When it comes to planning the ultimate beach vacation to Negril, Jamaica, you’ll need to decide whether to rent a car during your stay, flag down the occasional taxi, or hire a tour-led excursion company.
The answer depends on you.
Consider the type of vacation you envision. Are you traveling solo or with an agreeable navigator? Is it important to you that you aren’t limited by a group schedule or the most popular tourist destinations? Or would you rather take in the views and relax and not be bothered with missing that unmarked island cut-through?
For the most part, route taxis and private drivers are plentiful in Negril, at nominal fares, and distances are short, but if you prefer the freedom and flexibility of having your own car, we’ve compiled the basic information to help you enjoy the best beach vacation possible.
When assessing car rental companies, consider cost, length of stay, types of vehicles, and the level of insurance that fits your comfort level. The largest car rental company in Jamaica is Island (www.islandcarrentals.com). From several locations around the island, you can choose a newer vehicle, an insurance plan that limits your liability, and even opt to have the car delivered to you. Another option right in Negril is Sparks (876-312-8351).
To fill the gas tank, pull up to an available pump and tell the attendant which gas you want and how much. Many stations do accept credit cards, but not all. Tipping is appreciated. If you need gas after hours at night, the attendants operate using a night drawer from inside a locked convenience store. Air for your tires is often located on the gas pump.
Finding your way:
Most major roundabouts and intersections are marked well. The secondary roads are not as clear, but locals may be able to help if you’re willing to stop and ask, making that part of the adventure. As you pass through towns you may contend with parked cars, taxis and trucks that often occupy one lane. Be aware of cyclists and pedestrians.
While on secondary roads in places like Treasure Beach, the Cockpits, Duncans Bay, Robins Bay or Portland, watch out for blind curves, potholes, and rough road edges. Sometimes the road meanders along the coast or veers off inland, possibly taking you off-course.
Jamaicans use their car horn as an accepted and important form of communication. It’s customary to honk when approaching blind curves or hill crests, when passing another vehicle, to alert others of where you are, to let someone in, or—in the case of taxis—to garner new customers.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the lack of road rage here. Remember on those windy roads that hug the cliffs to always honk and stay left. And be prepared—everything in Jamaica is measured in kilometers such as signage and speed limits.
Always stay alert and watch for construction flag men, double parked cars, and blocked lanes. If you get stuck behind a truck on a curvy mountain, avoid risky passing. You’ll notice that on long stretches of wide roads, some drivers will adopt third lanes for passing in both directions.
Police Spot Checks:
If you are pulled over by the police for a routine spot check, be prepared to show the officer your license, rental papers, and allow them to search the car. A photocopy of the insurance paper you received from the rental agency is adequate.