Montego Bay, commonly referred to as MoBay, is the second largest city in the island nation Jamaica, a member of the British Commonwealth. Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish, one of the 14 parishes in Jamaica.
Christopher Columbus sailed into the bay in 1494 and named it "el Golfo de Buen Tiempo" or Fair Weather Bay. The first record of a Spanish settlement here shows it as Monterias. The Spaniards hunted the herds of wild hogs that used to roam the hills and produced and exported 'hog butter' or lard. The name Montego derives from the Spanish "manteca" meaning lard, and Montego Bay is shown on some ancient maps as Lard Bay.
Due in part to its location on the island's north shore, Montego Bay has long since earned the title of 'tourist capital of Jamaica.' It receives the bulk of international flights, and is home to Sangster International Airport, the larger of Jamaica's two main international airports. It is a tourist destination known for its duty free shopping, cruise line terminal, and the sheltered Doctor's Cave beach with clear turquoise waters, which is one of the most famous beaches on the island.
Montego Bay Sangster international airport is on the northwest part of the island. The airport is very close to the cruise ports at Montego Bay and Ochos Rios.
Here there are some companies that offer private transportation:
Montego Freeport, built in the 1960s on what was called the Bogue Islands, is the port of Montego Bay. The Montego Freeport terminal consists of five primary berths two of which are dedicated exclusively for cruise shipping. There is a telecommunications centre for cruise passengers (and crew), snack and refreshment stand.
Transportation is available from the terminal building, supervised by the Jamaica Tourist Board, which also maintains a visitor information booth. Montego Freeport is about 3km south of town. Taxis to downtown MoBay cost about US$10. Shuttle bus service from the cruise ship pier to downtown City Centre Shopping Mall for US $ 2.-per person each way.
Downtown Montego Bay
You'll be endlessly accosted by taxis in the arrival hall to take you where-ever you need to go. Their prices are exorbitant by Jamaican standards (US$10 and up), but they may be your best option if you're traveling with large amounts of luggage.
If you're traveling light, the airport is very close to Gloucester Ave (Hip Strip), and it should take no more than 10 minutes to walk to the north end of it from the airport. Just follow the signs on your way out of the airport, walking on the highway is normal and acceptable in Jamaica, and there is a small sidewalk the whole way to Gloucester Ave. It takes more like 30-40 minutes to get to the city center 3km away.
For quicker and cheaper travel, take a route taxi (designated by red license plates), but only if you have Jamaican Dollars. After leaving the international terminal, follow the sidewalk toward the domestic terminal (to your right) around 750 feet. Straight ahead you'll see a bunch of white sedans with red plates, that are the route taxis into town. Be sure to clarify you're not hiring the entire taxi and doing a share. The (Jamaican) fare is $80 but be ready to tourist price of pay $100.
Another option is to walk to the highway and flag one down. The fare should be less than $100J(around US$1) anywhere in the city, but don't be surprised if you give a $100bill, and don't get change. In fact, your best bet is probably to give a $100JMD bill.
Getting back to the airport, again, you can flag down a route taxi anywhere on the hip-strip. I found it best to take one from the transportation center downtown, they will be waiting in a line to fill up. Just sit down in the taxi in front of the line, and wait for it to fill up. Having taken the route several times, and observing closely what locals pay, the fare from downtown to the airport is $80JMD (as of April 2013).
Gloucester Avenue-which is lined with tourist hotels, shops, and restaurants-has sidewalks on both sides and is best visited on foot. Aside from this road, walking may be considerably less safe.
By bus, taxi
Buses, minibuses and route taxis arrive and depart from the transportation station off Barnett St at the south end of St James St. There’s an inspector’s office (7AM-6PM) inside the gate where you can ask for the departure point of the bus you’re seeking.
Montego Bay Metro (952-5500; 19A Union St) introduced in 2000 a municipal bus service. Montego Bay Metro now operates three routes: Greenwood to City Centre; Sandy Bay to City Centre; and Cambridge to City Centre.
Taxis are readily available, but as with all cities be aware that some drivers will be less honest or reliable than others. follow your instincts; never get into an unmarked car with someone who offers you a ride, and stick with taxi services you recognize. Your hotel can suggest trustworthy drivers.
Another very common way of getting anywhere outside the vicinity of your hotel is by tour van. If you book a tour to the falls or the canopy, the driver will usually pick you up at your hotel. For more on tours, check the Do section below.
The Centerstage Theatre, Dominica Dr. New Kingston, ☎ 876-968-7529. Small but cozy. Family-oriented musicals in patois.
Downtown. Busy, noisy, intimidating, but refreshingly real. This is not quite what people think of as a tourist attraction. However, this is the best place to go and experience the "real" Jamaica. Amidst the crumbling buildings and incessant traffic, Jamaicans go about their daily lives only 1km but a world away from the glitzy resorts on the hip-strip. Here, sidewalks are almost non-existent, hawkers sell their wares next to garbage-piles and open-sewage, and getting around is like playing an advanced level of Frogger. Nevertheless, this is the place to go and eat at a real local eatery, or buy some more authentic souvenirs. What's more, there is some seriously interesting architecture in and around the central square. Don't be too intimidated, here, people are generally more likely to be genuinely interested in you (and why you're walking around the city center) rather than try and hustle you for money. Still, it's probably best to avoid here after dark, leave unessentials behind, and to dress down...aside from having a white face, wearing shorts, sunglasses, sandals, and a tank-top will immediately scream "Lost Tourist!". Wear pants, shoes, and a button-shirt, and people may even ask what kind of work you do in Jamaica (seriously!), or (perhaps tongue-in-cheek)if you are Jamaican. Stick around for more than a half hour, and the intimidation wears off and you feel at one with the crowd. The most important thing to gain here is a little perspective. Come face-to-face with the harsh realities of Jamaican life, and maybe you'll have a little more respect for Jamaicans, and a little more understanding for the hustlers or the taxi drivers who keep your $20JMD change.
Take a break from the sun and relax on the beach under a palm tree
Go diving with Nelson (www.bethelcourt.com), 25 Bethel Court, Mount Salem, Montego Bay, Jamaica, ☎ 876 476-7239 (email@example.com), . 9AM-5PM. Do you want to go scuba diving in Montego Bay? Come to Bethel Court and Go diving with Nelson. He will pick you up for free at Bethel Court and take you diving. PADI licensed instructor offering PADI Scuba Diving certification (Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver / Emergency First Response, Dive Master) from Montego Bay, Jamaica..US$80.00 per dive (Adults/Child). (18.467032°,-77.901156°)
Cornwall Beach, ☎ 876 952-3463. 9AM-5PM. Snorkeling, swimming, and other fun beach activities.US$3.20/2 (Adults/Child).
Doctor's Cave Beach, Gloucester Ave., ☎ 876 952-2566. 8:30AM-Sunset. The water is crystal clear and snorkeling is available. It can get a bit crowded during busy season, but its still a great place to go for the family.US$5/2.50 (Adults/Children under 12) - Extra for chairs and umbrellas.
Dunn’s River Falls & Park, Ochos Rios, Jamaica, W.I., ☎ +1 876 974-2857, . 8:30AM - 4PM. Dunn's River Falls & Park comes to mind which is in Ochos Rios that is about two hours from Montego Bay by taxi cab. There are four rivers combined into one unending flow of rapid descent that drains directly into the Caribbean Sea. Adventurous tourist can climb the falls by forming a human chain led by an experienced Dunn’s river falls guide. Adults US $15 Children (2-11 years old) US $12.
John Halls Montego Bay Adventure Tour, . Thorough and thrilling tour of Jamaica's beauty and culture.Adults: 75.00 Children:31.50.
KiteBoarding Jamaica, Bounty Bay, Trelawny (only 20min from Montego Bay), ☎ 876-5832255, . Jamaica's only Kite surfing center, great kite surfing on the Caribbean sea, suitable for all levels.
Montego Bay Sea Trek Adventure, Doctor's Cave Beach. 1 hour. Underwater adventures on the ocean floor.US$60.
Walter Fletcher Beach, ☎ 876 979-9447. M-Th 9AM-7PM, F-Su 9AM-10PM. Swimming, boat rides, and other beachtime fun.US$5/3 (Adults/Children).
Mr. Stubbs, ☎ (876) 995- 9466, . Flexible Hours. Airport transport and tours. Mr. Stubbs is a local guide who does airport transfers and also personalized tours. Air conditioned bus. Seats up to 20 people. Note, he usually books up quite fast in high season.
Best Jamaica, 29 Appleton Hall Drive Montego Bay, ☎ (876) 403- 5045, . Flexible Hours. Offers airport transfers and tours across Jamaica with uncompromising service.
Phillip Country Tours, ☎ 404-213-1422, . Offers eco-friendly, personalized tours in Western Jamaica.
No Problem, ☎ (876) 381- 3229 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Jamaican tour company offers various private tours all over the island.Full day Charter: US $780 Half day Charter: US $400.
Dreamer Catamaran Cruises, Rapsody Tours, Charters & Cruise Limited, Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay, Jamaica, ☎ (876) 979-0102 (email@example.com, fax: (876) 979-0101), . M-Sa 10AM-1PM/3PM-6PM. The Dreamer Catamaran cruises are a great way to explore the Caribbean Ocean. On the Catamaran cruise, there is an opportunity for sight seeing, snorkeling, drinking, sun bathing. The staff is very friendly, helpful and patient, making sure new comers to snorkeling feel comfortable with their equipment and what to look for while exploring the sea. After snorkeling, alcohol is served on the catamaran, along with massages by the crewmemebers. The Dreamer Catamaran cruises are fun, safe, and a great experience.US $89.
All day, representatives from tour companies will stroll the beaches, offering parasailing, horseback riding, and a million other fun activities; if you're interested, keep your ears and eyes open for these guys, but remember to always play it safe and go with companies you recognize and trust. A lot can go wrong during these activities if the people in charge don't know what they're doing!
Montego Bay shopping center. You can find more reasonably priced souvenirs, and eat some real native Jamaican food. A traveler can find really great deals on gourmet coffee in which is produced right on the island, and Jamaican spices, art and scented body oils. You can get there by taxi or local shuttle.
At tourist/souvenir shops on in downtown Montego Bay, expect to negotiate prices
Most restaurants also serve drinks. Try a tropical drink or grab a cold Red Stripe in the signature brown bottle, then relax and take in the scenery!
Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville
Pier One Seafood, Howard Cooke Boulevard, ☎ +1 876 952 2452, . Open-air restaurant serving well-liked seafood and umbrella drinks with a great view of the bay.
Evelyn's, Whitehouse (near Sandals Montego Bay), ☎ +1 876 952 3280. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Very reasonable prices, right on the beach, and the food is heavenly.
Pork Pit, 27 Gloucester Ave., ☎ 876-952-3663. Right on the main strip in town, serving what some say is Jamaica's best jerk chicken and pork cooked over coals.
Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, Gloucester Ave, . 11AM-?. 8. A tourist spot on the "hip strip" Gloucester Avenue, that is great for the whole family. Jamaica is known for their Jerk and Curry Chicken, which are both excellent here at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville. They have entertainment, a hot tub, a 110 foot water slide that leads you into the ocean where there is also a water trampoline. Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville also has a gift shop, with a wide variety of souvenirs including t-shirts, shorts, hats, shot glasses, key chains, etc. This is a great place to get away from the resorts, it is located about 15 minutes from the resort areas and is always a great place to grab a bite to eat. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is always a great reminder of home, and always has a sense of “home” even in other countries.
Day-O Plantation Restaurant, ☎ 876-952-1825. A favorite spot for romantic occasions, offering garden dining and Jamaican fusion cuisine.
Belfield 1794. M-Sa 6:30-11PM.. Located in an old sugar mill and offering Jamaican favorites in an unusual setting.US$15-$20.
Royal Stocks English Pub, Located in the gardens of The Half Moon Village Shopping Village (Montego Bay is just 5 miles (8Km) to the West, and The Rose Hall Beach Resort just 3 miles to the East), ☎ (876)953-9770/9771 (firstname.lastname@example.org), .
Check into your hotel, then head to the beach and check out!
Linkage Guesthouse 33 Church St., Downtown
I guess "authentic" is the best way to describe this place. It's an intimidating hotel in the intimidating downtown district. This place is for the seriously budget conscious traveller only. It is easily the cheapest place in town, and possibly the cheapest on the whole island... but, you get what you pay for, which is a private bed, a shared shower, and a locking door (and not much else). The walls look like my fat uncle's t-shirt after he ate a greasy burrito and then ran a mile in the Sahara desert, the bathroom doors are so warped with years of moisture that opening and closing them sounds like moving a heavy dresser across the floor, and it's not clear if the people you pay your money to are owners or squatters. Still, a good place if you just want a place to crash before getting out of MoBay and you don't plan on going to the beach or going out at night $1500JMD/night (about $17USD)
Bethel Court Guesthouse Mount Salem
(http://www.bethelcourt.com) - Here you will have your own private furnished apartment. $20/night dorms, $50 Private 1 bedroom apartment 1-876-476-7239.
The Bird's Nest Patterson Avenue, Ironshore, (http://www.kiteboardingjamaica.com) - It is Jamaicas first and only sports orientated hostel, the best choice on the island for sports related travel. The Birds Nest is run by passionate kitesurfers who operate Jamaicas only IKO Kitesurf center app. 20 minutes from the hostel. $ 20/night dorms,$30 Private Rooms +1 (876) - 5832255; 5050126.
Caribic House 69 Gloucester Avenue. Hostel - very much budget accommodation. Great views of the beach from the third floor. Across the street from Doctor's Cave Beach. $35/night (double occupancy) Note, it was $60/night in Dec.2012, seasonal variation?.
Hotel Gloriana, 1-2 Sunset Blvd., +1 876 979-0669, . A cheap place to sleep, with lovely staff, but the rooms are very basic. $30/night.
Ridgeway Guest House, 34 Queens Dr . An inexpensive, well-liked guest house run by a very hospitable and helpful staff. $50/night.
The Jamaica Grandiosa Resort, 3 Ramparts Close, +1 876 979 3205. Another budget option, with nice views and a friendly staff. $60/night.
Grand Palladium Resorts & Spa located in Lucea,
Jamaica +1 888 774-0040
call for reservations
3 Meals daily plus snacks and
all drinks and house wines with meals inluded. Free activities (snorkeling, sailing, paddle boating) all of these activities are located on the beach adjacent to the Grand Palladium Resort.Lifeguard on duty. $60/night.
Kids Stay Free
Allspice Villa Bed & Breakfast, . Newly refurbished bed and breakfast villa overlooking Montego Bay, owned and managed by a young American couple. $125-200 per night.
Paradise Palms Jamaica, .Ranked number 4 on Tripadvisor Vacation rental 0044208 5996516
Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, . All inclusive, good for families starting at around $150/night. Water is shallow but you can see fish snorkeling. Good 'all-rounder'.
Doctors Cave Beach Hotel, a moderately priced hotel that is centrally located along Gloucester Avenue (called the Hip Strip). A well established alternative for those seeking a good value. $115-170/night.
El Greco Resort, P.O. Box 1624 . Popular resort village. Furnished one and two bedroom air-conditioned suites, just a elevator ride down to famous Doctors Cave beach. $112-177/night for 2-4 people.
Royal DeCameron Resort, +1 876 952-4342, . Oceanview rooms and patio, includes all food and drinks (including international drinks and wine). 3 Beaches, and 2 pools. 1 Al a carte restaurant and 1 buffet. 100$/person/night, including all beach activities.
Rose Hall Resort & Spa, a Hilton Resort, Rose Hall Road, Montego Bay. Tel: 1-876-953-2650, . This island resort in Montego Bay was a legendary sugar plantation during the 18th century. $250/night.
Royal Reef Hotel in Montego Bay, Greenwood P.O. Box 10 Falmouth, Trelawny Jamaica W.I. . The Royal Reef Hotel in Montego Bay is a premier Jamaican hotel that provides guests with luxurious comfort that caters to the needs of every traveler. . Rates start at $150
Altamont West Hotel, 33 Gloucester Avenue, ☎ (876) 620 4540, . Rates start at $90.
Half Moon Rose Hall, Half Moon P.O., Rose Hall, +1 876 953 2211, . A large hotel with golf courses, spa facilities, a variety of vacation villas, and conference and meeting facilities. Rooms and suites start at $350/night.
Ritz Carlton, One Ritz-Carlton Drive, Rose Hall, +1 876 953-2800 (Fax: +1 876 518-0110), . Consistent Ritz-Carlton quality, at a surprisingly low (for the Ritz) price. Luxurious rooms and suites averaging $350/night.
Riu Montego Bay, Ironshore P.O, Rose Hall . Less than three miles from downtown Montego Bay, and 1.7 miles from the airport, it has a wide variety of activities and comfortable accommodations in a beautiful setting, including an on-site spa, entertainment by the pool and on the beach during the day and on stage at night. $400/night The Riu Montego Bay has a total of 5 bars and 5 restaurants. The restaurants include a Steak House, Italian Restaurant, Asian Restaurant, Main Restaurant and a pool-side buffet. There are 2 pool-side bars, and 2 inside the resort and 1 sports bar. The sports bar is open 24 hours with a mini-casino located right next door. There is always entertainment during the day at the pool area and at night, either in the entertainment area, or on the beach. The Riu Montego Bay is a great vacation spot for everybody.
Silent Waters Villa, River Road, Great River Private, ☎ +1 847 304-4700, . Luxury villa with nice views and good service. The 5 guest suites and the owner's villa can accommodate one group of up to 20. Tennis court, 2 pools, heliport, 14 staff.$2,000-$4,857/night..
Tryall Club Villas, Alice Eldemire Dr., Hanover Parish (15-20 minute drive west of the city), ☎ +1 (876) 956-5660, . A splurge, but worth it. Popular for its many amenities and available activities, as well excellent service.$400/night.
While Montego Bay is a relatively safe city, normal precautions should be observed. Stay in groups, and stick to tourist areas. The rural areas are especially dangerous. Most locations in close proximity to the resorts are safe.
You can get domestic flights to Kingston's second airport Tinson Pen.
A weekly international service to Santiago de Cuba is also available, costing approximately US$400 (June 2012) with Air jamaica Shuttle
By Bus/Route Taxi
The Montego Bay Transportation Center, in downtown Montego Bay has buses and route-taxis serving most cities throughout the country including but not limited to Black River, Ocho Rios, Spanish Town & Kingston. Don't be intimidated, If you can't find the right taxi or bus in the transportaion center, you'll almost certainly be approached by someone asking you where you're going. Don't panic, these people are generally trustworthy and will point you in the right direction. When in doubt, make sure the car or bus you get into has a red license plate, and it should have its destination printed on the side door (e.g. MoBay-to-Lucea). Another good bet that you aren't getting scammed is to only get into a vehicle with other Jamaican passangers in it. Again, people at the transportation center aren't like the hustlers on the hip-strip, so take their info at face value as it generally tends to be correct.
To get to Negril, you'll have to take a bus or route taxi to Lucea. The fare to Lucea is around $180JMD. Where the bus drops you off in Lucea, there will likely be a route-taxi waiting to fill up and take you to Negril. Again, the people hanging around in Lucea can generally be trusted to point you in the right direction. Lucea-Negril was around $200JMD.
To get to Ocho Rios ask to get pointed to the right mini bus. It should be $400 JMD and about 1 hour 45 minutes.
To get to Treasure Beach, there is supposedly a bus to Black River, this would be your best bet. Then transfer to a route-taxi in Black River. Avoid taking a bus to Savanna-la-mar, as this is a longer route and a bigger hassle (you'll need to take two more taxis just to get to Black River anyway). Total fare should be $300-$500JMD.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!