A Quick Guide On Driving In Jamaica

Many Jamaicans own a vehicle. It makes travel more manageable but costly to buy and maintain. Insurance and gas are also expensive; this makes driving in Jamaica a costly venture.

Cars in Jamaica cost twist the price of those in North America. Even older cars here are expensive. This makes driving in Jamaica an expensive venture.

Toyota and Honda are the most popular economic vehicle on the island; their prices depreciate slower than other budget vehicles. They are affordable and easy to maintain, which is why they are popular.

European luxury models are available here, but they are expensive. The cost of a luxury car can buy a two- three-bedroom house in a middle-income neighborhood. Despite the price, luxury cars are prevalent on Jamaica’s roads, especially in Kingston and Montego.

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Motor vehicle prices in Jamaica

A Porsche Macan starts at $14.95M, a Cayenne $20.5M, the least expensive one available, while a new BMW or Benz costs upwards of $9.5m.

ATL Motors sells BMW, Audi, and a few others, while Stewart’s Auto Group distributes Mercedes. They are the dominant players.

Japanese-made vehicles dominate the economic section of local motor vehicle retail_ Toyota and Honda at the top. A new Civic costs $5.5m or higher, while a Toyota Corolla sells for $4.5m or better. These models are the most popular on the island because they hold value longer.

The main dealerships for these brands are Toyota Jamaica and ATL Automotive Group.

Used Car dealership dominates the budget automotive market. They import pre-owned vehicles from Japan. The average working-class Jamaican can afford them. A five-year-old car costs upwards of $900k. Price varies depending on the make, model, and condition.

Driving in Jamaica

Renter Car in Jamaica

Renting an automobile is a good idea if you plan to explore the Island. It is cheaper than a charter. Before getting that rental, make sure you are a competent driver. Jamaica’s streets are unnerving if you are an unskilled driver.

Rentals are affordable; prices are comparable in North America. Price start as low as $35 per day. A few international renter companies are at the two major airports.

Vehicles are available in varied sizes and brands. If you are on a shoestring budget, a compact car is perfect. They are reliable transport with low gas mileage. If cash is not your problem, source a luxury automobile or SUV. They are excellent for the Island’s bumpy road.

Stay away from old cars, no matter how cheap you are getting them.

The auto rental business in Jamaica is competitive, so finding cheap cars is easy. You need to know the pitfalls.

Three types of Renter dealers are available, international companies such as Avis and Budget Car Rental, and Hertz. Local businesses such as Island Car Rental and Hummingbird. Other options include smaller enterprises with a few fleets or private individuals renting their personal vehicles.

Registered company has protocols in place to protect you. It is tricky if you have a mishap with a car rented from an individual. The commercial use of their vehicle violates their insurance policy, so it does not cover you.

Renter car options available in Jamaica

International enterprises and large Jamaican companies follow strict guidelines. It would be best if you had credit with a minimum balance of a thousand US dollars.

Be twenty-one to seventy-five years old, and have your driver’s license for over a year. You must be twenty-three or older with a driver’s license of over three years to rent a vehicle.

Some companies have different requirements, but the age limit and driver’s licenses are standard.

Small companies accept cash, but you have to make a deposit. These smaller companies have a minimum number of days that they rent.

Renting a private vehicle is easy once your driver’s license is a year old; pay cash upfront, and you are good to go.

What you need to drive in Jamaica

You need a license to drive a motor vehicle in Jamaica. If you are from an English-speaking country, you can use one issue in your country for one year. After which, you will need a Jamaican driver’s license. Non-English speaking nationals need an international driver’s license with their information translated into English.

Click here to learn how to apply for a Jamaican driver’s license.

Holland Bamboo Jamaica

Toll cost & correct driving side

Jamaica has an extensive network of tolls, highways, and parochial roads.

Highways are free to use; most are single lanes. Major highways in the two cities are dual carriage.

Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road while they overtake on the right. North Americans might have difficulties adjusting. Commonwealth countries go on the left side, so it is easier for them to drive in Jamaica.

Highway speed is 80kmph 50km/h in the built-up area. East to West toll road is from 70km/h to 110 km/h. South the west is 50 to 80 kph.

Toll cost range from $130 to $4200.

Here is a link for the Jamaica toll rate.

Jamaica Toll

What to expect from other drivers when driving in Jamaica.

If you are not a competent driver, Jamaica is not the place to drive. Off-roads are narrow with poor signage. Some motorists are aggressive. Loud horns and verbal abuse are common if driving at a pedestrian pace.

Drivers in Kingston are the worst. Taxi drivers and bus operators are the worse. They will cut you off, drive, and play chicken while cussing you out. 

Driving in Jamaica, Google map

It is easy to find anywhere in Jamaica. Google map works in urban areas but can be tricky in rural sections. A physical map on your phone or tablet is an asset.

Internet signals can be unreliable in mountainous areas. So have a backup if you follow these simple rules; difficult to get lost in Jamaica.

Know where you are going if you travel on the coast; stick to the coastline. Mountainous roads are a sign you are on the wrong path.

The Highways which connect parish capitals on the North Coast to Kingston start at Mamee Bay in Saint Ann and end at Ferry in Saint Catherine. That is the best choice.

From Portland to Kingston, you can drive through the mountains. The scenery is wonderful. If you want faster travel to Saint Ann, take the toll to Ferry. This is a faster way.

Jamaicans speak English and are helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions. Be cautious in the rural areas, “around the corner”, for rural folks could mean ten miles away. Soon reach could mean an hour away.

Jamaica map
Map of Jamaica

conclusion

Like most places on the planet, you can drive in Jamaica. Plan your routes, follow the roads and be alert. You will be ok.

A few wrong turns are unavoidable, but it is impossible to get lost in Jamaica. There is always someone to give you the correct direction. Be cautious traveling at night on major roads. Potholes will surprise and cause headaches. Damage rims or tires are not what you want at night on a dark, lonely country road.

If driving is not your thing, but you want to explore the Island, public transportation is your best choice. Check this post on how to travel on public transportation in Jamaica.

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