How to get around Jamaica

At around 235km (146mi) long and 82km (51mi) across at its widest point, hiring a car is the best way of exploring Jamaica.

Scooters and motorbikes can also be rented, usually with the help of your hotel front desk.

Jamaica's road network covers the whole island. Roads are divided into freeways, major roads and minor roads.

Traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas and 80kph (50mph) outside the main towns.

Seat belts must be worn at all times and children under three years must sit in a child seat.

The Jamaica Tourist Board offers one of the most comprehensive road maps of the island – the Discover Jamaica road map.

The map contains a detailed overview of the entire island, as well as blowups of Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, Spanish Town, Port Antonio and Ocho Rios. Available from any Jamaica Tourist Board office or car-rental agency.

By car, Negril to Port Antonio (incorporating Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) takes about five or six hours, while Montego Bay to Ocho Rios takes about two hours.

Note: Extra care should be taken, especially after dark, as many of the island's roads are in a poor state of repair. Pedestrians, animals and erratic drivers can all prove hazards. Petrol stations accept cash only.

Transport options in Jamaica

Car hire: Major car rental firms are located at the airports, in resorts and in major towns. Ensure your agreement comes with unlimited mileage, inclusive insurance and breakdown coverage.

Drivers must be aged 25 or over, have a valid driving licence from their home country.

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

Technically, most taxis are supposed to have meters, but it's worth agreeing on a price ahead of departure. Fares should be displayed inside the taxi – add 25% if it's after midnight. Taxis in Kingston don't have meters.

Most hotels and resorts have assigned Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) drivers who carry a photo ID and display a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.

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 with red plates marked PPV (Public Passenger Vehicle) charge fixed rates with a 10 to 12% tip usually added.

While JUTA cabs are supposed to have meters, many of them are not in working order. Therefore, you should agree on the price of the trip before booking. Taxi 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.

Communal route taxis offer a convenient and inexpensive way of getting around Jamaica. They run on set routes, picking up as many people as they can along the way. You can find them at a special taxi station terminal in town, or flag them down on the road. Tell the driver where you want to get off. If you get in an empty taxi – particularly at the taxi station – be clear if you just want to pay the regular fare instead of a charter.

Most route taxis are marked by red license plates and they should have ‘Route Taxi’ marked on the front door. They are not to be confused with similar licensed taxis, which charge more. Avoid any taxi without the red license plate.

Bus: Buses run by JUTA (tel: +1 876 972 4534; service the entire island, and while inexpensive are often uncomfortable and not very practical. However, the route between Kingston and Montego Bay is reliable and an alternative to a taxi.

Bicycle: Mountain bikes and ‘beach cruisers’ (bikes with fat tires, suitable for riding on sand) can be rented at many resorts (from US$10 to US$30 per day). Note: Road conditions are poor when off the main highways, and Jamaican drivers can be inconsiderate of cyclists.

Air: InterCaribbean Airways ( offers weekly scheduled flights between Kingston and Montego Bay.

Charter flights are available between Montego Bay and Kingston, Negril, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio with with TimAir ( Rates start at around US$340 for two passengers. Fares are often dependent on number of passengers per flight.

Sea: Water taxis ply the main beaches, offering trips from Doctors Cave Beach to Mahee Bay in Montego Bay. It's best to organise water taxis directly from your hotel whenever possible.

Jamaica is a main stop for Caribbean cruises and major cruise lines dock at Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

Latest update: How to get around Jamaica: 7 May, 2022