Cars can be rented in Jamaica in all of the major tourist centers, the Kingston and Montego Bay international airports, and at many hotels. Keep in mind that while car rentals can be cheap in Jamaica, they normally are not. Rental of a car for first time visitors to Jamaica is NOT recommended (see below for a list of reasons not to rent a car in Jamaica). The following is a list of car rental operators grouped by city. In addition you can find many third party rental car booking companies on the Internet. 

Montego Bay

Note: Some of the companies listed below operate at Sangster International Airport while others are located off the airport grounds in the city of Montego Bay with free transport to and from their offices provided. Some car rental companies do not have an office (only a cell phone and some cars).

Aplus Car Rentals  (876) 952-2033
Apex Car Rentals Ltd  (876) 952-7587
Avis Car Rental  (876) 926-1560
Budget Car Rental  (876) 952-3838
Caribbean Car Rentals  (876) 952-0664
Central Rent A Car  (876) 876-952-3347
Classique Car Rentals (876) 632-5875/568-1814
Danjor Car Rental  (876) 940-2679
Dhana Car Rental  (866) 276-1884
Dollar Rent A Car  (876) 957-4110
Efay Rent A Car Ltd. (876) 952-8280 (known renters of left hand drive vehicles; do not take one, only rent a right hand drive vehicle in Jamaica)
Fiesta Car Rental  (876) 953-9567
Garmack Car Rental  (876) 952-7810
Hertz  Rent A Car  (876) 952-4250
Island Car Rentals, Ltd.  (876) 952-7225
Jamaica Car Rental  (876) 952-5586
Jules Dave Auto Rental  (876) 929-1181
Metro Car Rentals  (876) 978-5468
Praise Tours Auto Rentals  (876) 979-0500
Sunbird Car Rental  (876) 952-3015
Thrifty Car Rental  (876) 952-1126
Travel International Ltd. (876) 350-6816
United Car Rentals  (876) 952-3077
Villa Car Rentals  (876) 974-2474/2975

Negril

Benrich Bike Rentals  (876) 957-4729
Coconut Car Rental  (876) 957-3100
Island Cruiser Rentals  (876) 422-2831
Smart Car Rental  (876) 354-8284
Spark's Car Rental  (876) 836-0904
Wright's Bike Rental  (876) 957-4908

Ocho Rios

Caribbean Car Rentals (876) 974-2513
Derron's Car Rental & Tours (876) 993-7111

Port Antonio

Eastern Car Rental (876) 993-3624

Kingston

Avis (876) 924-8293
Budget Rent-A-Car (876) 924-8762

Caribbean and Latin Travel Constuntant Limited (876) 906-3140

Hertz (876) 924-8028
Island Car Rental, Ltd (876) 924-8075
Kosmo Car Rentals (876) 924-8388

Liberty (876) 924-8950
Praise Tours & Auto Rentals (876) 924-8394
Sunbird Car Rentals (876) 924-8665

Rental Prices

The rental charges for autos in Jamaica are highly variable between rental agencies. The cheapest rates are the ones from the Montego Bay airport vicinity. If renting, price the same car, or type of car, at a number of rental agencies to get the best price. Make sure to note if the local taxes are included in the price you are comparing. Prices can and do range from very low to very high for the same make and model of car.

Also consider the cost of insurance, which is mandatory in Jamaica, into the rental price. See also below for a discussion of the several insurance issues related car rentals by foreign visitors and credit card users.

Jamaican road map

See the following for a simple road map of Jamaica:

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=j...

On this map the 'A' roads (for example 'A1') are the main roads of the country. The 'B' roads (for example 'B3') are secondary roads. If you drive in Jamaica you will need a full size road map (do NOT rely on a printed copy of the map shown above). If you drive in Jamaica you will need to purchase a full size current map of the roads. For a slightly more detailed road map of the country see the following:

http://www.jamaicancaves.org/jamaica-...

This map is from 1967. While it still shows most of the main roads in Jamaica it is not current. If you drive in Jamaica you will need to purchase a full size current map of the roads (do NOT rely on a printed copy of the map shown above).

Reasons NOT to rent a car in Jamaica

Rental of a car in Jamaica cannot be recommended for a first time visitor. Some of the reasons NOT to rent a car in Jamaica include the following:

* There are too many cars on the roads for the infrastructure in and near many the major cities, for example Montego Bay.
* Rental car companies place steep holds on your credit card when you rent. Holds of $US1500 to $US2000 are not uncommon.
* Some renters have noted that rental vehicles are missing parts (for example a spare tire and/or jack) while others have noted that parts such as the clutch and transmission are not fully operational. Any missing parts need to be noted on the rental form when the car is rented. so make sure all tire changing parts are present.
* Some renters have not checked the conditions of the rental cars with great care before renting. Minor missed dents, scratches, etc. have then resulted in high damage charges. Any damage needs to be noted on the rental form when the car is rented. Consider taking photos of any rental car at the time of rental.
* One drives on the 'opposite' side of the road for most visitors (this is not a problem for those from the UK, etc. who normally drive on the left). With that in mind, refuse any rental that has left hand (American sided) drive.
* Drivers in Jamaica are known to be very aggressive drivers (the timid say they drive like maniacs). Sharing the same roads are drivers who will, with no signal or apparent reason for doing so, suddenly stop, this is worst in towns and villages but can happen on the open road. Difficult to deal with, especially if there is a "mirror filler" on your tail.
* There is no signposting or road marking in much of the island. Plan to stop frequently to ask directions. A good up to date road map of Jamaica is essential. Purchase an up to date road map before you arrive in Jamaica or in Kingston or Montego Bay.
* Insurance is mandatory in Jamaica. However, most, but not all, foreign auto insurance policies are not valid in Jamaica. Check with your auto insurance company before renting a car in Jamaica to see what coverage, if any, is offered.
* Insurance provided with most credit cards is not valid in Jamaica. A few credit cards, for example the "business" or "world" card Mastercard, do offer insurance coverage in Jamaica. Check with your credit card company before renting a car in Jamaica to see what coverage, if any, is offered. This is especially true if you are paying for the rental by redeeming credits from a 'rewards' credit card.
* Other than the main roads, most roads in Jamaica are narrow and rough by international standards. Potholes are everywhere on all but the newest roads, the only question how many and how deep. On side roads it is common to have sharp turns and hidden entrances/exits to farms, etc. See above for two maps of Jamaican roads which show both the main roads and some of the secondary roads. Do NOT rely on a printed copy of the maps shown above for travel in Jamaica (use them only as a general guide).
* Speeding and other traffic laws are strictly enforced. Police check points and stops are common. Do NOT attempt to bribe the police. Always carry a copy of your rental agreement, a copy of the cars insurance policy, a copy of the cars registration, and the phone number of the car rental company. Have the police call the car rental company if there is any questions about the car or its registration or its insurance. Remember that the traffic laws in Jamaica are not always the same as they are where you live. Know the Jamaican traffic laws before you drive.
* Side roads, and even some main roads, may have obstacles you're likely not used to (for example bikes, dogs, cows, chickens, pigs, mules, and goats). Always watch out for people walking in the road as well as on the side of the road. Sidewalks are not common in most towns, except the very largest, in Jamaica. Always watch out for cars and trucks driving in the middle of the road (this is most important on narrow side roads). Pay special attention to any car (found infrequently), truck, or bus with a sign on it saying "left hand drive". In addition, during crab season some roads near the ocean are often filled with land crabs trying to cross the street to get to the ocean.

I survived the road to Negril t-shirt logo

Above is the logo from the front of a t-shirt which was available from almost any shop in Negril from the middle 1960's to the 1990's (before the new road to Negril was finished).

Reservations

Reservations to rent a car can be made over the Internet by way of e-mail or web sites. Many, but not all, Jamaican rental operators have their own web site. Numerous third party web sites, for example airlines and on-line travel agents, will also arrange for car rentals. A number of visitors have stated that some reservations made by way of third parties have not been honored on arrival in Jamaica. It is best to confirm a reservation  by e-mail or by phone directly with the rental agency after making an on-line or telephone reservation first. If you use a third party to make a reservation then call or email the rental agency directly in Jamaica several days before arrival to confirm the rental again. Always take any rental confirmation documentation, for example an e-mail, with you to Jamaica.

You might want to drive...

If you are looking for a sense of freedom and convenience, you may want to rent. Do you have a "business" or "world" credit card (for example from Bank of America) to cover the Collision Damage Waiver, saving you 12 to 15 US dollars a day? If you are a U.S. city capable driver, it is a good prerequisite.

Get a car with a trunk to store possessions when parked; do not leave any valuables in plain sight. Avoid night time drives until you practice during the day first. Read and research travel guide books from the library and get familiar with good destinations on the island. Those books are found about 915 in the Dewey decimal system at the library.

Old Jamaican saying about driving in Jamaica ... "The left side of the road is the right side, the right side of the road is suicide".

Other information

Route taxis run about $US1-$US2 per 5 miles. Route taxis are very good for short trips. Private taxis are about $15-$20 per hour return. Most hotels can arrange for a car with a qualified Jamaican driver for transfers or for a tour to any part of the island.

The following table lists the estimated minimum driving times, expressed in hours, between selected cities in Jamaica. Traffic and road conditions will increase drive times in many cases.

Kingston  3 hr.        4  
Mandeville  1  1.5        
Montego Bay  1.5  3.5  2    1.5  
Negril  1  4  2  1.5    
Ocho Rios  3  2  2  1.5  3  
Port Antonio  4  1.5  3  4  5.5  2.5

Black River  Kingston Mandeville Montego Bay  Negril  Ocho Rios