Montego Bay Travel Guides

When Christopher Columbus first visited Jamaica’s Montego Bay in 1494, he called it Fair Weather Bay. An apt name, considering Montego Bay’s gorgeous year-round Caribbean climate. As the capital of the parish of St. James, Montego Bay — which possibly got its final name from the Spanish word “Manteca” — is a large urban area that has been nicknamed the Second City, MoBay or just Bay. Whatever you call it, Montego Bay is an enormously popular tourist destination, with beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and duty-free shopping.

Where to Stay

Because it’s such an in-demand destination for vacationers, Montego Bay has a plentiful selection of hotels. Montego Bay is known primarily for its downtown area, in particular a section called the Hip Strip on Gloucester Avenue. Downtown, as one would expect, is a bustling locale and a great place to get an authentic Jamaican experience, but it’s not recommended that tourists visit at night. The Hip Strip, however, has many hotels, shops and restaurants, and it can be accessed by walking. There are a number of desirable hotels on the Hip Strip situated close to beaches, as well as luxury tourist accommodations that include all-inclusive hotel packages. Some four- and five-star hotels are right on the beach and offer swimming pools, golf courses and restaurants. One hotel in Montego Bay even has its own water park, and another has a swim-up bar!

Airports

Located approximately three miles from Montego Bay, Sangster International Airport (MBJ), named for Jamaica’s former prime minister Sir Donald Sangster, is located on the northwest coast of the island. Sangster International Airport is within a short driving distance of the ports of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, as well as the tourist town of Negril. The airport has a number of shopping and dining options, hotel arrival lounges and shuttles, and car rentals or taxis to take you to your desired destination.

Top Things to Do

When you go to Montego Bay, you’ll want to spend a few days at the beach, so one of the most recommended places is Doctor’s Cave Beach, with its five miles of white sand and gorgeous, crystal-clear water. If you want to partake of some local history, visit the Croydon Plantation or the Rose Hall Great House, built in 1770. For outdoorsy day-trippers, be sure to check out the Blue Hole, Secret Falls and Dunn’s River Falls. You can also book a day or evening cruise, go horseback riding or take a guided sight-seeing tour. Choose from golf, zip-lining or scuba diving if that’s your thing. Savor the flavors of Jamaica at a number of local restaurants, and get in a ton of duty-free shopping at a half-dozen shopping malls, in Sangster Airport or at smaller shops and marketplaces in the central city area and on the Hip Strip.

Weather/Seasonal Information

Many vacationers choose the months of November and December to venture to Montego Bay, due to year-round temperatures in the low 70s to mid 80s, along with great travel deals. If it’s the best time for swimming you’re looking for, then you’ll want to go in July, when the average sea temperature is 84 degrees. July is also the hottest month in Montego Bay, with temperatures averaging the same in the air as in the water. You’ll want to bring your jacket and umbrella if you visit in October, which is Jamaica’s rainiest month.

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