Rental cars are pricey, and are available from most major rental companies. Renters must possess a valid driver’s license. A security deposit will need to be posted with either a credit card or cash. Service stations are open daily but accept only cash. The speed limit is 30 mph in town and 50 mph on the highways. Insurance costs $12 per day ($15 for jeeps) and is well worth the investment.
Montego Bay Car Rental Agencies
Avis Rent-A-Car /Bargain Rent-A-Car
Caribbean Car Rentals
876-952-0664 (19 Gloucester Ave.)
876 876-952-3347 (25 Gloucester Ave.)
952-3347 (25 Gloucester Ave.)
Island Car Rentals
Thrifty Car Rental
876-952-5825 (28 Queen Dr. near airport)
In British tradition, traffic keeps to the left side of the road. This can be confusing on your first day behind the wheel, so start off a little slower than usual. Most cars are right-hand drive, which will mean some adjustments for US drivers.
Driving in Montego Bay
Mo Bay lies on a semi-circular bay called, you guessed it, Montego Bay. Its likely that you’ll enter the city at one of two places: Sangster International Airport, located north of the city, or the cruise ship terminal, south of the city.
Let’s start with the cruise terminal, which sits on Freeport Peninsula. The terminal itself offers a beautiful view of the city and its surrounding hills, and it’s just a short drive north on Howard Cooke Boulevard into town, a route that takes you past some of the city’s more industrial areas until you reach the Crafts Market, one of several. This is the downtown area. From the market, head east a few blocks to reach A1. (Coming from the south, A1 is called Barnett Street, but as it reaches downtown it changes to St. James Street and, further north as it crosses Sam Sharpe Square, becomes Fort Street.)
Continue north on this main thoroughfare and you’ll soon reach the roundabout, a traffic circle. Here the road divides into Gloucester Avenue, left to the sea, and Queen’s Drive, which leads right into the hills. Queen’s Drive is a beautiful route that offers great views; Gloucester is home to some of the city’s top restaurants and bars, especially along a stretch fondly known as the Hip Strip.
Queen’s Drive leads to Fort Montego, the remains of a fort built on a bluff that, at the time, overlooked Meager Bay and River Bay. The fort was never really called to duty; most of the cannon fire was done in celebration.
Gloucester Avenue finally makes its way to an intersection with Sunset Boulevard, which then meets up with Queen’s Drive at another roundabout by the entrance to Sangster International Airport. From here, Queen’s Drive continues north as A1 (but just call it the “main road” and everyone will know what you’re talking about) and on to the main resort area.
Taxis are the most popular method of transportation for travelers, and can be summoned at any hotel, the airports and most shopping areas.
WARNING: Not all of Jamaica’s cabs are metered. We recommend that you agree on a price before entering the taxi in order to avoid any “confusion” about charges.
If you need a taxi, contact the official carrier: Jamaica Union of Travelers Association or JUTA, 876-952-0813, in Montego Bay.
Many taxi drivers in Montego Bay offer their services as island guides. If you accept a driver’s offer for this service, be sure to agree on a price before the vehicle is put into gear. Expect to pay about US $50 and up for a partial day of touring.
Bus travel is popular among locals. The vehicles (often minibuses) can be crowded and slow, and are generally not air-conditioned. Buses generally will stop anywhere along the route to pick up passengers. To catch one, stand by the side of the road with your arm outstretched; pat down with your hand when you see an oncoming bus. Minibuses are used for short hauls.
You’ll find numerous tour companies in and around Mo Bay, most operating through resort tour desks. Tour lengths vary from half-day to full day, although some multi-day tours are available.
Husband-wife team Errol and Carolyn Barrett offer customized tours based on travelers’ interests. One of Jamaica’s top eco-tourism operators, Barrett Adventures has excursions both in the Montego Bay area (they’ll take you to Rocklands Feeding Station) as well as around the island to Negril, the Blue Mountains, Kingston and many off-the-beaten-path destinations not covered by other tours
876-953-2600 or 979-9387, fax 876-979-3421
Caribic runs tours from Montego Bay to Cuba. Excursions include a flight from Montego Bay to Havana on Friday or Saturday; weekend packages are available to Havana or Varadero. These trips are very popular.
WARNING: Americans should note that it is illegal to spend money in Cuba, although many US citizens still take this tour.
HILTON HIGH DAY TOURS
If you want to learn more about Jamaica away from the beach, the Hilton High Day Tour is an excellent choice.
Safari Tours offers two excellent jeep tours as well as a bicycle tour of Dunn’s River Falls, a chance to float downriver on an inner tube, a two-day mule ride and trek and horseback riding followed by a cool river float. Prices range from US $49 to $290.
Holiday Village, Rose Hall
This company offers sightseeing tours across Jamaica. You can sign up for one-day or multi-day tours.
876-952-0019 or 952-4916
Tourwise runs excursions to the top attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls, Black River Safari, rafting, the Cockpit Country, Kingston, Mayfield Falls, Blue Lagoon and more. Tours are available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch.