Hit the road with Island Routes because getting there is half the fun.
I’m handed my keys and a cold bottle of water but the truth is I only have eyes for the gorgeous bright green and black Mini Cooper which is about to become my road warrior best friend for today. As I open the door and slide into the surprisingly roomy interior a grin of excited anticipation breaks out on my face.
As we filled out the forms I had gotten to know my co-adventurers for the day and we eagerly chatted about our upcoming road trip. When I asked their reason for choosing to do the Island Routes MINI-Routes tour they reinforced my thoughts. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, it’s a fantastic way to get off property and explore Jamaica, yet with a bit of a safety net built in for those not quite prepared to rent a car and make a go of it on their own. After all, Jamaican drivers have a bit of a reputation and it can be a bit daunting for those who may normally drive on the opposite side of the road (Jamaicans drive on the left with the steering on the right).
Picking Ocho Rios or Negril had been a tough choice but I ended up choosing Negril, a great road trip for foodies. The Island Routes team tells me as I am headed out, that they have something to share with me about an expansion of their routes and offerings. I make a mental note to check up on that at the end of the day.
We met our amazing team for the day, lead driver David, back up Marshall and our wonderful tour guide, Marlon, who were about to take us on our epic road trip. A little ping pong and we were off to get introduced to our cars.
Mine is named ‘Vibez’ and I am in love.
As we pull out of the driveway, Marlon’s voice reassuringly comes over the walkie-talkie, and although in my own Mini, I immediately feel connected to the cars in front of me as we all call in our ‘OKs’. We pass a day stopping off at local spots and famous landmarks while I listen to the local radio station thoughtfully already tuned in for me. As we all get comfortable in our new roles as ‘Jamaican drivers’, I fall back a few times, stunning views around every corner, but the lead car always has an eye on me and makes sure I catch up again.
At the end of the day I had a full ‘belly’ having feasted on coconuts, jerk pork and bammy (a local favourite) and more. I had walked white sand beaches, jumped off a cliff and stood on the westernmost end of Jamaica. Exhausted but happy the hardest part of the day is handing back those keys and saying farewell to ‘Vibez’ and my newly minted friends.
I suddenly remember that I may have another cool new MINI-Routes adventure to book! I start bombarding the team with my questions. Where does it go? What do you get to do and see? They start filling me in on the details and one of the things that jump out at me first is that they’re now doing half day MINI-Routes tours. Yes, you’ll still get to drive your own cool Mini through Jamaica and feel just like a local, but they’re aware that you may not have a full day to explore and that there are a variety of budgets. My mind is planning how I could possibly fit in a little ziplining and river tubing to round out the day when I hear them say ‘Puddin Man’. What is a ‘Puddin Man’?
It’s one of the (beloved?) featured stops on a tour but no one will tell me much more. It’s one of those things that I’ll only find out if I go on the Ocho Rios Half-Day MINI-Routes tour. The half day spent touring Montego Bay sounds amazing but I’m pretty sure that the stop over at the Shoppes of Rose Hall would stretch into more than that for everyone else once my wallet was unleashed for shopping!
I am very intrigued by the full day outing to Portland. On the opposite end of the island it promises a plantation visit and a stopover in the Maroon Village, which is a village of the descendants of a nation within a nation built by runaway slaves who chose to free themselves. Plus, a visit to Firefly, former home of internationally famous playwright Noel Coward, who hosted royalty and the glitterati of Hollywood’s Golden Age, as well as a chance to frolic on James Bond Beach. Yes, Jamaica is where the iconic spy was created by the author Ian Fleming and where every novel was written and movies like Dr. No were filmed.
I’m already going through my schedule in my head by now and another idea hits me. I didn’t get to drive the convertible that I had seen. So I asked if this was possible. I was told that yes, along with a 4-door available for families, convertibles were available on the tours but only one per tour. Looks like I’d better book early!
For more information on these amazing MINI-Routes excursions and other fantastic experiences visit Island Routes Website
Stay Tuned for latest updates and discounts