The third-largest island in the Greater Antilles Caribbean, Jamaica is beloved for its palm-fringed beaches, Bob Marley beats, and zingy jerk chicken. Most tourists touch down and head straight for the country’s three big resort towns – Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios – but there’s lots to see in between. If you’re off on a Caribbean adventure and want to find out the best way to get around, take a look at our tried-and-tested top tips on how to travel around Jamaica.
Top tips on how to travel around Jamaica
1. Taking the bus in Jamaica
Taking the bus in Kingston, Jamaica’s colorful capital is easy and affordable. Most are air-conditioned too. But outside the city, bus services are a little more rough and ready. Most towns have a designated bus park, though there aren’t always timetables.
2. Taking the Knutsford Express
If hopping on a collection of minibusses sounds a little too haphazard for you, try the Knutsford Express. This company offers daily scheduled services to the island’s main resorts, including Port Antonio, Kingston, Mandeville, Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios. Busses are comfortable, with air-conditioning, luggage compartments, free WiFi, toilets on board, and complimentary bottled water.
3. Renting a car in Jamaica
Renting a car is easier than it looks. The roads in Jamaica are, on the whole, very good and most drivers are courteous. Renting a car costs anything upwards of USD 30, with third-party insurance included in the rate as standard. There are dozens of car rental companies in Kingston and the main resort areas, though keep in mind that you’ll find the best rates with local operators.
Jamaica drives on the left-hand side of the road and speed limits are 50 kph in towns (80 kph on motorways).
4. Motorbikes and cycling in Jamaica
Motorbikes and mopeds are available to rent in most towns and resorts and do not require a specific license. It’s illegal to travel without a helmet though. Cycling is more difficult than you might expect, though things are changing. There are several scenic coastal road circuits, as well as a few routes through plantations. The best places to cycle in Jamaica are around Negril, south of Falmouth (home to SingleTrack Jamaica), and the Blue Mountains.
5. Taking an organized tour in Jamaica
If you’re wary about hiring a car but would prefer not to rely on public transport, opting for an organized tour is a good alternative. They’re a hassle-free, easy and comfortable way to see the sights, though you’ll usually need to pay a premium for the service. Most hotels have an organized tour desk, though it’s worth doing some research in town. There’s a whole host of tour operators offering specific experiences too, from cycling specialists to booze cruisers.
6. Taking cabs in Jamaica
It’s easy to find a licensed taxi in the island’s main towns and resorts, just look for the red number plates with “PP” or “PPV” on them. There’s also a huge number of unlicensed taxis offering their services, though we generally recommend avoiding these. Fares are reasonable in the city but rise steeply in the north of the island. Taxis are unmetered, so make sure you set your price in advance of setting off and expect to haggle for a good price.
Shared taxis are another option, best relied upon on short and busy routes. Prices are more similar to bus fares, though they’re mostly used by Jamaicans, rather than holidaymakers. Many taxi drivers are happy to make out-of-town trips too, so if you’re hoping to hit a collection of sights on a day trip, it’s often a more affordable option than booking a specialized tour.
7. Boats and ferries in Jamaica
Most people arrive in Jamaica by plane, but some come via the island’s main cruise ports in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Falmouth. Port Antonio is popular with megayachts and boutique cruise liners too. Leading cruise lines include Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises. Boat excursions and tour boat trips are popular too.