Getting Around Jamaica is by far much much more easier to accomplish today than some years ago.
With the wide array of options you can get from Morant Point to Negril Point in less than eight (8) hours. Yes, that quick.
Back in the days it would have taken you at least 7 hours travelling from Downtown Kingston to Montego Bay. Today you can get there in less than four (4) hours travelling by land and within 25 minutes travelling by air.
So whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker or a party animal, there are lots here for you to experience and just getting around Jamaica can be quite fun and adventurous too.
Let me see if I can break down just a few of the options available to you:
Jamaica's transportation system have come a very far way. Today, the administration is tighter and we have much more local taxis than we could need, so you will not have a problem getting around the island by taxis.
We also have many, what we call, "robot" taxis. These taxis are the ones that does not yet meet all the state requirements but are still trying to make a 'hustle' because everybody has to make a living some how.
One of the reasons you have so many "robots" operating in Jamaica is because the process of obtaining complete approval from the government is very cumbersome, I must admit, so these operators just do with what they have.
Talking financials now though, from a dollar for dollar view point, the cost of transportation is relatively cheap compared to the United States, for example. However, you may have the misfortune of encountering with some taxi drivers who MAY want to charge a little extra if they suspect you are a tourist (this even happened to ME before while I was in Negril, :-) and I am a Jamaican! )
When using the taxi cab service for getting around Jamaica you get a sense of family feeling. What I mean by this is that the taxi drivers love to interact with there passengers and they love sharing out heritage with tourists. So the taxi drivers are also marketing for out little island paradise. One important thing to note though, I would only recommend you using taxi as a medium of transport to get around Jamaica IF you are familiar with the place and/or if you have local friends or relatives to guide you or travel with you.
I have a number of personal links with taxi operators (even though I have my own car). So if you are ever in Jamaica and you need to experience the taxi travel service, just give me a contact and I can hook you up with some of the friendliest most respectful and insightful taxi operators on the island who will get you safely and comfortably from point A to point B.
Upon arriving in the island, we have some taxis right on spot that we call "authorized airport taxis". These are some independent companies that have members forming an organization of taxi drivers that operate directly from the airports and/or cruise ship ports. Some of the MOST popular ones that come to mind are JUTA, Maxi Tours, and JCAL.
These companies operating the airport taxis have been operating in the tourism industry for quite a number of years and have been known to be very reputable. If you are keen to detail you will notice that many of the drivers/operators are mature/older men and as such would have travelled extensively around the island. So what better service to use to getting to know the ins and out of the island and its attractions?!
If you are visiting for the first time and do not know how to identify these operators, there are visible desks and banners at our major airports with signs that direct you to them, so you cannot miss them.
A lot of our visitors to the island choose the option of renting a car to take care of their travel needs around the island. This is because it gives them the most flexibility to move as they please.
Persons who choose to go this route though are persons who either know and are familiar with the island's driving style, or have family members and friends who are willing to take them where ever they would want to go so they rent a vehicle.
This option is also best if you will be on the island for a while and you are going to be travelling extensively around the place. It is more economical.
The car rental dealers are few, so be sure to check around for the BEST rates to suit your budget!
There is one famously KNOWN credible company that has been around in this business since as far back as 1973 that I would not hesitate to recommend to you. This company is Island Car Rentals. Superb service, affordability, and reliability, you will do great business with them.
After you have rented your vehicle though, this little piece of advice should be foremost in your mind (if you are a first time visitor who wishes to take on the Jamaican roads)...
Always, ALWAYS remember to drive on the left hand side of the road. This is a major issue for Americans especially because they drive on the right side of the road. Our vehicles are right hand drives and we drive on the left hand of the road.
Also, watch your speed limit. This is very important because our local police are working hard in this area to issue tickets to any speeding motorist, no matter where you are from.
Also, keep in mind that some of the "robot" taxi operators we spoke about earlier are perhaps not as disciplined as you MAY be familiar with in your home country so they will take some time getting use to.
There are some little gestures and signals that we use when driving in Jamaica, so you may, for example, hear a few horns honking and see headlights flashing and flickering every now and then, these are just some ways our drivers say 'Hi' to each other.
Since you will be renting your own vehicle it is only fitting to let you know that our service stations (or what we call gas stations) are abundant with a few of them open for 24 hours, so can always fill up, even when you are on the go. Additionally, most, if not all, accept international credit cards for purchase, but I would recommend you try and keep some local cash for this.
And by the way, many of our popular attractions are right off the main road too, so you can't miss!
Many hotels offer shuttle service to their guests. This may be considered a great option if you will be spending much of your time in the all inclusive hotel and will only venture out every now and then.
This is a much more "formal" setting because they will have specified time schedules to adhere to. However, whether strict or formal, these hotel shuttles take you to some of the very best places and attractions around
Jamaica, as well as shopping districts.
You were introduced to how you can get to Jamaica from any destination and one of the options was by air right? So when you get here using that medium, you can still travel around Jamaica (if you wish) by smaller aircrafts.
This method is mostly used by business personnel who come to one of the international airports and need to get to a location fast.
One of the major small airliners was Air Jamaica Express. It was the main air carrier responsible for shuttling vacationers who had a need to travel around the island really fast. The operations were ceased though in 2005.
Though the option is there of using the larger airlines to travel between Kingston and Montego Bay, visitors can still enlist the services of a charter airline to reach the nearest point to their destination or resort. Two such charter services that come to mind are TimAir Limited and International Air Link. These provide services to our airports.
The most famous way to get a boat adventure in Jamaica is to use the Jamaican Glass Bottom Boat service. This is because, as you know, the Caribbean have some of the best waters and climate conditions for water sports, and Jamaica is a part of that.
Getting around Jamaica by boat is relatively easy as there are also a number of charter brokers and charter companies at your fingertips. You can rent a yacht ride from the ports to take you to any destination you would like. You can even rent a normal motor boat. For example, getting to Lime Caye from Port Royal is easy because you have local fishermen with their motor boats that are more than willing to take you across to this secluded island.
I am not limiting your water adventures and travels to only sea activities because there are many river attractions and adventures that you can find to experience while you are on the island.
It does not matter the option you choose of getting around Jamaica, just know that ALL options are fun-filled and you will have an "IRIE" time travelling and sight-seeing and learning about the beautiful island paradise of Jamaica land we love. Remember to take along your camera!
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