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Montego Bay Jamaica Resorts, Hotels and Inns
THE ATRIUM AT IRONSHORE HOTEL Morgan Road, Rose Hall
876-953-2605, fax 876-953-3683
This 33-villa, family-run property is air-conditioned. All accommodations have kitchen and dining facilities as well as a pool and satellite TV. Located near the airport.
BLUE HARBOUR HOTEL 6 Sewell Avenue
876-952-5445, fax 876-952-8930
This 24-room inn is air-conditioned and has access for the handicapped. Family-sized rooms can accommodate groups of up to 10 persons. Rooms have kitchen facilities and satellite TV. There's a saltwater pool or you can stroll down to the nearby beach. The inn is located on a hill.
COMFORT INN AND SUITES MONTEGO BAY Rose Hall
876-953-3250, fax 876-953-3062; reservations 800-228-5150
This 150-room hotel is the former SeaCastles and is a part of the Choice Hotels International group. It's situated on a small private beach. The recently renovated property includes one- and two-bedroom units as well as studios. The all-inclusive package features three buffet meals daily, supervised kids activities, non-motorized watersports, gratuities and taxes, house-brand liquors and soft drinks, tennis and daily entertainment. Every Friday the hotel offers a Jamaican night with local food and music.
CORAL CLIFF HOTEL Gloucester Avenue
876-952-4130, fax 876-952-6532
This 30-room Colonial-style inn is near Doctor's Cave beach and includes dining facilities and a pool. It's not far from Cornwall and Walter Fletcher beaches. The standard rooms have air conditioning, phone and individual bathrooms. Superior rooms have larger bathrooms and balconies with a pool view. The property has a good location for those interested in nightlife with its position along the Hip Strip.
Gamblers should note that this hotel is home to the largest gaming facility in Jamaica.
COYABA BEACH RESORT AND CLUB North Coast Highway at Mahoe Bay
876-953-9150, fax 876-953-2244; reservations 800-237-3237
This $10 million resort has the feel of an intimate inn, but it offers the amenities of a larger resort. Located on a shady stretch of beach, Coyaba is a good option if you're seeking the niceties and luxuries of an exclusive retreat. The hotel offers all-inclusive deals or European Plan only. The plantation-style great house on the property houses the main restaurant. Amenities include a freshwater pool, hot tub, massage, tennis, watersports, recreation room, tennis, a dive shop, windsurfing and a playground.
Guest rooms are light and airy, decorated in an elegant tropical style with mahogany furniture. Youll be greeted by a basket of banana bread, a sweet introduction to this special property.
DOCTOR'S CAVE BEACH HOTEL Gloucester Avenue
876-952-4355, fax 876-952-5204
This 90-room hotel is near Doctor's Cave Beach (surprise, surprise!). It has air-conditioned rooms, kitchen facilities, handicapped access for some rooms, a pool, satellite TV and a fitness center. Part of the Insider's Jamaica program. The hotel is home to two restaurants, one casual and the other semi-formal.
HALF MOON GOLF, TENNIS AND BEACH CLUB North Coast Highway, 7 miles east of Montego Bay
876-953-2211, fax 876-953-2731; reservations 800-237-3237
Half Moon is one of the country's most elegant resorts, the place to be pampered. It offers a variety of room configurations, from large guest rooms and junior suites to villas that look like something right out of Beverly Hills, complete with sweeping staircases and maid and butler service. The black and white decor, like everything in the resort, is ultra-chic.
The resort is a favorite with well-to-do Japanese vacationers, who feel right at home in rooms that offer Japanese-language periodicals and Japanese television channels.
Half Moon sprawls out across the island's north coast and you'll never feel crowded. Along with 13 tennis courts, 39 swimming pools, croquet, horseback riding, bikes, squash, numerous restaurants, a dive shop, kids' program, ultra-pricey shopping center, and even a hospital, you'll find a quiet nature reserve. The resort also now offers the David Leadbetter Golf Plan, with daily instruction from a David Leadbetter-certified instructor.
HOLIDAY INN SUNSPREE RESORT North Coast Highway, 6 miles east of Montego Bay
876-953-2485, fax 876-953-2840; reservations 800-HOLIDAY
Couples and families make up much of the clientele at this popular resort which has undergone many changes in the last several years. A $13 million facelift in 1995 transformed it into an all-inclusive property. The 523 guest rooms have all received an overhaul. There is a variety of activities on offer, including watersports, tennis, volleyball, nearby golf, a kids programs and more.
HOTEL MONTEGO Federal Avenue
876-952-3287, fax 876-979-0351
This 33-room inn is air-conditioned and includes dining, a pool and satellite TV. Set on a hill, the property offers good views of the sea and is convenient to the airport. The beach is a short ride away. Part of the Insider's Jamaica program.
HOTEL RIO BUENO Rio Bueno
876-954-0046, fax 876-952-5911
This 20-room hotel has air-conditioned rooms and dining. All rooms have a view of the Caribbean Sea. The small property houses the Joe James Art Gallery (Joe offers art lessons too; firstname.lastname@example.org). Part of the Insider's Jamaica program.
LETHE ESTATE 20 minutes west of Montego Bay on the North Coast Highway
876-956-4920, fax 876-956-4927
Montego Bay is best known for its beachside getaways, but if you aren't looking for a stretch of sand on which to relax, consider a stay in the surrounding hills and valleys - or at least a daytrip into this charming region. Recently, we spent time at Lethe Estate, a serene hideaway tucked on the banks of the Great River near the village of Lethe. Quiet, except for the sounds of singing birds in the surrounding forest, this 15-room inn is an ideal place to get away from it all. Despite its location, amenities are not lacking. The inn includes a gourmet restaurant, pool, tennis and plush rooms. A top daytime activity here is the float on a bamboo raft down the river under a canopy of forest. A free shuttle runs hotel guests to the beach and shopping areas daily.
RICHMOND HILL INN Union Street
876-952-3859, fax 876-925-6106; reservations 800-423-4095
A trip to Richmond Hill Inn is like visiting your grandmother's house: you're a little afraid that you're going to knock something over; you really wish it weren't so fussy, but you love the way you get treated. The rooms here have seen fresher days, but still the view is special straight out over Montego Bay and the sea from high atop the hill.
Richmond Hill has a long history, dating back to the 1790s when it was the property of the Dewars of Scotch whisky fame. Guests can take advantage of a free shuttle to MoBay shops as well as the beach. Facilities here include an excellent restaurant, coffee shop, pool and laundry service.
READING REEF Reading, St. James
876-952-5909, fax 876-952-7217
This 28-room inn has air-conditioned rooms, kitchen facilities, a pool, satellite TV, beach, watersports and restaurant. It sits alongside Bogue Lagoon just 15 minutes from Montego Bay. The hotel has several features of special interest to adventure travelers, including Reading Reefs (photographed by Jacques Cousteau) and the Bogue Islands (nesting site for birds). Part of the Insiders Jamaica program.
This 41-room inn offers a complimentary airport shuttle as well as a restaurant, pool, satellite TV and ocean views. All rooms have king-sized beds, a fully equipped kitchenette and air conditioning. Along with guest rooms, visitors can also select from one- , two- and three-bedroom apartments. A complimentary shuttle bus runs to the beaches. Part of the Insider's Jamaica program.
ROUND HILL HOTEL AND VILLAS North Coast Highway, 8 miles west of Montego Bay
876-956-7050, fax 876-956-7505; reservations 800-237-3237
A favorite of the rich and famous set, Round Hill offers suites, traditional hotel rooms and 27 villas. Expensive and lavish, the villas include maid service (cook service is available as well), and many have a private pool. The resort includes numerous amenities, from tennis courts to a dive shop to windsurfing.
INTERESTING FACT: If Round Hill looks familiar, there's a good reason: the property was the location of many scenes in How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
ROYAL COURT HEALTH RESORT Sewell Avenue
876-952-4531, fax 876-952-4532
Of special interest to vegetarians, this 25-room resort has a vegetarian restaurant and a fresh fruit and vegetable juice bar. It offers a free airport shuttle, beach shuttle and shopping transportation. All rooms are air conditioned. Part of the Insider's Jamaica program.
SANDALS MONTEGO BAY Kent Avenue, near the airport
876-952-5510, fax 876-952-0816; reservations 800-726-3257
This popular (heterosexual) couples-only resort does a huge amount of repeat business and is a great choice for those who want to be close to the airport (you can't get much closer than this). Planes buzz overhead, but that doesn't seem to deter people. Like other Sandals resorts, guests at Sandals Montego Bay enjoy a Stay at One, Dine at Six policy, where they can dine at any of the 23 eating establishments in the Sandals chain. A desk at Sandals Montego Bay handles reservations for the sister resorts, and free shuttles are available to other Sandals located in Montego Bay.
Amenities here include five restaurants, numerous pools, tennis, racquetball, a dive shop, windsurfing and more. The resort's Sunshine Tennis program includes two hours of complimentary instruction per week with the visiting professional.
SANDALS ROYAL CARIBBEAN North Coast Highway
876-953-2231, fax 876-953-2788; reservations 800-726-3257
What's the difference between Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Montego Bay? Quite a bit. While Sandals Montego Bay boasts more of a party atmosphere, Sandals Royal Jamaican takes an elegant, laid-back approach. In general, this property is much quieter than its sister.
We recently stayed in an oceanfront deluxe room with a mahogany four-poster bed and two-level floor plan. On another visit, we came for dinner at Sandals private island restaurant, Bali Hai, known for its Indonesian fare and unbeatable night view of the city. It was a great dining experience. Amenities at the resort include four restaurants, numerous pools, tennis, a dive shop, windsurfing and concierge service.
SANDALS INN Gloucester Avenue, in town
876-952-4140, fax 876-952-6913; reservations 800-726-3257
The Sandals Inn is great for the budget-conscious traveler who wants to enjoy the luxuries of a Sandals property. This small hotel isn't the sprawling beachfront resort usually associated with the Sandals chain, but it does have many of the same amenities. An all-inclusive package here takes care of transfers, activities, drinks and dining. Guests can also partake in the Sandals Stay at One, Dine at Six policy (with free transportation to the Mo Bay resorts). There's also a free shuttle that runs throughout the day to take you and yours (remember, this is a heterosexual couples-only resort) from the inn to the larger Sandals Montego Bay or Sandals Royal Jamaican to enjoy beach fun. On-property facilities include tennis, pool and concierge service.
SUNDANCE RESORT 1 Kent Avenue
876-952-4370, fax 876-952-6591
The 73 rooms here all have air conditioning and some are handicapped- accessible. All rooms have either a garden or pool view and private bath. Located in the heart of Montego Bay near the Doctor's Cave Beach.
This new 420-room resort sits on the Freeport peninsula. The property is divided into two sections: the 120-room, low-rise Beach Inn and the 300-room, 11-story Sunrise and Sunset Towers. The resort has an impressive list of facilities, with three private beaches, three swimming pools, snorkeling, Sunfish, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boats, Hobie Cats, jogging trails, beach volleyball, a fitness center and a supervised kids program.
For late-night fun, there's a disco as well as an electronic game casino. All meals are part of the package and guests have their choice of four dining establishments, including Asian and Italian specialty restaurants. Six bars are located throughout the property. There's also a spa, although treatments are not part of the all-inclusive program.
TRYALL GOLF, TENNIS AND BEACH CLUB North Coast Highway, 15 miles west of Montego Bay
876-956-5660, fax 876-956-5658; reservations 800-238-5290
If youre a golfer, you're probably already familiar with Tryall, a celebrity resort that has hosted many tournament games. This posh getaway includes everything you need to hole up and never leave, if you so choose. There's a golf course, private villas with their own pools, tennis courts, dive shops, a driving range and more. You'll never feel crowded at this 2,200-acre property.
VERNEY'S TROPICAL RESORT Leader Avenue, in town
876-952-2875 or 876-952-8628, fax 876-979-2944
This 27-room inn is an excellent place to find true Jamaican hospitality. Rooms are nothing fancy, but owners Kathleen and Earnest Sterling are on-property like round-the-clock concierges. Need a babysitter? Kathleen will find you one. Want to know where to shop for spices? Just ask. Youll feel like part of the family. "We really believe in personal service because once you are away from home it is good to know someone cares," says Kathleen.
The hotel's Kit Kat restaurant is a favorite. Whenever the hotels in Montego Bay are asked to recommend a restaurant serving real Jamaican cooking, they refer people here. A free shuttle runs to Doctor's Cave Beach on weekdays; there's also a pool on the property. Part of the Insiders Jamaica program.
WYNDHAM ROSE HALL North Coast Highway, east of Montego Bay
876-953-2650, fax 876-953-2617; reservations 800-996-3426
You can enjoy Wyndham Rose Hall on either a room-only basis or as an all-inclusive property. This sprawling resort is just a short drive from the airport, a real boon to those on a short vacation or traveling with restless kids. Once you arrive, there's no need to worry about those kids remaining restless for long. Wyndham Rose Hall is home to a massive waterpark, a recent addition to the property. This 110,000-square-foot, $7 million water complex is called Sugar Mill Falls and comes complete with lagoons and a towering waterslide. Guests can enjoy lazy river rafting among waterfalls scattered throughout the park.
This resort is presently undergoing a major upgrade, equipping its guest rooms with new furniture, carpeting, 27-inch TVs, movie channels and more. The golf course is located directly across the street and soon golfers will be able to also use the nearby White Witch golf course, presently under construction by the Ritz-Carlton
Things to Do and See in Montego Bay Jamaica
This region of Jamaica has much history, and opportunities to visit historic sites abound. You can explore great houses and plantations (some working, others in various states of disrepair). In addition, reggae fans can worship the king of reggae, Bob Marley, at the Marley Experience theater.
APPLETON EXPRESS Book with your hotel tour desk or 876-952-3692
Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday through Thursday
The Appleton Express is an air-conditioned bus that travels from Mo Bay to the Appleton Rum Distillery on the south side of the island. (If you traveled to Jamaica a decade ago, you may remember that the Appleton Express was formerly a train that took day-trippers across the island. Sadly, the train no longer runs. Ahh... the good old days.)
There's a tour of the distillery, and every visitor gets a complimentary bottle; children get soft drinks. The tour also makes a stop at Ipswich Caves.
Plantations & Great Houses
BARNETT ESTATE Granville Main Road
876-952-2382, fax 876-952-6342
After a short time here, you'll soon notice how often you hear the name "Barnett" and "Jarrett" on the island. Still among Jamaica's most powerful families, the Barnetts and Jarretts were plantation owners and have owned land for many generations. Today, a visit to the Barnett Estate offers you a look back at the past to the days when this land grew everything from sugarcane to coconuts. You can take a one-hour horseback tour of the estate or a guided tour by a costumed docent. This plantation tour is one of the island's best.
BELFIELD GREAT HOUSE 876-952-1709
Hours: daily, 10-5
This restored historic house is open to visitors, with guided tours available before or after dinner. Located on the 3,000-acre Barnett Estate near Montego Bay, the site is also home to the Belfield 1797 restaurant, operated by Elegant Resorts International.
Chester Castle 876-956-7310 in Montego Bay
876-957-4171 in Negril
Hours: 10-4, Monday-Saturday
Take a peek back at the plantation days with this heritage tour. Belvedere was one of the first estates to be burned during the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, so today most of the sites on the plantation are ruins or reconstructed. The uprising brought about the end of slavery in 1838.
Tours include a look at the ruins of the great house, dating back to the early 1800s, the ruins of a sugar factory, a horse-drawn sugar mill and herb garden. Belvedere is staffed by many craftspeople in period costume. Visitors can watch a blacksmith at work, see a bakery using a clay oven, talk with an herbalist in a wattle and daub house and see a canoe-maker carving the trunk of a cottonwood tree. Also on site is the Trash House Restaurant and Bar (where the sugarcane trash was once stored). Lunch is served daily and visitors can picnic on the grounds.
INACCESSIBLE CINAMMON HILL
You can't visit Cinammon Hill on the North Coast Highway, but ask your guide to point out the sprawling mansion. This is presently the home of country singer Johnny Cash, who spends quite a bit of time on the island and has done a good deal of charitable work in Jamaica. Cinammon Hill, located near Greenwood Great House (below), was the birthplace of Edward Moulton Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's father.
CROYDON IN THE MOUNTAINS Located 20 miles into the interior near the town of Catadupa
in St. James (take B6 out of town)
Hours: 8:30-5:30 daily; tours from 10:30-3:30
This 132-acre working pineapple and coffee plantation offers half-day estate tours. The property was the birthplace of Samuel Sharpe, a national hero on this island. Sharpe led a slave rebellion in 1831 that helped bring about the abolition of slavery. You can learn about the preparation of coffee, honey, pineapples and more.
GREENWOOD GREAT HOUSE North Coast Hwy., 15 miles east of Montego Bay
Hours: 9-6 daily
This was once the home of the Barrett family (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Tours include a look at the finery enjoyed by the plantation families. Like Rose Hall (below), Greenwood is a reminder of the turbulent period in Jamaica's history when wealthy plantation owners lived in luxury thanks to the profits of the slave labor used to power sugar plantations.
ROSE HALL North Coast Highway
Hours: 9-6 daily
Rose Hall is the best-known great house in the country and is an easy afternoon visit from Montego Bay. This was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch. Guided tours take you to the ballroom, dining room, and Annie's bedroom and grave. The gift shop displays photographs of what many believe are ghostly apparitions in the bedrooms of Rose Hall.
THE WHITE WITCH As the story goes, Annie was born in 1802 in England to an English mother and Irish father. At the age of 10, her family moved to Haiti, and soon her parents died of yellow fever. Annie was adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess and became skilled in the practice of voodoo. Annie moved to Jamaica, married, and built Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with over 2,000 slaves. According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and her slave lovers. To learn more about the tales of Rose Hall, read the novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, which you'll find in gift shops around the island.
BOB MARLEY EXPERIENCE Half Moon Shopping Village
North Coast Highway
Hours: 10-6 daily
This new attraction features a 68-seat theater where you can watch a documentary on the life and works of reggae great Bob Marley. The film runs several times daily. The largest part of the attraction is a huge shop filled with Marley memorabilia - CDs, books, T-shirts. The shop claims to have the largest collection of Marley gifts in the Caribbean.
Montego Bay has the best collection of golf courses in Jamaica; most take full advantage of the city's location, offering gorgeous views of the sea and hills. Fees include US $10-30 for a golf cart and $5-20 for clubs. Caddies are mandatory and will cost an additional US $5-15.
HALF MOON GOLF CLUB 876-953-3105
This 18-hole course hosts the Red Stripe Pro Am and is considered one of the island's best. Rates run $95. Facilities include a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop. Par 72.
Links-style golf is the attraction of this 18-hole course. Rates run $45; facilities include a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop. Par 72.
This 18-hole course is one of the best in the Caribbean (some even say the world). Built on a 19th-century sugar plantation, it is an official PGA tour course and many tournaments are held here. Facilities include a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop. Rates run $40-60 for guests, $100-125 for those not registered at Tryall. Par 70.
Even if you're not a golfer, don't miss the waterwheel next to the main road at Tryall. Its a great photo spot.
WYNDHAM ROSE HALL 876-953-2650
This 18-hole course has hosted many invitational tournaments and is well known by golfers and non-golfers alike because of its location on the grounds of the historic Rose Hall great house. Rates run $50-60. Facilities include a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop. Par 72.
FUTURE COURSE AT WHITE WITCH At press time, construction was underway on the White Witch golf course, adjacent to the Wyndham Rose Hall course and the Rose Hall great house. It will be part of the new Ritz Carlton, and is expected to draw a lot of attention.
Adventures on Water
AGUASOL THEME PARK Hip Strip, downtown Mo Bay
Most of the larger properties offer a good selection of watersports fun. If your property isn't beachfront, consider a day at AguaSol, a theme park on Walter Fletcher Beach. This sand beach park has a full days worth of activities aimed at travelers staying in downtown properties without beach access. The beach (which has lifeguards and security) includes water trampolines, jet skis, banana boat rides, Wave Runners, kayaks, pedal boats, glass-bottom boat rides and snorkeling. There's also tennis (a tennis pro is on staff for lessons), a GoKart racetrack, table tennis and an evening disco.
Doctor's Cave Beach, downtown Mo Bay Hours: daily
Sea Trek is a 45 minute excursion that will take swimmers and non-swimmers 8 years and older 15 feet below the sea in a safety helmet that provides air. (876) 953-5619
Montego Bay is home to several beautiful beaches and almost any beachfront property will have a great slice of sand. Most vacationers use the beach at their property to avoid the numerous vendors found on public beaches offering everything from hair braiding to jerk pork to "something special."
Some of the most notable and best-known public beaches in the city are:
* Cornwall Beach. A favorite with locals. There's plenty to do at this action-packed beach, including watersports. Located off Gloucester Avenue.
* Doctors Cave Beach. This downtown beach is really the birthplace of Montego Bay's tourism. In 1906 Dr. Alexander James McCatty stated that the waters off this beach had all kinds of health benefits (there are minerals in the water). The doctor donated his property to start a bathing club. In the early twenties, the beach was the subject of an article by Sir Herbert Barker, a British osteopath, who claimed that the waters had curative powers. Soon the beach became a tourist attraction and visitors sought the healing waters. Hotels sprang up near the beach, which at that time was accessed through a cave that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932. Today, this spot is still called Doctor's Cave Beach and is a favorite with locals as well as with travelers staying in the downtown hotels. 876-952-2566. Open daily; admission charged. Off Gloucester Avenue, near downtown Montego Bay.
* Walter Fletcher Beach. Another downtown beach, Walter Fletcher is a favorite with local and vacationing families because of its calm waters. Off Gloucester Avenue, near downtown Montego Bay.
This operator offers snorkel trips and sunset cruises. Snorkel cruises stop in the Montego Bay Marine Park, which offers some of the island's best snorkeling areas. Equipment and lessons (if needed) are provided. After the park, the vessel sails along the coast past Doctor's Cave Beach and the party begins. There's unlimited beer, rum punch and soft drinks. The sunset excursion also hugs the shoreline and drinks are provided.
RHAPSODY 204 Chatwick Plaza, Queens Drive
Sailing cruises can be booked through most hotel tour desks and you can also call the Rhapsody office directly. Cruises include day trips, snorkel excursions and sunset sails, as well as private charters.
CAPTAIN'S WATERSPORTS LTD. White Sands P.O.
876-952-3624, fax 876-979-0843
This 36-foot private charter company offers excursions to many beaches and reefs. The vessel has two double berths and is available for charter by the hour or day. Land and sea packages.
Montego Bay is home to several sport fishing companies that offer you the chance to reel in marlin, sailfish, dolphin or wahoo. With most operators, groups can charter the boat or opt to share the vessel with other travelers. Expect to pay about $300 for a half-day cruise, and that includes just about everything your group will need for the excursion, including equipment. Many companies offer free hotel pick-up.
Irie Lady, 876-953-9266 (phone and fax) E-mail email@example.com
No Problem, 876-995-2912
North Coast Marine at Half Moon 876-953-9266
The Montego Bay Marine Park (876-952-5619) was the first protective park in Jamaica. It was established to preserve the natural resources of this underwater wonderland. A quick look at the area and it's easy to see the treasures that lie beneath the surface. Several sites draw divers with their protected conditions.
* Basket Reef. Known for its basket sponges.
* Airport Reef. Just offshore near the Donald Sangster International Airport, this site includes coral caverns.
* Chubb Reef. This site is near the Holiday Inn east of town.It is known for its large schools of Bermuda chubbs.
* Widowmaker's Cave. Do you really want to dive at a site named Widowmaker's Cave? Well, many adventure travelers do. Many fish congregate here and youll also see black coral.
Fun Divers, Wyndham Rose Hall 876-953-2650
North Coast Marine Sports, Half Moon 876-953-2211
Resort Divers, 876-973-5750
Sandals Inn, 876-952-4140
Sandals Montego Bay, 876-979-9130
Sandals Royal Caribbean, 876-953-2231
Seaworld, Holiday Inn/Wyndham Rose Hall 876-953-2180
Most Mo Bay resorts offer opportunities to take a boat just offshore and snorkel or dive among the reefs. Even first-time snorkelers can appreciate a look at colorful corals, graceful fans and fish that include friendly sergeant majors, butterfly fish and shy damselfish.
MOBAY UNDERSEA TOURS Gloucester Avenue, downtown Montego Bay
876-971-1049 or 952-2347 or 940-4465
We especially enjoyed our tour aboard this semi-sub. If you aren't a diver or don't have the opportunity to snorkel at the Montego Bay Marine Park during your stay, a trip with MoBay is a good option, enabling you to catch a peek at the best-preserved reefs in Jamaica. During our tour, we spotted a sea turtle as well as countless tropical fish and some very healthy sea fans and sponges. Highly recommended for families.
River Rafting & Cruises
EVENING ON THE GREAT RIVER 876-952-3732
Hours: Sunday and Thursday evenings
This quiet, romantic raft ride on the Great River includes dinner and a show. Price includes transportation from Montego Bay hotels as well as dinner and bar.
LETHE MOUNTAIN VALLEY RAFTING 20 minutes west of Montego Bay, North Coast Highway
Hours: 9 am-5 pm daily
This is the epitome of relaxation. Climb aboard a bamboo raft and take a one-hour float down the tranquil Great River. The ride is quiet and hassle-free (no vendors here, in contrast to the Rio Grande rafting excursion) and you're welcome to take a dip in the river if you like. The ride isn't cheap, but it is very relaxing.
MARTHA BRAE RIVER RAFTING 876-954-5168 or book through your hotel tour desk
Hours: Opens daily at 9 am; closes at sunset
Like the mountain rafting at Lethe and the Rio Grande near Port Antonio, this attraction features rafting down a tranquil river, the Martha Brae. The ride lasts about one hour.
According to legend, the river is named for an Arawak who killed herself rather than tell the Spanish the location of a local gold mine. The Indian maiden took the Spanish upriver then used her magic to change the course of the waterway, drowning herself and the Spaniards in the process. Today her "duppy" or ghost is said to haunt the entrance to the mine.
Adventures on Horseback
Riding a horse through the surf is a favorite Mo Bay activity. There are also many beautiful trail rides.
We suggest morning rides. By midday, temperatures away from the beach trade winds can get high. Be sure to wear long pants and sneakers or boots for a ride.
ROCKY POINT STABLES North Coast Highway,
next to Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club
Rocky Point is a full-service horseback riding facility near Half Moon Golf, Beach & Tennis Club on the North Coast Highway. You can ride on your own mount or participate in organized trail rides with a group. These range from the 45-minute Jungle Jaunt to the two-hour Trail and Treat option. Instruction is available in dressage, riding technique, show-jumping and even polo. Transportation can be arranged to and from Montego Bay area hotels.
ROCKLANDS FEEDING STATION Anchovy
Feeding times: 3:30 pm and 5 pm daily
Founded by Lisa Salmon, Jamaica's best-known ornithologist, this bird sanctuary is surrounded by clouds of grassquits, saffron finches and, most especially, hummingbirds.
Salmon moved to this verdant hillside in April 1952 and found the site, located a short drive from the beaches of Montego Bay, filled with feathered friends. "I went out every morning and gave them water to bathe in," recalled Salmon. The practice continued for six years and gradually she moved the bath up to her porch, put out sugar water for the hummingbirds, and slowly trained the tiny visitors to eat from her hands.
Through the years, Salmon worked as a bird advocate, achieving a limit on Jamaicas bird hunting season. In 1959 she opened the bird sanctuary and since that time travelers from around the world have hand-fed the regular guests of this bird diner. Tiny finches flutter around outstretched palms filled with birdseed, while fast-as-lightning hummingbirds drink from a hand-held bottle of sugar water.
FALMOUTH East of Montego Bay
The capital of Trelawny parish, Falmouth is almost untouched by tourism. It was once a bustling center of commerce and had many fine buildings; today the community is well worth a look for its Georgian homes, many, alas, in poor repair. One building exterior you should make an effort to see is the Falmouth Parish Church, built in 1795. Today craftsmen have an open-air market near the church.
The best market days in Falmouth are Wednesday, when clothing and crafts are sold, and Friday and Saturdays, when fruits and vegetables fill the stalls.
Beyond Falmouth lies Glistening Waters and the Luminous Lagoon (some people call it Oyster Bay). This bioluminescent lagoon shimmers with microscopic organisms in the moonlight. When fish swim through the luminescent waters, they leave a streak of light. Night boat rides on these sparkling waters are offered by Roses by the Sea (876-954-3427).
SEAFORD TOWN South of Montego Bay on B8 to B6, which leads to Marchmont.
Turn west at Marchmont and continue to Seaford Town.
Seaford Town is one of Jamaicas most unusual communities. It was founded by German settlers in the 1830s. Today descendents of those early residents populate the community. While here, stop by the Seaford Town Historical Museum, 876-995-9399, 9-5 daily, filled with artifacts from the towns early days.
Montego Bay offers the best shopping on the island. If it glitters, glimmers, shines and sparkles, you'll find it here - gold jewelry, precious gems, watches, and less expensive goods such as coffees, liquors and crafts.
Top shopping areas in town are the Half Moon Shopping Village for very upscale items and the Holiday Village Shopping Centre for a little bit of everything. In the Half Moon Resort, the Shopping Village is one of the island's best, both for its high-end goods such as designer watches and fine jewelry, as well as for its clothing. The open-air village sits adjacent to the resort's conference center and is also home to several restaurants and the Bob Marley Experience.
The Holiday Village Shopping Centre is across the road from the Holiday Inn and has a collection of inexpensive shops offering everything from Bob Marley T-shirts to rasta tams, woodcarvings to straw baskets. Liquor stores offer local rums, liqueurs and coffees.
If you're looking for Jamaican artwork, an excellent stop is the Gallery of West Indian Art. The shop has an outlet in Montego Bay at 11 Fairfield Road, Catherine Hall (876-952-4547, fax 979-5156) and another at the Round Hill Hotel.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the craft market, an adventure in itself. Many travelers avoid the market because of the high-pressure sales people, but we have found it delightful. A friendly good morning, abstaining from photos until a purchase (no matter how small) is made, and general good manners will go far with the salespeople. Some smaller items available at the market include straw baskets ($3), tiny straw purses ($4), friendship bracelets in rasta colors ($1), coffee bean necklaces ($2) and bamboo bangles ($4).
After shopping, take a break with a soft drink or sky juice (like our snow cone) sold from pushcarts beneath the shade trees.
Your nights in Montego Bay can be as exciting or as peacefule as you wish. Try your luck at poker. Dance the night away to the reggae rythm. Or take in a local dance show.
CORAL CLIFF CASINO Gloucester Avenue
11 am - 3 am
You'll find slot machines in some of the larger resorts on the island, but the most extensive gambling site is at the Coral Cliff Casino on the Hip Strip. You cant miss it - just look for the flashing neon lights. Only slot machine gambling is found here, but jackpots do get quite large. Free draft beer, sodas and rum punch are served at the slot machines.
PLANET X Half Moon Shopping Centre
The black and white decor of the Half Moon Resort is carried out in this disco as well. Located in the shopping village, Planet Xaymaka, or Planet X, features all types of dance tunes and plenty of reggae. There is a cover charge, which includes one drink. On Sunday nights, Planet X features oldies. Nightclub action begins at about 11 pm most nights.
MONTEGO BAY LITTLE THEATRE Fairfield Hotel
This local theatrical group produces a variety of shows. Call for show days (shows always start at 8 pm); admission is a very reasonable JA $250.