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Old October 12th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Default Best way to experience Jamaican culture

What is the best way to experience the people, cuisine and culture of Jamaica safely? I always hear that it is unsafe to wander the city streets but am not sure if this is spread by the tour operators, cruise industry and resorts to keep the money in their pockets.
We are docking in Montego Bay.
Thanks in advance!
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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:21 PM
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The best way is to take a ship-organized tour that gets you out of the city.

I do NOT recommend that you walk into the city on your own. Jamaica is notoriously dangerous to outsiders, especially if you look like a tourist.

But you could take a tour to a Jamaican banana plantation, for example, and see the old colonial style of life there.

Or if you go to a small town you will most likely be safe - but HAVE A GUIDE with you (hire one) and be cautious.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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We've been to Jamaica many many times and have never had any problems. However, that does not mean you won't encounter some.

It's like anywhere else - if you go looking for problems, you'll find them. So just be smart. This applies to everywhere in the world that you may go.

For the most part, as long as you stay within the 'tourist' areas or take an organized tour, you'll be fine. This does not guarantee you'll have a totally safe experience, as we do hear and read stories about bus loads of tourists being robbed - even those excursions offered directly by the cruise lines. While this is relatively rare, it's also not just limited to Jamaica.

There are some wonderful independent tour companies, such as Shore Trips, that offer very good excursions. Personally, we much prefer them over the cruise lines anytime.

We once hired a taxi for the whole day and had him drive us around to places most tourists don't get to see. We had an incredible day and got to meet some wonderful people and ate some great food.

But having been there many times and seen it all, we now just like to purchase a one-day pass at an all-inclusive resort where we can enjoy the wonderful facilities, the beautiful beaches, the awesome Jamaican food, and the service while relaxing in a very safe environment.

But deciding not to go on a cruise because it's going to Jamaica or deciding to stay on the ship for fear of not being safe does an injustice to the wonderful people of this beautiful island.

It's like I always say, don't listen to what others say because otherwise you'll miss out on alot.

If people listen to the news about all the murders in Washington, DC, you'd never want to come here. And yet I've lived here 54 of my 62 years and never had any problems whatsoever. But if you park a new car with a brand new camera on the seat and the doors are unlocked with the windows down in certain parts of the city at 3:00am, I guarantee you the camera will be gone in 10 minutes and more than likely so will the car. But if you stay in the tourist areas, this is a remarkably wonderful city to visit. The same can be said with hundreds of places all over the world, including Jamaica.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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Thank you guys so much! I would love to be able to just walk around downtown like I do in say ... Cozumel and feel somewhat safe but you guys have just confirmed what I have heard for years. I will take all the information you have so kindly provided into consideration.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 03:02 PM
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I have done it, and I know people who have done it - and I say (and the others also say) that I would never do that again.

Sorry - the Jamaican government has been trying for decades to change the attitude of its own people towards visitors to no avail.

So, now you have a situation there where the locals are angry because the government keeps them away from visitors - yet when they do get access to any visitors they are downright scary.

You will see when you get there - just walk up to the security gate at the entrance to the port area - and you see the hordes of taxi drivers ready to come down on you.

In other similar ports I have been in situations where taxi drivers have grabbed me and separated me from my own friends. I had to literally fight back just to get loose and rejoin them.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
I have done it, and I know people who have done it - and I say (and the others also say) that I would never do that again.

Sorry - the Jamaican government has been trying for decades to change the attitude of its own people towards visitors to no avail.

So, now you have a situation there where the locals are angry because the government keeps them away from visitors - yet when they do get access to any visitors they are downright scary.

You will see when you get there - just walk up to the security gate at the entrance to the port area - and you see the hordes of taxi drivers ready to come down on you.

In other similar ports I have been in situations where taxi drivers have grabbed me and separated me from my own friends. I had to literally fight back just to get loose and rejoin them.
Wow! Enough said. I will definately take a tour or hire a guide. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 07:41 PM
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Even with the safety factor in Jamaica, just the locals can be extremely pushy, especially if they are trying to sell you something. Many don't take "no thanks" for an answer, so just stay with an orgaized group and enjoy the beautiful island.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 10:20 PM
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There are many things to see and do there. You should be fine if you do a shore excursion or hire a tour guide. Enjoy.
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