Renting a car may sound like a fun and convenient way to get yourself around town as a Jamaican tourist, but be warned – there are several reasons why you should not rent a car while vacationing in Jamaica.
1. Bad roads. If you are in the main city, for example by the Montego Bay Airport, the roads are in great condition with traffic lights and stop signs. But when you drive out of the city, the road conditions change quite a bit. First of all there are many potholes in the roads which means you need to pay close attention to where you are driving; due to this there are a lot of swerving cars on the road avoiding these holes. Locals have prior knowledge to where the potholes are located due to their driving on it every day, so it is easy for them to avoid.
2. Driving on the other side. When driving in Jamaica, cars drive on the left side of the road which is very different if you are not use to that. This can become very stressful and confusing when making turns or trying to figure out what lane to be in when there are several lanes on the street.
3. Busy streets. On most streets in America, the streets are wide, straight and the only distractions are other cars. In Jamaica on the other hand, the roads are very busy with a variety of different things such as goats, people, crabs, bikes and dogs. Yes, you will find many animals on the streets, stray dogs and goats are the most common but during crab season, the roads are filled with land crabs trying to cross the street to get to the ocean.
4. Lack of signs. Once again when you are in the main city by the Montego Bay Airport, you will see street signs as well as stop signs. When you drive out of the city, the street signs get lesser and lesser. You will notice that the locals, when giving directions very rarely give the name of streets as how to get there, but generally give directions in relation to landmarks, like next to the supermarket. In addition, there are no GPS systems to help you navigate to your destination.
5. Don’t know where to go. When on your Jamaican vacation, you will be spending most of your time at your resort. When you are not at your resort, it is recommended to hire a tour guide to take you around the island. With a tour guide they can show you exactly where you should go, and give you background information on the different locations. Tour guides are the recommended way to get around the island.
Trust me, when visiting Jamaica, you do not need to rent a car, in fact it is not recommended due to the bad roads, driving on the other side of the street, busy streets, lack of signs and the fact that you are more than likely not sure where to go.