Thanks to the long two hour drive to Port Antonio from the nearest airport in Kingston, many tourists end up renting a car, however, it is still highly recommended that you avoid driving on the island's hazardous roads and hire a taxi instead. Many specialize in airport transfer, and though the price may seem steep, it is worth the peace of mind. Once you arrive in Port Antonio, the ease of hiring a cab beats out the necessity of having a vehicle of your own on hand.
Taxi services in Port Antonio are split between charter taxis and route taxis. If you hire a service to get you from the airport in Kingston or the airport in Montego Bay, your first encounter will most definitely be with a charter taxi. These cabs are closely related to what you're probably familiar with from your home town. They are private, charge per trip rather than per person, and will take you directly to wherever you want to go. Don't let the name fool you, charters are available for both long trips and short, so whether you're in need of an airport transfer or a run to the nearest restaurant, they will get you there.
Route taxis can be found in every city and town in Jamaica, and Port Antonio is no exception. Similar in idea to a public bus system, only in smaller vehicles, route buses follow a mapped out plan of where they will drive each day, stopping to pick up travelers along the way, and continuing to do so until the vehicle is full. They offer pricing on a person to person basis, and frequent busy areas like shopping centers and beaches.
Both of these taxi types are government sanctioned, distinguishable from private vehicles by the letters “PP” or “PPV” on the license plates. You'll be able to tell charters from route taxis by the color of the plates. Charters are red and route taxis are white.
If you plan to hire a charter to take you from the airport to Port Antonio, make sure you reserve a driver in advance of your trip. Simply call and let them know your name and flight information, and they will be waiting for you when you arrive. If you plan on winging it, you'll find taxis to be hanging out right outside of Immigration at the airport.
If you're up for it, you may choose to make the two to five our trip from either airport to Port Antonio a tour of island sites. Most taxis services in Jamaica are also tour operators, and are licensed and certified to do so. The trip is already going to be long and expensive, why not stop and see a few sites along the way? You can also hire a driver local to Port Antonio to do so in town, which can save you on cab fare in the long run.
The cost of a ride in a taxi varies between route and charter taxis, and even then between every different charter company. Rates are always set in advance, however, so you won't have to worry about being surprised when you arrive at your final destination – just be sure to confirm with your driver before you take off. Do note that route taxis only accept Jamaican Dollars, while charters are willing to accept U.S. Dollars as well.
If you're traveling around Port Antonio, the typical tip is between $5 and $10(USD), however, if you've got a long trip on your hands, consider a 20 percent tip to the driver.
Even if you plan to rent a car to get to Port Antonio, you may want to consider dropping it off at a local branch and taking taxis during your stay. They are the safest, easiest, and quickest way to get around Port Antonio.
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