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Driving tour of Jamaica

Old Oct 28th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #1  
Deborah
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Driving tour of Jamaica

We will be driving Jamaica in the Spring. So far our itinerary includes:
1. a day trip into the hills between Ocho and Kingston - Dunn's River Falls and beyond - any other recommended stops?
2. a day trip into the Blue Mountain region - perhaps a stop at a plantation (which is the best?)
3. Travelling day from Kingston to Montego Bay through Spanish Town, Mandeville, Hatfield etc.

Can anyone give adive of where to sto to eat, and other stops that we should NOT miss?

Yes, we have driven on the left before, and understand that this will be an "experience" We'd really like the 'local' experience as much as possible........ but don't want to miss out on great sights just because they're touristy......
 
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 11:42 AM
  #2  
Dreamer
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Deborah,
Are you sure you want to do this? Have you researched Jamaica - politics, driving conditions, safety factors - driving on the left will be the least of your problems (never mind the huge cattle, goats, or chicken dodging and large trucks needing more than half of the small road). We have visited Jamaica 5 or 6 times and I wouldn't drive anywhere on our own, certainly not in the Kingston area. Do you know how much time it will take to drive from Kingston to MoBay? It takes 2+ hours to go from Ocho Rios to MoBay, a distance of about 60 miles. I recommend you do some serious thinking about this.
 
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 01:21 PM
  #3  
jen
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i just moved back to the states from Jamaica and agree with dreamer. I love Jamaica but would NEVER drive from Kingston to Ocho Rios again. I want to live, not be hit head on by a truck speeding down a windy road. If you do have an accident there is NOWHERE to go hospital wise. Your tour sounds gorgeous and fun-but please hire a driver. Cost wise it will be the same but you will be so much better off!
 
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 02:08 PM
  #4  
rick
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Honestly, I would not advise driving there. It's a challenge for even the most skilled Jamaican driver. If you hire a driver, not only will they be able to tell you where to go, but they will make sure that you do not go anywhere that may not be "safe". Ask on this board for references. Many people that have been to Jamaica have become good friends with drivers and have their name and phone #.

Please, think this one over.
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 02:46 AM
  #5  
Sandra
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In agreement with the responses to this post. Your plans sounds wonderful and I applaud you for wanting to get out and explore Jamaica rather than stayed holed up behind the fences of your grand resort. However, the advise to get a driver is a good idea - look into it seriously. I have driven all over Jamaica with my friends there (done that Kingston to Ochi to Mo Bay trip at least 3 times) and after those experiences I have concluded that Jamaicans drive fast, ALL THE TIME and they do not know the meaning of the word "brakes"! My heart was in my throat alot of the time. I would not consider getting behind the wheel in that place and I am a brave soul - so sort out the driver thing but go ahead with your plans - you will have a whale of a time - jamaica irie!

PS there are tons of places that look like "holes in the wall" along the way in all the towns and villages you will pass - never mind how they look, chances are, they serve great food - so you won't have to worry about what you are going to eat while on the road.
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 03:46 AM
  #6  
Adoll
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Recently visited Dunns River Sandals, played golf and visited other resorts. If there was any one thing that came to mind often (other than our vacation) it was how I noticed the poor condition of roads, the lack of "maintaining your lane", passing at will and essentially making a third lane!, and how the roads are also "sidewalks", i.e. pedestrians and animals in abundance. Without a doubt, when in Jamaica leave the driving to the locals!!!
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 05:11 AM
  #7  
JAGIRL
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Deborah,
Go. Drive. Have fun. It does take 2 hours from Ocho Rios to Kingston BECAUSE the central part of Jamaica is very mountainous and as such you end up driving around the mountains so to speak. I don't think it's any harder to drive in Jamaica than in Europe or any other place. Just be careful (as you would be in any other country with which you are not familiar) and enjoy the scenery because there will be lots of beautiful scenery.
A word of caution : Like any other city Kingston isn't easy to navigate especially as there are several one way roads and not a lot of road signs. Make sure to get good directions from someone in the know before heading out driving in Kingston.
A suggestion : Why not start in Kingston and do Kingston and the Blue Mountain area - maybe even climb the Mountain!!! Tiring but so much fun! Maybe even do Portland while you're on that side of the island. I would then drive from Kingston to Ocho Rios- not through Spanish Town though, but rather the back way, through St. Mary- it's so much prettier....and shorter too. Ocho Rios is not far from St. Mary. Maybe spend the day in Ocho Rios...maybe even a night. Then drive the next day from Ochie to Mobay, spend the day there...and then leave in the afternoon and drive back to Kingston (if you have to) along the South Coast- hitting Manchester, St. Elizabeth etc. along the way. That way you don't end up going back and forth from Kingston...it's three hours from Kingston to Mobay on a traffic free day through Ocho Rios! And it's real driving too...it will take longer if you stop along the way to sight see.
If you can, drive over to Negril from Mobay and spend the night there at somewhere like "The Caves" or "The Rockhouse"...then leave early the next morning and drive along the south coast back to Kingston.
Not sure how much time you have to play with, but this is how I would do it. And this is coming from someone (a 26 year old woman) who has lived in Jamaica and who has driven in Jamaica.
Have fun!!!
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 10:01 AM
  #8  
Michelle
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I agree with JAGIRL. Driving in the islands isn't as difficult as some people make it out to be...get a good map...ask directions, the people are really friendly and will always be ready to help you find your way.
What not to miss ? You should definitely try to take in Portland...the scenery there is just breathtaking. And if you can go even part way up the Blue Mountain you should...it's awsome up there...the climb all the way up to the top may take a couple of days of serious climbing but it's well worth it.
Also a must see is the new Island Village.It's THE place to get all your Jamaican souvenirs. It's in Ocho Rios...in the city centre. It's a definite must for island souvenirs. And while there make sure to get a taste of Island Grill...also available in Kingston and Montego Bay...the food is just superb!
Another must food is Jerk...whether fish, pork or chicken...at Boston Jerk in Portland or at Scotchies in Montego Bay (on your way into Montego Bay from Ochie). Oh and make sure to have a Ting! It's my favourite drink in Jamaica...
There are several plantations in Jamaica...it should be easy to find one when you get here...the tour I went on was the Appleton Sugar estate tour-I think that's the name. It was pretty interesting to see how sugar and rum are made...
Anyway, go have fun driving and seeing the sights...and the brilliant blue, warm, Caribbean Sea!!
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 11:29 AM
  #9  
??
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Ok JAGIRL let me get this straight, you have lived in Jamaica, you have driven there, and you tell someone who has never driven there to go drive? Yet you give her words of caution and to be careful? For somebody that has never driven a car in Jamaica and with the way people drive there,(thats ok for them, they are USED to it), the condition of the roads and the conditioned drivers, I don't think that is sound advice, especially when she said it would be an experience. You can best believe it will be an "experience" for her. And this is coming from someone who has lived and driven there too. (I'm 46)












 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 11:32 AM
  #10  
tivertonhouse
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Hi,Deborah -- Carolyn mentioned getting your e-mail on Drambuie. She's a perfect source for up to minute driving info since she and Errol are on roads Negril to Kingston,Ochi to South Coast daily. Bring a cooler for the car, a good road map (the very BEST one available and most up to date is by International Travel Maps out of Vancouver,B.C.,Canada (all others don't show roads well). You a traveller, not a tourist so nah fear...
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 11:39 AM
  #11  
Hmmmm
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Tivertonhouse you generally give good advice, so I take it by what you said that if I am a "tourist" and want to rent a car I should be in fear?
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 11:42 AM
  #12  
Zaria
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I agree with Tiverton's last comment. Deborah is clearly a different breed of visitor to Jamaica and I think she will have a very interesting experience based on what she says her plans are - in fact I think it will be great. The best piece of advice, get a good map. And do not be afraid to open your mouth and ask a question - that's the way we do it in the islands. People will point you in the right direction if you ask, nicely. I myself have never driven in Jamaica but that is only because I have alot of friends there who, being the hospitable souls that they are, wanted to take me all over the place...I was only required to sit back and enjoy! But I would drive if I had to. Have fun girl, and you must give us a detailed report when you get back.
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 12:02 PM
  #13  
??
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asking questions and a good map does not guarantee your SAFETY.
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 05:22 PM
  #14  
tivertonhouse
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Quite frankly, when safety's the consideration, I'd rather drive in Jamaica than on any freeway or truck -clogged commuter artery in the US. Both are tough -- but only Jamaica is rewarding at every turn. But if you're not intrepid, then it's not for you.
 
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 05:30 PM
  #15  
tivertonhouse
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P.S. If you do drive/rent a car or private driver, front seat passengers by law must now wear seatbelts. Cops even in the deep countryside now regularly roadblock and stop cars. The fine per passenger unless you can schmooze your way out of it is JA$500/us$10 a person. Back seat passengers w/o seatbelts (rarely on island for backseats) don't face fines. Getting in/out of Kingston and facing the roads over the mountains will be the toughest go not to be done at night if at all possible...
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 04:41 AM
  #16  
JAGIRL
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Tiverton, What's up with these scardy cat people ? They go around spreading this bad vibe and putting the living fear of everything in people! I totally agree that I would prefer to drive in the islands any day rather than on one of those highways in the US or even the Autobahn in Germany where you have huge 18 wheelers breathing down your neck!
And for "??" : Get over your fear!! Isn't it good advice to tell someone to be careful and to give words of caution? People come to the islands thinking that it's all fun and sun and not thinking that LIFE actually does happen here as well...and by "life" I mean both great and bad things. If you go to ANY country in the world, if you do anything that you haven't done before, I believe words of caution are standard. And by the way, "??" what's wrong with getting a good driving map and asking questions? NOTHING guarantees safety "??"...If that's what you're looking for then you need to stay locked up in your house with 100 armed security guards around you at all times!
GET OVER IT!!! Stop spreading fear!

 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 04:57 AM
  #17  
??
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Suggesting to a person that has never driven in Jamaica is not a good idea is sound advice IMHO. If someone wanted to visit Sam Francisco and rent a car and had never experienced driving in SF I would suggest not renting a car. Don't be so dramatic JAGIRL, I am only offering my opinion for I have 'experienced" driving in Jamaica and from that experience I don't think it is a good idea for a first timer!
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 05:26 AM
  #18  
Eric
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JAGIRL,

It is hard for people to drive on the Left hand side if they aren't used to it. I have visited Jamaica numerous times, and always find the driving tricky. This is just good advice. There is a difference betweens saying "don't drive in Jamaica" and "don't go to Jamaica"...
 
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