Things to Do in Montego Bay
Dunn's River Falls is a spectacular White River waterfall near Ocho Rios in Jamaica, where cold mountain water cascades 1,000 feet (300 meters) down naturally terraced steps. Those interested in geology will be fascinated with the way the world-famous falls renew themselves via regular deposits of calcium carbonate and sodium, while movie buffs will recognize them from films such as Dr. No and Cocktail.
Start your Montego Bay vacation as soon as you get off the plane at Club Mobay, and then linger in island vibes until the minute you board your flight back home. This luxury lounge in Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport combines professional services with Jamaican hospitality, making your airport experience part of your vacation.
The Martha Brae River, a 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch of turquoise water winding through Jamaica’s tropical inland rain forests, is an essential stop for nature lovers traveling through the Caribbean island. Though primarily a stopover for a quick rafting trip, the river’s prime location near other natural attractions and its wide diversity of wildlife makes it a worthwhile addition to any Jamaica vacation.
Take a walk through a unique piece of history with a tour of the magnificent hilltop Greenwood Great House. A national landmark, the house was built in the late 1700s by Richard Barrett, a cousin of poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, whose family was among Jamaica’s original colonial settlers.
The Rose Hall Great House is a grand estate built in the late 18th century in Montego Bay, Jamaica. One of the area’s most popular historic attractions, the Georgian mansion is the centerpiece of a 650-acre (263-hectare) plantation that is most notable for its famous occupant, Annie Palmer—better known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.
Set along Montego Bay’s famous Hip Strip stretch along Gloucester Avenue, Doctor’s Cave Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Jamaica’s west coast. A jumping-off point to the pristine 15-acre (6-hectare) Montego Bay Marine Park, the beach offers easy and direct access to fun water-based activities.
YS Falls comprises seven waterfalls on the YS River, located in St. Elizabeth Parish on the lush south coast of Jamaica. Often overshadowed by Dunn’s River Falls, YS is worth a visit for its more secluded location and the promise of a less-crowded experience of Jamaica’s natural beauty.
Buzzing with activity and music day and night, the Hip Strip is the beating heart of Montego Bay. This stretch of Gloucester Avenue—between Aquasol Theme Park and the airport—is the epicenter of tourism entertainment, where the town’s most popular shops, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and beach hangouts pulsate with fun-seeking travelers.
With a vast variety of tropical fish and coral thriving within the protected zone, pristine Montego Bay Marine Park is a snorkeling paradise. Water sports are prohibited in this area that stretches west from Tropical Beach to Rum Bottle Bay in Jamaica to protect the park’s coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds.
Named after the abolitionist hero who encouraged a nonviolent end to slavery, Sam Sharpe Square in downtown Montego Bay now serves as a point of interest to learn about Jamaica’s rich history, or simply to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and some people-watching.
More Things to Do in Montego Bay
The Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in Montego Bay is home to thousands of native and migrant birds, with various types of hummingbirds, American Redstarts, Jamaican Orioles, Caribbean Doves, Northern Mockingbirds, and a whole host of other species coming here to feed.
The sanctuary itself is set in the simple yet beautiful gardens of a rustic country home. It was founded and run by bird-lover, Lisa Salmon, until her death in 2000, and is now run by her nephew. It’s a peaceful and relaxing setting where the birds feel comfortable enough for visitors to feed them by hand. Some, such as the hummingbirds, are so tame that they will sit on your finger while feeding from a bottle of sugared water.
A popular stop for visitors, Montego Bay's craft market stretches for several blocks along Harbour Street and lets shoppers interact with the local artisans who run the narrow network of stalls. Come to pick up handmade Jamaican crafts, including custom woodworking, colorful paintings, and beads.
Just outside Montego Bay, Rastafari Indigenous Village is a peaceful working community offering visitors an opportunity to connect with local Rastafarians. Through warm interaction and musical performances, learn about their spiritual belief system, traditional skills, organic farming, and the rich cultural heritage they contribute to Jamaica.
Venture onto the back roads of Montego Bay to reach this one-of-a-kind hillside gallery and garden 2,000 feet (610 meters) above sea level. Surrounding an eco-conscious mini-museum run by local artist and art collector Ras Natango is a garden filled with tropical plants and birds, and it offers views of the Jamaican countryside.
Falmouth’s Luminous Lagoon is one of only a handful of places in the world where the phenomenon of bioluminescence occurs. For a magical experience for all ages, take a nighttime swim to see the brilliant phosphorescent blue lights shimmer when the slightest movement stirs the water.
Once Jamaica’s largest sugar plantation, the resplendent Good Hope Estate offers a unique and historic view into 18th-century life on the island. Visitors can enjoy horse-drawn carriage tours, an adventure park with ziplines, river tubing, ATV rides, and an exotic bird aviary. Overnight guests enjoy luxurious, colonial-era stone cottages.
At the entrance of Montego Bay’s famed Hip Strip, the family-friendly Aquasol offers more than just pristine snorkeling and lazy sunbathing. Here, travelers looking for more active beach time can enjoy water- and land-based fun, from banana boat rides, jet-skiing, kayaking, and glass-bottom boat trips to go-karts, tennis, and volleyball.
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.
More than just a bar and restaurant, Montego Bay’s version of the Margaritaville chain is a Jamaica attraction in its own right. Situated on the Caribbean along the Hip Strip of Gloucester Avenue, the Jimmy Buffett–themed hot spot has a variety of water sports, a bustling nightlife scene, and island cuisine.
Montego Bay is the capital of Saint James Parish and is the second-largest city in Jamaica. The Caribbean city offers an array of water activities, as well as duty-free shopping and plenty of shore excursions bound for other parts of the island.
While in the Montego Bay area, spend a day at the Croydon Plantation, the birthplace of national hero Samuel Sharpe and one of the last working plantations in Jamaica. Trading beachy coastline for sumptuous rain forest, journey into the Catadupa foothills where delicious sugarcane, coffee, honey, citrus fruits, and pineapples are grown.
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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