Roadway Guidance in Jamaica

When driving in Jamaica, patience is a virtue

Photo credit: © Andriy Petrenko |

International visitors should be prepared to encounter a few differences when driving in Jamaica.

Road conditions in the larger cities and the more tourist-frequented areas of Jamaica are fair to good, but bumps and other roadway nuisances can be extreme in the more rural areas.

If you decide to rent a vehicle for exploring the countryside and seeing the smaller towns, an SUV is probably your best bet. A U.S. driver's license is valid in Jamaica for one year, but you must be 21 to drive. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road with steering wheels on the right.

Traffic is fairly light, but roads in the countryside are frequented by domestic animals and can become narrow and winding. Be prepared to give up the right of way to both livestock and oncoming traffic. Most locals don't think twice about stopping in the middle of the road to carry on a conversation with a bystander, and don't be put off by honking horns; it's a Caribbean way of saying hello.

Not everyone feels confident driving in a foreign country, especially in one like Jamaica where the driving is done on the opposite side of the road than their home country.  Instead of chancing it, you can opt to leave the driving up to locals who know what's what.  Getting around the island can be as simple as hopping aboard a bus, or hailing a cab.  Fear of navigating the island on your own should not hinder you from having a great time.

Sometimes driving is unavoidable, and many tourists are up for the challenge.  If you're going to get behind the wheel, just be sure you are aware of local driving laws, and follow all safety precautions.  This will make driving in Jamaica a smooth ride every time.


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