If discovering Jamaica's exotic landscape is something you're keen to do, spend your 2017 holiday in Montego Bay. There are many words to describe a holiday to Montego Bay, such as scenic, romantic, laid-back, and sophisticated. Booking a vacation to this section of Jamaica means that you can fill up on some of the tastiest Jerk chicken around, not to mention feel the sand between your toes on a medley of mesmerising beaches.
It was in the year 1494 that Christopher Columbus docked in this bay and made history as the first European to do so. When you embark on a Montego Bay holiday in 2017, see for yourself why the famous Italian explorer was drawn in by stunning ‘Mo Bay’. A city and major cruise ship port, Montego Bay is positioned on the coast's northern segment. It’s the country's second largest city and based on population, it’s the fourth most populous.
Postcard-perfect, the scene is a mishmash of powder white beaches, theme parks, marine parks, and protected snorkelling and diving spots. As the capital of Saint James Parish, this premier tourist destination has no shortage of attractions. Nature seekers will typically add a trip to Dunn's Waterfalls to their travel itinerary. Formerly known as ‘Montego de Salmanca’, among many other names, the land was first inhabited by the Spaniards.
At a glance
- Language: English
- Time Zone: GMT +-5
- Average flight time: 10h 0m
When to go
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Step inside an attraction that might make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up slightly – White Widow's Rose Hall. Legend has it that the spirit of a woman named Annie Palmer haunts the grounds. Taught voodoo and witchcraft by her adopted nanny following the passing of her mother, she married the house's original owner, John Palmer. Palmer was one of three husbands murdered by Annie, who was subsequently murdered by a slave.
In addition to this spine-tingling attraction, Montego Bay is home to pristine Doctor's Cave Beach, Dunn’s River Falls – location of the ‘Las Chorreras’ battles – and Sandals Clay Island, which is exclusively owned by the Sandals Royal Caribbean all-inclusive resort.
Montego Bay is sometimes referred to as ‘The Republic’ and it’s a shopper's paradise, with plenty of duty-free options available to shopaholics. A feeling of relaxation will wash over you when you experience traditional local entertainment in the form of Caribbean music.
Wine and Dine
You shouldn’t anticipate a very diverse wine menu upon visiting Montego Bay, however, there are a range of wines, beers, and liquors sold at the stores, bars and restaurants. Jamaicans are big fans of rum, which is made from the sugar cane that grows around the island.
Caribbean cuisine is some of the most potent and delicious cuisine in the world. Whip your taste buds into a frenzy at Mystic India, The Houseboat Grill, The Pelican Grill or the Sugar Mill Restaurant. Ackee and saltfish is worth trying, due to the fact it’s the national dish of Jamaica.
Coco bread, Callaloo, and a big plate of green beans, rice, carrots, and marinated jerk chicken will keep your hunger cravings away for hours. Jamaica Red Stripe is a famous pale lager beer that will go down well when enjoyed over general conversation on the beach at sunset.
The area offers a whole host of child-friendly activities, including the Kool Runnings Adventure Park. A team of internationally certified lifeguards work at this amusement park, where the kids can kayak, paintball, and race in a go-kart. Most of the hotels and resorts are designed with spectacular pools, though, so you may not even have to venture far to keep the young ones happy.
Trotting along the beach on horseback will enable you to spend quality time with the loved ones and gaze out at Negril from the summit of forested mountains, whereas the bobsled or zip-line will satisfy thrill-seekers.
Whatever genre of music your kids are into, a music festival in Montego Bay won’t disappoint. Every summer, Montego Bay fills with crowds for the Reggae Sumfest. Swim with a dolphin at Dolphin Cove or reserve a table at Sky Beach Bar and Seafood Grill for a family meal. Meanwhile, the many species of bird native to Jamaica can be seen flapping their vibrant wings at Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.
Action and Adventure
Watching the cliff divers taking the almighty leap is an exhilarating way to spend an afternoon with the family in Montego Bay. Afterwards, watch in awe as the water cascades 600-feet downwards at Dunn’s River Falls and plunges into a pool of water below. You can even jump in the water with strangers you meet on your travels at this waterfall, which is situated close to Ocho Rios.
Pet a crocodile on the Black River Safari Tour or get an adrenaline rush by participating in a zip-lining adventure. An abundance of travel agents sell watersports equipment and organise activities. For a water adventure, scuba, snorkel, parasail or paraglide while under the supervision of a trained expert.
Life's a Beach
Cornwall Beach is perhaps the most well-known of Montego Bay’s sunbathing spots. The public beach features a restaurant and bar. Some other beaches around Mo Bay can be accessed free of charge, although there’s a fee required to enter Doctor Cave Beach. Positioned on what is known as the ‘Hip Strip’, this beach does have a rather touristy vibe, but it retains its rich Jamaican culture.
Located directly opposite Aquasol Water Park is Walter Fletcher Beach, where coconut trees conceal the clear water cove from the main road. Seven Mile Beach is another slice of paradise worth discovering, since it’s the most well-known expanse of sand and turquoise waters in all of Jamaica.
Nude sunbathing is allowed at Bloody Bay Beach. The beach does not welcome as many tourists as some of its neighbours, therefore it’s ideal if you're in search of hidden gems.
There’s something for everyone who goes on holiday to Montego Bay in 2017. Aside from enjoying cocktails under the sun, why not get dressed up and hit one of the nightlife hotspots? Although the Hip Strip lures in a younger crowd, it will also entertain anyone who’s into meeting international travellers.
The main beaches are just a few footsteps away, and the strip, which is positioned on Gloucester Avenue, is lined with clubs, bars, shops and heaps of venues that play live music. Knock back cheap drinks at Margaritaville, before moving onto Pier One for $2 rum drinks every Friday. Music events are regularly held on the stage at this low-key bar.
Dance, drink and socialise as you take in the glittering city skyline reflecting on the water. Some other places worth sipping beverages with friends or family inside include The Brewery, Groovy Grouper and Blue Beat Ultra Lounge. Alternatively, feast on meat platters and pizza at the Jamaican Bobsled Café, while counting down to the next Winter Olympics by watching the huge digital clock tick in real time.
The tranquil atmosphere and natural surroundings make Jamaica the ideal spot for a honeymoon adventure or romantic break. Embarking on an adventure around Montego Bay with your partner will be a trip to remember, what with so many untouched rivers, beaches, mountains and rainforests waiting to be uncovered.
John Crow Mountain National Park is a 195,000-acre enchanting green space where Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee grows. Take a bicycle and cycle to the Jablum Coffee Factory. If you and your partner are interested in learning about Jamaica's past, walk through the Green Grotto Caves close to Discovery Bay. Once upon a time, these caves were occupied by runaway slaves and even pirates in hiding.
Rafting adventures are easy to organise and since you will have the opportunity to float along the longest of all of Jamaica's rivers, the Rio Grande, rafting is something worth doing with that special someone. Oh, and let's not forget about the ‘Tunnel of Love’ that you’ll drift through during the private voyage.
Before you begin packing for your holiday to Montego Bay, gaining some knowledge about the ethnically diverse society is advisable. When you get an insight into an area's culture, you can earn a greater deal of respect from the locals. Just like any other place on the map, Jamaica has its very own customs, culture, etiquette and language.
Words and phrases like ‘waa gwaan’ (what's up) and ‘tank yuh’ (thank you) will make life easier during your 2017 holiday in Montego Bay. Nevertheless, most people in the tourist resorts will speak basic English. Families are very close-knit and so friendly are the people of Jamaica, that you’ll likely be treated as a family member, once you have earned their trust.
There are more churches per capita on the island than any other place in the world, with the vast majority of the population devoted to the Christian religion.