Most arrivals in Jamaica are at Donald Sangster International Airport (tel. 876/952-3124), www.mbjairport.com, 3km (1 3/4 miles) east of the center of Montego Bay. Those booked into resorts at Negril or Ocho Rios and its satellite, Runaway Bay, also use the Mo Bay airport as a point of entry into Jamaica.
In winter, the busy season for tourism in Jamaica, lines move smoothly. Things move more slowly during the summer months, despite dwindling numbers of tourists -- partly because many Jamaicans from Canada and the United States arrive during those months to visit family. They often bring suitcases packed with gifts and supplies; inspection of these items can cause endless delays. (Jamaica's Customs and Immigration officers are zealous.)
After clearing Immigration, there is a currency exchange office. You can change money here into Jamaican dollars. Nearly all places on the island will accept the Yankee dollar -- in fact, some vendors will specifically request it -- but if you plan to go to local dives, they'll usually accept American dollars, but at a rate that's not as good as what you'd have gotten at a bona-fide bank. Our advice? Pick up a little Jamaican cash here at the airport, where you'll get a far better exchange rate than at your hotel.
In recent years, the numbers of ATMs has greatly increased within Jamaica. They're now readily available within most of the shopping malls and tourist zones frequented by cruise ship passengers and foreign visitors. Although it's true that you can find ATMs at the airport, some Frommer's readers have noted that some of these machines have occasionally run out of cash.
Warning: Once you retrieve your luggage at the airport, hang on to it, though luggage theft at the airports is less common than in years past, the police having made successful efforts at cleaning things up.
Getting from the Airport into the City -- Some of the major resorts, such as the Sandals properties, keep vans waiting at the airport to carry guests right to the hotel for free. Other properties do not, however, especially the less expensive ones. If you're staying at one of these, you must take a taxi (unless you're picking up a rental car at the airport); there is no public bus service from the airport into Montego Bay.
Use only special taxis or vans operated by JUTA, the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (tel. 876/957-4620), or taxis operated by its government-sanctioned counterpart, JCAL Tours (Jamaica Co-operative Automobile & Limousine Tours; tel. 876/957-4620). Do not get into a "pirate taxi," even if the driver promises to cut the going rate in half; cheating tourists is disturbingly common. JUTA tariffs are controlled, and you'll recognize its vehicles by the union emblems and red license plates. A list of official tariffs is posted at the airport -- but it's still important to agree on the price before setting out, to avoid potential disagreements later.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.