Jamaica - Getting Around. Trip Advisor For Cheap And Safe Travelling
"...I will be visiting Jamaica for the 1st time in May. First, I'd like to say, that I'm budget-conscious. What is the transportation (preferably public transportaion) like in Jamaica? Specifically, I would like to get from MoBay to Ochi then onto Negrel returning to MoBay. Do the buses frequent these places? Or, do you recommend renting a car?
We would not recommend renting a car. It is quite dangerous when you don't know the roads here.
Leave the driving to the professionals (Jamaica's locals!).
Jamaica transportation can be very difficult due to the islands poor roads, bad drivers and generally unsafe driving conditions.
Jamaica is a large island and there are no superhighways, so even distances of 60 miles can take up to 2 hours to travel by car due to winding roads full of banana trucks, goats and pedestrians.
Jamaica transportation is British style, so driving is on the left.
Buses and minibuses are
inexpensive if not comfortable. Renting a car offers maximum independence but
will eat heavily into your budget; if you just want to make the odd excursion or
short trip, it can be cheaper to take a taxi, or even hire a private driver. For
longer trips, internal flights are reasonably priced.
Jamaica's buses and minibuses can be a little disquieting: timetables are
non-existent outside Kingston, drivers can show little
interest in the rules of the road, and passengers are often squeezed in with
scant regard for comfort. On the other hand, public transport is a great way to
meet people, and it's also absurdly cheap - about J$70 per 50 miles for a bus
and J$100-140 per 50 miles for minibuses.
Each town has a bus terminal of
sorts, often near the market. The destination is usually written on the front of
the vehicle, along with its name ("Nuff Vibes", "Tings
Coulda Worse" and the like). The conductor shouts out the destination before departure, scouting the area for potential passengers and cramming in as many as possible. Buses and minibuses stop anywhere en route to pick up or drop off passengers (except in major towns, where they are restricted to bus stops and terminals). If you want to get off somewhere before the terminus, just tell the conductor; to get on a bus, stand by the side of the road and flag it down
If you can afford it, renting a car is the
best way of seeing Jamaica. However, rental prices are high, starting at around
US$70 per day in high season, including government tax (rates can go as low as
US$40 a day at slow times). Third-party insurance is normally included in the
price; if you don't have a credit card that offers free collision damage waiver,
you'll have to pay another US$12-15 per day to cover potential damage to the
car. There are rental companies all over the island, with the best selection in
Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, and we've listed them throughout the section. Though
local companies often offer the best rates, going with a known name will
normally ensure guaranteed roadside assistance and a better vehicle; larger
companies will also allow you to pick up and drop off in different major towns
for no extra fee. Major international rental companies with offices in Jamaica
are Budget (tel 868/952-3838, ), Econocars (tel 868/926-9989, fax 978-1798),
Hertz tel 868/979-0438, ), Island (tel 868/926-8861, fax 929-6987) and Thrifty
(tel 868/952-5825, ). Driving in
Jamaica is on the left , and (unless otherwise specified) speed limits are set at 30mph in towns and minor roads and 50mph on highways. Wearing front seatbelts is mandatory, and police frequently levy on-the-spot fines on those who don't wear them.
If you don't drive - or don't want to - it might be worth hiring a local driver , which will cost around US$100 a day.
What passes for a taxi in Jamaica varies from
the gleaming white vans and imported cars of the Jamaican Union of Travellers
Association (JUTA; tel 868/927-4534, 926-1537 or 952-0623), the official - and
expensive - tourist carriers, to beaten-up old Ladas. Licensed taxis carry red
number-plates with "PP" or "PPV" on them, but there are also a number of rogue
taxis. The authorities advise against using these. On the whole, fares are hefty
- around US$20 for ten miles, and you'll always pay a little more if you take a
taxi licensed to a hotel. Meters are non-existent, so always establish a price
before you get in (or over the phone if you're calling for one). The first
quoted price may well be just an opener, particularly if you hail a vehicle on
the street; don't be afraid to negotiate. Once a price is agreed, a tip is
unnecessary. Shared taxis or "route taxis" are usually crammed with as many
passengers as the driver/owner can fit in, and operate on short, busy set routes
around the main towns, picking up and dropping off people anywhere along the way
in the same manner as the buses and minibuses. Prices are much closer to bus
fares than to taxi rates.
Renting a motorbike or scooter can be an exhilarating way of touring the island.
Outlets abound in the main resorts, and at US$30-40 per day, prices are very
reasonable. Though in theory you'll need to show a driving licence, these are
rarely asked for. Under Jamaican law, all motorcycle riders must wear helmets.
If you're heading across country, it's well
worth considering one of the internal flights provided by Air Jamaica
Express (tel 868/923-6664, ). They're quick and efficient, though not
exactly a budget option; the one-way fare from Montego Bay to
Kingston, for example, is US$83. Flights shuttle among the
domestic airports at Tinson Pen in Kingston (tel 868/924-8850),
Montego Bay (tel 868/952-4300), Port Antonio
(tel 868/913-3692), Negril (tel 868/957-4251 or 4972), and
Ocho Rios (tel 868/726-1344).
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