Getting Around Jamaica
The best way to get around Jamaica is by taxi, whether you're coming from one of the airports — Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport (MBJ) is the most accessible to the tourist areas — or making your way around town. Renting a car is also an option, but driving on the left side of the road can be confusing, road signs are unhelpful, drivers can be aggressive and potholes are rampant. Minibuses are another popular and affordable means of getting to and from the key attractions. Many cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebrity and Holland America, make stops in Jamaica. They usually head for Montego Bay on the northwestern side or Ocho Rios in the northeast.
Taking a cab or minibus will be the safest and most hassle-free way to get around Jamaica. But you should only take the official taxis that are operated by the Jamaica Union of Travelers Association as indicated by the acronym on thier vehicle. You can call one from the hotel or hail one off the street; look for the red and white license plates with "P" or "PPV" appearing before the number. Many taxi meters are broken, so agree on a price before accepting the ride. And anticipate a 10 to 12 percent tip tacked onto your fare.
You may want to avoid public buses in Jamaica, as they can be unreliable when it comes to their arrival times and are often subject to poor road conditions. Buses, however, are the island's cheapest form of transportation. JUTA operates close to 50 bus routes that offer access to most regions of the island. Fares range from $20 to $300 JMD (about $0.18 to $2.75 USD) depending on the route you travel; your best bet is to pay in cash once you board the bus.
Having a car in Jamaica has its pros and cons. You'll get to explore the island on your own, but you'll have to suffer the lumpy roads, erratic drivers and scant road signs. Also keep in mind that you'll have to drive on the left side of the road. If you do want to rent a car, do so at the airport you fly into for reliable service and inventory. You can choose from familiar car rental chains like Hertz or local companies like Island Car Rentals. Rental prices vary, but can start as low as $29 USD per day.
Entry & Exit Requirements
All United States citizens will need a passport for entry into and exit out of Jamaica; however, if visitors are traveling by sea, a passport card is an acceptable alternative. And keep in mind that customs officials may ask you to provide evidence of sufficient funds for your stay plus evidence of a return trip to the U.S. or an onward journey. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website.