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Traveling to Great Huts

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Traveling to Great Huts

Hi there!

My boyfriend and I are hoping to travel to Great Huts in Port Antonio, Jamaica in January 2015. We are two pretty active thirty somethings that are hoping to fly into Kingston on a Friday night and rent a car to drive to Port Antonio on Saturday morning. We will stay at Great Huts until Thursday morning then drive up to Montego Bay or Negril and fly out of Montego Bay Airport on Saturday morning. I am an experienced driver living in downtown Boston and have driven in Mexico, London, Ireland and NYC. I was hoping to get ideas, opinions, past experience stories and travel tips on our hopeful itinerary. We do not have a hotel or place picked out to stay in our last nights in Jamaica or in Kingston and are open to all suggestions! Also, a reputable car rental company would be super helpful. I have been to Ocho Rios Jamaica once before (though I did not drive) and would really like to stay at Great Huts in Port Antonio and see the Blue Mountains as Ocho Rios was a bit touristy with all of the cruise ships. Any and all suggestions and advice regarding our trip would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!

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1. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

You will probably do ok driving in Jamaica. Just be prepared for the lack of signage on the roads.

Also, be sure you know what you are getting into at Great Huts. They are very rustic cottages...

Here is an older thread about visiting the Blue Mountains from Port Antonio. Don't know if it will help or not:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147314-i1534-k287…

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2. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

"travel to Great Huts in Port Antonio"

Great Huts is not located in Port Antonio. Great Huts is located in the small town of Boston Bay which is about 11 or 12 miles east of Port Antonio.

" I am an experienced driver living in downtown Boston and have driven in Mexico..."

Lots of driving experience is very important in Jamaica because of conditions there. For those new to Jamaica renting a car is normally not recommended for many reasons. For a few of the many reasons not to rent a car in Jamaica see the following

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g147309-c2512/Jamaica…

"a reputable car rental company would be super helpful."

If for some reason you do rent, your options are limited as you wish to rent in one city and drop the car in another city. Try Island, Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty. Almost all other renters will not allow drop off in another city or will charge you a very large fee to do so.

"Any and all suggestions and advice regarding our trip would be greatly appreciated!"

If you rent see the reference above and pay attentions to the issues of: need for a map, insurance (or your lack of same), and goats.

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3. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

Cows also wander the roads unleashed not just goats.

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4. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

Your itinerary sounds great. Driving on the smaller mountain roads and city side streets can be nerve wracking. But, driving on the main highway between Port Antonio and Montego Bay is fine. Watch for speed traps! The drive along the north coast is nice and there is lots to see. For accommodations in Montego Bay I recommend El Greco, they have a save parking lot and it easily accessible for driving around or walking around. Depending on what you want to do when you are in Montego Bay you may consider turning your rental car in early and walking or taking local t axis around. Driving in Montego Bay can be tricky.

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5. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

I wrote a blog post about my experience driving in Jamaica - Porty, MoBay, south coast - you may find it helpful: travelsinjamaica.com/p/renting-car-in-jamaic…

Definitely wait until morning to rent your car in Kingston, and IMO the best company to use is Island, not least because they are the largest and have offices all over JA. http://www.islandcarrentals.com/

For a hotel in Kingston it depends what your budget is. Morgans Harbor would have been closest to the airport but I hear it's sort of closed....or not in good shape anyway. So the next options would be uptown (where Island car also has an office). There are several there. Spanish Court sort of top end, I have been to the Mayfair for drinks and like it, it's about half of what Spanish Court is: http://www.mayfairja.com/index.html

As for MoBay and Negril....I haven't stayed in MoBay for years and don't really like it. Negril has a ton of options, I prefer the cliffs, again this will be about budget and amenities. You could also go to Treasure Beach, or one of the north coast communities between Porty and MoBay like Robin's Bay or Duncans Bay, where things are a little slower and there are some neat places to stay.

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6. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

I do not recommend someone who has never driven in Jamaica to do that on the road between Kingston and Port Antonio through the mountains. If you will be driving I recommend you use the route via St Thomas, so that you actually reach Great Huts before Port Antonio. Great Huts is nice if you like a rustic scene, & based on the room selection you make. IT will be enjoyable, if thats your thing.

If you wish to go into the Blue Mountains, it is easier from Kingston. Stay at Rafjam B &B in the Blue Mountains & from there do the Blue Mtn Tours

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7. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

Thanks everyone!!

Will we be ok just driving with a road map?

We looked into Great Huts and it is definitely our idea of paradise! Any suggestions on sights or see or things to experience while we are in the Port Antonio area or on our trip from Kingston?

Also, I like the idea of Negril or Treasure Beach... suggestions for hotels there? Ideally, we want to experience a little bit of everything so a nicer (moderately priced) hotel at the end of the trip would be what we are looking for. But again, we are open to anything so please throw any knowledge or expertise our way.

We appreciate it!!

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8. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

There are really not too many roads so its pretty straight forward - a map should do you fine. We did a road trip last winter, riding about 400 miles - Negril to Long Bay (about 40 minutes from Port Antonio), Long Bay up and over the Blue Mountains (stayed at Prince Valley Guest House, nice and inexpensive), from there to Treasure Beach and Treasure Beach home to Negril. I'm in the process of writing about this and our road trip from winter 2012 - stay tuned!

Driving in Jamaica you are going to hit some nasty road conditions, i.e., the road from Kingston to Boston Bay (where your hotel is). Actually the road from Boston Bay to Port Antonio is not all that great either. If you drive into the Blue Mountains through Buff Bay, that road (the B1 I think) is in rough to horrible shape, narrow, steep inclines declines, no guard rails in most spots - and breathtaking. The North Coast road is by far the best road in Jamaica - its a wide and well maintained highway and driving on that is similar to driving on the highways in the States.

The road from Kingston to Treasure Beach varied - there's the T1 "super" highway where you can go 100kph (about 80 mph) - after that the roads are OK. From Treasure Beach to Black River, well, it might as well be a goat path and then the South Coast road varies in condition depending on where you are (they just fixed up that road very nicely between Bluefields and Ferris Cross - more might be done by next January).

Driving in Jamaica is like being in a video game. Route taxis back out and pull out without looking and sometimes at significant speeds - cars will pass you going extreme speeds even if its only to squeeze in between you and the car in front of you (2-3 car lengths). You have to drive defensively - if you drive in Boston that's a start if you've driven in Manhattan or LA that's another feather in your cap. Its not for the faint of heart but it is a great way to see the country on your own time and terms.

As far as your itinerary, its more than do-able, we did our road trip in 6 days (5 nights) and didn't feel like we missed a thing. If you don't have reservations yet for the latter part of your trip you might want to do that soon. January is high season and depending on when in January you are going rooms will sell out in places like Negril or Treasure Beach (I'd opt for either or both over MoBay).

Here are the places we stayed - and would recommend:

- Long Bay (just a few miles down the road from Boston Bay) - Rasta Villa

- Blue Mountains - Prince Valley Guest House

- Treasure Beach - Sunset Beach Resort (right next door to Jakes but more than half the price of Jakes!)

I rent a home in Negril so I haven't stayed in a hotel there in 11 or 12 years, but for a nice moderately priced property on the cliffs (which I personally prefer) - I'd go with Catcha Falling Gardens.

Soon come my Road Trip Odyssey - stay tuned.

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9. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

I agree with KingstonCat that going the coast road via St. Thomas instead of the Junction Rd to Annotto Bay will be easier. More straightforward anyway (just keep the sea on your right!), though the road is pretty funky in spots. You could stop at Bath if you want, you will pass close to it.

For Treasure Beach...there are a lot of places to stay in many price ranges so I'd check treasurebeach.net and treasuretoursjamaica.com for their listings and see what appeals to you.

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10. Re: Traveling to Great Huts

Island Car Rental is most definitely the place to use. I would pick up at the airport then head out to PA the next day as you've planned and agree the road through St Thomas is much better. That mountain road is scary. I would recommend, Knutsford Court, and Liguanea Club both are located in New Kingston. LC is walking distance to Emancipation Park and would be nice to see while there. As far as GH it is beautiful but expensive and very rustic. Be sure to check out the folklore show and dinner there, Outstanding.

While at GH's Boston beach and jerk center is right there as is a new night club and nice bar. Other things in the area to check out

Sommerset Falls

Reich Falls

Rio Grande Rafting

Long Bay Beach

Frenchman Cove Beach

Town Center

Winnifred Beach / Local and very nice

Blue Lagoon

Woody's for great run punch and burgers

Marybelle's at the Marina

Time Out Sports Bar

Trident has dinner and jazz on Saturday nights

GeeJam has the Jolly Boys on Friday nights

I think the drive from PA to Negril is a long one and maybe best to save for another reach.

I have never stayed overnight in Mobay but have considered Ridgeway Guest House.

I usually book my car through negrilonestop, they seem to offer a better rate than Island's website.

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