Montego Bay has long been a haven for tourists seeking sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and exciting nightlife. Though there is no shortage of these things, the city has much more to offer than you could imagine. Historic tours, zip-lining, and scuba diving are just some of the things that await you on your trip – if you’re up for the adventure.
Rose Hall is one of Jamaica’s most historic plantation homes. Built atop a hill that looks out over the ocean, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped backed in time while touring the Great House. The Jamaican Georgian mansion was built in 1770, and legend claims it is haunted by the ghost of Annie Palmer, known as the “White Witch of Rose Hall.” Tours operate both by day and night. The guides are very knowledgeable about Jamaican history and will explain the cultural significance of plantation homes and the slave trade. The night tour offers a closer look into the mysterious legend about the woman who murdered her three husbands within the walls of the house.
As one of Montego Bay’s most popular beaches, Doctor’s Cave is a landmark. Its crystal blue water and soft white sand draw thousands of tourists to its shores every month. The bay’s location provides shelter from rough seas and currents, making it perfect for children and inexperienced swimmers. The beautiful water is said to have healing powers, and we are certain that a day spent here will have you feeling refreshed and renewed. The beach is open to the public for a small fee, with chairs, umbrellas and snorkeling gear available for rent.
Located beside the Half Moon Resort, the equestrian center host’ daily rides along the white sand beach nearby. Operated by Trina DeLisser, one of Jamaica’s most experienced horsewomen, you’ll be well taken care of by the friendly staff and kind horses. You’ll start at the stables, where you’ll be guided down to the beach. The horses absolutely love the water, and you’ll feel as though you are gliding along their backs as they start swimming. If you prefer to stay on dry land, Trina also gives lessons in jumping, dressage, and polo.
The Martha Brae River is about an hour’s drive east of Montego Bay in the neighboring parish of Trewlawny. It is one of the biggest rivers in Jamaica with one of the best rafting experiences around. The tour includes round-trip transport making it a hassle-free experience. You’ll be taken to the Rafter’s Village at the start of your tour, offered a complementary drink and depart along the three miles of river surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. The rafts are eco-friendly and made entirely of bamboo, adding to the rustic and tranquil experience. The water is calm, safe for swimming and the perfect way to beat the city heat.
Also located in the neighboring parish of Trelawny, Glistening Waters is a place you just have to visit at night. The phosphorescent lagoon is home to thousands of microorganisms that are bioluminescent. When the organisms are disturbed or moved by swimmers, boats, or even the weather, they light up creating a blue glow that is magical to witness. When the boat takes you into the middle of the bay, you’ll see the bright blue glow start to appear from the wake and waves.
Get a bird’s-eye view of Jamaica as you glide through the dense canopies of some of the island’s most tropical forests on the longest zip-line course in the Caribbean. You’ll be guided by friendly, experienced staff whose first priority is your safety and enjoyment. Along the tour you’ll spot indigenous flora and fauna, all while gaining an idea of what most of the country looked like before European colonists arrived. The tour includes round-trip transportation, the zip-line tour, and all the required safety equipment.
The Montego Bay Marine Park is an ecological treat for divers and snorkelers, with numerous fish and coral species set along crystal clear warm water. Many hotels and resorts offer diving packages for guests, but if you are looking for another diving shop, Dressel Divers is a great company. They work in conjunction with the Iberostar Hotel but are also available to divers staying outside of the hotel. They have a schedule of weekly dives on their website but are also available for private sessions and night dives. There are wonderful shallow sites starting at 10-12 meters, as well as deep walls that start at 23 meters.
Ocho Rios is another popular tourist destination on the north coast, about an hour and a half from Montego Bay. Many tourists staying in the Montego Bay area are drawn to “Ochi”, as the locals call it, for the town’s unique excursions. A favorite is Mystic Mountain. You’ll soar above the treetops in a ski lift that transports you to a hillside plaza with a café and gift shop, featuring panoramic views of the ocean and countryside. There is also a swimming pool and small roller coaster designed as a tribute to Jamaica’s first bobsled team. The plaza has lots of historical artifacts on display from some of Jamaica’s most celebrated athletes. Dunn’s River Falls, one of most beautiful places on the island, is also in Ocho Rios.
The golf course at the Tryall Club is one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful and exclusive. It winds through and around the extensive property, starting in the hillside and ending down on the coastline. You’ll have the most spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding mountains while being attended by the friendliest and most attentive caddies. The greens are never crowded, allowing you to get immersed in your game and the environment.
If you’re looking for a beautiful beach without the crowds that often gather at Doctor’s Cave, Cornwall Beach is the perfect place. Although they are right beside one another, Cornwall Beach is always less busy, with the same tranquil water and white sand seen at Doctor’s Cave. The facilities have everything you could need from clean restrooms and lockers to umbrella and lounge chair rentals. After a long day in the sun head down the Hip Strip for a place to grab a cool drink.