Jamaica is a Caribbean island, situated right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba, east of the Caymans, and west of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Start your road trip with a car rental in Montego Bay Airport!
Well, there really is nothing extreme about it, but the one detail you want to be aware of before you book your rental car – is that in Jamaica, they drive on the left side of the road!
Photo: The Blue Mountains outside Kingston.
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Is Jamaica Driving A Good Idea?
So, driving in Jamaica!
You don’t need a car to travel around Jamaica, the Knutsford Express bus company is quite adequate for getting around from A to B to C if you are not in a hurry.
But to explore Jamaica, there really is no better way than doing that with a comfy rental car!
If you want to try out all the smaller less-traveled roads, stop when you want and check out the shiny thing on the side of the road, traveling Jamaica in a rental car is so worth it.
Jamaica is home to diverse landscapes, including stunning beaches in Negril, the vast green Blue Mountains, hot desert’y plains, and sweeping river valleys along the northern shores.
The rather modest distances and diverse landscapes make Jamaica close to perfect for road trips. That is if you are happy with the whole driving on the left side of the road thing!
Car Rental In Montego Bay Airport
Lots of travelers and tourists visiting Jamaica arrive at Montego Bay airport, which is called Sangster International.
The really good thing about this location is that it is centrally placed along the Northern shores of Jamaica, between Ocho Rios to the east, and Negril to the southwest.
This also means that car rental in Montego Bay airport is a really good starting point for a road trip in Jamaica!
If you arrive in Kingston, that is not a problem either for car rental. You can pick up your rental in Kingston either at the airport or at a variety of locations in Kingston town.
Montego Bay Hotels And Places To Stay!
Rental Car Driving in Jamaica
In order to be able to rent a car in Jamaica, there are a few formal requirements that you need to fulfill. These requirements are as follows.
- You need to have had your license for at least two years prior to renting period, in order to be eligible to rent a car in Jamaica.
- Although the minimum age to drive in Jamaica is 18, you need to be 21 years old to rent a car in Jamaica.
- Expect that there may be age-defined fees for rental and security/insurance for those under 30 and over 65.
- For long-term travelers, you can drive in Jamaica with your national driver’s license for up to one year before you need to get a Jamaican driver’s license.
Rental Car Paperwork
You obviously need to show your driver’s license to rent a car and remember you need to be at least 21 years old and have had a license for at least 2 years prior to rental.
You will get the following papers from the rental company:
- Vehicle registration document
- Insurance papers for the rental car
- A Car Fitness Certificate showing services are followed
Everything should be in English, make sure all the papers are up to date, and that the dates are valid.
Also, when it comes to choosing insurance; it can become very expensive to try to save money on that, especially liability insurance. Just saying.
Is It Safe To Drive In Jamaica?
Well, yes – it is safe to drive in Jamaica.
Having said that, 2022 saw a record year in road traffic accident-related deaths in Jamaica, and although that picture seems dire – the reality is a bit more nuanced.
Out of 488 traffic deaths in Jamaica in 2022, the causes of road traffic deaths are broken down something like this.
- Around 30% due to reckless speeding and not driving according to conditions,
- Around 20% drifted to the wrong side of the road,
- Around 10 % were jaywalking pedestrians,
- A little less than 30 % were motorbike drivers,
- This leaves just a little over 10% of the RTAs in the category with “no reckless explanation”.
The statistics also show that around 26 % of the deceased were female, 74 percent male, and in most incidents high speed, disregard for conditions, and negligence were present. So there.
In conclusion, as long as you drive carefully within speed limits and according to conditions, your level of driving safety in Jamaica is as good as anywhere.
Jamaica Road Map
Jamaica has a road network of nearly 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles), out of which around 15,000 kilometers (9,300 miles) are paved.
In short, there are two main roads, or highways, that are not really the standard of a highway lots of the time.
The A1 goes from Kingston up north towards Ocho Rios (but not completely there), then turns west to Montego Bay, and southwest all the way to Negril.
The A2 goes from Negril, along the southern shores to Black River, before it turns inland and continues east all the way back to Kingston. A ring road, in many ways.
The only area where the roads can be a bit tricky to navigate in Jamaica is parts of the road system crossing the Blue Mountains!
I went there with a born and bread mountain guy, and the road is super narrow and has so steep turns that you see absolutely nothing only meters ahead!
The solution to this in the Jamaican mountains is that whenever you approach a steep turn you lower the speed (seemed to be optional), and you honk the horn with force!
Traffic Laws In Jamaica
- Don’t drink and drive!
- Follow the road signs
- Don’t smoke and drive!
Despite what some people believe, smoking marijuana (known as ‘ganja’) in Jamaica is actually against the law, and comes with penalties for all drug-related offenses, including those involving ganja!
So don’t be fooled by the whole Rastafari culture vibe, drugs are still illegal in Jamaica!
(Vaping is ok in Jamaica though, it has become quite popular and is considered a tobacco product like any other)
FAQs Car Rental in Montego Bay & Jamaica
What About Car Rental in Ocho Rios?
If you for some reason need to rent a car in Ocho Rios (you come in with a cruise ship or something, or just decide to transform into a road trip from there) – don’t worry!
You can easily book a rental to pick up in Ocho Rios as well, or you can just find one of the car rental offices in the village (it is a village) and make the deal there. I have never done that, so I can not recommend either – or.
Which Car Rental Companies Are In Montego Bay Airport?
These car rental companies are physically represented at Sangster International in Montego Bay Airport.
- Island Car Rental
Wrap-Up Car Rental In Montego Bay Airport
Arriving at (and leaving from) Montego Bay Sangster International Airport in Jamaica is a perfect starting point for your Jamaica road trip with a rental.
It is also an ok place to get the Knutsford Express either heading east or west, but that takes longer, and you are stuck with the timetables and extra stops and all that.
Either way, on the car rental side, you can pretty much pick up a rental from most of the popular tourist destinations in Jamaica, check the online offers, or negotiate a price in the local car shop!
Related blog posts:
Ocho Rios vs Montego Bay – Which Is Your Jamaica Paradise? (2023)
Travel From Kingston To Ocho Rios 2023? Extensive Guide!
14 Most Amazing Ocho Rios Tours In Jamaica 2023 For You!
13+ Awesome Kingston Jamaica Tours And Attractions (2023)!
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