Jamaica for the holidays

Old Dec 17th, 2019, 10:19 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,618
Jamaica for the holidays

I have been invited to visit a friend's family home in Jamaica about 20+ miles into the countryside from Ocho Rios. Having difficulty booking transportation. Have looked through the forum here - some posts are not very recent. I've done some research. I am leaving next week. Can you help with some questions on various topics. In the past year I have had total knee replacement in both knees, and I am taking my knees out for a test drive. My usual style of travel is to explore the culture, get off the beaten track and get in the mix. However, I won't be doing that alone in Jamaica. My friends have assured me they have this in mind when choosing the sites they want me to see, and have trails and routes with some alternative less steep declines to get us to the spots. There may be days when I will need to join a tour or get a licensed taxi to explore without them. I am there for 2 weeks.

1. Transporation from airport - Montego Bay to Ocho Rios or Port Maria - what transportation do you recommend? Can I arrange when I get there? Or is it better to book something in advance? Are buses reliable? (Even if infrequent and a long slog?). I am not staying at a resort to be able to get a shuttle. There's no direct buses to where I want to go, I contacted Clive's, and they are insisting on a destination address. I don't understand why if the terminal in Ocho Rios is called "Transport Center" and I ask them to take me there, why that isn't sufficient, likewise with another bus terminal stop that would be closer. When I go online and search there are no street addresses or even intersections. My friends' cousin is planning to pick me up at a location, I am particularly concerned with the trip back. I can't miss my flight. I may have to leave at 9:00 a.m. to get to the airport for a 3:00 flight.

2. money exchange - those who have been to Jamaica in the past year or so - did you exchange money? If using US dollars, how did you work out the exchange rate? I am trying to gauge how much I may need for casual dining and street markets. Are travelers checks or cards worth the bother outside cities and resorts? I will have a credit card.
3. Can't find DEET. Will regular bug spray be okay? Will be staying in the country, hope to be doing a bit of walking and hiking. Do I need hiking boots, or are sneakers okay there?
4. Must - sees and skip it -
Thanks all!
ninasdream is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2019, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I have been to Jamaica a few times, spread out over many years, but I have always gone immediately out to Negril. So I doubt I'm going to be much help here but will give it a go...

Clives is the only transportation I've used, sorry that isn't working out. Can't your friends on the island suggest something appropriate? Or find a hotel or restaurant or something nearby to use as a specific address like Clives wants? I have taken a 'chicken bus' but just one time and that was the '70s -lol! I would personally not be comfortable doing that alone in Jamaica now (busing around in unfamiliar territory). I would try to figure out a private driver or a licensed taxi. You *definitely* want this arranged in advance. No way do you want to arrive Sangster without a plan! That airport is... well... you aren't in Kansas anymore Dorothy

I used both a bank ATM and a 'cambio' (currency exchange) to get Jamaican dollars, and yes that's what I used exclusively. But again, this was in Negril.

I have never used bug spray or hiking boots or been out in back country. Again different experience entirely, as my trips were all beach R&R vacation type of trips. Sunscreen was my only application.

Again, Negril specific but Trip Advisor has a very active and helpful forum. You might check there for your cities/areas.

Don't know how to answer about the must sees & must skip. I am not a timid traveler but no, you don't want to be wandering around Jamaica alone. And I definitely would not rent a car alone. Even in Negril I was told not to be out on the road alone after dark, and I took heed. All that said... a day trip to Negril would be fun!!
suze is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2019, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Are travelers checks or cards worth the bother outside cities and resorts?

I'm pretty sure you want to have cash for that. Either Jamaican or US dollars.
suze is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2019, 01:15 PM
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Thank you! My friends are in the middle of a big project and deadlines, so I was trying to research as much as possible. Hope to be connecting with them to plan tomorrow. Thanks Suze. No, definitely will NOT be renting a car or driving!
ninasdream is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2020, 03:15 PM
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 13
I hope this trip worked out for you and that you will come back to the forum and post how you were able to sort out the details.
In the future, perhaps a solution for Clive's required destination would be Captain's bakery in Ochie or even Island Village or The Craft Market or the Burger King on Main Street or some other central, well known place.

One transportation option from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios or the other way around is Knutsford Express https://www.knutsfordexpress.com. They have a departure area right at the Sangster airport.

I suppose you figured out that Bug Spray is easily available in Jamaica
jagirl2 is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2020, 02:08 PM
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Hi jagirl2, thank you for your comments. On december 18 when I met up with my friends here in the States, they told me about Knutsford Express and I used it. Unfortunately, they only run twice a day, so I waited 3+ hours on my arrival day, but the people that work there are very nice and helpful, and the buses clean and comfortable. Many things were NOT readily available in Jamaica, in the rural area I was in, and indeed all over. I did find DEET before I left and brought that and Off and continuous spray sunscreen with me. I am composing a trip report, so I hope you will check back for that.
ninasdream is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2020, 01:08 PM
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I would love to read your trip report when you get a chance. Thanks for checking in.
suze is offline  
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