We went on an excursion on a mini boat that was to be snorkeling on the reef, sail to the cliff area. We were the only family on the boat.
Everybody was friendly and just having a good time.
I can recommend Courtney Taylor for a private tour of Dunn's or wherever else you might want to go
Another fun thing in the Ochi area that is new this year is tubing down the White River...on an inner tube, no rapids really, just floating (and swimming if you like) through rural Jamaica.
The nice thing about hiring a private driver/guide is that you can stay as long as you like at any place you go and can stop where and when you like... with someone who knows the area and people and will take care of you and get you back to the boat on time
See http://www.geocities.com/courtney_tay/index.html and see Jamaica cheaply
I wanted to write a quick review about Jamaica because you hear so many poor reviews and bad things about Jamaica. I have to say that it was one of the highlights of our trip. The reason being is because of our private tourguide. We booked a tour with Courtney Taylor. It was $20 per person (we didn't have kids w/ us so check on that). I didn't want to do an organized tour. I wanted to go to the falls, get lunch at an authentic Jamaican restaurant and maybe do some sightseeing or shopping. I emailed Courtney and told him all of this. He said "no worries, my tour is flexible, mon". So I booked with Courtney. He met us at the boat in a clean air conditioned new van. First stop was Dunns Falls. When we got there and he had another tour guide take us through the falls, he was awesome (we just tipped him). The falls were beautiful and a must see. After we got done, we were soaking wet from head to toe (we knew we were going to get wet but didn't expect to be soaking). Courtney said he would take us back to the boat to get cleaned up and then take us anywhere we wanted to go. We said great what time do you want to meet us back here. He said take your time, I will wait here for you. We thought that was fantastic. We changed clothes and met back w/ Courtney. He took us through Fern Gully and it was beautiful! Courtney was very knowledgeable and fun! He has a great singing voice so if you are in the mood, ask him to sing you a couple of songs! He also took us shopping in some small villages which was really neat because the people were friendly and there was no pressure. Afterwards, he took us to lunch at a neat little restaurant that was at the top of a big bluff that had a gorgeous view of the ocean. The food was awesome! He waited for us there and then took us back to the ship. Courtney was so friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. At the end of the tour we all took pictures together and said goodbye. If you would like to get in touch with Courtney you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying a little out of the centre of town, we found ourselves relying on taxis a bit to get around Ocho Rios, even though Elise was so helpful in offering us a lift on occasion. We thought the taxis here were rather expensive; we haggled, of course, but it still seemed to cost quite a lot, especially considering that most costs in Jamaica are way below what we’re used to.
Here are some typical fares:
From town to Dunn’s River Falls (about a mile), returning to collect us and back to the Blue House on the far side of town (about 3 miles) - $25
From town to the Blue House (2 miles) - $10
At night, from the Spring Garden Restaurant to the Blue House (about 1.5 miles) - $10
You can save on these prices by using a route taxi but unlike in Negril, here these seemed to be mostly used by locals – however, I don’t think anyone would mind if you choose to use them too! They work on the principle that they follow a set route, like a bus, but you can hail them wherever you want to, like a taxi. The drivers will squeeze in as many people as they can, so be prepared to squash up if you choose this option!
You can use either Kingston or Montego Bay airports to access Ocho Rios – the former is a little nearer geographically, but the road from the latter is much better, so transfer times are about the same from either. We chose to fly direct to Kingston from London’s Gatwick Airport with Virgin Atlantic, and had asked Elise at the Blue House if she would arrange a transfer for us, which she did. When we finally emerged from the arrivals hall (getting through immigration was a rather slow process!) we were met by Dave and whisked away to his car for a very pleasant drive of about two hours across the island. As I said, the roads aren’t that fast, but the scenery on this route is lovely, especially the beautiful Bog Walk Gorge, and we enjoyed seeing the various towns and villages we passed through en route.
The cost of this transfer was $120 for both of us, and well worth it. Over the next few days we were to take several sightseeing trips with Dave and grew to really appreciate his careful driving (well, careful by Jamaican standards, that is!) and enjoy his company. Thanks Dave :)
Be sure the taxi cab you ride in has a Red license plate. Only the ones with Red Plates are authorized to take passangers. Better to be safe than sorry. You dont want to get taken on more than a ride..
Your hotel can arrange transportation which I would suggest instead of taxis'. Get a group togather to go somewhere as we went to Margaritaville and got dropped off at the front door. Yeah theres guys outside the door trying to peddle weed, don't worry, say no thanks and continue on your fabulous venture to Mr. Jimmy Buffets Maragaritaville.
Make sure you negotiate a price before you go and the time to pick you up. Go in a group and you will be safe. Walking around by yourself downtown might not let you take it all in like you should, but if you go togather "no problem mon", its perfectly safe then!
People in your resort are wanting to go just like you will, but not alone, so just ask people at the bar if they want to go as a group. Most likely they have met a couple who has met a couple and you will end up with about 8-12 people that have the same interests as you do!
Americans have the same worries and safety issues as you do, so just ask around and you will find new friends which you may even keep in touch with for life? We did!
Have a great time, and remember, "no worries mon"!
As part of the package that Couples Resort offers between their sister resorts in Ochos Rios and Negril they will transport you between the resorts in a small airplane that fits pretty much yourself, your significant other, the pilot, copilot and maybe 2 other people. It was such a cool ride. The plane is so small though that you feel quite a bit of turbulence but in the small plane you can see on both sides and the pilots point out alot of the scenery of Jamaica for you to enjoy from the plane. You truly feel like royalty being transported in your own private airplane. I would say though if you are scared of flying this may not be the best option for you.
We were thinking about taking another public bus to go from Ochi to Negril, when we met Patrick, the crazyest taxi driver I have never known! We did it democraticaly and most of us prefered to go by taxi, so after negotiating the price for about half an hour we arraged this:
* Five people + driver in the taxi -> Ya mon! In Jamaica no problem!!
* 20us$ per person.
* Stop in the post ofice to send some postcards.
* Stop in Montego Bay and help us to find a hostal to sleep in the Reggae Sunfets.
* Then bring us from Mo'Bay to Negril.
* He also found some some ganja in a good prize. Sooo good!
* You'll probably have to advance him some money before living, it's for the fuel. Don't worry about that.
It was really exciting, Patrick drives like the hell but he knows what he is doing, the police stoped us before arriving to Negril, it was crazy!!! Nice experience!!
Jamaicans are known as the third worst drivers in the world (according to our tour guide). The general rule is drive on the left side of the road, but this is not always the case. I think any American would have a difficult time just getting to the store.
If you are visiting by cruise ship, you can opt for a ship tour, go shopping in Ocho Rios or use a private guide to take you around to see the sights. There are two companies I saw recommended a lot on the Cruise Critic boards. I have used Barrett Adventures on our last three trips and have really enjoyed the tours, the other similar company is A-Z Jamaica Planners. You can also use both of these companies if you are not on a cruise.
If you arrive into Montego Bay, you will most likely go to Ocho Rios via a prearranged transfer in a air conditioned minibus or van. The road to Ocho is under construction currently so there are some nice paved sections and some not so nice bumpy patches. But it's not nearly as bad as some reports I've read, perhaps those sections have already been redone. The road to Ocho also goes through some towns such as Falmouth, but perhaps when the road is completed it will go straight along the coast.
The trip from the airport took us 2 1/2 hours including a rest stop. The trip back took about 2 hours. Our driver said that when the road is finished the ride should take 1 1/4 hours, the trip is 90-100 km so I guess that makes sense.
In Jamaica you drive on the left side of the road. So if you want to rent a car (wich is not that expensive) be careful and concentrate on the road. The roads are very narrow and jamaicans drive very fast. Also, most of the car you can rent have the wheel on the right side of the car. If you are not used to drive on the right side make sure that your rental is automatic ! Other than that it is very easy to get around town in a rental but I recommand the cab. It's not very expensive and drivers knoe thier way around.
Included in the price of your Sandals vacation is the shuttle from the airport to the resort. The drive is about 2 hours with a stop at a roadside cafý and craft stand about halfway through the ride. The shops take USD and your should also tip your driver when you reach the resort. Many people complain about the drive and end up opting to take a short internal flight on their return trip. The major complaints: They drive like maniacs there compared to what we are used to in the US. They drive fast and the road is often narrow and very windy. But that is the way of life there and they know what they are doing. I really didn't mind the drive at all. I recommend sitting up front near the driver so you can learn all about the history and culture of the country. If you start talking to him he'll point out interesting thing along the way.
They are constructing a new highway that will be straighter and wider, supposedly speeding up the drive, but probably won't be completed until 2004.
To get to Ocho Rios you must go by plane or the ship. many cruise ship are sailing there.
The easiest way to go around the island is renting the car and explore the island by yourself. In Ocho Rios they have a lot of Mini Buses but usually they are overcrowd and slowly. Taxi drivers are everywhere almost pushing you to the car, but this is not the safest way of transport.
All I can say is watch your step. The road are narrow and they don't have rules!!!! They drive on whichever side is open. If a cab does not have a yellow plate, don't get in!!!! They are not a real cab. It is like some random guy putting taxi on the side of his car and taking your money. If you can find a bus take it. They are usually booked for tours though.