Travel in rural Jamaica?

Old Feb 10th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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Travel in rural Jamaica?

Our preferred approach to travel is to rent a car and stay in bed-and-breakfast type places. We have twice been to Cuba and have explored most of the island, staying in private homes (casa particular).

We would love to explore Jamaica the same way but we wonder if it would be possible to do this or is Jamaica too dangerous to travel through the rural parts of the country.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 02:44 PM
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Too dangerous in terms of personal safety? Not if you stay away from Kingston. Too dangerous in terms of driving conditions? Only you can say. I certainly wouldn't want to do much driving in Jamaica and I feel pretty comfortable driving elsewhere in the Caribbean on the left hand side of the road. Your miles may vary, however.

We vacationed in a more rural part of Jamaica called Treasure Beach, which is on the south coast. Most of the tourism there is community based rather than resort based, so it gave an authentic feel of being off the beaten path. We stayed at a place called which I can only recommend as purely fabulous. Remarkable food, tremendous creature comforts. You can find more information about Mar Blue and other places to stay near Treasure Beach at www.JamaicaEscapes.com.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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Thanks ejcrowe, for the information. I was actually asking about personal safety. I have heard such conflicting reports. Some people say you can travel most places with normal and reasonable precautions, others give the impression that becoming a victim of violence or crime would be all but inevitable. I know that Kingston is particularly hazardous but we don't like cities anyway. We also don't like resorts much and that is why we are asking about travelling around. We very much enjoyed the simple accomodation and friendly people that we found at Cuban bed-and-breakfasts. So far I haven't been able to find out about anything similar in Jamaica.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:33 AM
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Take a look at www.treasurebeach.net which is a good website for giving you the vibe of that part of Jamaica's south coast. Lots of inexpensive places to stay. I don't think there are places listed on this site that would have you stay with a Jamaican family, but I would assume a little research might turn things up for you.

The other part of Jamaica that might be intriguing for you is the parish of Portland, the town of Port Antonio in particular. I've not visited there yet but I long to. It's on the northeastern part of the island that once was bustling with the banana export business but has now fallen into an overlooked state, at least as most tourists are concered. It's the lushest part of Jamaica and it looks absolutely beautiful.

If you're interested in reading more about Jamaica, you might want to pick up the recent novel, The Pirate's Daughter, by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. It's set around Port Antonio and the titular pirate is Errol Flynn, who lived there for a few decades.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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Driving, left-hand-side UK style, can be difficult on island due to
potholes, goats and people in road
and wannabe NASCAR drivers. It's no less safe than Cuba,tho finding guesthouses for overnights can be
difficult. Some possible itineraries:

1) Arrive MoBay. Rent car from
islandcarrentals.com
Spend first night or two at TIME 'N PLACE btw. MoBay and Falmouth.
Drive to Ocho Rios/ignore most of the tourist port and have lunch at
Harmony Hall's Toscanini or Evita's.
Spend next night at The Blue House
in Ochie or Satori in Orcabessa.
Spend time at Noel Coward's 'Firefly' estate in Grant's
Town/Port Maria.
Motor to Port Antonio, lodging at
Ivanhoe's guesthouse in town. Spend
most of your holiday in Porty, Boston Bay, Great Bay and doing
daytrips into Blue Mountains.
Drive car back to Kingston/2 hours via the coast road and depart from
Norman Manley airport.

2) MoBay to Blue Hole Gardens for
an overnight in mountains near
Frome/Whithorn. Motor on to Bluefields Bay/Belmont for a night
or two at Horizon cottages. Motor on to Black River and take a boat
out to Pelican Bar, then on to Treasure Beach for accomodations
at Mar Blue (a luxe auberge with arguably best food on island) OR
a number of small guesthouses/cottages.
Take daytrips to YS Falls, Mandeville, Little Ochie, Milk River Bath and spend majority of time in St.Elizabeth parish. Motor back to MoBay and depart.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 06:18 AM
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Thanks, ejcrowe and tivertonhouse for the great information. It is really helpful. We won't be visiting Jamaica for a while yet (too many places on the list) but I hope to do this trip before too long.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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We went on an excursion on a mini boat that was to be snorkeling on the reef, sail to the cliff area. We were the only family on the boat.
. Everybody was friendly and just having a good time.
I can recommend Courtney Taylor for a private tour of Dunn's or wherever else you might want to go .
Another fun thing in the Ochi area that is new this year is tubing down the White River...on an inner tube, no rapids really, just floating (and swimming if you like) through rural Jamaica.
The nice thing about hiring a private driver/guide is that you can stay as long as you like at any place you go and can stop where and when you like... with someone who knows the area and people and will take care of you and get you back to the boat on time.
See Jamaica Cheaply at www.ochoriostours.org
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 01:46 PM
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Been to Jamaica twice and won't return. Had tires slit on car at a nice resort, told not to go out after dark (Montego Bay), found the people to be unfriendly, and offered drugs numerous times.
If you like to explore on your own, try Playa del Carmen to Tulum in Mexico. Lots to see and much safer than Jamaica!
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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My recommendation after 25+ years of visits to Jamaica, would be to hire a private guide/driver if you really want to see the rural areas of the island. The roads can be tough to drive in certain areas, and it might be best to have an expert on board. Also, some Jamaicans like to take the roads very fast. Not my idea of an excellent way to start a vacation.

when
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 06:18 PM
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We took day/night trips out of Montego Bay to Negril/ caves area and to Ocho Rios area. We based ourselves (and 3 other couples) at Doctors Cave Beach Hotel. Perfect location across from a remarkably beautiful beach and near restaurants. Kenny the bartender is great, and we hooked up with a cab driver named Wilson that Kenny knows. He drove and guided us and stayed with us and brought us home. Very cheap and safe.
I know that you will enjoy your trip no matter where you explore because you are doing just that.
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