Jamaica is a beautiful country, but it’s definitely a place where you want to keep your personal safety in mind. The island, after all, has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and while tourists generally aren’t the targets, they do fall victim to plenty of street crime at resort areas. That’s why the government announced recently that it would install dozens of surveillance cameras in the tourist town of Ocho Rios, home of the famous Dunn’s River Falls. As the AP points out, the cameras will be set up at bus stops and other public areas, as they already are in cities like Kingston and Montego Bay.
The move underscores the strange dichotomy of Jamaica. While its famously laid-back attitude is well deserved, some Jamaicans are anything but, and aggressive drivers and street touts are the norm rather than the exception in most places. As a visitor from elsewhere, you’ll undoubtedly be accused at some point of not being relaxed enough, and of worrying about things that are of no consequence. If you’re a guy, expect plenty of fist bumps accompanied by the word respect from the Rastas and the rude boys on the corner. Usually this means “let’s respect each other.” Sometimes the implication is “you’d better respect me.” If you’re a girl, you’ll probably hear a few comments on your physical form. Best to let it go.
Still, most Jamaicans are lovely, and prudence and common sense should keep you safe wherever you go. Your resort might want to scare you into thinking its unsafe to go “off-campus,” but there’s too much great stuff to experience in Jamaica to spend your entire time on the beach. The perfect, lovely, beautiful beach.