Montego Bay travel guide

Montego Bay Tourism | Montego Bay Guide

You're Going to Love Montego Bay

Montego Bay (or "MoBay" as the locals call it) is Jamaica's second largest city and indisputably its tourist capital. The horseshoe-shaped Doctor's Cave Beach, duty-free shopping and year-round entertainment make it one of the Caribbean's most popular resorts.

If all you want to do is relax on the beach, snorkel in the azure waters of the bay, or sip cocktails by the sea, Montego Bay is the ideal place to do so. But with the busy markets, street life, and energy of downtown MoBay a few miles away, you can get a taste of Jamaican life too.

You can get away from terra firma altogether by booking places on catamaran cruises, or use Montego Bay as a base to visit Jamaican tourist attractions like Cockpit Country or the Dunn's River Falls.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Montego Bay

1. The Stunning Arc of Doctor's Cave Beach

The star of the show in Montego Bay is definitely Doctor's Cave Beach, with its long stretch of soft, white sand and the legendary turquoise waters of the bay that are known for their healing qualities. If space is at a premium, there's no shortage of alternative beaches nearby, so finding room to stretch out is never a problem.

2. Day Trip Destinations to Delight Nature Lovers

Nature lovers will find that Montego Bay has plenty to offer. Take a raft cruise down the Martha Brae River, see the crocodiles at the Jamaica Swamp Safari Village, or hike deep into the wilderness of Cockpit Country, with its dramatic scenery, tiny communities, and wild orchids strewn along the roadsides.

3. Family-Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts

Montego Bay is famous for its high-quality, welcoming all-inclusive resorts, which make staying there such a joy. The best places like Sandals and Secrets Wild Orchid offer huge pools, comfortable accommodation and all of the seafood and cocktails you can manage at affordable prices.

4. Captivating Historical Sights

Jamaica has a rich, fascinating history and MoBay is a good place to learn about it. You can visit plantation houses like Bellefield Great House (where tours of the 18th-century house are followed by a rum punch and jerk chicken buffet), or head to nearby Falmouth, which has changed little since the 1840s.

5. Plenty of Outdoor Activities to Enjoy

Montego Bay offers a wide range of outdoor sports and activities, from horse riding at Braco Stables to golf courses like White Witch and Cinnamon Hill. Try canopy tours with thrilling zipline descents or rent a Harley Davidson with Great Dane and hit the open road to see Jamaica.

What to do in Montego Bay

1. Doctor's Cave Bathing Club: The Quintessential Beach Vacation

One of the most famous beaches in Jamaica, Doctor's Cave is beloved for its calm, crystal waters. Everything on this stretch of sand feels like perfection, with the water boasting warm temperatures. Enjoy the resources of the Bathing Club where you can rent lounging chairs or beach umbrellas. For most, chilling on the bright white sand in the warmth of the sizzling sun is the very reason to journey to Jamaica, and this is the place to make that dream come true.

2. Rose Hall Great House: Something for Everyone

This Georgian Manor is a relic of Jamaica's past, set in a gorgeous landscape. A world-class golf course now lets visitors practice their swing with sweeping views of the ocean. Tours of the house show the contrast of the lavish silk wallpaper and extravagant chandeliers with the known history of slavery on the premises. Meanwhile, spooky night tours chase down the "White Witch of Rose Hall" - the murderous spirit of Annie Palmer. Fun little souvenir "shoppes" are also found here.

3. Gloucester Avenue: The Hip Strip

Montego Bay's central, oceanside thoroughfare has got it all - beach views, cozy cafés, intriguing galleries, great shopping, and beautiful people. Locals and tourists alike spend their lazy Jamaican days wandering up and down Gloucester Avenue when taking a break from the beach. Whether exploring a new dig every time, or becoming a devoted regular at your favorite spot, this area does not disappoint. Come sundown, indulge in the Jamaican cuisine and nightlife!

4. Sam Sharpe Square: A Lively Memorial

The central square of Montego Bay is named for the baptist minister and slavery abolitionist Samuel Sharpe, whose legacy has not faded through the ages. The National Heroes Monument stands here in commemoration of his bravery, surrounded by the Georgian buildings, inherited from British occupation. Nowadays, the square is full of lovely vendors and host to a bustling social life around its central fountain.

5. Montego Bay Marine Park: For a Closer Look...

On the water and beyond the beach, the natural life of the Caribbean is well worth a visit. The Marine Park offers many different ways to venture out to sea, from kayaking your way through the mangroves to enjoying a glass-bottom boat guided tour. The reefs and the fish who inhabit them are alive with color - an unforgettable sight. To experience the local flora and fauna of the land, take a trip to the Rockland's Bird Sanctuary instead

Doctor's Cave Bathing ClubDoctor's Cave Bathing Club;
Rose Hall Great HouseRose Hall Great House;

1. Doctor's Cave Bathing Club: The Quintessential Beach Vacation

One of the most famous beaches in Jamaica, Doctor's Cave is beloved for its calm, crystal waters. Everything on this stretch of sand feels like perfection, with the water boasting warm temperatures. Enjoy the resources of the Bathing Club where you can rent lounging chairs or beach umbrellas. For most, chilling on the bright white sand in the warmth of the sizzling sun is the very reason to journey to Jamaica, and this is the place to make that dream come true.

2. Rose Hall Great House: Something for Everyone

This Georgian Manor is a relic of Jamaica's past, set in a gorgeous landscape. A world-class golf course now lets visitors practice their swing with sweeping views of the ocean. Tours of the house show the contrast of the lavish silk wallpaper and extravagant chandeliers with the known history of slavery on the premises. Meanwhile, spooky night tours chase down the "White Witch of Rose Hall" - the murderous spirit of Annie Palmer. Fun little souvenir "shoppes" are also found here.

3. Gloucester Avenue: The Hip Strip

Montego Bay's central, oceanside thoroughfare has got it all - beach views, cozy cafés, intriguing galleries, great shopping, and beautiful people. Locals and tourists alike spend their lazy Jamaican days wandering up and down Gloucester Avenue when taking a break from the beach. Whether exploring a new dig every time, or becoming a devoted regular at your favorite spot, this area does not disappoint. Come sundown, indulge in the Jamaican cuisine and nightlife!

4. Sam Sharpe Square: A Lively Memorial

The central square of Montego Bay is named for the baptist minister and slavery abolitionist Samuel Sharpe, whose legacy has not faded through the ages. The National Heroes Monument stands here in commemoration of his bravery, surrounded by the Georgian buildings, inherited from British occupation. Nowadays, the square is full of lovely vendors and host to a bustling social life around its central fountain.

5. Montego Bay Marine Park: For a Closer Look...

On the water and beyond the beach, the natural life of the Caribbean is well worth a visit. The Marine Park offers many different ways to venture out to sea, from kayaking your way through the mangroves to enjoying a glass-bottom boat guided tour. The reefs and the fish who inhabit them are alive with color - an unforgettable sight. To experience the local flora and fauna of the land, take a trip to the Rockland's Bird Sanctuary instead

Doctor's Cave Bathing ClubDoctor's Cave Bathing Club;
Rose Hall Great HouseRose Hall Great House;

Top activities & attractions in Montego Bay

Where to Eat in Montego Bay

Most of the best eateries in Montego Bay can be found at the resort hotels, but there are plenty of standalone restaurants where the food can be truly spectacular. For great jerk dishes, patties, and seafood cooked in authentic Jamaican style, try the Chill Out Hut, Scotchies, or Robbie's Kitchen. The Pork Pit is the best restaurant on the Hip Strip, closely followed by the Pelican Grill. Expect meals to cost around J$1,000-1,500.

When to visit Montego Bay

Montego Bay in December
Estimated package price
$717
2 travelers
Flight to Montego Bay
3 nights at hotel
Montego Bay in December
Estimated package price
$717
2 travelers
Flight to Montego Bay
3 nights at hotel

Jamaica's rainy season tends to last from June to November, so beach fans may want to avoid those months (although you can find accommodation bargains and temperatures rarely go below 75 degrees). February and March are the favorite months to visit, with constant sunshine, while Thanksgiving and Christmas are also popular times to go.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Montego Bay

Plane

Sangster International Airport (MBJ) is about three miles away and has direct connections with a range of American cities, including New York, Philadelphia, St Louis, and Los Angeles. The best way to get to your accommodation after touching down is probably via shuttle buses or taxis, although car rental outlets at the airport like Hertz, Budget, and Thrifty are a good option as well. Expect a cab to cost around J$3,800.

Car

If you are driving from Sangster International Airport, take the A1 towards Montego Bay and then Sunset Boulevard to Doctor's Cave Beach. The A1 also runs all the way from Kingston, so it's possible to drive across the island if it fits in with your itinerary.

Bus

Knutsford Express run buses every day between Kingston and Montego Bay, and their services take around four hours to reach their destination. Buses arrive at Howard Cooke Highway, right next to the beach, so finding seafront resorts shouldn't be an issue.

Airlines serving Montego Bay

United Airlines
Good (2,631 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,791 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,099 reviews)
KLM
Good (314 reviews)
Air France
Good (360 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,148 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,831 reviews)
SWISS
Good (418 reviews)
Iberia
Good (790 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (996 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (762 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (246 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (2,351 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,212 reviews)
Southwest
Good (1,543 reviews)
Frontier
Good (1,419 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (487 reviews)
Virgin Atlantic
Good (279 reviews)
WestJet
Good (372 reviews)
Sun Country Air
Good (119 reviews)
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Where to stay in Montego Bay

The Seafront - packed with resort hotels, the seafront encompasses Doctor's Cave along with Cornwall Beach, where you'll find the Aqua Sol Theme Park and Dump-Up Beach, which is regularly a venue for concerts and other events. It's also the home of the "Hip Strip" (Gloucester Avenue), MoBay's main souvenir shopping and dining neighborhood.

Popular Neighborhoods in Montego Bay

Downtown MoBay - it's sometimes easy to forget when you are lying on the beach, but Montego Bay is a large city of over 200,000 people. Highlights include the stores at St James Place Shopping Centre and Sam Sharpe Square, home of the National Museum.

Spring Farm - one of the most upmarket neighborhoods in Jamaica, Spring Farm is filled with luxury villas and expensive cars. Located a few miles east of MoBay, it's the place to head if you want peace and quiet, some rounds of golf at championship courses like Half Moon, and easy access to the airport.

Most popular hotel in Montego Bay by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Montego Bay

Most booked hotels in Montego Bay

S Hotel Jamaica
Excellent (8.9, 1017 reviews)
$428+
Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall
Excellent (8.6, 182 reviews)
$371+
Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay - Adults Only Unlimited Luxury
Excellent (8.1, 133 reviews)
$388+
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites
Excellent (8.2, 30 reviews)
$281+
Secrets St. James Montego Bay - Adults Only Unlimited Luxury
Good (7.8, 136 reviews)
$399+
Sandals Royal Caribbean
Excellent (8.1, 18 reviews)
$559+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Montego Bay

Public Transportation

There are three routes on the Montego Bay bus network, all of which run from the coast to the city center. They could be handy if you want to visit Downtown MoBay, but they won't suit visitors who want to skip between beaches. Single fares cost around J$130. However, tourists generally rely on minibuses supplied by their hotels, which will take you wherever you need to go.

Taxi

If you are ordering or hailing a taxi in Montego Bay, check that it is a "red-plate" variety as these are the officially licensed vehicles. Always establish the fare before you set off, whatever type of taxi you choose, and expect rates to be quite steep. Even short trips between hotels can cost J$2,000.

Car

Having your own set of wheels is a much cheaper option than depending on taxis. You can rent from the airport or in coastal branches of companies like ACE or Montego Bay Car Rental. Rates are often fairly low at around J$6,000 per day. Driving around the island can be tricky for novices, but experienced drivers shouldn't have any problems, and with your own car, reaching Cockpit Country and attractions like Falmouth will be much easier.

The Cost of Living in Montego Bay

Shopping Streets

Although Montego Bay isn't famous for fashion shopping or crafts production, it is a famous duty-free emporium. If you want to purchase souvenirs, the "Hip Strip" (Gloucester Avenue) is easily the best place to head. Check out Tropical Treasures where you'll find cigars, rum, jerk spices, and plenty of other Jamaican goods. The best duty-free shops are to be found at Montego Freeport, right next to the cruise ship terminal.

Groceries and Other

There aren't many supermarkets in the tourist areas of Montego Bay, but options include Progressive Foods, Hi-Lo, and MegaMart - all good places to stock up on food for beach lunches. Food prices are much lower than the American norm, at around J$1,000 for a gallon of milk and J$260 for a pound of apples.

Cheap meal
$3.87
A pair of jeans
$41.29
Single public transport ticket
$0.97
Cappuccino
$2.11
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