Exploring Montego Bay

April 24, 2014 No Comments
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay—MoBay to locals—is about a 20-minute ride west of Falmouth. It is Jamaica’s second-largest city and its No. 1 tourist destination. Within this commercial center, visitors have the option to lounge by the warm waters of the bay; hit a funky beach bar on the Hip Strip; tee off at a championship golf course; tour historical plantations; or get lost beneath the rainforest’s emerald-green canopy, which hides scores of plunging waterfalls.

Begin exploring the lively city in the cobblestoned Sam Sharpe Square, formerly called Charles Square. The name was changed in 1981 to commemorate one of Jamaica’s national heroes, Sam Sharpe, for his efforts in an 1831 rebellion in the name of freedom. On the corner of the square, a small brick and stone building known as The Cage was once used as an overnight jail for village misanthropes.

Doctor's Cave Beach

Doctor's Cave Beach

One of the grandest displays of architecture in MoBay is the St. James Parish Church. Built in 1775 and restored after a 1957 earthquake, the church is constructed of white limestone and features a lovely bell tower and an elaborate Palladian window behind the altar. Beach lovers can head to Montego Bay’s Doctor’s Cave Beach, one of the island’s most picturesque stretches of sand. The water here is said to be fed by mineral springs with natural healing powers, which caught the attention of wealthy travelers back in the 1940s. It’s the perfect place to relax, go for a swim, or snorkel in the crystal clear waters.

The hopping Gloucester Avenue, aptly named the Hip Strip, is a beachfront boulevard with Montego Bay’s most-happening shops, bars, and restaurants. For an authentic taste of Jamaica, order jerked pork, chicken, or sausage accompanied by a Red Stripe beer or a tropical concoction made with local Appleton Estate rum.

Cornwall Beach is another favorite spot on the Hip Strip, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, or just soaking up some sun. Join in beach games, learn local dance moves, or relax under an umbrella, while reggae and steel-pan-drum music plays in the background.

Interact with marine mammals, stingrays, birds, iguanas, snakes, and see a shark show. Sunbathe, snorkel, go glass-bottom kayaking, brave a waterslide, or shop for souvenirs.

Ride a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River, then visit Miss Martha’s Medicinal Herb Garden.

See Falmouth and Montego Bay on a guided scenic drive. Then enjoy two hours of leisure time, shopping, eating, and swimming at Mo’ Bay’s hip strip.

Handpick ingredients with a Celebrity Cruises chef, sample meats at Walkerswood Jerk Hut, then join the chef later for a galley tour and dinner.

Enter the passageways of the Green Grotto Caves, walk past light holes and rock formations. For good luck, toss a coin into the mythical Wishing Well.

Step inside the colonial-era great house owned by Jamaica’s largest plantation owner in the 1700s. See the hummingbird garden and explore the sprawling 2,000-acre grounds.

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