Independent Travel to Jamaica

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Independent Travel to Jamaica

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Jamaica has become one of the top Caribbean destinations for affordable all-inclusive resorts.  Grand resort hotels stand beachside all around the island, offering beautiful beaches, great swimming, and lot of activities.  But what a minute, this is Jamaica!  If you just want a nice beach, you can go to any Caribbean island.  Visiting Jamaica it is about experiencing one of the most fun and vibrant cultures of the Caribbean.  At all-inclusive resorts, you are literally cut off from the local culture, sitting in gated luxury.  Why not instead enjoy Jamaica independently?  Not only can you get the luxury of nice hotels and the beautiful Jamaican beaches, but you can enjoy a bit of the music, food, and people that make this island unique.

Hotels

If you have some time, a great way to see the most of the island is to book a few different hotels and spend time exploring different sections of the island.  All-inclusive resorts are very common here but there are plenty of smaller, local hotels to choose from as well.  One very popular independent hotel is Jake’s on the south coast of the island, at Treasure Beach.  A favorite with celebrities, Jake’s is a laidback hotel that is well connected with the local community.  You won’t find strict security guards and tall fences here.  Instead the community has become part of the hotel family with local reggae bands coming to play at the bar on the weekends and a largely local staff.

For the best independent travel experience, definitely look for smaller hotel and B&B type places.  You will get to interact with Jamaican culture while still being treated to the best in local hospitality.

Transportation

If you take our advice and spend some time exploring the island, hopping from hotel to hotel, you will next have to consider transportation options.  At all-inclusive resorts, they usually arrange everything from airport pickups to daily excursions.  Traveling independently, you will have to figure things out yourself but thankfully it isn’t that hard.

First, you have to decide whether or not you want to rent a car.  Driving in Jamaica is not for the faint of heart and unless you are very confident behind the wheel and know how to drive defensively to avoid the million potential accidents on Jamaica roads each minute, you might want to skip this option.  Instead, look into hiring a driver for your trip, or better yet, just set up private shuttle services on the days you need to switch hotels.  For journey’s between the island’s main cities also check out the Knutsford Express buses.

For shorter, daily excursion drives, check with your hotel.  They are almost always willing to help set up a private driver for you or offer you a space on their organized daily trips.  For short trips around town, just flag down a cab.  Trips are not metered but rather a set price.  Ask your hotel for the standard rates and you’ll have no problem getting around.

Excursions

Speaking of day trips and excursions, there is much more worth seeing in Jamaica than the gorgeous beaches.  From hidden waterfalls to river rafting, there are a endless number of options to fit any type of traveler.  The island is filled with independent tour operators who will often negotiate on price to earn your business.  You can look online ahead of time or just call when you get to the island to book.

Most hotels also offer their own excursions which is a great way to simplify the planning process.  In addition to organizing everything, booking through your hotel is a good way to ensure better service since they know you will be potential taking a number of their day trips.

Photo Credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.ChrisFord.com) via photopin cc

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