Montego Bay or MoBay as popularly referred to by the locals is the second largest city and the number one tourist location in Jamaica. Montego Bay’s hilly green backdrop is dotted with plantations and natural wonders that bear intriguing history and unique fun.
Combined with the beaches, delicious cuisine and the rich cultural heritage of Montego Bay, Jamaica has plenty to do for cruise tourists. That it’s impossible to explore the entire place in just a few hours but luckily you can start with these things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
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Montego Bay Cruise Port
Cruise ships calling to Montego Bay dock at the Freeport Zone located 3 miles west of downtown Montego Bay. The cruise port pier here is large enough to dock four vessels.
You can access a tourism information desk, a telecommunications desk, and some duty-free shopping at this place. Taxis are also available in plenty here and charge $7 to get you to downtown. There are also buses which are a bit cheaper if you wish to travel like a local.
1. Doctor Cave Beach
Doctor’s Cave Beach is not your average Caribbean beach. This wide swath of pristine cream-colored sands and turquoise waters is not only one of the best beaches in Jamaica.
But its waters are believed to have healing powers from the mineral springs that flow into it. For this reason, this beach offers more than just sun, sand, and sea but possible health benefits too.
Doctor’s Cave is easy to find. It’s located in the middle of the hip strip or Gloucester Avenue. The beach features clean amenities and charges a $5 entry fee. It can get crowded if more than one ship is docked in port but since it’s a party beach, the more people the merrier.
2. Snorkeling at Montego Bay Marine Park
While at Doctors Cave Beach you have an excellent opportunity to snorkel at Montego Bay’s number one snorkel site. The waters of this beach are part of the protected Montego Bay Marine Park.
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Nearby coral reefs and the warm waters allow for decent snorkeling where you can spot colorful fish in the waters just a few meters offshore.
3. The Haunted Rose Hall Great House
Visit the popular Rose Hall Great House. A Georgian Mansion built in 1770 that was the site of a large plantation. The house bears a lot of history of slavery. It has chilling tales of how the owner Annie Palmer killed her 3 husbands and countless slaves using black magic and torture.
The house which was renovated in the 1970s today displays history and an affluent 18th-century plantation owner’s lifestyle. It’s blessed with beautiful well-manicured gardens that are perfect for weddings and other garden events. The property which sits on a hill overlooking the ocean has breathtaking views of the horizon.
Apart from day tours, night tours are also offered with a haunted house theme. As it is said the ghost of Annie Palmer still roams the house after slaves cast a spell on her body when she died.
4. Green-Wood Great House
Another popular great house is Green Wood Great House which is located on the way to Falmouth. This Georgian mansion is perhaps even more beloved than Rose hall for its authenticity.
Strangely, this is the only great house that was untouched from the 1831 rebellions. It has remained in its original condition to date. The owners who acquired the property from the original plantation owner have continued to live there and maintain the house. They graciously offer tours of the house which still features 18th century furniture, upholstery, antiques and décor.
This house is popular also because of its connection to Elizabeth Barret Browning, the popular 18th-century poet. Her cousin Robert Barret was the original plantation owner. Enjoy scenic wide-angle vistas of the town and ocean beneath from the veranda in front of the house. While you take in the beauty of the place.
5. Croydon Plantation
At Croydon plantation, you get to experience the real Jamaica. This Working plantation is found on a hill about one and a half hours from downtown Montego Bay.
Croydon produces a different variety of pineapples, coffee, and other tropical citrus fruits. A visit to the place involves a guided tour of the farm, sampling of the fruits and coffee then a hearty lunch of jerk chicken. This is an experience you shouldn’t miss while in Montego Bay.
6. ATV Adventure at Sandy Bay
Enjoy a thrilling off-road tour aboard an ATV or Dune Baggy through the rugged terrains of Sandy Bay. Ride the dirt roads cutting, twisting and winding through untouched Jamaica.
This adrenaline pumping activity takes you through plantation ruins, countryside living and along the lush verdant countryside. This is a ride you will really have fun on. There are many reputable tour operators offering such excursions but Chukka tours come highly recommended.
7. Enjoy a Horse Ride on The Beach
Experience a magical horseback ride along the beach and in the water at Montego Bay. There are several horse stables in town but one of the best tours takes place at the Chukka ranch where you are taken on a land horseback ride through the countryside and sugar plantation ruins.
You then change horses and get water horses which you ride on the beach and into the sea. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride on a horseback chest deep in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and luckily you can do this while in Montego Bay.
8. Explore Hip Strip
Take a stroll along Hip Strip a popular tourist street in Montego Bay. The hip strip on Gloucester Avenue is a busy hotel lined avenue with plenty of shopping outlets, eateries, art galleries, and museums.
It’s a nice place for a cruiser to immerse themselves in Jamaican culture and enjoy the vibrant party atmosphere while shopping and sampling that amazing Jamaican Cuisine.
9. Party at Margaritaville
One of the highlights of the Hip Strip is Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville located at the heart of the avenue. Here is where you go for cold innovative and refreshing drinks as well as American comfort food and excellent Jamaican Jerk.
Apart from food and drinks, the aqua park complete with a water slide and trampoline is great past time for you and the kids. Enjoy the party atmosphere at the place and kill a couple of hours while in Montego Bay. Take advantage of the cheap transportation on a hop on hop off bus from the cruise terminal or major resorts.
10. Rafting on Mather Brae
Take a relaxing and chilled ride along Martha Brae River on a 30-foot long bamboo raft. One of the most popular things to do in Montego Bay as well as entire Jamaica is rafting on Martha Brae river.
Enjoy a peaceful guided trip along 3 miles of blue calm waters of the river. The raft captains explain the history of the river and teach about the flora and fauna seen along the river.
Rafting on Martha Brae is a must do when in Montego Bay. Besides, the start grounds feature lovely exquisitely-manicured picnic gardens, a pool, and restaurant for a day of fun for the whole family.
Worth Reading: Find Out What to Do In Falmouth, Jamaica
11. River Tubing in Montpellier
Go river tubing at the great white river of Montpellier. This is another relaxing and fun river floating adventure that you can go on while in Montego Bay. A group of you is strapped together on tubes and led by a guide aboard a kayak who narrates about the flora and fauna of the river.
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The river’s calmness helps you relax and enjoy some of Jamaica’s most beautiful nature. Offered by Chukka travels this is a nice tour done on its own or as a combination of zip-line and horseback tours.
12. Zipline at Montpellier
Soar high up above the forest’s canopy on a zip line excursion. There are many zip line adventures to choose from but a canopy or zip lining tour at Montpellier is perfect when in MoBay.
The zipline has 9traverses where you zip over the canopy catching glimpses of the flora and fauna of the jungle. Enjoy flying over the great river and through the forest to enjoy exhilarating and panoramic views of the place. It’s a great past time with an incredible adrenaline rush while in Montego, Bay.
13. Swim in the Luminous Lagoon
If you are lucky enough to stay overnight then try the most popular nighttime excursion, swimming in the luminous lagoon. A phenomenal occurrence happens in the lagoon at night.
The water turns into a glowing eerie blue light when disturbed. Don’t worry it’s perfectly harmless it’s just a habitat of micro-organisms that glow when the water is moved. Swimming in a luminous lagoon is a magical experience that you will never forget.
14. Ahh Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Enjoy ahh…amazing nature at Ahh Ras Natango Gallery and Garden. Just as the name suggests this is a botanic garden featuring a variety of native Jamaica Flora and Fauna with an inspiring art gallery to boot. Located in Camrose village about 20minutes from downtown Montego this eco-tourism paradise sits atop a 2000-feet high hill.
Go wander around the gardens as you feed nectar to hummingbirds. Enjoy eye-pleasing art painted and created by Ras Natango himself. Or shop for authentic Jamaican crafts at the quaint souvenir shop in the garden. This place is beautiful and a true representation of Jamaican beauty and culture.
15. Sam Sharpe Square
Sam Sharpe Square is the heart of downtown Montego Bay. This square is a historical overview of Jamaica’s slavery period. To commemorate the struggles for emancipation, the square features a statue of Sam Sharpe, the anti-slave activists who rallied the masses to go on a non-violent strike in the 1831 Christmas Rebellions.
He and many others died in the rebellion but is a celebrated hero in Jamaica today. The square features Montego Bay’s museum and the cage, which used to house runaway slaves, drunks and drifters.
This is a nice place to learn about the nation’s history and interact with the local’s culture. But note that it can get crowded and as with most Caribbean nations there are always vendors trying to sell you something.
16. Golf at Tryall Club
Play a round of golf at Tryall Golf Club. This well-manicured golf course has a lovely aesthetic charm and a moderately challenging course. Enjoy a different kind of fun on your port day at Montego Bay by visiting the club for a round of golf.
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Make it a family outing and have an even more incredible time sinking putts. Other golf courses that you might want to check out include White Witch at Rose Hall and Cinnamon Hill courses.
17. Rockland’s Bird Sanctuary
Visit Rockland’s bird sanctuary for a once in a lifetime experience of feeding hummingbirds from your fingers. This peaceful sanctuary features a cottage, garden, and a patio. Where many of Jamaica’s 200 bird species can be seen.
With a nectar bottle in hand, all you have to do is sit and wait patiently for the birds to come and feed. The experience of feeding these precious creatures is something unique that you should try out.
The views from the sanctuary which sits atop a hill are breathtaking. The park charges $20 per adult and $10 for kids but this is probably the best $20 you will ever spend at an attraction.
To get to the place you can take a taxi and arrange for pick up. It’s a nice place to visit early morning or late afternoon if your cruise is staying a bit longer in port.
18. Sample Jamaican Cuisine
Jamaican Cuisine is without a doubt one of the best in the Caribbean. When in Montego Bay you want to try out local cuisine to appreciate this island’s natural flavors and ingredients.
Some of the treats you will enjoy include the famous Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Patties, fish fry and all manner of seafood. Some restaurants you should check out include Pelicans, Scotchie’s, Chill Out hut, Pier One, Juici, and Tastee.
This list is of course not exhaustive but these are some of the local’s favorites and you are guaranteed to enjoy hearty, delicious Jamaican cuisines here. If you find it difficult to choose you can go on a food tour. One such tour is Jamaica Food Tours.
19. Montego Bay Shopping
The shopping scene in Montego Bay is very wide and you are guaranteed to leave with a souvenir that bests describe your visit. From Dr. Cave’s beach to the shops at Rose Hall, or the shops at Hip Strip to the craft market and souvenir shops at local attractions such as Ahh Ras Natango.
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You are guaranteed to find unique and duty-free gifts for your loved ones in the form of jewelry, clothing, and crafts to take home. Some of the shops even sell convenience items that you might have forgotten to pack for your cruise. All in all, a shopping trip around the town will leave you fascinated and with emptier pockets.
20. Day Trip to Dunns River Falls and Green Grotto Caves
When all is seen and done in Montego Bay, (highly unlikely) you can also take day trips to Dunns River Falls and Green Grotto Caves in the nearby Ocho Rios. These are very popular attractions in Jamaica.
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Dunns River Falls is a terraced waterfall formed from natural limestone terraces. It’s a popular Caribbean attraction that you should see at least once. The Green Grottos located midway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are another popular attraction.
The 1.5 kilometer long caves feature interesting features such as light holes, ceiling pockets, stalactites and stalagmites, and a Mediterranean lake. Combined these two make for a day of fun in natural water attractions.
Montego Bay Weather
The best time to visit Montego Bay is from December to April when the temperatures are low and before the hurricane season sets in.
Montego Bay being in Jamaica experiences typical Caribbean weather where it’s sunny and warm all throughout the year with a wet season in the summer. As such expect lows in the mid to high seventies or low eighties.
We’ll See You in Montego Bay, Jamaica!
These 20 things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica and many more make this destination the number one tourist location in Jamaica.
Apart from the things listed here, there are other great experiences and fun to be had. Such as touring museum’s in the downtown area, visiting other beaches, engaging in a myriad of water sports. The list is endless.
Just pick what interests you most and plan well in advance considering the time each activity will take from start to finish so that you utilize your time on port brilliantly.
That’s it from us here. Happy Cruising!!