There is still plenty of time left to hop a plane, fly far away from another cold, dreary snowy Canadian winter, straight into white sand beaches and turquoise, warm waters – all in about four hours of flight time.
Located on Jamaica’s northwest coast, Montego Bay is a “complete resort” – world-class beaches edged by flowering trees, palm-dotted hills make a lush backdrop to long stretches of rolling meadowland.
What to do when you arrive? There are plenty of options, ranging from the best golfing in the Caribbean, to a long list of cultural attractions, excursions, or long stretches of beaches – if laying by the water, reading a book, sipping a drink is more your speed.
Often referred to as Mo-Bay, Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second-largest city and by far the country’s premier tourist destination. The range of hotels is enormous – everything from five-star hotels offering European-plan rates (exclusive of meals), all-inclusive resorts, small sophisticated inns, guesthouses and some of the most luxurious, exclusive villas in the Caribbean.
(Above photo: Poolside at Zoetry Montego Bay)
There are four 18-hole championship golf courses (the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course at Hilton Rose Hall, Half Moon Golf Club, Tryall Club, White Witch Golf Course) beautifully situated along the coastline, both for the accomplished player and the novice. Everyone who golfs knows it’s more about the quality of the course and the experience than what’s on the scorecard.
Scuba diving in the protected waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park, with 26 square kilometres of coral reefs teeming with exotic fish, deep-sea fishing, and yachting are popular choices for tourists here, as are parks like Aquasol Theme Park (featuring banana boating, parasailing and a water slide) and Animal Farm (exploring the natural habitat of exotic birds).
Jeep tours will take you through the rain forest of Montpelier. There is mountain biking, river tubing and all-terrain vehicle tours, as well.
Lucea Hanover is the largest dolphin park in the world – soon you can snorkel with the stingrays and swim with the sharks.
DINING AND SOCIAL ATTRACTIONS
Reggae Sumfest, held each year in July, is one of the world’s greatest reggae festivals. Bars and eateries along Gloucester Avenue, known as the Hip Strip, is the place to go for music, dancing, food and drink, all in an upbeat street-festival setting.
There are many restaurant options, ranging from the spicy jerked pork and chicken of the casual Pork Pit and the relaxed beach atmosphere of Time N’ Place near Falmouth, Sky Beach Restaurant in Hopewell to the classic elegance of Round Hill Resort’s seaside terrace restaurant, serving Jamaican-inspired cuisine. And there is nothing like a drink aboard a sunset cruise to cap off a day in paradise.
The Gallery of West Indian Art and the Bay Gallery are among the many excellent art galleries to explore. Historic landmark buildings include St. James Parish Church, built between 1775 and 1782, and The Cage, a temporary lock-up dating from the 19th century, that once held runaway slaves and unruly seamen.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Early in the 20th century, Doctor’s Cave Beach developed a reputation for the remarkable healing powers of the ocean at this coastal point. Travellers come here to bathe in the waters, which some believe cure a wide range of ailments. This is really popular with locals as well.
Click here for more information on Jamaica tourism.