Is It Safe to Take Your Family to Jamaica? (2023 Guide)

Every year, millions of tourists travel to Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae. To sample its unique culture, breath-taking scenery, luxurious all-inclusive resorts, gorgeous beaches and  delicious jerk chicken. Yet concerns regarding the safety of the country, stop many from even considering vacationing there. Let alone with their family. Is it safe to take your family to Jamaica?

The majority of Jamaica is  safe for families and other travelers. Just like in every other country, there are both safe and risky areas in Jamaica. It is  best to stick with  more touristy  areas such as Negril,  Ocho Rios and Port Antonio. Avoid neighborhoods where gang activity and crime is common, especially  in Montego Bay, and Kingston. 

Plus use common sense techniques to help you avoid being a victim of petty crime.

If you want to know more about the safety of Jamaica, what things and areas to avoid, where to safely visit, and tips for how to keep you, your belongings and loves one’s safe in Jamaica, then keep reading. 

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Is Jamaica Safe For Families?

Mother, young boy and girl on beach beside two chairs and umbrella. Ocean in background.
Jamaican beach vacation with family can be safe.

When planning a Carribean vacation, many people wonder is Jamaica safe for kids and families? Which is a fair question given all the media hype.

Millions of tourists vacation in Jamaica each year without any problems. This is not to say that you should be oblivious to potential dangers, but the chances of you getting caught up in a dangerous situation are quite low.  

That said ongoing gang violence and related crime, such as theft, armed robberies and sexual assaults happen in certain areas.  Jamaica has the highest homicide rate of all the Carribean Islands.

This may not sound encouraging, but in reality, tourist areas tend to be amazing, beautiful, safe places to stay. There are some dangerous neighbourhoods and rural areas you and your family should avoid, but most of the country is safe for tourists. 

Jamaica is a wonderful English speaking country in the Carribean to visit. As long as you avoid risky areas and take a few common sense precautions. Just like any tourist destination around the world.

It’s best to plan ahead for your beach vacation, especially with kids so you’ll be able to be prepared, and can just relax in the sun.

The following sections will go over all of the safety concerns that come up when visiting Jamaica, what you can do about them and the safest areas to stay in as a family.

7 Mile Beach in Jamaica view with boats and people walking on the sandy ocean shore.


This travel safety tip section will go over driving, petty crime, drug crimes, civil unrest, natural disasters and food & healthy safety risks.

Plus give you tips to help your famiy stay safe and healthy on your trip.

We’ll follow this up with the best, and safest places to visit in Jamaica for families and kids, to make your trip planning a breeze.

Check Travel Advisories

As always, we recommend checking out your country’s travel advisory before you go, to get the most up to date info on safety recommendations, entry requirements, and  health advisories.

Situations can change quickly, so make sure to check them out before you travel :

  • U.S. State Department Travel advisories – Reconsider travel due to high crime, local police often not responding effectively to serious criminal incidents, and that emergency services and hospital care vary from US standards.

  • UK Travel Advisories – for British Nationals they go over risks, the high crimae rate and recommend getting travel insurance. As well as note the Jamaican authorities can issue a state of emergency with little warning, as part of security enhancement measures by the Jamaican government. Noting some crime has specifically targeted tourists.

As always, travel within your comfort level, and risk tolerance.

Is Driving Safe in Jamaica?

Like most developing countries, driving in Jamaica is not 100% safe. You’ll need to watch out for potholes, poorly marked dirt roads, and poor lighting in some areas.

Avoid driving at night, keep doors locked and window up, and remember to drive on the left hand side of the road.

If you are planning on renting a car in Jamaica, make sure you also have good car rental insurance, as accidents are common.

Many people instead choose to use the the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) approved taxis or minibuses for excursions, airport transfers and sightseeing.

Most hotels & resorts have assigned JTB drivers who carry photo ID and display a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.

Petty Crime

The most common types of crime seen in tourist areas of Jamaica is petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching.

Usually, these are non-violent crimes, and most tourists never experience this. However, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of being a victim. 

  • Avoid looking flashy – Keep your money and credit cards in a money belt and avoid wearing expensive looking jewelry, smart watches etc. Don’t carry lots of money on you.
  • Keep your personal belongings as close to your body as possible – don’t leave bags/purses hanging off your chair, on the floor etc. Protect your cell phone, they are a popular item for theft.
  • Pay attention – Keep aware of  your surroundings, and the people around you. 
  • Know where you are going – wandering around looking lost can easily identify you and your family as potential targets
  • Watch out at ATMs – use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business. Go with someone else who can keep an eye out. Visit ATMs in daylight.
  • Avoid taking buses at night, and avoid using public buses or public transportation in general as it is considered generally unsafe for tourists. Take official taxis instead.
  • Use official taxis only – They have red-and-white “PP” licence plates and a lime-green JUTA sticker on the window. Agree to a fare ahead of time with their taxi drivers if not metred.
  • Make sure your accommodations are secure, especially if on a ground floor, or if you have a balcony. Look for places with lockable doors & windows, security on premises, gates etc. Keep valuables in a safe.

  • Don’t walk alone in isolated areas or on deserted beaches, even during the day.

  • Vary which restaurants or bars you visit. Using the same place too often might make you a target for thieves.

  • Obey local laws – Don’t put you or your family in a potentially dangerous situation.

If someone tries to rob you, it is advised to let them have the item versus trying to fight. Getting into a fight with a local can easily turn into a dangerous situation for yourself and your family. 

Keep Your Travel Money Safe

You will want to make sure your hard earned vacation money is safe from pickpockets, while out adventuring for the day.

Our favourite way to do this is to keep some money hidden away in money belt, or more protected with a stylish, and slash resistant bag. Ideally you would do both.

Pick up this cool belt with hidden pocket before you go (it’s an actual belt, how tricky!).

It’s the perfect place to hide some local currency, a copy of your passport and best part, the buckle is plastic, so you won’t have to take it off in security (unless they ask of course).

Or stay classy and safe with this lightweight Infinity Scarf . It has a hidden zipper pocket big enough to pack some emergency cash, a phone, passport, keys and more.

Plus it converts into a shawl / blanket, making it the perfect multi-use travel accessory.

Don’t forget a thing with these beach vacation packing list essentials

Drug Crimes

Jamaica’s drug-use levels are high when compared to other countries.

When you visit Jamaica, chances are you will be exposed to marijuana (known as ganja or weed in Jamaica), as it is not strictly outlawed in Jamaica as it is in other places.

In Jamaica, it’s perfectly lawful for people who practice Rastafarianism to smoke marijuana in specified places of worship.

Ganja was also legalized  in 2015, for medicinal purposes, and possession of small amounts was decriminalized. However you may be fined for possession, and it’s illegal to smoke in public.

All other drugs are illegal, with severe punishments.

Street hustlers may approach you looking to sell you drugs, sunglasses, or other items. Politely and firmly say no thank you, and don’t let them talk you into buying anything. 

If you are worried about your family smelling marijuana during your stay, make sure that you stay at a no-smoking hotel, Airbnb, or other lodging option. While it may take a little digging, they do exist. 

Riots and Civil Unrest

You may have seen news coverage about civil unrest in Jamaica. In some areas, violent crimes, home invasions, armed robbery and homicides are the norms, creating safety issues.

However, crimes like these are not often seen in areas where tourists usually visit, like Ocho Rios, and Runaway Bay.

Natural Disasters

Many people have no idea that Jamaica is no stranger to natural disasters. Some of the most common ones seen in the country are: 

  • Floods
  • Landslides
  • Hurricanes
  • Earthquakes

Hurricane season in Jamaica is anytime between June and October.

To minimize the chance that you and your family will be stuck in Jamaica during a natural disaster, you should book your trip outside of hurricane season. 

Instead, plan your trip to Jamaica during the winter months, between November and March.

November and December are popular times and the best time to travel. As the risk of a hurricane will be very low, the weather is warm, and there are fun festivals to enjoy. 

Food Safety in Jamaica

Jamaican Jerk chicken on bed of rice.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Rice

As always, the rule of thumb when travelling to places where food safety may be different than home, and to avoid any gastrointestinal bugs is Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Forget it! 

Tap water is generally considered safe to drink in larger cities, however we recommend drinking bottled, boiled or treated water to avoid the chance of losing precious vacation days.  Food in Jamaica is considered safe to eat as well.

As long as you practice common sense precautions, you and your family should have few problems on your Jamaican vacation.

Food safety tips for travelling in Jamaica with kids:

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat, seafood, eggs
  • Eat freshly prepared food that hasn’t been sitting out for awhile
  • Avoid unwashed, unpeeled vegetables or fruit
  • Drink bottled, boiled or treated water, and brush your teeth with it.
  • Ciguatera poisoning – avoid undercooked (or avoid altogether) snapper, sea bass, grouper, barracuda and jack, as they contain a toxin that is destroyed with cooking.

🏖 More family beach vacation ideas: Bahamas or the Hawaiian Islands

Health Risks  in Jamaica

Mosquito Borne Diseases

Diseases carried by mosquitoes have been found in Jamaica, and there are no vaccinations for the following:

  • Dengue Fever
  • Malaria
  • Zika Virus
  • Chikungunya Fever

The best thing to do is to try to avoid being bitten.

Wear insect repellant, sleep under netting, and avoid being out at dusk and dawn are good tips. As well as wear lighter coloured clothes, with long sleeved shirts and pants. 

There is medication you can take for Malaria, however it does come with side effects according to the CDC. Discuss your options with a travel health professional well before your trip.

Vaccinations for Jamaica

In addition to being up on your regular vaccinations, your travel health professional may also recommend your family is vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, as outbreaks do happen on occasion in Jamaica. 

Other vaccinations may be recommended depending on where you are travelling to or from, how long you will be staying, and what activities you are planning on doing. These include; Rabies, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B.

Visit a local travel doctor at least 6-8 weeks before you leave, to discuss what travel vaccinations, or precautionary measures may be best for your family. 

Safest Areas in Jamaica for a Family Vacation

Now that you know some of the risks in Jamaica, let’s go over some of the awesome, safe places you can choose for your next great family vacation.

The safest areas to go for a family vacation in Jamaica are Ocho Rios, Negril, Port Antonio and Point Lucea.

Ocho Rios

Blue Hole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.Waterfall surrounded by rainforest and plants.
Blue Hole, in the hills of Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Ocho Rios is one of the safest places in Jamaica, attracting tons of tourists every year. It’s easy to see why.

This area is full of tourist resorts, pristine beaches and surrounding jungle and with a low crime rate. Making it our top pick for a safe family vacation in Jamaica. 

In addition to the safety of the area, its many attractions would keep any family engaged from sun up to sun down or just play in the sand at one of the many beautiful local beaches.

If you’re not a beachy family, you could always tap into your adventurous side with one of the many available tour options including;

A guided hike up the Dunn’s River Falls, is also a popular family thing to do with older kids. If you have toddlers, or want a quieter experience, take them to Turtle River Falls and Gardens, where they can play in one of 14 waterfalls and streams.

⭐️ Where to stay: Moon Palace all inclusive is loved by families for their deluxe family rooms and suites, kids beach toys, games & kids club and of course the pools and beach. Plus many wonderful restaurants (Pier 8 is a favourite), easy to book excursions and one of the safest resorts in Jamaica.


Sandy 7 Mile Beach in Negril Jamaica, with boae, people walking along the shore.
7 Mile Beach at Negril, Jamaica

Negril leaves absolutely nothing to be desired!

This popular tourist destination is located on Jamaica’s northwestern coast, where some of the best beaches, waterfalls and beautiful, lively greenery can be found.

This is the beach destination of Jamaica, so be sure to check out Seven Mile Beach. On top of that, crime rates are low, so you and your family can vacation without fear of trouble.

The Carribean is known for some of its off shore bars made of sand. Not only do they protect the islands, one even has an eclectic bar.

Just off the coast, sits Floyd’s Pelican Bar, right in the middle of the ocean, on stilts on the sandbar. This bar, with yummy food and drinks is a unique place with fantastic views and vibes if you ever get the chance.

Some of the best things to do around Negril include:

Or spend the day at the Cool Runnings Waterpark, the only waterpark in Jamaica outside a resort. Your family won’t be disappointed. 

⭐️ Where to stay: Beaches Negril is a popular all-incusive for families, due to their kids club, pools, free water sports, teen actvities & even a teen night club. Families that sleep 5+ available too.


Is Jamaica safe for tourists here in Lucea? The answer is yes.

If you’ve ever seen photos of Lucea, you may be familiar with its luscious greenery, deep blue waters, and sandy beaches.

A popular luxury resort destination, it sits halfway between Montego Bay and Negril.

Here, you’ll find some of the most stunning resorts you’ve ever laid your eyes on, and the best part is that the area is totally safe for your family. 

Some fun family friendly things to do in the area include:

  • Visiting Fort Charlotte at the mouth of Tom Pipers Bay
  • Gorgeous beaches; main beach, the public beach and Sunset Cove
  • Enjoy sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, swimming
  • Wander the town, enjoying the colonial style architecture
  • Pick up souvenirs & food at the Cleveland Stanhope Market
  • Local waterfalls: Kempshot Falls, Paradise, Mayfield Falls and Dry Hill or day trip to Dunn’s Falls

⭐️ Where to stay: Grand Palladium Resort & Spa for all the kid activities ( kids club by age group up to 18 years, kids-only dining, a huge kids’ water park, a kids’ disco at night, etc.) For adults there’s a spa, pools, free water sports and 10 restaurants to choose from.

Port Antonio

Arial view of Frenchman's Cove, Port Antonio, Jamaica. Tropical forest hills in background.
Beautiful beach of Frenchmans Cove, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Situated on the north coast of Jamaica, is the family friendly Port Antonio.

Surrounded by natural attractions like the Blue Lagoon (think the Brooke Shields movie, but with more bathing suits), and waterfalls. As well as a low crime rate, which makes Port Antonio a great and safe place to stay in Jamaica with kids. 

  • Ten miles east, at Boston Beach, you can also visit the birthplace of jerk seasoning at the Boston Jerk Centre. There,  taste authentic Jamaican eats after a day of surfing, or playing on the soft white sand beach.
  • Visit Reach Falls with a hike to the cool, swim ready pool and cave to explore behind the falls.
  • For a little beach time Frenchman’s Cove and Winifred Beach are gems.

⭐️ Where to Stay: Geejam Hotel for it’s boutique feel, white sand beach, babysitting services, onsite restaurants, and pool.

This is not meant as an exhaustive list of family friendly places to stay. There are other gems on the island including, Treasure Beach, other areas of Portland and Runaway Bay.

Places To Avoid in Jamaica

As mentioned a bit earlier, there are some areas that are dangerous for both families and individual travelers.

To keep your family safe during a trip to Jamaica, you should avoid certain areas in Montego Bay and Kingston, and avoid Spanish Town altogether.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay has some dangerous areas to avoid, especially around:

  • Canterbury
  • Flankers
  • Hart Street
  • Mount Salem
  • Rose Heights
  • Salt Spring
  • Norwood Gardens
  • St. Clavers Avenue

You and your family should stay away from these neighbourhoods, as crime, shootings and violence occur daily in these areas.

There are definitely some safer areas within Montego Bay where incidences against tourists are low. If you choose to go to Montego Bay, stay in safer resort areas.


Jamaica’s historic capital, Kingston, has some of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Jamaica.

Both uptown and downtown Kingston see high rates of gang activity, violent crime and civil tension, and sexual assault.

That said there are also many interesting and historical sites to see. If you do visit go in the day, with a local guide that knows their way around and the safe places to visit.

Cassava Piece and Grants Pen are absolute no-gos for tourists. At any given moment, your family could be caught in a high-risk situation, if you are in the wrong area. 

Spanish Town

Avoid Spanish Town, or the “valley of death” as it’s been dubbed.

Spanish Town has a high rate of violent crime, and is also an easy area to get lost in due to its odd layout. Criminals use this to their advantage as they seek out vulnerable people to steal from.  

This is not an exhaustive list of areas to avoid. We recommend that you look at travel advisories of any area you are thinking about visiting. This is the best way to ensure your safety.


Is Ocho Rios Safe?

Ocho Rios on the northeastern part of the island is one of the safest and most popular destinations in Jamaica. This former fishing village is home to the majority of all-inclusive resorts, beautiful beaches and low crime. Making it one of the best places for a family vacation.

Is it safe to go to Jamaica with kids?

Yes, it’s safe to visit Jamaica with kids. Many families enjoy Jamaica’s child-friendly resorts, pristine beaches, interactive cultural sites, and water activities. As with any destination, it’s essential to observe safety precautions, choose kid-appropriate activities, and stay in safer areas such as Ocho Rios, Negril and Port Antonio.

Is there crime against tourists in Jamaica?

Yes, Jamaica has experienced incidents of crime against tourists, including petty theft and occasionally more serious offenses. It’s recommended to stay in safer tourist areas, avoid isolated spots, and exercise caution, especially at night. Always stay informed about current safety advisories.

What part of Jamaica is best for families?

Both Ocho Rios and Negril are the best areas for families in Jamaica. Gorgeous beaches to play on, waterparks and watersports to enjoy. Plus plenty of outdoor activities to keep kids of all ages busy and happy. Combine that with impressive five-star hotels and all-inclusive resorts, cafes, and delicious restaurants for an amazing Carribean family vacation.

Final Thoughts on Is Jamaica Safe To Visit For Families?

Now you know that, though the minority of Jamaica can be dangerous, there are many safe areas you can visit with your family. Jamaica is a beautiful country, full of music, culture and delicious food. We hope that this article is helpful to you in your travel planning endeavors. 

Jamaica beach front on sunny day.

If you are planning a trip to Jamaica what are you looking forward to most? If you have been, what are some not to miss sites and beaches you recommend? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on social media. We’d love to hear from you!

Related family travel destinations:

Is Jamaica Safe To Visit For Families?

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