Jamaica is a Caribbean Island off the coast of Honduras, close to Haiti and Cuba. It’s a popular tourist destination, and (amongst many other things) it’s famous for Rastafarian culture, being the birthplace of Bob Marley, and giving the world jerk chicken!
The island offers a combination of nature, sand, and sea. Montego Bay is one of the island’s main coastal resort destinations and Jamaica’s second largest city. It’s a hub for tourists of all walks of life.
The city’s surrounding beaches, lively nightclubs, and nearby nature spots make it the perfect base for your time in Jamaica. You’re going to love the rum bars, laid-back atmosphere, and uplifting music.
Explore old plantations or marvel at the marine wildlife on snorkeling expeditions are just some of the things to do in Montego Bay. Or escape into the jungle canopy where stunning rivers and waterfalls weave themselves effortlessly into the landscape.
In this post, we'll cover:
14. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is best described as a destination with a bit of everything. It’s essentially a water park, restaurant, and nightclub all in one!
Their margaritas are notoriously delicious — you can’t leave Montego Bay without having at least one (or two). Their sunset patio has spectacular views of the sun setting over the sea, and once the sun goes down the dancehall and reggae tunes begin!
Their 120 foot water slide runs off the side of the venue and throws you into the air before you come crashing into the sea, it’s extra thrilling a few margaritas in!
13. Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
The Ras Natango Gallery and Garden is a unique spot where you can combine a stroll through nature and a visit to art exhibitions. Most of the masterpieces are Ras Natango’s — this incredible self-taught artist runs the gardens and galleries.
Quaint and colorful, the gallery and gardens are nestled in the hills overlooking Montego Bay. They are a botanical haven of local flora and birds. You can catch a glimpse of up to 18 of Jamaica’s 28 endemic birds here!
This tropical retreat is the perfect place to come if you’re seeking a little solitude and respite.
12. Sam Sharpe Square
Come and catch a glimpse of Jamaica in the 1800s in this little square at the heart of downtown Montego Bay. It was named after the anti-slavery activist Sam Sharpe who is considered a Jamaican National Hero.
In 1831, on Christmas day, a mass protest led by Sharpe broke out. The city’s slaves refused to work. This was a huge act of rebellion, which lead to the Kensington Estate Great House being set alight and simultaneously began the slave rebellion in Jamaica.
The monument in the center of the square explores the struggles he faced as a humanitarian activist. History aside, it’s also a bustling area of the city; there are lots of vendors!
Make sure you visit the Montego Bay Museum and The Cage whilst you’re there too.
11. Rocklands Bird Sanctuary
Birdwatchers gather, we’ve got something special in store for you! This little bird sanctuary is home to some of the island’s finest bird species, and they aren’t afraid to get up close.
Habituated to humans, the birds are extremely friendly and some will even come and land on you! You’ll be given a bottle of sweetened water you can feed them with to give them an extra incentive to approach you. The vibrant hummingbirds will be the avian highlight of your trip.
The story of how the sanctuary began is as humbling as your time here will be. The house’s old owner, an enthusiastic nature lover, used to walk through the hills feeding the birds. They got used to her and started following her home. She’s passed away now, but her legacy lives on at the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.
10. YS Falls
YS Falls has a mix of activities suited to adventure and relaxation seekers alike. The main attraction is the collection of falls that cascade from pool to pool, forming a tier of beautiful waterfalls.
Cool off under the gushing falls or soak in the natural spring pool. Pack a book and a picnic for the day and spend some time relaxing in the YS Falls tropical gardens after.
If you’re looking for a little more adventure, head into the canopy and try out the thrilling canopy rides!
9. Mystic Mountain
Mystic Mountain is a popular attraction for families. It’s just an hour and a half drive away from Montego Bay, so you won’t have to travel far before you get to this tropical theme park.
The adventure begins right away. As soon as you arrive you’ll hop on the Sky Explorer chairlift that soars into the air and takes you up the mountain to the main attractions. Along the way there are great views of the Ocho Rios town below your feet!
Add all the tours to your trip, so you can zipline through the canopy and ride on the bobsled themed rollercoaster once you get to the top. There is also a pool with a waterslide, a restaurant, and gift shop!
8. Greenwood Great House
This grand house and its little estate offers a little glimpse into Jamaica’s past. The home of colonial settlers, the property was built in the late 1700s by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s cousin, Richard Barrett. The family were amongst the first settlers in Jamaica.
On your tour of the property you’ll listen to the phonograph in the old ballroom and get a feel of what a Jamaican Victorian-era property looked like when you belonged to the island’s elite. The Greenwood Great House also boasts the island’s largest musical instrument collection and plantation books library.
The house was one of the few to survive the slave rebellion of Christmas 1831 undamaged, so it allows you the unique chance to see period furnishings and features.
7. Mayfield Falls
These breathtaking tiered falls in the hills are surrounded by greenery and wildlife. It’s the perfect setting for a rejuvenating day on the doorstep of Montego Bay!
Just over an hour away from Montego Bay, the drive there is as a part of the experience too, you’ll wind through thick jungle-like vegetation that will get you excited for what’s ahead!
Next embark on the scenic river walk to get to the falls. Once you’re there, cool down in the various pools and soak up the natural beauty of Mayfield Falls.
You can hike around the falls if you get restless, or come with a guide and explore the underwater caves and have a giggle in the natural (though cold) jacuzzis, like the Washing Machine.
6. Croydon Plantation
This exotic coffee and pineapple plantation is located at the foot of the Catadupa Mountains near Montego Bay — the views are second to none!
You’ll get to see the trees of various nuts, like cashews and macadamia (google a cashew tree, the nut’s original appearance is bound to surprise you!) and sample delicious tropical fruits, like sugar cane, jackfruit, and of course the plantation’s trademark pineapples!
Take a tour and learn about the plantation’s history, taste an authentic Jamaican lunch, and find out all about how they produce their aromatic coffee and sweet honey.
5. Jungle Ziplining
The most iconic zipline adventures near Montego Bay are at the Montpelier Jungle Outpost. The property was once a sugar plantation. It’s a short hike to the estate, past the stunning Montpelier waterfall and the Great River.
Their jungle ziplines lead you up into the trees and winding through the canopy. You’ll start to get butterflies in your tummy as you pick up speed and the adrenaline rushes through your body!
You can also go kayaking and river tubing from the Montpelier Jungle Outpost, so it’s the perfect place to come if you want a full day of adventure! Families will especially love it here.
4. Dunns River Falls
The Dunns River Falls look like a scene out of a kids fairy-tale book. The river trickles over smooth copper rocks and fills the natural pools at the foot of the falls.
The cool river water cascades 1,000 feet down the rock and there’s a pristine natural pool at the bottom. It’s not too deep, so it’s a great swimming spot for families with little kids.
If you want to venture further upstream, you can walk up the waterfall on the step-like rocks and explore the surrounding landscape! Dunns River Falls are about an hour and a half drive away from Montego Bay.
3. Rose Hall Great House
Rose Hall is grand and elegant, though it has a somewhat cottage-like exterior (but it’s considerably bigger than a cottage!). Built back in 1780, the Great House was one of the larger sugar plantation mansions on the island.
It was owned by Annie Palmer, also known as the White Witch. She’s rumored to have been a master of witchcraft and voodoo and is thought to have murdered various husbands and lovers.
She was later murdered by Takoo, one of the plantation’s slaves. Even today it’s thought the house is still haunted by her…
They run day tours and evening tours in candlelight. It’ll be a day of mystery, dark magic, and history combined!
2. Doctor’s Cave Beach
Come and spend a lazy day on this quintessentially tropical beach! The glistening turquoise waters and bright white sand entice locals and visitors from near and far.
Tall palm trees line the beach and hide the hotels and restaurants just behind their canopy. Curiously, the beach was once privately owned by Doctor Alexander James McCatty, hence its peculiar name.
It’s a hotspot for snorkeling as there are coral reefs just off shore that attract the most vibrant and tropical marine life. You can try out lots of different watersports at Doctor’s Cave Beach too!
1. Bamboo Rafting Martha Brae
The Martha Brae river was supposedly named after an Arawak witch who was allegedly forced to tell Spanish settlers where a secret stash of gold lay along the river. However, using her sorcery she changed the course of the river and concealed the gold forever.
Hop on a bamboo raft and let the river sweep you away. The trip is serene, silent, and tranquil. As you slowly cruise down the river you’ll mostly pass through rainforest. There are a few little villages and towns along the way too.
The Martha Brae river is just 40 minutes away from Montego Bay! This unique and stunning adventure should be at the top of your holiday itinerary.
Best Time to Visit Montego Bay
Montego Bay sees by far the most visitors in July, August and December when the weather is hot and there is very little rain. Outside of these busy months are much quieter and cheaper with the dry season of January to April being the best time to visit.
At the start of ‘winter’, holidaymakers start to pour in for Christmas and New Year’s, relaxing in its resorts and sunbathing on their stunning sands. Prices are at their highest though with its restaurants, bars and beaches all packed.
Up to April, the city sees temperatures average 29 to 30°C (84 to 86°F) with the humidity also lower than later in the year. These months are ideal for touring about the isle or catamaran cruises along its scenic coast. The Jazz and Blues Festival and carnival celebrations are also going on then.
May through November is much calmer and less crowded as this is the hurricane season in the Caribbean. The bad weather can make visiting its resorts much less pleasant.
As July and August are much drier and people have summer holidays, many visit then. The days are sunny and warm with exciting events like the Reggae SumFest taking place. Many Americans also visit in November around Thanksgiving.