Pros and Cons of Jamaica

Old Sep 28th, 2001, 06:20 PM
  #1  
April
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Pros and Cons of Jamaica

I recently had a heck of a time trying to decide where to go for spring break. I discussed it with my travel agent (who has experience visiting the Caribbean), and my daughter and I finally decided on Montego Bay, Jamaica. We haven't done the all-inclusive thing before so we decided to try it this time. Our budget wasn't the greatest ($2000-2300 total), but my travel agent found a package for us at the Seacastles Beach Resort that was within our price range. I went ahead and booked the vacation and put down a deposit.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because now I have done more homework into Jamaica and have gotten worried about the safety and crime on the island. I work in the substance abuse prevention field, so the idea of watching people do drugs for a week doesn't excite me and I have a 10 year old daughter to think about. Since I have no experience in that part of the world, could someone give me some advice on the pros and cons of taking a vacation to Jamaica. Should we still go or cancel and go somewhere else that is safer?
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 03:08 AM
  #2  
tivertonhouse
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Ganja may be the Prozac of choice for some Jamaicans, but you'll hardly be watching 'people doing drugs all week' at Seacastles. It's a resort, after all.And few resorts permit their staffs to toke up.(Interestingly, few women 'burn herb' in Jamaica). Kick back,decompress, leave your anxieties back in the States and just enjoy the resort for a few days. If you can splurge, treat yourselves to some spa stuff at the new Ritz Carleton Rose Hall. THEN hire a good guide for yourself and your daughter/not a hotel staffer, or tourgrouper or taximan but somebody who knows where you're coming from -- and what you want to see and experience together. Go snorkeling or horseback riding. Feeding hummingbirds by hand. Or take a trip to the South Coast to YS Falls and then a boat up Black River for wildlife and crocodile watching. Carolyn Barrett of Barrett Adventures is a good choice.
See her at www.jamaicaescapes.com
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 05:27 AM
  #3  
anonymous
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I've read tons about crime in Jamaica but find very few specific examples. It is a poor country & I think alot of people just make assumptions on that. I have to think maybe prejudice is also a factor. We're going in 4 weeks for the first time. We plan to be with a group most of the time just to feel safer.
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 06:27 AM
  #4  
chazz
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Jamaica is a big, beautiful island, and generally less expensive than most other Caribbean destinations.

However, safety is an issue, and the constant solicitations can become annoying.

There are too many great things to see to limit yourself to your resort, but do your exploring with escorted groups (van or bus-type trips). Do not rent a car.

My wife and I stayed near Montego Bay with our 11-year-old. When we went into town we weren't offered ganja, apparently because we had a youngster with us. We still joke about the fact that we constantly SMELLED marijuana but never actually saw anybody smoking it.

Also, I would avoid Negril during the "spring break" period.

Is Sea Castles near MoBay ? If so, be sure to visit Doctor's Cave Beach.

It's a gorgeous island and we will visit it again, but is does require certain precautions.






 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 08:22 AM
  #5  
TRAVELER
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I have been to Jamaica many times in the past 5 years. With just my husband, with kids and husband and alone for business. I love Jamaica. I alway feel safe, the people are wonderful. You wouldn't go wandering around any unfamilar city alone, don't do it in Jamaica either. The resorts are all safe and offer tours to the spots you want to go to. Go shopping, go to Dunn's River, your daughter will love that. Take a raft trip on the Martha Brea. Relax and enjoy your vacation.
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 12:27 PM
  #6  
April
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Thank you all for your comments. I feel much more reassured in regards to our trip. I just hated the idea of spending all that money only to get "stuck" someplace I didn't want to be.

Good point about how we would be extra cautious in any big city. We've been to other large cities before and know how to keep ourselves fairly safe.
Never been mugged, anyway!

Anonymous, would you please e-mail me after you return and give me some more insight? I would appreciate it.

Now I am getting excited about our vacation again. Thank you so much!
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 12:27 PM
  #7  
jeanne
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hi, i am the biggest scaredy cat in the world and we went to Jamaica last March. We have 2 vhildren and never felt unsafe but be aware of your surroundings. We stayed in Ocho Rios and my husband went into town every night and we went off resort every day. I found the people to be wonderful, proud and extremely polite. We are even corresponding with a few of the Jamaicans they were wonderful! I was more scared in Aruba where i found the people to be totally rude!
 
Old Sep 29th, 2001, 12:35 PM
  #8  
ollie
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I would avoid taking young impressionable children to any all inclusive during spring break. Ive heard nightmare stories of drunk, loud, ganja smoking college students. Maybe Seacastles is a nice family place. I would check into thier spring break policies. Are they a tour property for a big group at the time you are going? etc.
 
Old Sep 30th, 2001, 04:01 AM
  #9  
Les
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Ollie makes a good point about spring break. If you are traveling during the April vacation week, you will have no problem as the college spring breakers are gone by then. If you are traveling during the March break, you will likely encounter some spring-breakers; especially in Negril.

Jamaica is a wonderful place to visit. Most locals are very friendly and welcoming. Ganja smoking is illegal, and is not something you will see everywhere. Although ganja is tolerated, most Jamaicans are very much opposed to hard drugs and are not accepting of them.
 
Old Sep 30th, 2001, 10:41 AM
  #10  
tivertonhouse
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April -- SeaCastles is outside the main MoBay tourist scene and nowhere near anywhere you're likely to encounter hordes of springbreakers, who normally go to Negril or congregate around the main tourist Gloucester Ave strip or at the Pier. But its location means you need a car or car/driver to go exploring. There's a good little gallery downtown called The Gallery of West Indian Art,but not much of interest in MoBay to a 10-year-old. Feeding hummingbirds at Lisa Salmon's up in Anchonvy/Reading en route to the South Coast IS a hit,we've found, with kids. The Martha Brae rafting trip outside Falmouth and the one at Great Gorge are ok, if short and tame (Port Antonio's is the best on island) . If touristy, climing Dunn's River Falls is a far better bet and you might combine a day trip there with lunch in Ochi/Ocho Rios, a trip to Harmony Hall, Cranbook Gardens and the craft markets if you're an unpertubable shopper. There are some good buys amongst all the tat, with better quality goods at galleries like Harmony Hall and The Frame Shop. If you go to the South Coast, stop at Bluefields for some jerk port or steamfish at the beach and at roadside stands en route. Jamali's in Whitehouse, a long yellow building on the right hand side with a huge bull mango tree and fishpond out back ,can have a few interesting finds like carved and pyrographed calabash shoulder bags and straw. If you're adventuresome, a trip to the outside-the-cities country markets like Savannah La Mar can also be great explorations. Going outside your resort and meeting Jamaicans will make all the difference to the quality of your holiday experience -- and what your daughter remembers beyond the beach.
 
Old Sep 30th, 2001, 01:45 PM
  #11  
April
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I am still enjoying reading everyone's advice. My daughter is very excited at the idea of feeding hummingbirds, going horseback riding, and generally lounging on the beach. She's pretty easy to please. It was she who wanted the vacation to be relaxing and doesn't want to do a lot of the traditionally touristy things (museums, etc...)

I really like the idea of her being able to experience a different culture from our own, even if that means feeling uncomfortable at times. That uncomfortable feeling is a sign of growth, adventure, and risk-taking!!

One more question. Since we have never gone the all-inclusive route before, how exactly do we take advantage of the meals in the restaraunts at the resort? I mean, do we show badges, let the waiter know, or will everyone at the resort be there on an all-inclusive package and therefore no explanation is necessary? I feel kind of silly asking, but I have no idea and want to be prepared.

Thanks everyone! Keep the info coming!
 
Old Oct 1st, 2001, 11:57 AM
  #12  
Penney
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We have been to Jamaica 6 times as well as other islands and while there is a fair amount of crime, you will have no knowledge of this on the resorts. the beaches are all private and only when you go into town or at the airport will you get a taste for the vendors who can be rather pushy but gret to bargin with! Just use common street smarts. The people are really wonderful.

As far as the all-inclusive deal - usually you just up and leave from the table! Some resort do have cards for you to show but most have - no even a wrist band. You can eat as much as you want, drink all the drinks you want, if you don't like something, get something else. Just enjoy!!
 
Old Oct 1st, 2001, 12:10 PM
  #13  
Haile
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Jamaica is very safe. I would suggest a tour of Trenchtown to see where the great Bob Marley was raised. It will be a rewarding experience. Very safe. You could probably walked down the center of the street in Trenchtown in nothing but a thong and go unmolested.
 
Old Oct 1st, 2001, 12:11 PM
  #14  
Anonny
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Hey Les: Ganja? Hard drugs? Hardly.
 
Old Oct 1st, 2001, 02:26 PM
  #15  
Les
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Annony, I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to say. In case my response was not clear, let me rephrase. Among Jamaicans I have known for many years and consider family, ganja is not considered a drug. Indeed, many people use it for herbal teas and such. Some people smoke it; mainly men. It is not something seen 'everywhere all-the-time'. In the communities that I frequent, hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin are not tolerated and the dealers are run out of the community. Is that more clear Annony?

 
Old Oct 1st, 2001, 02:36 PM
  #16  
Les
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April, You might want to ignore Haile's post. It is dripping in sarcasm. Not sure if you are aware or not and surely don't want to insult you intelligence, but Trenchtown is an area of Kingston that is dangerous and not somewhere a tourist should visit. Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town have also been plagued with violence recently. It would probably be a good idea to avoid Kingston entirely.

 
Old Oct 2nd, 2001, 12:28 PM
  #17  
Dolli
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There are warnings not to travel near Kingston. Which you will not even be close to so you shouldn't worry. You are likely flying right into Montego Bay. Personally I would not take it into my own hands to travel all over Jamaica. There are many nice tours you can take that include transportation and you will then have the safety of traveling in a group. They drive on the left in Jamaica and I might add, they drive fast and furious. I've found that to be true anywhere I've been in the Caribbean. It's that left side of the road thing that makes the ride even more wild. The people and music are wonderful. Relax and enjoy.
 
Old Oct 15th, 2001, 11:18 AM
  #18  
ohliz
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We're taking our kids to Jamaica next month - their 3rd trip, my 7th, their dad's 20th or something. Obviously we find it safe.

We usually stay in Negril but we have stayed near MoBay. My kids are now 7 and 4 but their first trip they were 4 and 1 and the 4 year old really liked Margueritaville on the strip in MoBay because there is a large waterslide off the roof and water tramploines to play on. Your 10 year old will probably like that. There will be college kids there during much of March, not April.

Doctors' Cave Beach is a nice sandy one, not sure if Seacastles has a kind of windy/wavy beach or not but if they do, Doctor's Cave is a nice change and you can snorkel right off the beach (or grab a boat from there too).

A nice trip not far from you is to Glistening Waters aka Luminous Lagoon. There is an organism in the water that glows when disturbed, you can take boat out and swim if you like, and come out glowing There's also a restaurant there.

Don't forget the sunblock for the little one - that's the most dangerous thing we've experienced in Jamaica, the strong sun!

You can get more info on JA at jamaicans.com - they have a great tourist bulletin board.
Liz
 
Old Oct 30th, 2001, 05:28 AM
  #19  
jj
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i was hoping to rent a car for my week in jamaica so i have general mobility. is there a real reason why i should not? i did in the yucatan against all advice and everything was fine. also - does anyone know if i can eat cheap in ocho rios as my hotel does not have meal plan. also - any advice on cheap/but nice lodging anywhere else on the island - iknow nothing!! thanks jj
 
Old Oct 30th, 2001, 09:57 AM
  #20  
ohliz
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JJ, people do rent cars in Jamaica and I know several who loved doing so. A few things to consider:

Your comfort level with driving on the left. There are no traffic lights (there are roundabouts at major intersections instead - very tricky doing them the "other" way).

Jamaicans are notoriously fast and aggressive drivers, I found them to be on par with drivers in Rome, Italy.

Roads can be in very bad shape - **major** potholes, animals, and in remote areas, can be nearly nonexistent. Two way traffic on one-way size roads is not uncommon.

My American Express card gets me free rental car collision insurance anywhere in the world except Israel and Jamaica. Food for thought.

Rental deposit is very, very high - $1000US last I checked.

Stories of tourists renting cars and then being charged for damage they did not do to the car are not uncommon so look it over carefully before you rent and document any damage you see.

We always hire a driver. Then we can drink our red stripes on a trip without worrying, have a tour guide if we like, someone who knows where the cool little places are...don't have to worry about parking, and it really doesn't cost that much more.
Liz
 

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