About Jamaica (JM)
One of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, the island nation of Jamaica (JM) is situated south of Cuba and west of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. Although primarily identified with beaches and reggae music, Jamaica’s climate supports a surprising diversity of nature, with variable ecosystems and abundant wildlife found across the mostly mountainous island. The primary entry points for travelers to Jamaica are Montego Bay on the north side of the island, and the city of Kingston on the southern side. The towns of Negril and Ocho Rios are renowned for their beach resorts, while Blue Mountain is home to some of top coffee plantations in the world. Many travelers come for the laid-back lifestyle and sunny weather, but adventure and outdoor sport enthusiasts have plenty of options to keep them busy.
Getting is most convenient for visitors who rent a car in Jamaica; however, driving on the island is universally regarded as challenging, to say the least. But there shouldn’t be anything too surprising about the lay of the land. As central Jamaica is dominated by a towering mountain range, the safest and most efficient method of getting around is to stay on the major highways. There’s basically one main route in Jamaica, Highway 2000 (aka T3, running parallel to the A1), which plots a fairly manageable course from Kingston to Montego Bay, cutting straight through a valley system in the middle of the island. The T1 extension runs west to destinations in the Four Paths region of Clarendon Parish. Otherwise, most major attractions are accessible by lesser A and B roads in variable condition.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Jamaica are plentiful when you book a car hire with National, Sixt, Budget, Alamo, Hertz, or Thrifty. Choose from hatchbacks, economy and fullsize sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, specialty vehicles, and SUVs.
Tips and advice
Drivers and passengers who suffer from motion sickness are in for an adventure when traveling on perilous mountain roads.
Traffic controls are common in the central areas of Kingston and Montego Bay, but rare in outlying areas. Fortunately, roundabouts have been installed a many intersections in smaller towns.
You will absolutely, positively, 100 percent want your Jamaica car hire to be equipped with GPS. Be advised that most providers charge an extra deposit for GPS on top of the standard rental amount, but depending on where you are going your mobile phone may be an option subject to coverage, and also legal compliance of having the phone secured while driving. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on road signage and maps.
Many roads in Jamaica are not properly maintained. All-wheel drive or SUVs are highly recommended for both city and rural driving.
It’s recommended that foreigners avoid driving at night, especially on rural and inland roads. You can probably get away with short trips around Kingston and Montego Bay after sundown, but even in the smaller towns, you’re advised to park the car in a secure location and stay put for the evening.
Quick tips: Motorcycles, mopeds (scooters), and animals outnumber motorized vehicles on the roads in Jamaica. Congestion is predictably bad in central Kingston and slow-going at spots on Highway 2000. Service stations can be few and far between.