Ok...so this is my second time in Ochi and really my first time staying at and all inclusive resort. Ok...don't be fooled...this is a third world country, with third world views of what a (5) star hotel/resort is. Overall, the experience was fine if you remove the constant begging, uncertainty of being considered a tourist, (which you are if you have that wristband which lets you back on the resort), the constant approach of weed dealers, the inflated prices for everything, (even in US dollars). Really, we got a chance to see some great sites in the mountains, the culture, the food, but most of all, the people who have a willingness to show you that Jamaica is "Ire" mon. But beware, most tourists are objectified as a meal ticket. Study the laws and the penalties before you decide to "smoke out" or you WILL end up as an episode of Locked Up Abroad. Smoking weed may be cool for Bob Marley and the rastas, but tourists become immediate contributors to the Jamaican government in the form of bail. Also, don't think that the taxi driver is not looking out for his pockets as well, although we were blessed with a knowledgeable tour guide. We did decide to go into the mountains and I would not recommend going alone but with a tour. Stop only where you need to and always show respect to the locals, and you wil be fine. Never walk out at night and always BE CAREFUL!
Had a great time at the Sunset Jamaican Grande, however, the locals have become very pushy and beg for money every step of the way. My wife and I like to venture out but this time, (May 2012), we noticed the begging has grown 10 fold from 2 years ago. We ventured out 4 our of 5 nights and somehow always paid for a Tour Guide, who claimed to work at the hotel. BS alert, the guys at the front of the gate do not work at the hotel as Bar tenders, beach sweepers, dining room servers, etc... That being said, we still love Ocho. But the amount of pushy vendors, "tour guides" seemed to take away from the relaxing time. The guys selling drugs were not a problem, a simple "No thanks" is all thats needed. Its the random locals that have gotten out of control.
Like anywhere in the world there are dangers. I have travelled to many places around the world and lived in Jamaica for a few years. I have also stayed in America and saw more crime there! People will tell you all sorts of nonsense and the people who have great times in Jamaica are far too busy enjoy life to start frightening other people about Jamaica.
People forget common sense when they go abroad, in every country there are safe areas and not so safe areas. Even in the safe areas crime still happens.
If you go to Jamaica with good spirits, common sense and your wits about you, you will have a fantastic time. There are lots of people who have left western countries to set up homes in Jamaica and have never experienced such things.
People who are too scared to get off cruise ships or leave the confines of an all inclusive should not bother coming to this beautiful island.
I am a positive person by nature and wherever I go, I attract like minded people. I don't let fear stop me from going anywhere. Go to Jamaica and gain your own experience.!!
ps. friends came to visit me from the UK and were very fearful to come, because they read the horror stories of a few. I explained that on some forums, it usually filled with people who have an upset. People who have a great time don't have a need to tell the whole world about it. My friends were so shocked at how safe they felt and everyone had a fantastic time and some bought holiday homes there and have come back with their families year on year!
I have been to Jamaica 5 times this last year. Married a Jamaican and bought property and plan to move there permanently soon, and build a house. Maybe there is a lot of crime in Kingston, Ocho Rios, etc., but in rural Jamaica everything is fine. You just need to go there and not act like a tourist. Blend in (as much as possible if you're not black!) and get to know the locals. I can't think of a more beautiful place in the world.
I've been to Jamaica twice. THe first time I was naive and had never been (obviously) and the 2nd time it proves it. Jamaica is the WORST ISLAND in the caribbean. My wife and friends wife wants to go to Jamaica to see Duns River Falls (Since we've already been there) and we told them there is no way we are ever getting off that island again. In fact, I think it's horrible that cruise ships even allow their customers off on this island. Do some simple reading online and read the horror stories about Jamaica. I'm sure locals would even tell you even though some are disillusioned about what crime is. In 2004, over 1000 people were murdered!!! It's the THIRD HIGHEST MURDER RATE IN TEH WORLD!
People always tell you...well, go to the all-inclusive resorts, and don't ever leave the campus. Well, you know what? I don't like living in a prison on vacation. THat uneasy feeling is something I don't want to pay for, no matter how cheap they make it. Just simply do not ever get off on this island.
Make no mistake, Jamaica is a dangerous place. If your staying in an all inclusive resort, and don't wonder about on your own, it's fine. If you are more adventurous and like to actually experience the local culture in the places you travel to, be careful.
Crime rates for robbery, rape and murder are extremely high in Jamaica. Also, traffic fatalities are one of the highest causes of death (along with murder). Although drugs are prevalent there, they are still technically illegal. Jamaicans openly use and sell drugs, but foreigners do get busted for small amounts on a regular basis, so the government can keep foreign aid rolling in.
While out and about, take the usual precautions about not leaving your things unattended, don't flash signs of wealth, and be aware of your surroundings. Don't be on the streets to late at night, and traveling alone is not a good idea.
Rely on your own resources and good judgement, because you may not be able to rely on the police. A lot of them drink and smoke ganga on the job. In a lot of situations, they easily lose control to mobs.
One tip. Don't get off the boat. We docked at a cement plant or plant that was the receiving end of a gravel mine, who knows. Very industrial. The first thing you see of Jamaica. It was raining and we had to wade through deep slimy puddles of water on the dock. A dock hand was pushing the puddles seaward, with a broom. We skipped over railroad tracks on the dock, potholes and sewage hoses were pumping the waste the ship. There was a pungent aroma of garbage and sewage permeating the humid air. I probably should have got a tetanus shot before getting off the boat.
Our cab driver was supposed to take us to one place. Instead he took us to three different places that we did not want to go. I saw what he was doing and continually insisted on going back to the ship. He would not listen and took us on a self imposed tour of Ocho Rios. One place was a shanty flea market in the mountains, where he insisted that his friend would braid my 9 and 13 year old daughters' hair. We refused to get out of the cab. He called over a large woman, who insisted we get out so we could braid the childrens' hair. After we said "no" about 10 times, he took us somewhere else. I had to argue with him to bring us back to the boat. About 15 minutes later we were back at the ship. The driver then overcharged for the "tour" that we did not want. I was so happy to be back at the boat, I paid him and did not look back.
We stayed on the boat and did not get off until we docked in Miami. Returning passengers from Ocho Rios expressed similair concerns.
This is obviously an extremely impoverished Carribean Nation, third world shanty town at best. It is unfair for the cruise line to market it as an exotic tropical vacation spot for families. Far from it it. Unfortunately, the people have no opportunity there. My cab driver told me that it was his dream to come to the United States. I don't blame him one bit for hustling us. I would not recommend it for anyone. I will not return.
all i have to say is when your in a poverty stricken country,its pretty obvious your gonna meet some characters.ive been to ocho rios,whitehouse,negril,and yup even stayed a week in kingston.was i robbed...nope.never once,ive been harrased to buy goods from the locals,but never robbed,dont buy weed on the street,take a tour in the mauntains youll find it cheaper better and more safe.kingston is a dump so many ghettos,my freinds and i walked the street at night,never got robbed or shot lol.honestly walking in new york at night is no different,same grimmy mentality amongst the people.use your COMMON SENSE,if you were in new york would you follow some random guy in hopes of having a good time,i wouldnt i know that.and if your buying weed buy it from a dreadlocked rasta,the dirtier the dreads the better the herb,ask for jahs blend or lambs bread,then they think your not new to the situation and will be a little more cautious about ripping you off.anyway folks again use your COMMON SENSE,and if your resort is all inclusive dont bring thousands of dollars,or youll learn the hardway im sure.
Was in on a cruise ship for a day and we did the DRF thing. There was a guy there who was taking video of it all, in uniform looking professional. He would make you wave pose, stick out your tounges and yell an obnoxious WAZZZZ UUUPP. At the end of the tour, he was asking 40 dollars for the video. He had a clip board with LOTS of names on it. He had you put your name, shipname, and cabin number down and advised the video would be sent to the ship. It all looked very legit. As it turned out by the time you went back to the ship and it left lo and behold no video. That guy was prolly making at least a grand that day. So be careful. If you see the guy please punch him in the head for me.
Heh, don't be like me and be easily gullible to what goes on in different places, Ocho Rios, although beautiful and mysterious is NO exception. If you are coming off a cruise ship and you start leaving the port and venturing out into the road next to it. BEWARE! There's some Jamaican guys who ask you and begrudge you to ride a taxi, sometimes they'll follow you but just keep saying no and ignore their advances. Unless you're in desperate need or if you wanna lose 60 USD (which I did), don't be a fool. Find a group to go with.
When you go to Jamaica, you will need small bills, in $5's and $1's as you will hand them out here and there. You don't need Jamiacan money, but tipping here and there or buying stuff here and there will only require small bills to purchase as you can barter prices to about 50% of the prices asked.
Yep everything I read on here before I went is pretty accurate. I kept count and got asked to buy Ganja about 14 times along with coke. I just told them no thanks mon. They will say no problem, as you can talk to them about other things after that ,as a good friend as they are the friendliest layed back people and really are trying to make an extra buck as they really don't make alot of money as you will find out. Don't be afraid, as they won't push it on you anymore if you say no thanks. Depending upon your surroundings, you need to say no and keep walking and they will look for the next guy behind you, or in a safe enviorment say no thanks mon, and get to know them.
The first morning I took a walk on our beach as the boating cabana guy asked me why we were here, and I told him to vacation and relax, and told him no thanks, but asked him questions about it. Basically it isn't frowned upon in Jamaica, but they carry a small handful on them as it is a part of their lifestyle. He said its illegal to carry a large amount around. I asked him where it came from, as he told me there are ganja farmers in the hills that grow it. He said the cops don't mess with them too much so that why its so readily available. Every morning I smelt it from a neighboring room, as the people doing it are just taking Jamaica in. Just remember this, they are like a good friend of yours, talk to them like that and smile and say no thanks mon.
You will find many men at the airport when you arrive in Jamaica that insist on taking your bag, no matter if you tell them no a zillion times. And once they grab your bag, they won't give it back unless you give them some exorbitant tip for service you told them not to provide. Your options in this situation are to remember that you are in Jamaica and on vacation just tip the guy or take a big mofo with you like my husband and have them say "No I'm not tipping you" which works just as well too.
In all of my stays in Jamaica, Mexico, etc., I have never had anything stolen from my room or the beach. But it does happen, we ran into a lady that had her purse stolen (which begs the question, why would you be carrying a purse with money and credit cards at an all inclusive resort?) while she was dining at the resort. So exercise the same precaution you do at home, use your room safe to lock up your valuables including your camera, don't bring money to the beach and for heaven's sake, leave the credit cards behind!
If you need to bring money with you and you are doing something water related, Speedo has swim trunks that have waterproof ziplock pockets that will keep your money perfectly dry.
If you are driving to/from Ocho Rios, the main road is under construction and there are several areas where you need to slow down, detour or go into one lane traffic. Try not to drive at night, Jamaican drivers have the very bad habit of leaving their brights on at night.
PAY YOUR CAB FEE AFTER YOUR JOURNEY!!!! (we were told you can, but maybe half up front and half later is more tolerable).
We decided not to go with any tours, even though we had just a few hours to experience as much of Jamaica as possible. We had our own agenda, so decided to hail our own taxi driver for the day.
BE CAREFUL of your payment offer. We were, uh, coincidentally? told by 'a Jamaican' that we would be getting a deal for $100 per day. Come to find out much later, other tourists paid much less.
THEN, we were offered, um, mind alterers SOOO many times. Our taxi driver insisted we 'give in' and tell him 'EXACTLY what we wanted'. You have to be very specific if you're not interested in any drugs.
Anyway, because we paid him in advance, he so took advantage of it. After returning from Dunns River Falls only 4 minutes late of our meeting time with the driver (Luciano), we went to beautiful (but crowded Mahogany Beach), asked our driver to pick us up 45 minutes before our cruise departure so that we had time to drive back into town and scooter on the pier, and he showed up 40 MINUTES LATE.
Larry said “Luciano, what happened? We have a ship to catch and asked you to be here at 2:15? It's 2:50?!?!?! We don't have time to even get to the ship!!!”
His response......“You be late, I be late. What goes around comes around, mon....”
SO, pay AFTER services.....(and don't catch a ride with Luciano (aka Lucifer).
(p.s....nope, this picture isn't reversed. It's really hard getting used to drivers on the left side of the road rather than the right...I screamed under my breath many times...