I'm considering going to cuba and jamaica this year but am likely to be making this trip on my own, off peak.
I was wondering how safe other lone travellers have felt and any tips or advice?
I have no time limit really and was also hoping somebody could suggest the best way of getting to J from C or vice versa as I've seen there aren't boats etc.
Jamaica will blow your mind. I recently returned from there and am already planning to return - and im from australia so thats not an easy feat!
There is a whole lot of negative imagery surrounding Jamaica's safety - but after travelling solo as a skinny little blonde girl through the entire country i can tell you that as long as you have your common sense, you will have no troubles at all.
If you are white you will notice incessent staring and unrelenting husslers. you will be the minority. but don't be intimidated by this, the staring is more often than not curiosity and the hussling is just a sign of desperation - a sad fact of jamaican life. If you do find yourself followed by some husslers a simple 'cho mon, doan't hassle de touris' - with a smile of course - will send them happily on their way. and do yourself a favour and dont tell people
it's your first time - this will put a huge dollar sign above your head - they are very good at ripping people off so don't be afraid to haggle.
I did keep all my cards, passports etc.. in a money belt but by the end of the trip i was just stuffing my money belt in my pocket - i never felt any
presence of theft or threatning behaviour, but just like anywhere else in the world, be smart. You'll also notice that jamaican men will offer their 'services'
to any single women, they are called rent-a-rasta! If your not interested, just say no. The local people are just incredible, some of the most heart warming
folks i've ever been blessed to meet and jamaica will be one of your most eye-opening experiences ever.
So be smart - but live every second! And make sure you get to Port Antonio!!
In terms of travelling to Cuba you can get a boat from Montego bay to Cuba but not the other way around for some odd reason... but flights are probably
your easiest option. i don't think flights from Mo Bay to Havana are very expensive so i'd jump online or grab a lonely planet book (which was a god send for jamaica) and suss it out
hope any of this has helped - if you need any more tips dont hesitate to ask, i take up any opportunity to talk about jamaica!
wow, sounds amazing, and really settling advice, thank you!
What was your route as I'm not really sure where I should head or avoid? And how long were you out there for?
I flew into Montego Bay and travelled around the entire country by coast, i took about 6 weeks which was enough time to see everything i wanted to see, even though i very easily could have stayed longer! my route was as follows:
Montego bay is a little dingy, it's a touristy area and does have it's ghettos so it's not a place to go wandering alone very late at night. But theres a lot of tourist police around so during the day and early evening you'll be looked after. Theres not much to do in Mo Bay but chill out on doctors cave beach which is very beautiful, and have a few margaritas at margaritaville so i wouldn't dedicate too much time here if you decide to go.
Negril is incredible - one of my favourites by far. 7ks of an amazing beach which turns into cliffs where amazing cliff diving takes place every night. I stayed up the west end near the cliffs which is 10 minutes out of the city centre. The city itself did feel a little bit intimidating as it's super busy and quite run down, but as soon as your 2 minutes out of the city its a very friendly, welcoming place. You'll find the best food and going out venues there - the only down fall about negril is theres a quite a few husslers who will try sell you quite literally anything but thats totally harmless.
100% worth going here. And if you find yourself ready to spend a bit of cash you have to stay at tensing pen, that place is magic! many nights spent at the bar drinking rum punch with the bar keep razor blade who manages to have everyone in stitches all night long.
Treasure Beach was next for me and it's hugely different from anywhere else on the island. It's got a very desert-like landscape with cactus everywhere and black-sand beaches. It's by far the safest place in Jamaica and the quietest. No-one will hassle you, it's just not possible to be more laid back than the locals there. If your looking for an escape it's the place to go - theres also some really cool things to see like the pelican bar which is built on a sandbar 1km out to sea, the black river which is swarming with crocs, the appleton rum estate and the beautiful YS falls. Definitely worth stopping over to see these things, but i spent 6 days there and i felt like that was a bit too long, as apart from those things theres not a whole lot to do.
Kingston has such a bad reputation - but please dont let it frighten you! cultrally, it was by far my favourite. You cannot understand jamaica until you've been into Kingston. Yes, there is crime, but it very rarely comes to tourists, and again if you have any common sense about you no harm will come. Avoid the ghettos of kingston, trenchtown and tivoli gardens in particular, but otherwise don't be afraid! The bob marley museum, tuff gong studios, port royal and lime cay are all awesome things to do in Kingston. I stayed in the Blue Mountains at a place called Mt Edge, its about 20 minutes out of kingston and was awesome. its about $20 a night in an absolutely spectacular setting. It's very safe up there, hence why i chose it because i didn't know what to expect from Kingston, and the owners are just incredible they really looked after me and i met some of the best people there by far. They will also drive you back and forth from kingston so you dont have to worry about transport.
On my last day in Kingston i was feeling very brave so i hired a car and drove to Port Antonio, which was surprisingly easy! (that said though if your from america i wouldn't recommend it as they drive on the other side of the road to you and it's not the place to get used to a big change like that!) Port Antonio is something else... really, really magic. In terms of beauty, it really took first prize. The blue lagoon is there which is a 'blue hole' that is a combination of warm sea water and cool mountain water and feels amazing to swim in, there is boston bay which is incredible and awesome for surfing, Reach falls which are amazing (but very slippery so be careful!) and rafting on the rio grande which just makes you feel like your floating through a painting. The city centre is very busy and this was the only place i witnessed a little scuffle on the street, but it was over as soon as it started and no-one even noticed the white girl in amongst it all so i wasn't too phased.
Ocho Rios is the tourist centre, its where all the cruise ships dock. if you want to avoid the tourists then i'd maybe stay away but if not go for it! Theres dolphin cove there where you can swim with dolphins and dunns river falls where you can climb up a massive waterfall which are both pretty awesome. apart from that though it is super, super crazy busy, but was perfectly safe during the day i found.
The things to remember i think are: Don't spend massive amounts of time in the city centres - theres no reason to really go there anyway unless you are craft shopping, don't go walking by yourself late at night, and just have your common sense about you. Trouble so rarely affects tourists there, i met people there who have made annual trips for the past 20 years and have never had an issue, so unless your causing trouble or flaunting cash i'm very confident that you'll be fine and will have an amazing time.
sorry if i've ranted a bit, I hope some of that helps!
If you need any tips on hotels or anything like that more than happy to send some names your way!