Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Getting Around in Jamaica

Jamaica safari
Tourists to Jamaica will find many ways of getting around. © Jamaica Tourist Board
One issue for travelers to Jamaica that often arises is the ease of getting around, not just in terms of vehicle accessibility, but those little tips that help in avoiding delays.

For most tourists, especially northerners, Jamaica is a prime destination for yearly vacations.

However, leaving large metropolitan areas to explore a small tropical island can be quite a drastic change that may be overwhelming for many.

The following is a succinct, but comprehensive guide to getting around in Jamaica, especially as it relates to travelling as a tourist. Let's begin at the port of entry.

On Arrival

On arrival it may be a little confusing figuring out how to get around without an understanding of the transport system, prior arrangements or a Jamaican tour guide.

Possibly the safest route to take is to hire a knowledge Jamaican tour guide or have a family member or a friend wait at the point of entry. This way, there is little to no hassle in getting to the desired destination.

Failing the above, most tourists opt to get around via other means of private transport. In such cases, taxis available for charter await cruise passengers at most ports including cruise ship docks and airport, all willing to transport them to their desired location.

Getting Around

Getting around Jamaica can be as hassle fee as leaving the port of entry as long as the right means of transport are taken. Depending on destination, budget, etc., tourists may decide between air or land travel.

Air Travel
Air travel should be reserved for lengthy travel across the island, e.g. from Montego Bay to Kingston or for express travel as an extensive journey across Jamaica may take up to four or more hours by road.

The domestic airline provider, International Air Link, provides scheduled flights between prime resort areas in Jamaica, including flights among the Kingston-Montego Bay-Ocho Rios circuit.

Additionally, visitor may choose to travel via helicopters. Island Hoppers Helicopter Tours is one of the popular helicopter charter services used by tourists.

Road Travel
Jamaica's road network is quite extensive. As such, getting to a point of interest via road travel is almost always possible, except for those places that may be found in remote, rural areas.

In most cases, the Kingston-Montego Bay-Ocho Rios circuit may be traversed via highway almost exclusively.

As such, hiring a car from one of the major Jamaican car rental agencies may be a wonderful way to get around. For travel to rural areas, a larger vehicle such as a 4X4 may be necessary as many of the roads may be in a less than desirable state of repair.

By Water
For travelers who seek such an experience, Ferry services run between a few points on the island.

This includes a relatively fast catamaran between Kingston and Port Royal and from Port Antonio to Kingston.


Car Rental Services
Several car rental agencies may be found in the major towns across the country. In addition, the major airports, hotels and resorts also house car rental agencies.

Of course, it's recommended to seek a rental with inclusive insurance and breakdown cover. Valid driver's licenses from other countries are normally accepted.

Express Shuttle
Express shuttle buses provide the convenience of hassle free travel across the major thoroughfares in comfort and style (air conditioning, television, and bathroom).

Typical routes include Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril. Popular services include the Knutsford Express that traverses routes along the north coast and South Coast Express that serves the south coast.

Public Transportation
If for whatever reason there is the urge to take public transport while in Jamaica, it's important to understand the likely experience.

Public transport in Jamaica includes taxis and buses and tends to be rather erratic. In most cases, route taxis tend to be overly packed and uncomfortable. Authorized taxis are denoted with red plates marked PP (Public Passenger vehicle).

On the other hand, the metropolitan areas offer taxi services that may be hired by phone as well as the government's public transport service, JUTC, that offers large, air conditioned buses. These are often quite comfortable.

In addition, most hotels and resorts assign Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) drivers who may be identified by a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.

Important Tips

  • Before getting on the road, there are a few points to note.
  • First, vehicles drive on the left in Jamaica, as in Britain. Additionally, most petrol stations accept cash and provide diesel as well as gas.
  • Importantly, the speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour in urban areas and school zones. It's 80 kilometers per hour in other areas.
  • It's important to be vigilant on the roads as Jamaica has a less than enviable road safety record.
  • Always wear a seatbelt, especially when driving in the front seat of the vehicle.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020
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