I've just booked the Caribbean Princess and their western itinerary. Will be going solo on this trip. I've been to Ocho Rios only once (back in 1989), and remember then I was approached to buy drugs and remember that the vendors were especially "pushy", but I was able to deal with all that fine.
In 1989, we took a cruise tour, and saw the plantation and Dunn River Falls. This time I would like to go off on my own (I have learned to despise ship-sponsered tours), and maybe hire a cab and see the countryside for a few hours.
Here's my concern: How safe is it to go off on your own in Jamaica? I am an able-bodied man in his early 40's, and have never had any issues being on my own on other islands. I can deal with the drug pushers, prostitutes, etc, I just don't want to be put in a situation where my life may be in jeopardy, or at the very least be robbed.
In response to your email, regarding being alone in Ocho Rios, You do not have to book the ship tours if you dont want to, but once you get off the ship, you can hire an authorised taxi right there on the terminal, who is very capable of taking you on a highlight tour of the countryside etc.
i really , really agree with all the above. it is not safe in a small group , let alone, being alone. take the gov taxi and remember if it looks like a diversion, it is and if it dont feel right, it isnt.
We have almost always gone off on our own in Jamaica and have never had a problem. While I am sure that you could get into trouble on your own, I think it highly unlikely if you use any common sense. Just remember that you are the visitor and they the locals are poor but demand respect and do not want your charity or for you to look down on them. We have found the locals to be of good humor and very friendly and helpful. We treat them with respoect and equals and have a wonderful time interacting with them.