Touching down in a Caribbean Paradise – Sangster International – Montego Bay Jamaica
Upon arrival in Jamaica, one of your first challenges will be getting through customs, and out into the Caribbean sun. We prefer to leave this to the experts at Club MOBAY. Prior to arrival you can book a team that will meet you at your gate, fast track you through baggage claim and customs, and then seat you comfortably in their private lounge while you await your transfer to your final destination. Snack on a hot dog, or chicken sliders and have a Red Stripe while you wait, or the servers will gladly fill your cup with Rum Punch to get your vibe started.
Every experience will be different, you may save time, or you may just save frustration, but you will definitely enjoy your time in the lounge. Don’t feel rushed to move on until you are ready. It is your vacation and there is not a lot of reason to hurry, now that you have arrived – Jamaicans typically move at a slower pace, but with an attitude that makes it easy to wait. So, if your transfer isn’t on a set schedule, take a minute to catch your breath before you move on. Get your body and mind set to Island Time and all is Irie!
Private Transfers vs. The Sad Bus
Some of your resort options will provide a private transfer as part of your all inclusive package. Couples Resorts has a private bus to take you across the Island to their two spots in Negril (Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away), as well as your return to the airport, which is why it is known as the Sad Bus – nobody wants to go home. As an inclusion, it is something you have paid for in full and is an excellent option if you just want to get to and from your hotel. However, if you are of the mindset as we are, that the journey is every bit as important as the destination , then a private transfer would be the way to go.
While doing my homework, I found the journey on the bus can sometimes take a little longer (1.5 to 2 hours) depending on traffic in the smaller towns in Hanover Parish, especially if a truck blocks traffic in Lucy. And while you will travel along the coastline and thru the “Hip Strip” on Jimmy Cliff Avenue, you won’t likely get to stop until the scheduled restroom break unless the bus needs gas.
So with these thoughts in mind, I decided to look into some other options. We could save about an hour if we flew TimAir, or one of the other puddle jumpers that land across the street, but that is a Cessna 4 seater flight and I am not ready to trust a small aircraft just to save a little time. I know the stats, but am still a hard pass on flying anything that could fit in my yard. So that left a ground transportation company to be found and I believe we found the best.
Jamaica Action Routes – JAR
Time and time again, I noticed one tour operator giving advice on several different Jamaica Travel group pages. What was different was the owner was giving solid tour advice, while never directly promoting his business in comments. He promoted the entirety of Jamaica, not just himself. He believes in the land and the people and it shows. So, I decided to reach out to Mr. Vinton Ashman, and we instantly became friends.
Vinton started Jamaica Action Routes (JAR) as a young man and has been hustling against the big boys with big money for almost four decades. He has forged his business in an environment that does not make it easy to compete. Starting with a taxi, then a small van, he continually invested in himself creating a taxi and tour business that keeps it real, while catering to the specific traveler’s needs/wants. JAR also works with local schools and community services to donate sports equipment, and basic learning materials, travelers bring along through the Pack with a Purpose initiative. Kentucky Fried Travel brought along a dozen soccer balls which Vinton donated to the local elementary schools.
Once we had decided to get a private transfer, setting it up on the JAR website was a cinch. After a couple of drinks in the MOBAY VIP lounge, we found a JAR rep with a sign, met our driver right outside the terminal, and we were on our way. I had made a couple of requests for water and a couple of beers for the trip and found them waiting in a bucket of ice. I was still travel weary, so it took about ten minutes into the trip before I realized that Vinton had picked us up himself. I was finally meeting the man himself! After a long day of travel and with masks covering our faces, I wasn’t sure what was who and where it went so hopefully he can forgive the hillbilly in me for not understanding it was him. As we got to know each other, he narrated our drive, relating the history of the land and the people. And it is indeed the people as much as the land that make Jamaica so special. “Yea Mon, No Problem” is not just lip service, it is the way of things here.
Jamaica Action Routes has grown to offer more than 20 different tours, or excursions if that’s what you want to call them. From climbing Dunn’s River Falls, to the Blue Hole, to the Blue Mountains for a Coffee Tour, they offer it all. We of course suggest the river rafting tours, but also have plans to do the Appleton Estate Rum Tour, and either The Pelican Bar or YS Falls, our next time in Negril – as well as the Blue Hole when we visit Falmouth.
For future transfers we will always use our man in Jamaica, Vinton Ashman, and his team at JAR. The vans are clean and comfortable, which isn’t always the case with transfer vans or buses. Make no mistake, Jamaica is humid, so having A/C on the way between Montego Bay and Negril is a must. Having a cold beverage on hand is another recommendation as the trip may take a bit. However, the options in between are unlimited. We will definitely stop on the Hip Strip the next time we visit, and maybe hit up another Margaritaville and watch some cliff diving. Another KFT Bucket List item is a bucket of KFC chicken, Jamaican style. KFC is the number one chicken restaurant on the island, and the one across from Harmony Beach Park is reputedly the busiest. Our return driver, and new friend Keffery, says that one of the most requested stops on tours is this KFC, and so KFT shall do KFC our next trip to MoBay! But, if you just want to stop and have a Red Stripe at the Cold Beer Joint along the coast, then you can enjoy some locally sourced seafood, or even try some Jerk Chicken along with your suds. Word on the street is, the name of the place is indicative of what you can expect…Cold beer and a joint. Yea Mon No Problem.
Where to stay….???? Check out our next installments:
Secrets St. James and Wild Orchid – Montego Bay
Couples Negril – Negril
**We are not paid or compensated to promote any business, nor do we offer travel services – our reviews are intended to entertain, enlighten and inform the curious travelers out there**