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Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

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SoCal
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135 posts
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Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

I really want to see Jamaica. Not just the resort/tourist areas. What is the best way to get out and really see Jamaica?

Milford, Iowa
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1. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

Hire a local driver for a day (or two). There are plenty of folks on here that will recommend their various favorite drivers.

Mine happens to be Gregg Connell. I use him personally for my airport transfers and private tours, as well as recommend him to my clients.

He can be reached at: 876-772-3327 or at his email: connellgregg@yahoo.com

Make sure you tell him "Ruth" the travel agent sent you. ; -)

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

Well, MS Thang (love that!) Go off the resort, talk to people, shop where the locals do.

Once you arrive at your hotel and settle in, find a driver to take you around to see the countryside; stop at the little roadside bars and vendors.

Lots of folks here can provide good drivers or you can ask one of the staff at your hotel (like the bartender, etc. Negotiate a price prior to agreeing.

Once you meet some locals you feel comfortable with, they can tell you where and when, or may even invite you to, a local event or dance party, etc.

You can also log onto negril.com, lots of long time Negril visitors (myself included) and residents are on that message board.

boston, ma
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3. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

the best way to get away from the attractions designed solely for tourists is probably with the assistance of a private hired guide. you can work with them directly to schedule activities and destinations of a type that particularly appeal to you, you can set your own itinerary and you won't be at the mercy of a timekeeper's clock or the whims of others. you will be with someone who knows the roads, the area, the history and the culture.

there is nothing particularly wrong with the tourist part of jamaica since that is a substantial contributor to the nation's economy. many of the major natural beauties have been co-opted in one way or another to make it easier for tourists to see them. this has both positive aspects and negative aspects.

you may never be able to fully see the "real" jamaica as a tourist just visiting. but you can certainly get off the beaten path and see a part of jamaica, it's people and it's culture that is not often seen from the windows of a tour bus. there are many small towns not currently recognized as tourist destinations between negril and treasure beach on the south coast - even treasure beach is far less touristy than negril and has it's own much more chill vibe.

my recommendation would be to hire a private driver/tour guide to take you into the surrounding towns of negril, into the hills to meet farmers and/or do some school visits where you can perhaps read some stories to the kids or teach a short lesson about where you are from. meeting the farmers and villagers in these towns away from the pavement can be very satisfying with the proper guide. a good guide will also share much info on this sort of trip, point out to you the local flora and what it is used for, make some stops in local eateries where you can sample authentic everyday jamaican foods at reasonable prices. go to one of the local open markets to barter for fruits and veggies too.

SoCal
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4. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

My fiance doesn't think it's a good idea. He is concerned with crime and thinks we should stick to the resort/tourist areas. I want to really get the most out of our trip and really see the country.

boston, ma
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5. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

you will really see the countryside and be able to safely interact with locals outside of a tourist environment on a trip to the south coast - do some touristy things like pelican bar or YS Falls or the black river safari to appease your financee but also take the time to stop along the way there and back in the little villages to try pepper shrimp in middle quarters, have peanut porridge for breakfast at a local cookshop, visit an open market in black river, have jerk or a beer from a stand along the road, etc. this would be a nice mix of both known destination attractions and getting away from where the tour busses go. this is the sort of day-long or 3/4 day trip that a private driver is perfect for.

crime really should not be a concern, especially if you are with a private driver. the jamaican people are by and large very friendly, gentle, and caring people. gang troubles in kingston and parts of mobay have given the incorrect impression that all of jamaica is dangerous.

Indiana
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6. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

Crime (or even pushiness in general) follows tourism. I have never, ever felt even the slightest uncomfortable OUTSIDE of tourist areas.

So...why not skip the major tourist cities and hit up Treasure Beach...or Duncans...or Port Antonio...or something like that.

atlanta
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7. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

i also think you should hire a local driver, i personally dont suggest Treasure Beach but a trip to port antonio is a marvellous way to see the country. I just had a friend return who also went to port antonio with a private tour company called knowjamaica tours, she said it was so lovely and she would go back in an instant and used that company. Im going to jamaica soon and i just made my reservation with knowjamaica.com, im really looking forward to it, u should really consider them, they have had some good reviews.

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

the worst of jamaica is, for the most part, well removed from tourist areas... it's a mixed message as most will say stick to the tourist areas and you'll not see any of the violence/crime that jamaica is plagued with... yet they say avoid the tourist areas to avoid the hustle/hassle and petty crime that the tourist areas is known for...

as mentioned, there is a middle ground where you can avoid the hustle and yet safely explore... Easton has mentioned a few places to visit... Treasure Beach is my favourite by far... Port Antonio is beyond beautiful but really quite a ridiculous distance from Negril to be done in a day trip... Sav la mar will give one a taste of a fair sized jamaican town and the chaos that ensues... the road up to black river is lined with tiny little communities that are all safe and accustomed to visitor...

jamaica can be easily be explored safely with a private driver as recommended above... they will take you to see so much of the good, while buffering you from the more negative aspects... that's their job and they acquire clientelle and a strong reputation by doing so... find one that seems suitable to you (many recommendations) and tell them what you'd like to experience and they'll help you plan a day that will show you why so many have fallen in love with the island :)

Enjoy

Chelle

Jackson, Michigan
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6,156 posts
13 reviews
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9. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

I agree that hiring a private driver/guide is the best way. There are many listed on the honest contacts thread. Here is a link to it: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147309-i69-k17558…

Los Angeles...
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12 reviews
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10. Re: Best Way to REALLY See Jamaica?

Fear ruins everything in a vacation - any destination.

I would ask your fiance:

What did you hear about the crime in Jamaica?

Who told you? Did it happen to the person talking about crime? Has that person(s) ever been to Jamaica?

How long ago? Or, did the person hear it from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend's friend??

Let me ask you to think about this - if Jamaica were so dangerous and unsafe, do you believe millions of folks - singles, couples, families - from the US, Canada and Europe (among other wordly places) would continue to vacation there, year after year, sometimes multiple times per year?

The answer is no :~})

Your vacation will be so much more memorable when you do get out and meet the people. And, with your common sense in tow, you and your fiance will definitely be reassured about your safety.