Also popular as MoBay, Montego Bay is the second largest city of Jamaica. The city nestled between the gentle slopes of Bogue, Kempshot and Salem Hills is the capital of the parish of St. James (one among the 14 parishes of Jamaica). According to history, Christopher Columbus reached the bay in 1494 and called it ‘el Golfo de Buen Tiempo’ (translated as the Fair Weather Bay). However, the Monterias are believed to be the first Spanish settlers of Montego. The city got its name (which was derived from the Spanish ‘manteca’ or ‘lard’) because of the practice of extracting hog butter from herds of wild hogs by local settlers of Montego.
The bay is also shown as Lard Bay in some ancient maps. Over the years, Montego Bay (specially its northern shore) has earned the title of the ‘tourist capital of Jamaica’. Gloucester Avenue, rechristened as Hip Strip and the city proper referred to as downtown are the two distinct parts of Montego. The city receives a lot of international flights every year and also houses the Sangster International Airport. Today Montego Bay is famous for the Cornwall Regional Hospital, port facilities, luxury upper class Jamaican homes, restaurants and shopping. The bay has emerged as one of the most preferred tourist destination of the Caribbean world.
You can reach the city directly via airlines as the Sangster International Airport is located here. Also the airport is very close to the cruise ports at Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Getting around the place is also very easy. A lot of companies offer private transportation and tour services. Travel around Jamaica Tours, Best Jamaica, Island Transfers and Jamaican Taxi Tours are some of them. There were also trains that connected Montego to the main towns and cities of Jamaica, but the service ceased in October 1992 when all the passenger traffic in Montego ceased abruptly. Those who love the sea and the blue waters can also arrive at Montego via a cruise. Built in the 1960’s on the then Bogue Islands, Montego Freeport is the port of Montego Bay.
Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, this quiet ocean front is the ultimate tourist destination. From beautiful coral reefs and beaches to sugarcane plantations, Montego Bay is a paradise of happy days, vivid nights and dreams that come true. Visiting downtown helps one to know how life is in a city in Jamaica. A crowded place, it’s best to visit Downtown during the day as it is not that safe at night. The Gloucester Avenue, on the other hand is where one can find a number of tourist hotels, shops, restaurants and also has side-walks on both sides. It’s best to visit Hip Strip on foot. If you are a first time traveller, beware of people offering advice or posing as tour guides as they only need money.
At Montego Bay, one can never be without something amazing to see. The small but cozy Centerstage Theatre has musical shows in patois every other day. This beautiful place in the Caribbean is also home to many historical monuments and châteaus worth seeing. Those who would love to take the sun can take a break and relax under the palm trees lining the beautiful white sand beaches of Montego Bay. At the Cornwall Beach you can also go scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling and involve yourselves in fun beach activities. The Doctor’s Cave Beach is also a fun place to be with family and offers the best sunset view in Montego. The Dunn’s River Falls and Park is another amazing place where four rivers combined into one unending flow drains into the Caribbean. Interested tourist can even climb the falls under the guidance of an experienced falls guide. Montego is also famous for its sugarcane plantations with some of the original buildings and mills still standing. The White Witch’s Rose Hall and Tryall are the most famous among them and even have world class golf courses.
Yacht clubs, golf courses and horseback rides also add flavour to stay at Montego. There are also several tour packages available that takes you through a thrilling and amazing tour of the culture and traditions of Montego and Jamaica. The place is also famous for its duty free shopping and cruise line terminal. Shopping at Montego is reasonable and is a wonderful experience. So are the restaurants offering native Jamaican food! Jimmy Buffets in Gloucester Avenue provides the best Jerk and Curry Chicken, one of the most popular dishes of Jamaica. Other warm, comfortable and reasonable restaurants include Pork Pit, Evelyn’s and Belfield 1794. Some of the best budget hotels in Montego are Linkage Guest house, The Bird’s Nest, Caribic House and the Jamaica Grandiosa Resort.
Not as hedonistic as Negril and not as crowded as Ocho Rios, Montego remains the grande dame of island resorts. In fact the 1973 James Bond movie was shot around Montego Bay. However if you are seeking authentic or traditional Jamaica, Montego is absolutely not your destination point. Montego is more a party town that holds innumerable surprises for those who would love to enjoy a getaway on a Jamaican island. Lying back on the white sand beaches taking in the sun while cooling down with delicious drinks, you can perfectly relax at the Montego Bay.