Thank you for your interest! This journey is either underway or complete, but we do have many other tour options for you to choose from.

Jamaica stands out in the Caribbean, featuring the highest number of endemic bird species in the region and an incredible overall diversity of flora and fauna. In addition to the island’s 29 endemic birds, Jamaica boasts 48 endemic reptiles and amphibians; more than 500 endemic land snails; and over 3,000 flowering plants, at least 830 of which are endemic, ranking Jamaica 5th among the world’s islands for endemic plant diversity—mindboggling!

Compared to many tropical regions, birding in Jamaica is relatively easy, and many of the endemic species are fairly common. On this Jamaica birding tour, both the Red-billed and Black-billed Streamertails visit hummingbird feeders at our lodges, along with the handsome Jamaican Mango. The Jamaican Woodpecker, Sad Flycatcher, and White-chinned Thrush are also on our lodge’s grounds. Two full days in the Blue Mountains gives us excellent chances to find Arrowhead Warbler, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, Crested Quail-Dove, and Blue Mountain Vireo. The lowland forests on the Portland coast provide easy access to Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo, Jamaican Owl, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, and Orangequit.

And just to make you feel at home, our winter visit during this Jamaica birding tour also features an exciting array of North America’s breeding songbirds. The warbler list alone includes Palm, Prairie, Cape May, Worm-eating, Yellow-throated, and more. Black-throated Blue Warbler may be hopping around on the railing of your balcony!

Beyond the phenomenal nature experience on this Jamaica nature tour, we also enjoy delightful Jamaican hospitality, staying at very comfortable local lodges and tasting the best of Jamaica’s fresh tropical cuisine. This is not your ordinary Caribbean vacation! Jamaica is calling you.

  • "Enjoyable birding with focus on endemics; excellent guides; interesting to visit parts of Jamaica that are away from the typical resort/tourist areas." — Christine Perdue, 2023 Traveler
  • "Full of birds, natural beauty and good leaders, companions and excellent food and lodging." — Helen Ridley, 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Watch up to 29 bird species that are endemic to Jamaica, more than any other island in the Caribbean
  • Relax and enjoy fairly easy tropical birding, with ample chances for repeat encounters with special birds
  • Witness an abundance of Jamaica’s national bird, the Red-billed Streamertail hummingbird!
  • Discover rare and endemic plants and an abundance of rare invertebrates and reptiles
  • Explore the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Indulge in eclectic Jamaican cuisine, with specialties like jerk chicken, fried dumplings, saltfish, and delicious tropical fruits

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sun., Jan. 28 : Arrivals & Greetings in Kingston

Our tour begins and ends in Kingston, well away from the primary tourism center in Montego Bay. Please arrive at Norman Manley International Airport no later than 4:00 PM. Our U.S. and local guides meet you at the Kingston airport before a short drive to our Port Royal hotel for the first night. We enjoy a casual evening on the harbor, with a little waterbird action and an orientation dinner at our hotel. Early the next morning, we head to Hellshire Hills.
Accommodations in Port Royal (D)

Mon., Jan. 29 : Hellshire Hills & Hope Gardens

This morning after breakfast we head out and explore just west of Kingston—the habitat at Hellshire is a dry limestone forest. The vegetation is dominated by short shrubs, cacti, Red Birch (Bursera simaruba), and Silver Thatch (Coccothrinax jamaicensis). The environment is quite arid, but it is deceptively rich in birdlife. This is one of only two locations on the island where the Bahama Mockingbird can be found. Also common here are the Stolid Flycatcher, Caribbean Dove, and Mangrove Cuckoo. Endemics such as the Jamaican Vireo and Yellow-shouldered Grassquit can also be seen. When the cacti are in bloom, Jamaican Mango hummingbirds are everywhere—get your cameras ready.

After an early lunch, we explore the Royal Botanical Gardens of Hope, a public park managed by the Nature Preservation Foundation. Its large mature trees and diversity of plants promote an equally diverse birdlife. It’s an important place to see migratory warblers like Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Cape May, Prairie, Palm, American Redstart, and Black-and-white Warbler. More importantly however, the gardens are home to a remnant population of Yellow-billed Parrot, with a few Black-billed individuals seen occasionally. Jamaica’s national bird, the Red-billed Streamertail, can be found feeding among the flowers, and the abundant trees are good habitat for Jamaican Woodpecker and Jamaican Euphonia. The Hope Gardens provide a convenient and relaxed setting for some easy birding.

With many Jamaican endemics already under our belts, we take an afternoon drive into the spectacular Blue Mountains, arriving at the Starlight Chalet—our lodge for the next three nights—just in time for dinner.
Accommodations at the Starlight Chalet (B,L,D)

Tues., Jan. 30 & Wed., Jan. 31 : Blue Mountains

For the next two full days, we will immerse ourselves in Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountains. Known around the world for its exquisite coffee, the region recently gained international stature as part of the brand-new Blue and John Crow Mountains UNSECO World Heritage Site. Adding to the area’s geographical resume, we will explore Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, listed by BirdLife International as a global Important Bird Area.

Our specific Blue Mountain birding sites will include Hardwar Gap, Section, Silver Hill Gap, and Cascade. Throughout the Blue Mountains, we will bird along rugged mountain roads at approximately 3,280 ft. (1000 m) elevation. An impressive list of birds has been recorded in this area, including hard-to-find species such as the Jamaican Blackbird and Crested Quail-Dove. This area is relatively undisturbed, and the roads twist and turn through primary forest and secondary growth. Stands of Blue Mahoe (Jamaica’s national tree) attract numerous Red-billed Streamertails and Orangequits. In other areas, the road is lined with small cottages, with beautiful gardens that attract many bird species. Section and Hardwar Gap combined can provide over 5 mi. (8 km) of lightly traveled, level road, where we could find as many as 25 of Jamaica’s endemic birds.

The Blue Mountains should also produce Ring-tailed Pigeon, Blue Mountain Vireo, Arrowhead Warbler and Jamaican Spindalis. The charismatic Jamaican Tody will be seen throughout the region. Other endemics recorded here include the Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, Jamaican Becard, and the much sought-after Rufous-throated Solitaire.
Accommodations at the Starlight Chalet (B,L,D)

Thurs., Feb. 1 : Descent to the Coast & Port Antonio

After our final breakfast at the Starlight Chalet, we head down the northern slope of the Blue Mountains to Port Antonio. After lunch at the famous Woody’s Burgers (they offer a great veggie burger for herbivores!), we settle into our base for the next three nights. To give you an optional break in the heat of the day, the afternoon schedule remains open today. You may choose to enjoy a siesta in your villa, bird the grounds and entry road to our lodge, or take a dip in the nearby Caribbean or the lodge’s swimming pool. We enjoy dinner in Port Antonio, followed by a brief jaunt to search for owls and potoos.
Accommodations near Port Antonio (B,L,D)

Fri., Feb. 2 & Sat., Feb. 3 : Ecclesdown Road

This morning begins with an early start as we first head coastward in search of White-tailed Tropicbird. Most of the day is spent in one of Jamaica’s most famous birding sites—the world-class Ecclesdown Road. Ecclesdown is a seldom-used road that travels along the foothills of the John Crow Mountains for approximately 11 miles. It’s entirely flat and passes through secondary closed and open forests as well as small patches of farmland. This area is a stronghold for Yellow-billed and Black-billed Parrots as well as Jamaican Crow, Ring-tailed Pigeon, and Black-billed Streamertail. Every one of Jamaica’s endemic birds has been recorded in these forests! Following our Ecclesdown jaunt, we head to the local jerk-joint for lunch and a casual afternoon of birding around the lodge.

Our last full day again offers several options. You may opt for more birding along Ecclesdown Road, or you may want to swim in the famous Blue Lagoon, just a few minutes from our lodge. Regardless of how you spend your final afternoon, you are always accompanied by one of our guides. Tonight, we enjoy a celebratory dinner in Port Antonio.
Accommodations near Port Antonio (B,L,D)

Sun., Feb. 4 : Return to Kingston | Departures

We spend our final morning birding the grounds of our lodge, where we may find Gray Kingbird, Zenaida Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, the Caribbean-endemic subspecies of Northern Mockingbird, Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo, and Jamaican Tody. After birding and breakfast, we make the drive back to Kingston for 2:00 PM or later departures. (B)

  • Bahama Mockingbird, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Ecclesdown Road, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Jamaican Oriole, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Jamaican Spindalis, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Jamaican Vireo, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Julia Butterfly, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Loggerhead Kingbird, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Prairie Warbler, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Zebra Heliconian, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding
  • Starlight Chalet, Jamaica Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Jamaican Endemics, Jamaica Wildlife, Caribbean Birding

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $3790 DBL / $4370 SGL from Kingston, Jamaica. This cost includes all accommodations; meals as specified in the itinerary; professional guide services; other park and program entrance fees; and miscellaneous program expenses. Tour cost does not include round-trip transportation from your home city to Kingston; optional activities; or items of a personal nature, such as laundry, telephone charges, maid gratuities or beverages from the bar.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Norman Manley International Airport (KIN)

Arrival: January 28, 2024. Plan to arrive by 4 PM so you can attend the welcome dinner and orientation.

Departure: February 4, 2024. Plan to leave after 2:00 PM. We drive back from the mountains that day so earlier departure is not possible.

Travel Tips: Our guide and operator in Jamaica recommends that if you plan to come the day before to rest up from travel or need to stay over for a morning flight the following day, that you book at the Port Royal Excelsior Hotel. This lovely hotel has a restaurant and bar, a pool, and waterfront location close to the airport. We can pick you up there on the tour start date. We can pick you up there on the tour start date. If you arrive early, and do not want to take a taxi or shuttle, our operator can arrange a driver to meet you for an additional cost. Kingston is not a safe city to explore on your own by walking, but it has interesting sights and good dining options. The hotel can set up a city tour or driver to local museums such as the Bob Marley Museum or Emancipation Park at the Front Desk, and our birding operator may be able to find a guide/driver to go to the botanic gardens for some additional birding upon request.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.



  • Steve Shunk

    Steve Shunk started birding in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, and he moved to central Oregon’s ‘Woodpecker Wonderland’ in 1997, where 11 woodpecker species breed annually. This phenomenon led to a 20-year obsession studying this charismatic family of birds. Steve founded the region’s woodpecker festival in 2008, and his Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America was published in 2016. He has fed leeches (his own blood) in Malaysian Borneo, and he has watched Spotless Starlings swarming around the Greek ruins of Sicily. Steve’s Alaska adventures have taken him from Ketchikan to Barrow and St. Paul Island. One of his favorite destinations takes him to see ‘eastern’ warblers breeding across the boreal forest of Alberta, but recent adventures have led him to favor the cushion plants and condors of the Peruvian high Andes. Steve speaks at bird festivals across North America, and he returns annually to speak and guide at the Vallarta Bird Festival in far-western Jalisco, Mexico. Steve joined Naturalist Journeys earlier this year, and we are excited to have him on the schedule for 2021 and beyond.

    Steve’s work as a field biologist has taken him from the Coast Range of Oregon to California’s Sierra Nevada. Most recently, he conducted point-count and woodpecker surveys for a study in the Central Oregon Cascades. Steve co-founded the East Cascades Bird Conservancy (now East Cascades Audubon), and served as its first president. He also co-founded the Oregon Birding Trails Program and coordinated its flagship project, the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. When Steve is not traveling the world for tours and lectures, he can be found writing, skiing, hiking, and watching woodpeckers at home in lovely Sisters, Oregon.

    Other trips with Steve Shunk

Map for Caribbean Endemics of Jamaica

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid through time of entry into Jamaica through to date of return home.
  • No visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays of this tour's duration in Jamaica, but travelers will now need to complete an Online Passenger Declaration Form, also known as an Electronic C5. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Jamaica website for guidelines.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Jamaica and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Norman Manley International (KIN). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Norman Manley International (KIN)

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our Jamaica operator. As a backup, contact our office or the Naturalist Journeys staff cell (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

Plan to arrive in Kingston by 4:00 PM, if you wish to join the welcome dinner at the hotel.

If your flight arrives after 6:00 PM, plan on eating dinner on the plane or before your flight, or we can hold a late meal for you at the hotel. If you arrive late the night ahead of the tour, an airport shuttle can deliver  you to the Port Royal hotel.

We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all travelers completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct TRAVEL information; we appreciate if you email us a copy of your flight reservation. They will check internet for your updated flight information.

A driver will be sent for you; they may come inside to meet you, holding a sign, or they may be just outside the main doors at the curb looking for you. We have asked them to wear binoculars to help identify themselves and you can help them by doing so also. If for any reason you do not find them, there is a tourist office that can help you phone them, or you can get on Wi-Fi or cell to check for messages.

Please make yourself at home at your first night hotel the front desk staff will assist you.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Norman Manley International (KIN)

Plan departures for after 2:00 PM on departure day, and allow for time to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled return flight.

We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day.

You will need to check out of your hotel not later than Noon, but they may be able to store your luggage. according to your flight schedules. Whenever possible we will keep the group together for this transfer.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

You must have a valid passport that is in good condition and valid from date of entry into through exit from Jamaica. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Jamaican embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at for Jamaica.

There is a new mandatory Online Passenger Declaration Form, also known as an Electronic C5, that must be completed prior to arrival. The  online form can be found at At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays of this tour's duration, but you will need proof of a return ticket. It is always advisable to check for any changes 60-90 days in advance of traveling as requirements can change. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. 

Anti-malarial drugs are not required for any area that you visit. There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. Travelers can reduce their risk of disease by protecting themselves from mosquito bites in lower elevation areas by using protective clothing.

Vaccinations: Bring your up-to-date vaccination records with you. If you are traveling to Jamaica from a country with yellow fever risk, proof of a yellow fever vaccination is required. Otherwise, at the time of writing there were no other required vaccinations to enter Jamaica. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for Jamaica is helpful or you may contact them by phone, (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.  It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).

Weather & Climate

In Jamaica, the climate is tropical and hot all year round, with little difference between winter and summer. Daytime temperatures will range from the low 80°Fs to the low 90°Fs, whereas nighttime temperatures will cool down the high 60°Fs to low 70°Fs. The real difference in seasons is seen with the levels of rainfall and percentage humidity, which is dictated by the trade winds. The rainy season is from April to October and typically presents itself with an afternoon thunderstorm and a high level of humidity. The dry season, November to March, will still have occasional rainstorms, though the humidity will be significantly lower. Even through the rainy season, Jamaica celebrates an average of 8 hours of sunshine per day, and the water is warm enough (about 81°F) to swim in year-round.

Annoyances & Hazards

Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers; if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks. When back, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Central and South America. Your guide should have a good read on if it has been wet enough that they are active. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.

Food & Drinks

Menus at lodges and restaurants are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for recommendations from your hotel or refer to a guidebook such as Frommers. Meals reflect the contributions of American, European, Spanish, and local cuisines.

Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be comfortable in lightweight clothing.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down please! 

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

Spending Money

The official currency in Jamacia is the Jamaican dollar. You can use $USD or $JMD; you can change money after your arrival at banks or hotels. 

We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency. Bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.


Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
    Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
  • Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
  • Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase

You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. They also love any nature books/coloring books.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone.

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option when you have access to Wi-Fi is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp or Viber to send text messages and make voice or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets and laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone for calling that you turn off your cellular data. You keep it in airplane mode. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. You can still use it for photos, ebird and everything else not requiring cell reception and will decrease battery usage as well.

Your hotel and lodges provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests; plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


The standard in Jamaica is the same as in the United States and Canada: 110 volts AC (60 cycles). Plugs are set up in the same style. However, three-pronged outlets can be scarce and existing three-prong outlets may feature even-sized flat blade plugs, so it's helpful to bring along adapters for both two- and three-prong outlets. More information is available at


Jamaica observes Eastern Standard Time all year. There are no Daylight-Saving Time clock changes. Check before leaving home for your conversion.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors. Camouflage clothing is not recommended and is illegal to wear or possess in many tropical birding destinations. Such clothing may be confiscated, and, at worst, you may be subject to arrest. Best not to bring those patterns! It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellents such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure. NOTE: 

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts – 2 or 3
  • Shorts (optional)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (1 per every other day recommended – remember that you may be buying some there anyway!)
  • Personal underclothing
  • Socks – long enough to tuck your pants into – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes such as tennis shoes
  • Lightweight hiking boots. Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential!
  • Sandals for evenings and travel days (optional, TEVA style are great)
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho (or lightweight, water-resistant shell jacket)
  • Lightweight jacket or lightweight sweater, fleece fabric is ideal
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty. They even make them with a gel inside for several hours of cooling)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Binoculars
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored (optional)
  • Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional)
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen (waterproof)/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (something containing DEET, and sulphur powder or other for chiggers if you can find it)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional - note that you will often be birding in dense tropical jungle when a spotting scope would only be a hindrance. That said, you are welcome to bring any scope or camera you are willing to carry.)
  • Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Sink plug (often not available, a flat universal one is easiest to use)
  • Washcloth (again, available some places and not at others)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs (optional)
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Snorkeling gear if at a beach lodge (available on sight as a rental, additional cost. If a regular snorkeler, you will want to bring your own mask and snorkel, perhaps rent fins)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid

  • Heath insurance and vaccination information (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
    Personal medication
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets,eye drops, etc.)
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer, small vial


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Jamaica; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Jamaica; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Birds of the West Indies

Merlin App – Caribbean Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Caribbean.

Lonely Planet Jamaica 8

Field Guides

A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Jamaica

Wildlife of the Caribbean

Collin’s Guide to Tropical Plants

Guide to the Plants of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

Natural History

The New Neotropical Companion

Tropical Nature

History & Culture

Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day

Jamaica in Slavery and Freedom: History, Heritage and Culture

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down

Culture Smart! Jamaica: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture 

There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more


Encyclopedia of Jamaica

Facts and Figures

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Bird Checklist

Endemics of Jamaica

Birding Ecclesdown Road


Blue and John Crow Mountains (UNESCO)

Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park

Birdlife International’s Datazone Fact Sheet – Jamaica

The Nature Conservancy - Jamaica Fact Sheet

Protected Areas of Jamaica

Fish and Coral Conservation

Hellshire Hills, part of Portland Bight Protected Area

Hope Gardens Nature Preservation Foundation

Geology & Geography

Geology of Jamaica

Geography of Jamaica

History & Culture

Historical Notes - National Library of Jamaica

A Cultural Overview

Helpful Travel Websites

Norman Manley International Airport (KIN)

National Passport Information Center

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Jamaica

Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) – Jamaica

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Jamaica

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Jamaica

Electricity and Plugs – Jamaica

Date, Time, and Holidays - Jamaica

Photo credits: Jamaican Tody, Steve Shunk; Streamertail, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Jamaican Tody, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Lizard Cuckoo, NJ Stock; Jamaican Woodpecker, NJ Stock, Beach Scenic, NJStock; Blue Mountains, Steve Shunk; Papa Woody, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Birding, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Palm Trees, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Air Jamaica, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Owl, Steve Shunk; Loggerhead Kingbird, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Tody, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Oriole, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Mango, Steve Shunk; Yellow-faced Grassquit, Steve Shunk; White-tailed Tropicbird, Steve Shunk; Vervain Hummingbird, Steve Shunk; Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Steve Shunk; Ecclesdown Rd. Birders, Steve Shunk; Sad Flycatcher, Steve Shunk; Black-billed Parrot, Steve Shunk; Ring-tailed Pigeon, Steve Shunk; Eccelsdown Rd., Steve Shunk; Bahama Mockingbird, Steve Shunk; Black-throated Blue Warbler, Steve Shunk; Ecclesdown Road, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Oriole, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Spindalis, Steve Shunk; Jamaican Vireo, Steve Shunk; Julie Butterfly, Steve Shunk; Loggerhead Kingbird, Steve Shunk; Prairie Warbler, Steve Shunk; Zebra Heliconian, Steve Shunk; Starlight Chalet, Steve Shunk;


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