²). Many of them are within walking distance of each other (for instance, the Sugar Loaf lies about 8 km/5 mi from Copacabana beach). Most hotels and hostels are located in this part of the city, which is compressed between the Tijuca Range (Maciço da Tijuca) and the sea. There are important places in other regions as well, such as Maracanã stadium in the North Zone and the many fascinating buildings in the Centre.

If you plan on staying in Rio for more than a couple of days it would be good to invest in a copy of “How to be a Carioca` (Priscilla Ann Goslin, Livros TwoCan Ltda, R$32). This is an amusing look at the people of Rio and will help you enjoy the city as well as appear less of a `gringo` when you hit the streets.

Copacabana

Probably the most famous strip of sand anywere in the world, Copacabana Beach encapsulated the flamboyant ’80s with its trunk-wearing, bronzed playboys and cocktail umbrella image. It hasn’t been a non-stop glamour ride since, however, and the gloss wore off to reveal a gritty and congested strip of faded glories and seedy late-night tales.

Today, Copa is back and once again means business. Some of the best restaurants in the city contrast with some of the oldest, most idiosyncratic bars around, while café culture threatens to overtake the cheese pie-and-açaí juice stops in the locals’ affections. The neighbourhood turned 120 years old on 6 June, 2012, and to commemorate, we have run down the best that one of the most famous neighbourhoods in the world has to offer.

Morocco: Welcome to Northwest Corner of Africa

Morocco: Welcome to Northwest Corner of Africa

Morocco is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterized by a rugged mountainous interior and large portions of desert. It is one of only three countries (with Spain and France) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. The Arabic name al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah, meaning “The Western Kingdom”) and Al-Maghrib (, meaning “The West”) are commonly used as alternate names.

Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi). Its political capital is Rabat. The largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. Its distinct culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, and European influences.

Morocco claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975, leading to a guerrilla war with indigenous forces until a cease-fire in 1991. Peace processes have thus far failed to break the political deadlock.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. He can also dissolve the parliament after consulting the Prime Minister and the president of the Constitutional court.

Morocco’s predominant religion is Islam, and the official languages are Arabic and Berber. Moroccan Arabic, referred to as Darija, and French are also widely spoken. Morocco is an influential member of the Arab League and a part of the Union for the Mediterranean. It has the sixth-largest economy in Africa.