Who doesn’t love a road trip? And the trip from Montego Bay to Negril exposes you to all there is to love about life on the road in Jamaica. First things first though: your ride.
After you clear Customs and Immigration at Sangster International Airport and head through the doors, you’ll be right in the midst of the transportation options. If you have pre-arranged transportation from your hotel, fantastic. You’ll likely have received directions on where to meet in order to catch your ride. If not, then look
out for JUTA Negril at Desk 17. They have a special rate of US$25 for a round trip transfer from Montego Bay to your hotel in Negril and back. You can contact them in advance of course. Here is their web site: JUTA Negril. This a great deal and it doesn’t stop there. Once in Negril they will take you from your hotel to the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party Friday night at Couples Swept Away for only US$5 round trip! A great deal.
With transportation in order, let’s hit the road!
Driving in Jamaica is on the left side of the road but since you’ve chosen JUTA you can sit back in your air conditioned mini van or bus and enjoy the ride. And it will be a ride. The first experience, as you head out from the airport is the the hustle-and-bustle of Montego Bay, Jamaica’s second largest city and the hub of commerce on the North Coast. Depending on the time of day and the traffic, the driver will either take the ‘High’ Road or the ‘Low Road’ to get through Montego Bay. Both are lively for different reasons. On the High Road, you’ll get to see the coast and the approach to the city. On the low road, you go right through the original ‘Tourist’ area of Montego Bay. In both cases you’ll connect just north of the Old Town Centre on the main (only) highway to Negril.
Once out of the city, the road opens up and vehicles run close to the speed limit of 80 KPH. The road hugs the coast and at many places along the route the Caribbean is only feet away. Just west of Montego Bay you’ll pass Round Hill on the right or coast side. It’s rumoured that Ralph Lauren has a villa there. You won’t see much from the road going westbound but on your return to Montego Bay you can catch a glimpse of the ‘Round Hill’ that gives the resort it’s name.
Next up is Tryall. If you’re into golf, there is a superb golf course on both sides of the highway. Tryall has been a very luxurious hotel and villa property for some time built in and around an old plantation. On your way to Negril, look out for the water wheel on the left.
One of the highlights of the road trip to Negril is the town of Lucea. It’s built around a small harbour and the highway runs right through the centre of town. As you approach from Montego Bay you will see the town laid from the highpoint of the highway. It is always busy in Lucea, a market town with an open air market and numerous shops. And yes, you will see street vendors selling everything from tasty food (Drum Chicken) to housewares.
After Lucea the highway opens up again for the run to Green Island. For veterans of Reggae Marathon, the turn of the full ‘old’ marathon course was just west of the town of Green Island (you may still see the 16 mile marker on the road). With the change in course last year, full marathon runners complete two loops of the 1/2 Marathon course so you don’t run out this far. As you complete these final miles into the Negril area you’ll appreciate the saying, “Loneliness of the long distance runner”. Yes I’ve run the ‘old’ course and I can tell you the volunteers, music and water/Hy-Lyte in plastic pouches were the most welcome sight!
In a few miles you’ll come upon the Riu Negril resort. Just east of the entrance to the resort is the 1/2 Marathon turn point. From that point on you’re on the race route. Oh, and you’re in Negril! Look out for Long Bay Beach Park on your right. It’s the start and finish of all the Reggae Marathon race events: 10K, 1/2 Marathon and Full Marathon. It’s also the location of the post race party with fresh cut coconuts and Red Stripe Beer.
Just past Long Bay Beach Park on the left side of the road is Couples Swept Away Resort Sporting Complex. This is the location for the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party and it’s also where you pick up your race kit. I’ll be there from 4 pm on on Friday, November 30. Look for me in Puma from head-to-toe around the Media Area. (Click this link for the Reggae Marathon Race Event Schedule).
Until next time…