I hope sharing our day trip experience will help some of you looking for a safe, honest, reasonably priced driver from the MoBay area. Perhaps this reflection of a wonderful day will give some of you ideas for a way to experience Jamaica outside of the "trips/tours that tend to be overcrowded, rushed and impersonal".
My family and I vacationed from 4/8 - 4/14 at the HI Sunspree. We had planned to take a day trip from Mo Bay to Negril, and had asked for some referrals from people on this site prior to going. Thanks to all who gave us referrals!!! We went well prepared with phone numbers and were planning on contacting a few of them from the hotel when we arrived to make arrangments for our day trip (Note: the call from your room in JA is 1.00 per minute, versus 10.00 per minute from Detroit!). When we arrived at the airport, we met an excellent bus driver - now friend - named Peater Lawrence. Peater is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 364 days per year (every day except his birthday - not even a million dollars will sway him to work on his birthday!!!)
We made arrangements for Peater to take our family of 4 adults and 2 kids (12 &2) to Negril for the day, and had an awesome time. Peater is a safe driver. He is very courteous, and seems to know everyone! He was very informative and we learned a lot during this full day adventure. His bus is new, spotless, air-conditioned and very comfortable. He can easily fit 12 people. We were scheduled to leave at 9:30 AM and Peater was a bit early - No Problem Mon! He let us know he had arrived and talked to some of his friends at the resort while we finished our breakfast. Peater invited my husband to ride shotgun, and then started our day by driving us through the Rodeo Drive of Montego Bay - beautiful Mansions! Most of them owned by the hotel owners (who then rent them out). He drove us through the city of Mo-Bay, the hip strip and then up to Richmond Hill Inn. This is a beautiful resort and one of the most amazing views in all of Jamaica. We stopped for some breathtaking views of Mo Bay and a few pictures (ones that could easily be turned into post cards!.) Peater volunteered to take a few pictures of our family with the scenery behind us (By the way, he's a great photographer too!). We then continued on our adventure and I asked Peater to stop by a roadside vendor to buy some fresh fruit. He negotiated with the boy selling the fruit in Pattwa (haha - I don't think I spelled that right, but it's all in how you "say" it, not "spell it"!) and got us a great deal on a pineapple an a coconut. The pineapple was amazing - warm from the sun, fresh, sweet and juicy. The coconut was good, but I wasn't used to eating it this way (slimy). We all drank from it and then ate the meat. It was not the same rough dry texture that I had eaten many times... It was truly raw coconut. The boy never touched our fruit, and watching him carve it was truly an art! Remember to bring a bag to put the fruit in and some handiwipes! You will need them :) Peater was at our service and even stopped a few times just to help us identify a few tropical plants along the roadside. Try getting a big tour bus to do that!!!
We had great conversation all along the way and learned a lot about Jamaica, the people of Jamaica, and Peater and his family. He is married with two children. They have a son who is 7 and a daughter who is 2. They live in Mo Bay, so whenever you need him, he will be available for you (unless he has a trip already scheduled). He works at the Airport, and basically has to wait his "turn" to get a chance to drive passengers to their hotels to earn money for the day. His name goes on a list and when he drives a customer, his name goes back to the bottom of the list. There is a list for local and a seperate list for distance travel (only gets a day trip once a week or so). He is a JUTA driver (Jamaican Union Tourist Association)- so rest assured he has the RED PLATE that everyone talks about. When you call him directly, he will earn extra money for the week - referrals and repeat business means everything!!!
When we arrived in Negril, Peater took us to the Treehouse to enjoy the beach the way it should be... in it's natural, pure, Negril state! The sand here is like powdered sugar. It is silky soft beneath your feet and feels nothing like the sand most of the hotels bring in at the MoBay big resorts (like Holiday Inn) - that stuff actually HURT my feet - Ouch! We had a cabana waiting for us at the Treehouse and had some great Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork with salad, rice & beans/fries for lunch - $8 a plate. The people at the Treehouse are super friendly and we are thinking of staying there next year for our 5 year anniversary. The rooms are clean and spacious. Peater relaxed in the shade with some of his friends while we enjoyed our day. Our purses, cameras, etc. were locked away safely in his van, yet he was only a few steps away to open the van for us if we needed anything.
At around 5:00 PM, we headed over to Rick's cafe to watch the cliff divers and the most amazing sunset. Again, Peater was right there if/when we needed him, but not crowding at the least. He mingled with all of the people watching the sunset and took some more great pictures of our family for us.
The ride home was smooth and quick - probably 1.5 hours. When he dropped us off, we made arrangements for Peater to pick our mom's up for the airport the next day and then the rest of us the day following. We gave Peater some gifts for his kids and wife (magazines, sand toys, lotion, soaps, etc.) and a nice card. Of course, he also received a well deserved tip each day.
The initial transfer from the airport to the HI Sunspree was $40 for 4 adults and 2 children. The day trip to Negril cost us $140 (I offered to buy him lunch, drinks, etc., but he said he wasn't hungry). The trip back to the airport was $20 both times. Again, don't forget the tips!!!
You can reach Peater Lawrence at the following numbers (taken directly from his business card):
Airport transfers, Mayfield Falls, Dunns River Falls, Black RIver Safari, Rose Hall Great House, Negril 7 Mile Beach, Ricks Cafe', Bob Marley Museum, Y.S. Falls, Shopping, wherever you want to go in Jamaica!
Please tell him John, Bridgette and the family sent you!!! :) :) :)