Jamaica-tourist-scamsThe country of Reggae and Bob Marley is a popular tourist destination thanks to its pearl white beaches at a deep blue sea and breathtakingly beautiful mountains. The “Island in the Sun” was originally inhabited by the Arawak Indians, who called it Xaymaca (translation: land of wood and water), but who became extinct when the Spaniards discovered the island. For centuries it was an important stopover for fresh food and water because the island was along the major trade routes for ships of that time. As a result, Jamaica is a melting pot of many, especially African, Spanish and English cultures. The English-speaking Jamaicans are colorful and lead a lively existence in the relaxed rhythm of reggae.

Jamaica-tourist-rip_offsTourism is currently the main source of income for the Jamaican economy. Every year, over 3 million people visit the island, of which 1.3 million are dropped off by a cruise ship. Unfortunately, most of these tourists never leave their all-inclusive resorts, except for small daytrips organized by their hotel. These tourists will enjoy their holiday as any other, but those who decide to discover the island on their own, will find it one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. To them, Jamaica offers idyllic bays, endless beaches, water sports and many interesting excursions. But they also have to continuously be on guard, as Jamaica has a dark side. Tourists on their own are an easy prey for scammers.

Jamaica tourist scams

As in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • Many tourists walking around town will be approached by locals who start telling them about the sights on the island. Beware that they may seem friendly, but can become intimidated if you don’t pay them a large sum for the unsolicited guided tour.
  • Don’t book your taxi at the hotel desk, as you will pay triple the regular price. They try to scare you with stories of theft and robbery with other taxi’s, but that’s just to get you to book with them.
  • As everywhere, don’t change your money on the streets, but at a bank, hotel desk or official money exchange office. You may get ripped off by a hustler on the street.
  • Be very careful with marihuana, Jamaica may be the island of weed, it’s still an illegal drug for which the sentences can be severe.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Dollars, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

tourist-scams-JamaicaBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Jamaica is unsafe. On the contrary, most of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots. It is one of the most beautiful islands of the Caribbean, and just as safe as any other of the islands.

  • Fake guides

    This is a scam that is used in many places around the world, but whereas elsewhere these scammers lead you into a store which pays them a commission on your spending, the Jamaican version is a bit more direct and could be labeled as extortion. The scam goes as follows: Tourists walking in the streets […]

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  • Taxi scam


    Taxi’s ripping off tourists are an omnipresent phenomenon across the world. Every tourist knows to be on guard when he gets into a taxi cab somewhere in a part of the world where he is unfamiliar with the local prices, habits and environment (also read the Budapest taxi scam). In Jamaica, the hotels and resorts […]

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  • Money change scam


    Money change fraud takes place in almost every popular tourist destination, and every country has their own version of this scam. For example, tourists in Turkey are given “old Lira’s”,which are indistinguishable from the “new Lira’s” to the untrained eye, but which is worth one millionth of the latter. And in Budapest, tourists are distracted […]

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  • Marihuana


    On the streets of virtually every town in Jamaica, tourists are offered marihuana, called Ganja by the locals,  just about every two minutes by a local, claiming it is legal to smoke pot on their island. “Jamaica is the weed-capital of the world, man!” And it is easy to believe them, when you witness local […]

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  1. Cole Phiffer says

    The hotel RDC makes promotions of concerts and invite poor tourist to go to that concert or event ( my case bob marleys birthday in 9 miles). When you get there you disappointed.
    What they do, use that money to rest the location next to the Bob marleys museums, tell some safe dealer to go and dance and make the place look not like a dessert, a guy that sell snacks and another food. Then a DJ. That’s it. No live music and promoted. You keep the tourist there, give them a good scare and take then back to the hotel.

    Is sad to heard other 3 tourist saying similar stories in a different places in Jamaica different event name

    It will be sad for Jamaica that some scammers trying to get some bucks from tourist make Jamaica the island of the scammers

  2. Tourist Land for Sale Scam we were fools 20k
    We were introduced in the St Anns bay Ocho Ricos area to a man name Rico Fullerton he came of as a very nice person. To make a long story short he told my son about land he had for sale. We loved the Island and thought we could have a second home in the sun and fun. We paid his he gave us some papers and told us we can start paying land tax, wow were we excited. Come to find out, none of the papers were real he was a liar and after investigating we talk to some local people who told us that this man is one of the worst persons on the island of Jamaica.
    This is what Jamaican locals had to say about Rico Fullerton

    1. One man say he uses stole a boat from Florida and drove it to Jamaica.
    2. Him and his woman is uses cocaine and he sells his woman for sex.
    3. He transports animals and drugs to Haiti and returns with guns that he sells in Jamaica.
    4. He likes to steal land and sell that same land to 4 or 5 different persons.
    5. He will pay gunman to kill you if you find out his plans.

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