Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arriving in Jamaica ; How to get to Negril

So you're either considering a trip to Jamaica or maybe you've already booked and are doing some research for the trip. Often times we look at what restaurants we want to try, who we want to use as a tour guide, where we want to go for nightlife but we overlook the simplest of things like..."How do I get to Negril from the airport?"

Most tourists going to Negril will be landing at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The airport is about an hour and a half from Negril. Upon landing you will exit the plane and proceed to immigration where you'll get your passport stamped, and then proceed to pick up your baggage at baggage claim.

Once you have picked up your baggage you'll proceed to customs. One tip is have a pen on you, most likely you will forget to check something on your customs form which you'll have to correct so it's nice to have a pen, so you're not scurrying around looking for one. Customs generally moves pretty quickly and after clearing customs you'll move on to the area near the exit of the airport where Mento Bands will be playing and you'll find desks for the various taxi companies and tour buses.

You have a few options when it comes to getting from the Airport to Negril. If you booked through Apple Vacations, Air Jamaica or other package deals a shuttle from the Airport to Negril may be provided for free.Many repeat Negril travelers would advise against taking this option. You will get onto a giant tour bus where you will have to wait for other passengers planes to arrive before leaving. After leaving the airport you will stop along the way to drop other travelers off, not just in Negril but all throughout Montego Bay, oftentimes a stop about midway at Lucea and again throughout Negril. This can run up to several hours which is the last thing you want to do after a long day of traveling.

As far as free rides, it's possible if your staying at a higher end All Inclusive that they will send a bus to get you . Most likely you'll have few if any stops along the way. While on the topic of All Inclusive resorts many repeat Negril travelers would recommend staying at a smaller hotel over an All Inclusive but that's a topic for another post.

Not knocking Apple, they have some fantastic deals and it's a great way to book your trip. It's nice of them to provide a shuttle for free, and for someone who is traveling to Negril for the first time and unsure about how to get to Negril from the airport it's a nice option.  However it's not the most convenient or pleasant option. Below is a photo of a typical large Apple or other tour companies bus....

You're next option which is both affordable and more convenient than a large tour bus is a JUTA bus. A JUTA bus usually is a large van or possibly a small shuttle bus, similar to what hotels use. On a JUTA bus you will generally ride with other passengers but most likely everyone will be staying in Negril meaning you will make a few stops on the same road as where your staying, not dropping people off along the way. The JUTA buses do tend to stop about halfway to Negril so you can use the restroom, grab a Red Stripe and maybe even some Jerk Chicken. The JUTA bus will cost about $18 per person as of the summer of 2010. Below is a photo of a typical JUTA bus...

Another option is to hire a private driver. This is a little more pricey but very convenient. As with many things in Jamaica the rate is negotiable. If this is your first trip this is still an option for you. Check out www.tripadvisor.com or www.negrilonestop.com for the forums. You can search previous posts about driver recommendations or post a question yourself if you have a specific question about a large number of travelers or an air conditioned vehicle if you have an older relative traveling with you or anything else specific to your situation.

If you're a return visitor you may have found a driver or tour guide on a previous trip and would like to use them for your airport transfer in the future. Just give them a call or shoot them a text and let them know to pick you up.

The nice thing about having a personal driver is you can leave for the airport on you're departure later and enjoy some extra time on the beach because you don't need to wait for, drop off, or pick up extra passengers. Also, if you have a nice driver he may have a Patti, some CoCo Bread and a Red Stripe waiting for you in the car when he picks you up.

 One final option you have is instead of driving from Montego Bay to Negril you have the option of flying. Timair flies from Montego Bay to Negril, it cuts the hour and a half drive to about a 15 minute flight. People on various internet travel boards who don't mind spending the extra money seem to love this option. You get a great scenic flight and see things you would otherwise never see. You will hear different things in terms of pricing, you can negotiate depending on how busy they are and how high fuel prices are at a given time, etc. You will hear everything from $75 to $210 per couple one way to $410 per couple round trip. Your paying more than you would even for a private driver but the plane is waiting for you when you land and your cutting an hour and a half drive down to a between 12 and 15 minute plane ride. Plus on top of just being transportation your also essentially getting a scenic tour of the west part of the island of Jamaica all along the coast.

In closing the recomendation is not to take a large tour bus, yes it's free, but its worth at the very least $18 per person to take a JUTA bus. You will not sit in a stuffy bus waiting for others planes to land after you have been traveling all day and just wanting to get to the beach. JUTA is affordable and convenient. A private driver is a little more expensive but much quicker to and from the airport, and if you want you can stop anywhere you want along the way to shop at a roadside stand, grab a snack, or check out a beach along the road. Timair is another option, yes it costs a little more but just think of it as your not just paying for a ride, your also getting a bit of an excursion as well.

Hope these tips helped. Enjoy your time in Jamaica. Ya mon!!!

For More Negril info, pics and videos check out the jamaicabound123123 youtube channel at....


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