Montego Bay is the main tourist hub for Jamaica and also its second largest city. With so many amazing things to do in Montego Bay, it is easy to see why the city has been ranked the epicentre of tourism in Jamaica.
Whether you are dreaming of enjoying the gorgeous beaches, exploring Jamaica’s rich culture at its many historical sites, going on an outdoor adventure, or simply enjoying the pulsating beats of reggae music, there is something here for everyone.
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Visit a Nature Lover’s Paradise at Ahh….Ras Natango
This attraction is one of Montego Bays best-kept secrets. It is a beautiful oasis for nature lovers and consists of a botanical garden and an art gallery, ideal for anyone who loves flowers, plants, birds or art. This experience gives you a slice of Jamaica that few tourists bother to venture to and provides panoramic views of Montego Bay from all angles. You will learn about the flora and fauna native to the island. You can also experience working with the owners “special assistants”, the Jamaican doctor bird, our national bird, even getting the opportunity to feed them. An added plus is the art gallery, where you can purchase souvenirs for loved ones.
Visit a Great House
Great houses are a reflection of Jamaica’s colonial past. They would be the main house on a plantation and the home of planters or representatives of absentee owners. The larger the size of the great house, the larger the size and wealth of the whole estate. Rose Hall Great House and Greenwood Great House are two great houses located close to Montego Bay.
The Rose Hall Great House is one of the most popular great house attractions in Jamaica. Its notoriety stems from the tale of Annie Palmer the white witch of Rose Hall. Legend has it that she killed not one but all three of her husbands. Some believe that Annie still haunts the house today. The great house is also an excellent way to learn about Jamaica’s colonial past.
Greenwood Great House, situated around 15 minutes from Montego Bay, offers you panoramic views of the wonderful Jamaican coastline. This great house was formerly owned by the family of the famous English poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. It is over 200 years old and one of the best preserved great houses in Jamaica.
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Go to the Beach
There are a number of beaches in Montego Bay; however, the best beach is Doctor’s Cave Beach. The water is known for its mineral content and the beach consists of gorgeous white sand. There is a restaurant on the beach and, of course, the quintessential beach bar. Being a private beach there is a small entrance fee, but it’s a small price to pay since its one of the best-run beaches on the island. The only drawback is the crowds that visit on cruise ship days.
Another one of my favourite beaches is Silver Sands Beach, which is around 35 minutes from Montego Bay. Silver Sands is a villa community and has one of the best beaches in Jamaica. It is bigger than Doctor’s Cave and is usually not very crowded. That might be because it costs around three times as much as Doctor’s Cave.
Go to a Reggae Concert
Jamaica can boast that it has created not one but more than five genres of music, the most popular genre being reggae. If you are visiting Jamaica in July, try and time your visit for Reggae Sumfest. This is the premier reggae festival on the island and you may even spot some of Jamaica’s most famous musicians.
Go Rafting on the Martha Brae
Bamboo Rafts were originally used in Jamaica to transfer local produce from the inland plantations to the coast. Today rafting is one of the most popular attractions in Jamaica. Climb aboard a 30-foot bamboo raft, sit back, and relax as your raft captain navigates down the Martha Brae River. This is probably one of the most relaxing things you will do in Montego Bay. Don’t forget to bring your camera so you can document this unforgettable experience. The tour starts at Rafter’s Village, which consists of a bar, souvenir shops, etc. Also, visitors get to visit Miss Martha’s Herb Garden, where you can learn about Jamaica’s medicinal herbs and their healing properties.
Are you looking for an adrenaline rush? Why not go zip lining in Montpellier, which is around 30 minutes outside Montego Bay. Experience the lush countryside with a bird’s eye view high above the tropical landscape, and take in the unique flora and fauna. You will experience a series of zip lines that fly through forests and over mountains and river canyons at over 35 mph. Get your breath back on intermittent nature walks when your guide will introduce you to the history of the area.
Enjoy the twists and turns of the meandering Great River while Jamaica’s beautiful scenery unfolds before your eyes. The river changes from a slow relaxing float to a rush of excitement of tumbling water. This is also a great way to get out of the main towns and explore the Jamaican countryside for a unique point of view.
Experience Jamaican Food
Jamaica is a food lover’s paradise. We have Jerk meats, Ackee and Saltfish, Oxtail, Curried Goat, Sweet Potato Pudding and much more. Montego Bay has a number of restaurants; here are a couple of my favourites.
Pelican Restaurant on Gloucester Avenue is a popular favourite with locals. I always say if you want the best local food, go where the locals eat. Pelican Restaurant has been serving up home-style Jamaican food for over 50 years. If you want to experience a great Jamaican breakfast of Ackee and Saltfish this is my favourite spot. This restaurant is centrally located on the hip strip.
Scotchies is the best place to go if you want to experience Jerk cuisine. An added plus is Scotchies also offers other Jamaican cuisine such as festivals (fried sweet dough), roast yam, and breadfruit. Scotchies is located around 10 minutes from central Montego Bay.
ATV Off-Road Adventure
Get ready to go on the ride of a lifetime as you journey through the Jamaican countryside. You can explore small villages, experience Jamaican country life, and take in scenic views of the coastline of the northern coast of Jamaica.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
I know you have imagined yourself horseback riding on a Jamaican beach. You can take it one step further and go horseback riding atop a horse in the ocean. This is an experience you will never forget! You also get to ride up mountain terrains with spectacular ocean vistas. You will pass through farmlands and have the opportunity to explore the ruins of an 18th-century sugar plantation.
Catamaran cruises are a popular attraction in Montego Bay. You can go for an evening cruise and watch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail. Another alternative is to go on a day cruise to Negril, which is on the western part of the island. You will arrive just in time to experience the famous Negril sunset at Ricks Café, where you can watch the daring cliff divers. You can also snorkel off the boat and enjoy the diverse marine life. This cruise also provides you with a unique view of the Jamaican coastline.
Visit Luminous Lagoon
This is a magical attraction, located around 25 minutes from Montego Bay. Its claim to fame is that it is one of only five bioluminescent bays in the world. This one in Jamaica is reputed to be one of the brightest. The bay has millions of micro-organisms called dinoflagellates, which glow when disturbed, causing the water to emit a blue glow.
Tours are offered nightly and for the more adventurous, you can swim in the water and watch the water glow around you. An insider tip is to remember to bring water shoes with you, as the bottom of the lagoon is very muddy.
With four of the ten golf courses in Jamaica located in Montego Bay, the city can be considered the island’s golfing capital. Golf enthusiasts will be surprised to discover the number and variety of golf courses available in close proximity to each other.
The four golf courses are Cinnamon Hill golf course, the White Witch golf course, The Half Moon golf course and the Tryall Golf course. These courses are not only challenging but offer some of the most breath-taking views of the Caribbean Sea.
There is such a wide variety of things to do in Montego Bay that you will keep on coming back again and again. The beauty of Montego Bay is that it is also home to Jamaica’s main airport so you can literally be sitting on a beach or having a new experience within an hour of landing. Location wise Montego Bay is also two hours from Ocho Rios, Negril, and the south coast, so you can easily visit these diverse regions and experience their wonderful attractions.