Difference between revisions of "Montego Bay"
Latest revision as of 21:02, 23 May 2019
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 and the busiest tourist arrival destination.
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 Ocho Rios.
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.
There are two major parts of Montego Bay. Downtown and the hip strip on Gloucester Avenue.
Downtown is very crowded and is recommended to see only during the day. Many parts at night can be unsafe. Downtown during the day is very busy; a taxi will move very slowly. Downtown is a cool opportunity to see life in a city in Jamaica. Aside from this road, walking may be considerably less safe. This is where you can find local grocery stores and such. This is where the bus station and Knutsford Express is located. Be aware the city will have many people asking for money or wanting to show you around. People offering advice or wanting to show you around will want money. It's best to say no thank you from the start.
The hip strip on Gloucester Avenue-which is lined with tourist hotels, shops, and restaurants-has sidewalks on both sides and is best visited on foot. This area isn't very far from the airport.
The first thing to note is the various types of taxis. There are three kinds, Red-Plate, Tours, and non-Red-Plates.
Red-Plates are official taxis. These cars have a red license plate on the car. Do not let the "official taxi" fool you into paying high prices. These Taxi's will offer exorbitant prices too. You could probably cut their fair by 1/3 to 1/2. Do not be surprised if you don't pay the full exorbitant price, they will pick up an additional person, especially if it's a van. NEVER get into a taxi before establishing a price. Be ready to have exact change or do not expect anything back. They do not take credit cards.
Non-Red plate taxi's can be anyone owning a car wanting to drive people around. These will be very prevalent by the bus stations, away from the airports and in tourist areas, and the beaches. These can be unsafe because they are not regulated by the country or locally. These taxi's will offer the same fees higher then the Red-Plates. NEVER get into a taxi that does not have red plates, as they are not licensed nor insured to accept passengers.
Tours Taxi's such as Junta Tours are officially sanction by the tourism board. These buses or cars will offer fair prices, but not as low as if you bargained with the red-plates. These taxi's will offer fair costs from the start with 1-2$ more.
You'll be endlessly accosted by taxis in the arrival hall to take you where-ever you need to go. See the various types of taxis above. Their prices are exorbitant by Jamaican standards (US$10 and up).
If you're traveling with large amounts of luggage. These Taxis might be your best option, recently the airport staff has assisted with helping travels get a taxi if desired. From the aiport to downtown/Knoxford Express bus depot. You shouldnt pay more than $500-$800 Jamaican.
If you're traveling light, the airport is very close to Gloucester Ave (Hip Strip), and it should take no more than 15 minutes to walk to the north end of it from the airport. You need to exit the airport from the main entrance of 'Departures', walk up the hill until you reach Sunset Blvd, and make a right. There is a sidewalk the whole way to Gloucester Ave, which is the last left turn and the edge of Sunset. It takes more like 30-40 minutes to get to the city center 3km away. The hip strip is a quick 15-25 min walk. Please notice that if you don't look like a local and if you're carrying luggage, you'll encounter on the way endless amounts of taxi drivers that will offer you their services, by honking the horn at you and of stopping on the road next to you - just politely make it clear that you're not interested and move on.
For quicker and cheaper travel, take a route taxi (designated by red license plates), but only if you have Jamaican Dollars (some won't mind taking US dollars, at a higher exchange rate). 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 roadway 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. Be ready to bargin, you will be lucky to get this price. NEVER get into a cab without establishing a price prior to getting in or going anywhere.
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).NEVER get into a cab without establishing a price prior to getting in or going anywhere.
Be aware some locally owned resorts will have "official cab drivers" who will offer exorbitant prices too. Never be afraid to say no and take your business elsewhere. NEVER get into a cab without establishing a price prior to getting in or going anywhere.
Many hotels and resorts offer their own free buses, check with you hotel before arrival it will save you the hassle with dealing with local taxi's and bargaining.
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 but if a hotel recommends a driver that is expensive, do not be afraid to say "no thank you". If an offer feels expensive, it probably is.
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.
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!
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!
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)
(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.
Jamaica +1 888 774-0040 call for reservations
All Inclusive 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
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.
Jamaicans are very friendly people. In touristy areas though, be aware there are many people who will welcome you, ask you where you're from and offer advice are looking for money. Especially people who go out of their way to say hello. Many will be willing to walk you to a recommended restaurant or offer to show you around. These people will always ask for money in return. Even after giving a few dollars, they will even ask for more. Don't be afraid to say no, and to avoid these people from the start.
When walking down the street, people looking for money will look for ways to grab your attention, such as a fist pound or handshake. Do not be afraid to keep walking, and politely say "no thank you". This can get very tedious at times but think similarly to how you will deal with panhandlers in any major city. When choosing not to stop, you might get some accusations of being "racist", "why you in a hurry", "why you being rude" and such. Remember when walking away they are still trying to get your attention, don't take it personally. Typically, a pleasant "thank you" and "have a nice day" will stop them. Also note, shops will have staff standing in front of stores, to get you to come in. A simple no thank you will suffice.
The inner-city areas are especially dangerous, as this is where the poorer people live. The further away you are from downtown Montego Bay, generally speaking, the safer it is. Most locations in close proximity to the resorts are safe. Particularly on nights that cruise ships are in town, locals looking for money and such will be quite aggressive. On the Hip Strip, there are Tourism Cops in white shirts, black pants and a wide-brimmed hat. They are there mainly to stop locals from trying to hustle tourists. Falling similarly to the information above, walking in groups, a pleasant "no thank you" will suffice and keep walking. See the taxi section when it comes to transportation.
Prostitution is prevalent at night in Montego Bay on the back streets, the Hip Strip and at 'sketchy' bars. A pleasant "no thank you" will suffice and keep walking. They will just move on to the next person.
It is illegal to buy and/or use drugs in Jamaica. Commonly, you may be offered marijuana 'smoke... smoke?', "the bob Marley" or simply "weed" by the locals. A pleasant "no thank you" will usually suffice. Do not be surprised if you are offered weed several times throughout your stay because there is a demand for it by some travellers. In addition, you might be offered a free amount. If you are not interested, just firmly but politely say "No, thank you" and go on your way.
According to an article in Forbes Magazine dated May 3, 2018, "marijuana has been decriminalized in Jamaica. So the worst that can happen if you get caught with a little illegal reefer (no more than 2 ounces) is get slapped with a small fine of around five bucks. There is no more flogging for cannabis users like the police used to do back in the old days." (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeadams/2018/05/03/toker-travels-how-to-buy-marijuana-legally-in-jamaica/#638b450b38df)
You can get domestic flights to Kingston's second airport Tinson Pen.
You can book helicopter airport transfer transportation with 
By Bus/Route Taxi
Knutsford Express Buses are becoming more and more popular for means of travel throughout Jamaica. Knutsford Express offers charter buses form all the major cities to any of the major tourist locations such as Ocho-Rios, Kingston, Negril and Montego Bay. Fairs are payable on site or on their website ahead of time. Costs depends on the time you book, it's recommended to book ahead of time.
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.