Montego Bay - Scam Alert.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Jamaica  ,
Saturday, April 9, 2005

Experiencing the Caribbean - Some good and some bad!

We came away from the Caribbean with very mixed experiences and feelings. We discovered the Caribbean is not really for the independent traveller, but wholly and solely set up for the packaged, all inclusive tourists who love to throw their money around.

After enjoying our time in Cuba, we flew into Montego Bay, Jamaica. From the moment we arrived it was hassle, hassle, hassle! Our entire time in Montego Bay we were swooped on, tooted at, pushed, shoved, hassled and scammed. This improved somewhat when we moved location to a beach resort in Negril. Nevertheless it left us feeling so disappointed at Jamaica that Avan wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper to say they are missing out on the independent traveller who spends with the locals in favour of the monied tourist who stays in multi-national resorts and Jamaica does not get to keep the bulk of their tourist dollars. There are hardly any backpackers - they obviously have heeded warnings. One of the most popular approaches is ¨remember me? I'm the security guard at your hotel¨ as they grab hold of you. This was offered by at least 5 men individually, yet our security guard was female! We would walk past 5 taxis in a row and they all hear you say no to the first, but they hassle you anyway. I imagined a laid back place with reggae playing on the streets and beautiful people (we got that later in Negril) but in Montego Bay all we heard was boom box techno and people who saw us as walking banks needing to be separated from their dollars.

The big scam was a day tour. A local tour guide had struck up a conversation, each time we passed, in a more genuine way. Avan and he discussed the state of the cricket and we felt maybe we could trust booking a tour with him. He showed us a brochure outlining the trip - the brochure offered each way transport, a tour on the Black river, lunch then a visit to a waterfall. We negotiated a price in US$ which was the same as we had paid in Cuba for all day with lunch and 2 tourist spots. However when we arrived at the river we were taken to the cashier to pay for the boat ride. It was all a bit rushed as the boat was ready to go, but at the conclusion of the tour we tackled the driver - he advised the boat trip wasn't included in the deal. Avan hit the roof and he reluctantly agreed we could deduct the cost from his total. He then asked where we wanted to go now??? We said lunch and the waterfall as per the brochure - "ah no, the waterfall closes soon and it is not included, nor is lunch". (He was in earshot when other passengers on the boat trip were discussing they were going to the waterfall next). Our tourist guide insisted that we were only paying for the transport down to the river. Disillusioned we asked him to take us somewhere for a fish lunch. He headed back towards Montego Bay and stopped at a roadside stall, beside a river and we were immediately surrounded by many vendors pushing their faces into the windows of the van trying to sell, what appeared to us, to be the same food products. It was so frantic and crazy we didn't even get out of the car but asked to be taken back to our hotel.

In most places in the world we have been to, if there are touts and hassling, it reduces as the locals get to know you, but this was not the case in Montego bay. 

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jamcan on

That's unfortunate
I'm glad I found your blog entry, but was pretty disheartened to read it. It makes me sad when people have bad experiences in Jamaica because I'm an avid independent traveler to Jamaica and have not had one single bad experience. I'm a single female and hit Jamaica about twice a year, sometimes I bring my son with me. We've done everything from all-inclusive (which I hate) to little wooden shacks on the beach (which we LOVED).

Its unfortunate you didn't get to see the Jamaica I, along with so many others, see. I've moderated a Jamaican chat forum for 5 years now and so many of us are independent travelers and I've not once read a story like yours. However, on the flip-side, I can sympathize because Jamaica has a bad rep anyways. A sizable amount of people think Jamaica is dangerous, has too much crime, etc.

My love for the 'native' country along with the bad rep people seem to give it was what inspired me to start my travel group. People who might want to experience Jamaica as a tourist, but to go with someone who knows the ropes by trial and error. So I started a group travel site where I have multiple pre-arranged trips, you know exactly what you're getting up front, and you're paying a Canadian to make arrangements, not taking your chances when you get there. You may never go back but maybe you can pass it on.

Anyways, I'm glad you were honest and hopefully you have better luck in your future travels!

Take care!

nick on

Thats really unfortunate that you had that experience when you visited Jamaica. I am a Jamaican living in atlanta and i bring friends to Jamaica at times and some even go on their own and never had a bad experience. To be honest, I strongly feel that tourist are a 100 times safer in Jamaica than local citizens. I just hope next time if you decide to you wont have that experience again

my 2 cents

William Robison on

Sorry to read about your experience in Jamaica. We just got back and had a great time. I think the best part was getting away from the All-Inclusive resort and hiring a private driver for a tour of part of the island. We stayed near Lucea, which is between Montego Bay and Negril. Our tour included a lot of rich history and witness to true Jamaica. We have a photo album of our tour on our facebook page Beautiful country and very nice people, in most cases. I would definitely go again.

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