December in Jamaica – How much should I be looking at?

Sounds about right that I’d be sharing the details of this trip 10 months later. I’ll do better! The last time I shared about how much my trip cost me, I shared a budget friendly Girl’s trip to Kelowna. In this post, I’ll be sharing what I got up to in Jamaica last Christmas, the costs and I’ll help you build a budget or give you a rough idea of how much you might spend should you be interested in spending the Christmas holidays in Jamaica.

Let’s breakdown the costs shall we?

Side bar

We got a package from Westjet vacations that included our flight, accommodation, airport transfers and most importantly, unlimited food and drinks. We also stayed at an adult only resort which was actually really nice (highly recommend). If you want a relaxing holiday where you are lazying around the beach or pool all day and don’t want to think about the things you plan to do, I recommend staying at a resort. Most resorts I’ve been to have activities and shows everyday at different times that can be very entertaining. If you have an adventure packed itinerary, an all inclusive resort might be a waste of money, I think a hotel or airbnb might be a cheaper option for you. 

Accommodation, Flights and Food

Looking at today’s prices, here is the cheapest option I could find for a 5 day all inclusive trip in December. The dates I used before Christmas are December 19th – December 24th, Christmas Day included – December 22nd – December 27th and after Christmas would be December 26th – December 31st.

From Vancouver, if you were to go before Christmas, the packages start from $1,547CAD. If you plan to spend Christmas Day there, the packages start at $2,440CAD and if you go shortly after Christmas but before New Years, the packages start at $2,200 CAD.

From Toronto, a trip before Christmas day starts at $1,278 CAD, including Christmas day and after Christmas starts at $1,835 CAD.

Based on this, it is cheaper to fly from Toronto than it is to fly from Vancouver. Also going before Christmas day would also result in significant savings. My friend and I flew from Toronto and went just before Christmas.

PS: The assumption for is for one person but assumes there are two travellers. Costs for one person would be slightly higher.

Some airlines sell all inclusive packages but I personally go to Expedia when I am looking for all inclusive packages. Feel free to also check out West Jet Vacations or Sunwing (for Canadian travellers). The resort we stayed at had at least 6 different restaurants you could order food from with different cuisines and a standard buffet served three times a day.

Next up was covid tests

We went when covid tests were still a requirement for both Jamaica and Canada. Jamaica required antigen tests which were $40 CAD at Shoppers Drug Mart and the PCR test were $90 USD. The resort provided this so all we had to do was book a date, pay and show up. Thankfully, you no longer need this anymore! Whoop whoop.

Let’s get to the activities 

Before we talk about the activities, let’s talk money – well the currency they use. In Jamaica, they use the Jamaican dollar and the US Dollar. The exchange rate is like $1 CAD to $111 JMD but, I was mostly charged in USD when I was there.

We were scheduled to be in Jamaica for 5 days and we went out exploring on two days.

On the first day of adventures, we went snorkelling on a mini boat from the resort. There was only 5 of us on the boat but we still had a good time. This cost us about $45 USD each and there was music and unlimited drinks.

On the second day of adventures, we went on a whole day tour using Chukka tours. We started the morning by getting on ATVs for an hour long ride. This was fun even though we went through muddy waters, the bushes and a beach (The germaphobe in me is cringing as I type this). We took a break for lunch in one of the city centres. After lunch (which was included in our package), we got the opportunity to jump down the blue hole (a limestone mineral waterfall in Ocho Rios). We ended the day floating down a lazy river and I got to zipline for the first time. The cost of the entire tour is about $205 USD/each and includes hotel pickups and drop offs; it is slightly more expensive than it was last year. This was a full day tour as they picked us before 9am and dropped us off past 10pm. The tour company we went with also had different packages that included horse back riding, visiting the Dunns River Falls and other activities in the area. 

Something I wanted to do but didn’t have time to do was the Martha Brae river rafting but I guess maybe next time if I ever visit Jamaica again. This was going to be about $100 USD and would have included hotel pickup and drop offs.

Note: Because of the nature of these tours, (they start out very early in the morning and can end pretty late in the day), the resorts don’t let you book a tour on the day of your departure, keep this in mind as you plan your itinerary. However, if you get tour companies that are not linked to the resort, they are more flexible and can get you back to your resort in time for your departure. It’s up to you. 

Our Itinerary looked like this

Day 1: Rest and beach day. We had dinner reservations but had to have the buffet instead.

Day 2: More rest, pool day and lots of sleep for me. We booked the tours for the rest of our trip and got those plans finalized.

Day 3: Snorkelling and dinner.

Day 4: Adventure filled day with Chukka tours.

Day 5: Rest and return home.

You need Insurance 

The resort offered a $36/pp insurance incase anyone tested positive for covid and needed to quarantine. The alternative would have been to pay $98/day and this included accommodation and food. At the end of our stay, my test came out positive and I had to quarantine for 14 days before I could come back to Canada. If I didn’t pay for the insurance, I would have had to spend $1372 USD for the additional days I had to stay there. That said, buy travel insurance people. If your employers provide you with extended health plans, you want to check the policy to see what kind of coverage exists for travel. Alternatively, you can easily get one from manullife here, it costs about $20 CAD.

Gifts and Miscellaneous items

For gifts and miscellaneous items such as tips, I may have spent an additional $150CAD. I recommend you keep this buffer in your budget because you never know when you’ll need it.

The total breakdown!

Flight, accommodation, food and drinks – starting from $1700 – $2500 CAD (from Vancouver) and $1200 -$1900 CAD (from Toronto).

Activities – If you are interested in doing the activities we did, it’ll cost $250 USD. Depending on what you would like to get up to, I’d say probably budget $400 CAD.

Gifts and Misc – (If you are getting gifts such as Jamaican rum or anything alcoholic, this could be very costly but keychains and other small souvenirs would be a lot cheaper). Lets put this at $150 CAD.

Insurance – $20

Total cost – $2300 – $3100 CAD (from Vancouver) and $1700 – $2500 (from Toronto)

Final note and side bar: Can you believe I spent almost 3 weeks in Jamaica and didn’t have festivals? An hour before I was leaving, I finally mustered the strength to ask the room service if they had festivals and they did but it took them about 30 -45 minutes to prepare which I didn’t have. Honestly, I learnt more and more about what the resort offered, food wise when I was in quarantine and had to order food. As I was leaving on the last day, I found a completely different pool and area of the resort I didn’t know existed. Learn to ask questions especially on trips. I am learning this more and more as I grow older. Also, if you are staying at a resort, explore the entire property and ask questions to know what the property offers. You’ve spent a lot of money, you want to enjoy your money’s worth.

That’s it for me. Hope you enjoyed this post. Would you be interested in going on a trip like this? Share with me in the comments please. I’d love to hear from you. Have you been to Jamaica, what were some of things you got up to?

Talk soon,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s