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. 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 (JUTA) or Jamaica Co-operative Automobile & Limousine Tours (JCAL), as indicated by the acronym on their vehicles. The most affordable taxis are communal "route taxis," which pick up at certain spots throughout the island and drive to certain locations. 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. As for tipping, you should budget in 10 to 15 percent of the fare – more if you're traveling late at night.
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. What's more, the U.S. State Department is encouraging tourists to avoid them for safety reasons. Buses, however, are the island's cheapest form of transportation. The Jamaica Urban Transit Association operates a fleet of 450 yellow buses, with fares starting at 100 Jamaican dollars.
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 and Budget or local companies like Island Car Rentals.
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