Going to Jamaica Next Week – how do we stay safe?

Reader question: My wife and I had booked a trip to Montego Bay in Jamaica for next week but after reading the news about the chaos there, she’s a little worried about going. I assured her that the craziness isn’t going on in the same area where we will be staying but, to be honest, I don’t really understand the politics there. Anyone with more knowledge of the situation know if the area is okay?

Answer 1: In the MoBay/Negril section or even Ochos Rios you should be fine. The violence seems limited to Kingston, which is on the other side of the island. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re doing an All Inclusive and have travel to the resort lined up. Get off the plane, pass customs, sit in the lobby area and wait for your ride and then enjoy life on the resort and stay there, on site. Again, probably no real concerns on the West side of the island, but better to be safe than sorry. If you do go off the resort, line up the trip with the front desk and just be smart about it (pay more if you have to, bad time to save $5).

Answer 2: I got married in 2001 and went to Dunn’s River for our Honeymoon. Similar issues were going on in Kingston and I asked some of my buddies who are in the State Department if I should be worried. I was told just stay on the resort and you’ll have no worries. The Govt. won’t let anything go on near the resorts and the problems tend to stay in Kingston.

Answer 3: I just went in April. Stayed at Holiday Inn Montego Bay the first day and last day of the trip and went to Rui Negril for the bulk of the trip. Negril I thought was way better, but I also stayed at a more expensive hotel.

The begging is annoying at first, but if you just tell them your not interested they will leave you alone. And if they persist, just say “respect mon”, and they will stop in their tracks.

One odd thing I noticed is that they have really good memory too. Not just the people working at the resort (that remembered my name after hearing it once) but the people begging around it as well. I would travel by them on a different day wearing different clothing and they would remember me, and if I had given them some lame excuse like I didn’t bring my wallet with me, the next day when I went by they’d ask if I remember my wallet.

Another story – My wife got sunburn, so this guy tried selling us aloe leaf. Again I didn’t have my wallet, and the guy gave us the leaf and said you pay me tomorrow. I thought it was really cool of him so I brought him some money later that day.

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  1. Rhonda Peterson says:

    The thing about Jamaica is that the all mighty dollar is worth $60 dollars there. The huge mega resorts have a lot to gain by helping the negative propaganda along, and encouraging you to “not leave” their resort…”for your own safety”.

    Don’t buy it. If you want to do that…. get a room in a nice hotel in your home area. Hang at the hotel pool, eat in their restaurant and call it good. Seriously, save yourself some money.

    You are going to a tropical island that is beautiful. My husband and I were there a couple years ago, and had a wonderful time, touring the island.

    Their roads are not real good and they drive not only in the opposite side of the car, but also on the opposite side of the road… so be very careful. We started our days very early, so we could adjust to the driving before the traffic started.

    The roads are not named. It’s an island, so I guess the people that all live there, know their way around and do not need them. So we often were confussed on where we were, in accordance to the limited map we had from the car rental agency. We found the locals extremely helpful and friendly.

    The food was very interesting and good. Getting out, you get to try some of the local cuisine. And the wait staff GREATLY appreciates your tip.

    We found a lot of police (with guns) around. In all the cities and roads. They patrol very well.

    The only negative thing we found was how poor the standard of living is for these people. There does not seem to be a middle class. The tourism industry is completely monopolized by the mega resorts. There aren’t typical tourist areas with T-shirt shops and stuff. (Actually the resorts bring people in to set up tables a couple times a week, to sell their goods…. so you don’t leave and try to find some yourself.)

    The housing for the residents on this island will make you want to cry. The commercials you see on tv, where people live literally in shacks that make your shed look like a nicer place to live in, is here too. Though they are happy and friendly and surprisingly clean and well dressed.

    We felt EXTREMELY guilty for helping the rich on this island, get even richer, while their residents make due with so little. We tried to make our mark there, by getting out, and sepending our money in their towns, in the places that would help the locals too.

    Be sure to tip! You will be helping a family to eat! :o)

  2. anonymous says:

    Things NOT TO DO:

    1) Dont come for “weed”, “marijuana”, “hash”, “the good stuff” or whatever you call it..you will get in trouble.

    2) Dont let anyone you dont know promise you to take you anywhere (like everywhere else in the world)

    3)Stay away from Downtown Kingston if you can, it tends to be volatile sometimes for possible political reasons.

  3. chuck says:

    We have stayed at Iberostar Montego Bay twice and have left the resort on beautiful tours…Check out the white river just east and south of Ocho Rios…Turqouise fresh water falls and pools up in the hills. Local people are very nice and we had no problems. The problems in Kingston are all about drugs,guns etc…You can google earth the white river and get an idea what it is like. It is the nicest fresh water experience we have ever had in our lives and not very touristy. We are going back in August and dont expect any problems.

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