Montego Bay is Jamaica’s 2nd largest city and home to Sangster International Airport, the point of arrival for most travellers. It is also a bustling cruise ship port and popular destination for tourists seeking a fun tropical vacation. Located on the north coast, Montego Bay has no shortage of things to do including beautiful beaches, historic tours, horseback riding, and zip-lining. With all these activities and places to visit, it can be difficult choosing where you should spend your time. Let the following list of the best things to do in Montego Bay inspire you to plan your trip today!
Unmissable Montego Bay Attractions
Rose Hall Great House
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Built in 1770, Rose Hall is one of Jamaica’s historic plantation homes and the most visited place on the island. Considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world, this hilltop home was the former residence of Annie Palmer, who was known as the “White Witch of Rose Hall.” According to legend, she possessed evil and murdered three of her husbands and countless slaves during her reign of terror. Eventually killed by her slave lover, she now spends her nights walking the grounds after he put a curse on her body. Tours of Rose Hall Great House operate both during the day and at nighttime. In fact, the haunted night tour is the spookiest thing to do in Montego Bay, so don’t miss it!
Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
1 Ras Natango Way, Camrose District, Jamaica
Located high in the mountains over Montego Bay, the Ahhh…RasNatango Gallery and Garden is one of the finest eco-tourism attractions in the area. This outdoor art gallery and garden displays authentic Jamaican paintings and offers art classes designed to get your creative juices flowing. Ahhh…Ras Natango Gallery and Garden is also known for growing beautiful orchids, fruit trees, bromeliads, bougainvillea, and other tropical plants that thrive in their expertly tended gardens. Horticultural tours are available and are a great thing to do for birdwatchers looking to spot endemic birds in Montego Bay.
Doctor’s Cave Beach
Gloucester Ave, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Visiting Doctor’s Cave Beach is one of the top things to do in Montego Bay. Often crowded with cruise ship passengers, it is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. Open to the public for a small fee, Doctor’s Cave Beach offers amenities such as lounge chairs, umbrellas, change rooms, restaurants, and gift shops. It is also a great place for snorkelling, with gear available for rent onsite.
Dead End Beach
Kent Ave, Montego Bay, Jamaica
For an awe-inspiring experience, visit Dead End Beach. Mainly frequented by locals, this beach is located next to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay enabling visitors to watch the airplanes land while they swim. There are no washrooms or changing facilities on-site, so it’s wise to go prepared!
Martha Brae River Rafting
Rafter’s Village, Trelawny, Jamaica
Rafting on the Martha Brae River is one of the most relaxing and peaceful things to do around Montego Bay. Here, tour guides paddle handcrafted bamboo rafts down one of the biggest rivers in Jamaica while visitors admire the lush jungle scenery without having to lift a finger. With a slow-moving current, the 5km rafting trip takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Other amenities at Rafter’s Village include a picnic area, swimming pools, restrooms, a bar/lounge, souvenir shops, and a medicinal garden called Miss Martha’s Herb Garden. Miss Martha’s Herb Garden has a display of Jamaica’s indigenous flora which highlights their medical benefits. It shouldn’t be missed, especially for any cannabis curious tourist. Be sure to bring your swimsuit and a dry bag for your valuables.
Rockland’s Bird Sanctuary
Rocklands Rd, Wiltshire, Jamaica
Located about half an hour outside Montego Bay, the Rockland’s Bird Sanctuary is a must-visit for any bird or nature lover. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to get up close and personal with exotic and endemic species of Jamaican birds, and a unique opportunity to hand-feed hummingbirds.
Croydon in the Mountains
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Located at the base of the Catadupa Mountains about an hour outside Montego Bay, Croydon in the Mountains is one of the best places to visit in Jamaica. Often overlooked by tourists, this working plantation grows 17 varieties of pineapples, coffee, plantains and various citrus fruits. Tours here involve learning about the crops, sampling the homegrown produce and strolling through the magnificent grounds and conclude with a traditional Jamaican barbeque and Blue Mountain coffee.
Chukka Adventure Park
Good Hope Estate, Falmouth, Jamaica
If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for something to do, head to Chukka Adventure Park. Located about an hour outside Montego Bay, this nature adventure park has many exciting things to do such as ziplining, river tubing, horseback riding as well as ATV and dune buggy adventures. They also offer Appleton Rum Tasting, a Great House tour and an impressive swimming area with 3 pools, a tiered waterfall, and a waterslide. Plan to spend a whole day at Chukka Adventure Park enjoying all they have to offer.
Tryall Club Golf Course
Sandy Bay, Montego Bay, Jamaica
For an epic golfing experience visit the Tryall Club just outside Montego Bay. Home to one of the Caribbean’s most impressive and exclusive golf courses, this country club resort boasts magnificent views of both the mountains and the coastline. Anyone can play golf at the Tryall Club and with its private nature, the greens are never crowded allowing you to tee off in silence and immerse yourself in the game.
Greenwood Great House
435 Belgrade Ave, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Greenwood Great House is one of the most well-preserved great houses in Jamaica. It is also a fantastic (ghost-free) alternative to Rose Hall. Once owned by the family of famous poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, this 200-year-old Great House is one of the few that survived the slave uprising in 1831. Guided tours will take you through this antique-filled home where you can admire the rare and priceless collection of antique furniture.
Gloucester Avenue (the “Hip Strip”)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
If you are on a mission to shop for Jamaican souvenirs in Montego Bay, head down to Gloucester Avenue, also known as the “Hip Strip.” Here, the streets are lined with shops carrying a variety of knickknacks, arts & crafts and other souvenirs. Unfortunately, the vendors here are often persistent, if not downright pushy. Be prepared to say a firm “no, thank you” quite often.
Sam Sharpe Square
Montego Bay, Jamaica
At the center of downtown Montego Bay, the Sam Sharpe Square commemorates national hero, Samuel Sharpe. A key player in the abolishment of slavery in Jamaica, he was hung in this square after his anti-slavery campaign. Also in Sam Sharpe Square is the Cage. Built in 1806 as a jail for runaway slaves, this small structure offers visitors a snapshot of Jamaica’s darker past. Although the square is chaotic, it is an essential stop on any historical tour.
Things to Avoid in Montego Bay
Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon
While the Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica is one of the few places in the world where bioluminescence exists, its iconic blue glow has dissipated in recent years. What has happened is the boat engines used to churn up the water in order to create this magical effect has actually killed thousands of bioluminescent microorganisms. Although it still might seem like an interesting experience, the impact on the environment cannot be overlooked.
As mentioned in a previous post, the ethically questionable nature of Dolphin Cove leads me to put it in my list of things NOT to do in Montego Bay. While there have not been any allegations of abuse at this establishment, I do not believe dolphins should be kept in captivity for up-close encounters with humans.
Now that you know all about the best things to do in Montego Bay, choose a few of your favourites and spend a few days exploring the island. Whether you join a tour group or rent a car for the day, you’re bound to have a great time.
Have you visited Montego Bay? What was your favourite thing to do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
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