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Perched on Jamaica’s northeast coast on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, Montego Bay is a magnet for travelers seeking rest and relaxation near the water. All-inclusive resorts abut the rough and tumble downtown of ‘Mo’Bay,’ filled with jerk joints, souvenir shops, and British colonial architecture. The white sand beaches and turquoise waters are the main draws, offering boundless opportunities for snorkeling, parasailing, and cruising on a catamaran. And Jamaica’s scenic North Coast Highway runs through Montego Bay, providing an artery for striking out on popular day tours to Dunn’s River Falls, Ocho Rios, or Negril.
Like all of Jamaica, Montego Bay is most popular from December to April, when visitors enjoy average temperatures of 82°F (28°C) to 85°F (29°C) and gentle breezes. Given these idyllic conditions, it’s no surprise the sands get busy in winter and early spring. January’s Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and the island’s Carnival celebrations are also big draws. For fewer crowds, visit in spring (April through June), when it gets a little bit rainy, or in November, when the summer’s tropical hurricanes have tailed off.
There is no official public bus network in Montego Bay, so tourists use hotel courtesy shuttles and private cabs. Before jumping in a cab, however, make sure it has the red license plates issued to government-endorsed vehicles. You can also rent a car, but be ready for the frenetic traffic and bumpy roads. Alternatively, you can book guided tours or give the local route taxis a go; these cheap (often crowded) minibuses pick up and drop off along all main routes.
If you’re looking for a quick bite, skip MoBay’s fast-food chains and head to a local legend: the Pork Pit. It may be rough and ready, but this rickety, bright yellow shack sitting on Gloucester Avenue opposite Walter Fletcher Beach is famous for its super-unctuous barbecued jerk chicken. Order your meat at the smoky pit, take a seat at a picnic table in the shade of a giant cotton tree, and enjoy your meal with a cold beer for a moment of bliss.
Jamaica’s top tourist destination, Montego Bay—MoBay to locals—boasts white-sand beaches, vibrant shopping and nightlife, golf courses, and near-permanent sunshine. Particular attractions include Doctor’s Cave beach with its gin-clear seas; the gingerbread-style houses of its resort center; and the Martha Brae River and Rose Hall estate house....More
Montego Bay has a little bit of everything, including beach lounging, watersports, cruises, golf, horseback rides, forest ziplines, Martha Brae River rafting, and trips to waterfalls or the Rose Hall estate. By night, stroll the resort’s cobblestoned center, eat at buzzy restaurants, sip beach cocktails, and hit the “Hip Strip” nightspots....More
Cruise passengers usually get a day in MoBay, as Montego Bay is known, but one or two weeks is better to experience its beaches and activities. Explore the downtown craft market, ride a river raft or rainforest ATV, or take excursions to the supposedly haunted Rose Hall or Dunn’s River Falls....More
No. But two idyllic waterfalls are about a 90 minutes’ drive from Montego Bay. Most famous is Dunn’s River Falls on Jamaica’s north coast, where you can climb terraced cascades and swim in crystal lagoons. To the south is YS Falls, a series of seven tropical falls, also with natural pools....More
Yes and no. It's safe to walk in tourist areas during daylight or stroll with others after dark—providing you’re vigilant. Unfortunately, crime rates are high in some of Montego Bay’s central neighborhoods, so it's best to avoid them. Wherever you are, especially along the “Hip Strip,” leave valuables at your hotel....More
No. Jamaica is pretty affordable, and Montego Bay is only pricey if you stay at its upscale hotels and insist on expensive things. To vacation on a budget, stay at an all-inclusive resort and dine at beach shacks, where dinner can be as little as US $5 to $10 per person....More
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