Rentals in Jamaica
Quick Rental Tips
-There are car rental agencies in most major towns and cities. Clients must be at least 25 years old to rent a motor vehicle.
-All drivers are required to carry a valid licence. Jamaica recognises valid International Driver's Licences. North Americans may use their country's licence for up to three months per visit. United Kingdom residents may use theirs for up to twelve months, and Japanese visitors may only use their licences for up to one month.
-The driver and front passenger are required to wear safety belts, and children under 3 years old must travel in infant carriers.
-Service stations are found islandwide. Many are open every day.
Driving in Jamaica
Jamaica has over 17,000 kilometres of road networks connecting all major towns and cities. Given our mountainous terrain, our rural roads are often winding, bumpy and narrow. In our town centres, the streets are wider, but busier and not always smoother. The speed limit is 50 kmph (30 mph) in built-up areas, and 80 kmph (50 mph) on highways. Although normally a naturally laid-back bunch, on the road Jamaicans love the fast lane and may often whiz by you. Don’t be alarmed, we’re just showing off our knowledge of our roads and what we refer to as our driving "skills".
The most important thing to remember is that we drive on the left, although some flexibility is required to get around the array of objects that may cross your path. On our roads, you'll share your lane with fast-moving vehicles of all shapes and sizes, as well as cows, goats, stray dogs, bicyclists, motor-bikers, pushcarts, pedestrians and our infamous potholes. Potholes are an islandwide challenge…there's always one around the corner! So driving in Jamaica is a test of your reflexes and patience. Don’t worry! After just a few days with your "rental", you’re sure to have your PDD (pothole-dodging degree). In general, take your time, manoeuvre around whatever comes across your path, and enjoy the scenery.
Behind the wheel, you may notice some quirky Jamaican driving habits such as our prolific use of the horn and affinity for hand signals. No road trip in Jamaica is complete without a soundtrack of horns. We use our car horns more than any other country in the world, so much so that there's an unspoken language articulated by different touches of the horn. A slight beep says "hello," two toots in quick succession means "thank you," and a blaring honk means "get out of the way". We also blow our horns around blind corners, over one-lane bridges and while overtaking, just to let others know we’re coming. Now you know the basics of our road language, become a true Jamaican driver and join in the noisy exchange.
In addition to horns, we also use a lot of hand signals, which are a part of our official road code. The most prevalent one – an extended arm moving up and down – means, "I’m slowing down or stopping". Look out for this signal, as it may be the difference between a smooth ride and an untimely collision.
Should you get lost, stop and ask directions, but take note Jamaican directions are sometimes more comical than they are accurate. They will, however, get you there eventually. You may hear, "it’s just around the corner" or "you soon reach", but these are all relative to island time. One corner may mean five and soon may mean a half an hour. But remember to relax – you’re on holiday!
Kingston to Mandeville 1 1/2 hours
98 km (61 miles)
Montego Bay to Negril less than 1 1/2 hours
83 km (52 miles)
Montego Bay to Ocho Rios less than 2 hours
100 km (62 miles)
Ocho Rios to Port Antonio less than 2 1/2 hours
97 km (60 miles)
Ocho Rios to Kingston less than 1 1/2 hours
97 km (60 miles)
Port Antonio to Kingston less than 2 hours
109 km (68 miles)
Jamaica Automobile Association provides free roadside assistance to members. Other benefits include but is not limited to:
- Each person is entitled to one free tow per year within a 5-mile radius
- Free basic repair - tyre repair, gas refill and battery boost
For more information visit The Jamaica Automobile Association's website at http://www.calljaa.com/