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JAMAICA: Getting Around

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By Rental Car
Jamaica is big enough-and public transportation is unreliable enough-that a car is a necessity if you plan to do much independent sightseeing. Unfortunately, prices of car rentals in Jamaica have skyrocketed; it's now one of the most expensive rental scenes in the Caribbean. And fraud is a very real concern; stick with our choices below.

Most rental cars in Jamaica are picked up at the airport, not delivered to your hotel. Some hotels have car-rental desks, but in all cases we've found those desks' prices higher than if arrangements were made in advance. Most car-rental firms in Jamaica grant unlimited mileage; if the firm you're calling doesn't, switch to one that does. Use your international cell phone rental to reserve a car.

By Taxi & Bus
Most cabs in Jamaica are older vehicles. Taxis in Kingston don't have meters, so agree on a price before you get in the car. In Kingston and the rest of the island, special taxis and buses for visitors are operated by JUTA (Jamaica Union of Travellers Association) and have the union's emblem on the side of the vehicle. Look for a red Public Passenger Vehicle (PPV) plate.

Taxis can be flagged down on the street or summoned by phone. Rates are per car-not per passenger-and 25% is added to the metered rate between midnight and 5am.

Technically, JUTA cabs are supposed to have meters, but most of them are not in working order. Therefore, again, agree on the price of the trip before booking. Cab fares should be posted inside the taxi; if you don't see them, you have the right to request a copy from the driver. A 10% to 12% tip is usually added.

Avoid pirate or unlicensed taxis. Not only are they not metered-they are illegal and rarely carry insurance. Use your Jamaica cellular phone rental to call a cab safely.

By Moped & Motorcycle
The front desk of your hotel can usually arrange the rental of a moped or motorcycle. Expect a daily rate of about $45 for a moped or $70 for a Honda 550. Depending on the vehicle rented, a deposit of $100 to $300 is generally required. Use your international cellular phone renatls to rent a motorcycle.

By Plane
Most travelers enter the country via Montego Bay (although American Airlines also flies to Kingston). If you want to fly elsewhere on the island, you'll need to use the island's domestic air service, which is provided by Air Jamaica Express. You can also reserve from home through a travel agent or American Airlines. Use your Jamaica cell phone rental to make an airline reservation.

Air Jamaica Express offers scheduled flights daily between the resort areas. There are seven flights a day from Kingston to Montego Bay, two flights a day between Kingston and Ocho Rios, and two flights between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios-each about $70 per leg. Car-rental facilities are not available at Jamaica's smaller airports.

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