Things to Do in Montego Bay
Don’t let your Jamaica vacation end when you get to the airport. Continue the island relaxation and fun by spending your last hours in Jamaica at Club Mobay Departure Lounge in Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport.
Club Mobay is an airport lounge to rival all airport lounges. Feel like you’re flying first class as you step into the nearly 12,000 square foot lounge and take in the comfortable chairs, stylish bar, large televisions and well-stocked snack bar. There is also a business center with computers for those that need a peaceful place to catch up on work emails or do other online projects before heading up into the air. High-speed Wi-Fi is available throughout the lounge. Club Mobay also has a great area for kids called Pickney Place that has arcade games and other activities. There are also shower facilities if you’d like to freshen up before your flight.
Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish and the second largest city in Jamaica. If you want to get some Duty Free shopping done, this is the place to do it. Or, if you’re more inclined to be outdoorsy, Montego Bay offers every type of water activity imaginable.
The official language of Jamaica is English (with that characteristic accent), and the currencies are the Jamaican Dollar or the US Dollar. Vendors around Montego Bay are notorious for their aggressive tactics, so be firm in your refusals. Jamaica also has higher crime rates than many of the other islands, so limit the number of valuables you carry, and be wary of your surroundings.
Occupying a spot of Montego Bay’s “hip strip,” Doctor’s Cave Beach is the best-known beach in Jamaica. It's a top party destination with plenty of sand-and-sea-centric activities available at good rates. Its white sand descends into the turquoise of the Caribbean, as beachgoers soak up sun in a tropical paradise.
Rent a beach umbrella and unwind with a can of Red Stripe, or grab some snorkel gear and marvel at the stunning variety of marine life in water so clear you can see all the way to the bottom. Doctor’s Cave Beach provides easy access to the 15-acre Montego Bay Marine Park, and you can also rent Jet skis, parasailing and glass bottom boat rides from private operators located nearby. When you’re done with all your sea and shore activities, you’re just a short walk from the restaurants and bars in one of Jamaica’s hottest entertainment districts.
Take a walk through an unique piece of Jamaican and literary history with a tour of the Greenwood Great House, built in the late 1700s by Richard Barrett, a cousin of poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, whose family was among Jamaica’s original colonial settlers. Nearby Rose Hall often overshadows Greenwood Great House, but in fact Greenwood is better preserved, with many of the original furnishings still intact, including the library, a collection of Dresden china, and haunting relics from the original owner’s slave holding past, like a 6-foot-long, steel man-trap for catching runaways.
Built in the latter part of the 18th century, Rose Hall is the most well-known great house in all of Jamaica. The massive Georgian mansion is the centerpiece of a plantation that covers over 6,500 acres, but it's most notable for its famous occupant, Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.
Said to have dabbled in witchcraft, Annie Palmer allegedly poisoned her three husbands. Stories allege that she routinely took slaves as lovers and had them killed when she grew tired of them. She was supposedly smothered with a pillow in her bed in 1830s by a vengeful slave.
As such, the house is steeped in folktales and supernatural claims. While these stories are just that, the house itself is a testament to the wealth, pomp and grandeur of plantation-era Jamaica.
YS Falls is a stunning ecosystem located on the lush, south coast of Jamaica. Often overshadowed by its Jamaica waterfall rival, Dunn’s River Falls, YS is worth a visit simply for its more secluded location, 50 miles southwest of Montego Bay and 50 miles east of Negril.
The precise location of YS Falls is actually on a working cattle farm called YS Estate, where visitors get the chance to see a glimpse of Jamaican countryside farm life as they make their way to YS Falls.
From YS Estate, you’ll take a jitney tractor to YS Falls, which flows into the Black River. Once at the water, you’ll encounter natural swimming pools adjacent to the cascading falls, as well as the surrounding tropical jungle, which provide opportunities for zip-lining. There are wooden walkways along the riverbank for those who would rather continue their adventure on ground level, and the river provides other fun activities such as tubing down the small rapids.
Like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or the Everglades National Forest in Florida, the Montego Bay Marine Park is a national nature preserve accessible to the public. It's also a snorkeler's paradise.
Bring your own gear or rent from a vendor on the Hip Strip or Doctor's Cave Beach and experience a snorkeling experience of a lifetime as you swim along with a huge variety of tropical fish and coral. Private companies provide glass bottom boat excursions and catamaran rides, allowing you to make the most of this unique marine environment. You could easily spend the better part of day in the marine park and finish up under an umbrella on Doctor's Cove Beach or any of the other white sand beaches stretching eastward.
The name says it all—located off the bay of Falmouth, the site of Luminous Lagoon becomes illuminated every night seemingly by magic. But there’s no sorcery involved when it comes to this glowing turquoise hue; it’s instead millions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates.
These special creatures flock to the Luminous Lagoon for its combination of both salt and freshwater, and they emit a phosphorescent light when disturbed. The Luminous Lagoon is one of only three places in the world you can see this type of phenomenon. And don’t worry—you won’t see any tiny organisms floating around. All you’ll see is iridescent blue. The warm, shallow water of the lagoon makes it an ideal spot for swimming, and a boat ride through wouldn’t be complete without a stop for just that. Swimming here is often a highlight of an excursion, as you get to paddle around in water that is shimmering in shades of bright blue all around you.
More Things to Do in Montego Bay
If you’re looking for shopping and nightlife action in Montego Bay, then you can’t miss the Hip Strip. The stretch of Gloucester Avenue between Aqua Sol Theme Park and the airport is the main hub of tourist activity, with thumping music, tasty rum drinks and shopping of all stripes. Whether you’re looking for a Red Stripe t-shirt or high-end duty-free shops, you can find it here, and all just steps from popular beach hangouts like Doctor’s Cave Beach and Cornwall Beach. Street vendors are plentiful and pushy, so don’t hesitate to haggle. While there, Margaritaville is a must-visit to order a drink at the double-level bar, play on the giant water trampolines, or take a ride on the 120-foot water-slide into the warm Caribbean. And the strip really heats up after the sun goes down at spots like Blue Beat Jazz Lounge, with serves martinis alongside live jazz and blues overlooking the ocean.
More than just a bar and restaurant, Montego Bay’s version of the Margaritaville chain is an attraction in its own right. Situated on the water along the “hip strip” Gloucster Ave., the Jimmy Buffett-themed hotspot has a 120-foot-long waterslide from the top deck that plunges into the ocean, where you’ll find a collection of water trampolines and other fun floating structures, watched over by lifeguards. Both bar decks feature non-stop entertainment, including music, dancing and sports on big-screen TVs. The restaurant and bar serves the usual lineup of “cheeseburgers in paradise” and Technicolor boat drinks.
Named after the abolitionist hero, Sam Sharpe, who encouraged a non-violent means to ending slavery, Sam Sharpe Square in downtown Montego Bay now serves as a point of interest for all who come to learn about Jamaica’s rich history or simply enjoy the pastime of people watching.
Here you’ll find the Montego Bay Civic Centre, a reconstruction of the 1803 Montego Bay courthouse, The Cage, and the fountain. At the northwest corner you’ll also find the bronze sculpture that is the National Heroes Monument, honoring the leaders and the fallen of the Christmas Rebellion of 1831.A busy hub of the popular and charismatic Montego Bay, Sam Sharpe Square is the perfect meeting place to jump off your excursion into this fascinating and party-driven city.
To get a firsthand look at the Rastafarian religion and way of life that is a big part of Jamaican culture, join a tour of the Rastafari Indigenous Village. The working village is home to a local community of Rastafari, and it sits along the Montego River, just outside of Montego Bay. During a visit to the village you can listen to traditional drumming and chanting and explore the tropical gardens filled with herbal remedies, vegetables and spices used for Rastafarian cooking and medicine. The village also has a meditative labyrinth where you can walk privately to enjoy the peacefulness of the space. And the end of the tour, you can have herbal tea and fresh fruit while listening to the villagers play music, and there’s also a small craft market where you can buy handmade jewelry, clothes and herbal remedies.
This unique destination in the heart of Jamaica was once an empty stretch of land that a wealthy accountant and art collector purchased only to preserve its stunning view. In 2009, Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden, a unique collection of this businessman’s paintings and other art works became the perfect place to see the beauty of both nature and art in a single place. Visitors who venture into the back roads of Jamaica in search of Ahhh will find a well-kept garden and hillside terrace that’s perfect for walking, wandering and exploring. Colorful tropical flowers, brilliant orchids, rare plants and indigenous flora are proudly displayed in this beautiful natural landscape. Guests will likely spot some of the 18 species of Jamaican birds that call Ahhh home on a visit to this gallery and garden. And while the outdoor beauty is something to behold, the collection of paintings in the gallery are also worth checking out.
Good Hope Estate was once Jamaica’s largest plantation, with its own sugar factory, water wheel, hospital and church, along with the main house and many other satellite buildings, many of which remain in good condition. Today, the grounds include a handful of rooms where overnight visitors can stay, including a 3-bedroom villa in a historic cut-stone building, and a cottage just steps from an inviting swimming hole on the Martha Brae River. Day visitors can also come to Good Home Estate to explore the 18th century buildings by horse and carriage, swim in the pool or spot exotic birds in the 9,000-square-foot aviary. The estate grounds are also home to an adventure park where thrill-seekers can go ziplining, river tubing, ride ATVs and join a Appleton Estate rum tasting experience. There’s also a kids play area with a challenge course for younger guests.
The weather in Jamaica is properly Caribbean—hot and sunny with a breeze. This makes hitting the water is a top priority, and if just another day in the sand isn’t going to do it for you, you’re in luck—head to Aquasol Theme Park instead.
Located in fun-loving Montego Bay, Aquasol is a beach-based theme park that offers more than just pristine snorkeling and lazy sunbathing. Visitors can get a thrill on a wild banana boat ride or a jet ski adventure, while others can explore the underwater depths via snorkel or glass-bottomed boat. Those looking for some fun on land can partake in go-karting, tennis, volleyball or table-tennis.
Aquasol Theme Park also has a sports bar in case there’s a game and a beer you just can’t miss. If you’re looking for a fun day in Mo Bay and don’t want to miss the beach, Aquasol is your solution.
If you’re looking for a fun-filled beach day near Montego Bay, Cornwall Beach is a beautiful private, managed beach just a few minutes from town. Situated along Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, this stretch of snow-white sand has calm and protected water, making it a great place to swim, especially for families with kids. Cornwall Beach is a popular spot among locals and visitors alike—however, it’s usually far less crowded than neighboring Doctor’s Cave Beach. Cornwall Beach has showers and bathrooms, and an on-site rental center offers beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear and lockers, while the beachfront bar and restaurant let you grab a meal or cocktail without leaving the sand. Occasionally Cornwall Beach hosts special Beach Party days that feature an open bar, buffet and live music.
When you need to relax and want a break from the beach, book a tour of Croydon Plantation! Located twenty miles inland from Montego Bay, Croydon Plantation is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. You’ll travel through breathtaking, mountainous scenery, explore a working plantation and enjoy a delicious, traditional Jamaican barbeque amid the beautiful Catadupa Mountains.
Make a trip to the island’s lush interior and take a tour of a tropical plantation. The guides lead you across the award-winning, carefully manicured grounds, explaining the plantation's history, present and future, peppering the commentary with good humor. Get a taste of local culture while you learn the intricacies of sugarcane, coffee, honey and pineapple cultivation and sample some of the plantation’s seasonal produce in a tropical atmosphere, not to mention a delicious Jamaican buffet.
Fort Montego is the remains of a British fort built to protect the town from attack. While its remaining cannons are historical monuments to colonial Jamaica and the Golden Age of Pirates, it's more auspicious in its proximity to duty-free shopping, an arts and craft market and the kid-friendly Aquasol Beach.
Originally built overlooking what was then Meager Bay (long-since filled in for town and highway expansion), Fort Montego was designed to repel invasions from pirates and the naval forces of the Spanish and the French, but the only action it saw was when a cannon exploding during a celebration of the British capture of Havana. Now, a few cannons and masonry remain.
If you’re interested in Jamaican history, Fort Montego is a good spot to visit, and even if you’re not, it makes for a great photo. Groups will want to use it as a rally point if you part ways to spend money on the nearby “Hip Strip.”
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