Gone Beachin! 📍Montego Bay, Jamaica
Updated: May 23, 2018
When planning international trips, it’s best to do your research. My priority list consists of location, food, amenities and price, most importantly price. You would think that everybody wants more bang for their buck, but some people just want views. To each his own! However, when I want nice weather, nice beaches, Caribbean culture, good reggae music to vibe to, exclusive liquors, jerk chicken, food filled pineapples and One Love, I think, Jamaica! I plan my own trips and recommend cheapcaribbean.com as the booking source for all Caribbean destinations. They offer payment arrangement options, great customer service and frequent promo code sales. I’m a loyal customer.
Back one hot summer, for 4th of July, I explored the city of Montego Bay, for the first time. Montego Bay is the capital of Saint James Parish on Jamaica’s north coast. It is Jamaica’s second largest city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. This area is full of beautiful beaches, snorkeling and diving arenas, all-inclusive resorts, cruise ports, duty-free shopping and golf courses. Depending on the time of year, Montego Bay can be full of spring break party animals or mixed families, friends, singles and couples. Either way, it’s a blast waiting to happen, on any budget.
Jamaica is usually hot! Be sure to keep a bottle of water on hand and stay hydrated. Pack sunscreen, hats, swimsuits and comfortable shoes. If you like to shop and contribute to the town’s local economy, check out Gloucester Ave. It’s a hip strip lined with several boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants and stores owned and operated by local Jamaicans who have built their businesses around tourism. Here you can buy anything from souvenirs and clothing to local rum and ganja/purple kush (for those of you who like to indulge in the smokers delight). If your day job drug tests, I’d advise against this practice, but again, to each his own. Please note: I am not hiring! Lol. Everything on this strip is pretty negotiable and all the people are fairly friendly. Depending on the time of day, this area can be high pressure to buy as the hustlers come out when the tourists come. The best time to visit Gloucester Ave is early morning, before the crowds and chaos. Nevertheless, it’s free to visit!
You can’t go to Jamaica and not try the authentic food. There is usually some random guy with a food truck sitting on every other corner trying to throw it in your car, for a price of course. (They literally threw it in my taxi) HA! Whole nother story! Anyways, be sure to try the jerk chicken or jerk pork. The pork pit is a very popular restaurant in Montego Bay, perhaps the best jerk chicken and rice and peas that I’ve had there. They also sell jerk sausage, shrimp, bbq ribs, fried chicken and plenty of other meat selections. This place is not for vegans. Prices are reasonable (less than $10 per person) and the atmosphere is pretty casual with outdoor picnic tables and huge outdoor grills stacked high with meat. It’s a local favorite and a great place to try when in Montego Bay. Add this to the list with Margaritaville, Scotchies and The Pelican Grill.
If you have some time and love exploring nature, plants and wildlife, head over to Ahhh...Ras Natango Gallery and Garden. This place is an environmentalist’s tranquil paradise. The scenic panoramic view overlooking the city is one of the best parts. Throughout the hillside garden, you will find bird sanctuaries, local art, unique flower blooms and a turtle pond where you can hold the turtles (I was creeped out but luckily they were cute). They also offer free shuttle service to/from hotels in the Montego Bay area. If you opt to check this place out, request a tour that includes lunch. This is your chance to get a true, home cooked Jamaican meal. Entry to the Garden is $35 per person (drink included) and $50 per person if you choose the tour with lunch.
When it’s time to dance, head to Pier 1. This is the place to be for the party crowd, reggae music and exclusive cocktails. This bar is on the waterfront, serving happy hour and dinner in the evenings and turning into an open air nightclub afterhours. Friday Nights are the best times to grab a drink, wear your best dress and “turn up”. It costs about $10 to get in and you will likely leave drunk and full (this is where the food trucks that throw food in your car are) but you will have a blast. It’s definitely worth it! Party Over here when you’re in Mo Bay!
Go Beachin! If your accommodations are not beachfront (I recommend beachfront, it’s Jamaica), Doctor’s Cave Beach is a great landmark to check out. This is one of the most popular beaches in Montego Bay. The water is crystal clear, overlapping cushiony soft white sands, always floating in at about 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not very deep so it’s perfect for children, beginners and those of us who just want to feel the ocean but not do too much. There is a small fee to visit Doctor’s Cave ($6 per adult, $3 per child). A day spent here will have you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. There are also a few free beaches in Montego Bay. Check out Dead End Beach, it’s a cool place to hang out with the locals near the airport!
If you have a driver (or meet one and connect) while in Montego Bay, there are some great options driving distance away. Look into rafting on the Martha Brae River, which is one of the biggest rivers in Jamaica. Take a day trip to Dunn’s River Falls and Rick’s Café, hop off that crazy cliff that everybody talks about, I promise you’ll pee, scream and laugh all at one, or at least that’s what I did. Go swim at Seven Mile Beach. Sign up for Bob Marley’s Nine Mile Tour. Take a catamaran cruise. Go on an ATV Off-Road Adventure in Negril. Many of these options can be found on tripadvisor, viator or through your booking agency.
Before leaving, take your last day to lay out and bake under the sun, enjoy some watersports and eat your heart out. I recommend all inclusive destinations in Jamaica. Many of them are reasonably priced, include everything, and create a network of diverse tourists who sometimes become bredren and sistren (friends). If you’re having a hard time selecting an all-inclusive resort, Sunscape Splash in Montego Bay, Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort in Ocho Rios and all of the Riu brand resorts are pretty great options in Jamaica. As always, check the reviews and decide based on your priorities.
Until next time, Irie!
Have you been to Montego Bay? Where did you stay? What did you like most? Tell us about the great things you experienced in Jamrock.