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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Top 5 Things-to-Do in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Are you headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica this vacation season?  Well stop looking at those lists of all the things to do in Jamaica.  Those lists will have you spending hours driving around the island to see all the sights all over the island.  Don't get me wrong, if your only going to Jamaica once in your life, then those lists are for you.  See as much as you can in that trip!! But if your a repeat visitor, then my advice is to visit each city in a separate trip so that you can fully engross yourself in the local culture and sites. Montego Bay is the largest geographical city in Jamaica with the 4th highest population.  If you are coming from North America or Europe, this is most likely the city that you'll be flying into.  It has a rich history of Spanish and English influence, the area was once the home of many sugar cane plantations. Checking out the local history is definitely necessary in this city!

I've been their twice and here are my

1.  Visit the haunted home of the "White Witch" Rose Hall. 
check out TripAdvisor for the best deals on trips to Rose Hall  
If you love local legend and a creepy tale of murder and haunting, then this is the tour for you!  Originally built in the 1770s the Georgian Mansion was destroyed in the Jamaican revolution and then restored in the 1980s.  This estate has been featured on Scariest Places on Earth, America's Next Top Model, and has inspired novels and songs in various genres.  Like Johnny Cash?  Well, he actually wrote a song AT THIS MANSION and your tour host will sing it to you at the end of the tour while your standing over the White Witch's tomb.  While your inside, you will see silk wallpaper (some of which has been hand embroidered in India), ornamental chandeliers, and beautiful European antiques.  And if historic Architecture floats your boat, just wait until you see the stone work!  Imported from Spain these stones where hand-laid in a truly inspiring.

The grand front entrance of Rose Hall that looks out on the Atlantic Ocean

2.  Visit the Craft Market, also called the Hip Strip.  
This site gets mixed reviews on ALL of the big sites, but I found it truly charming.  Build on the site of an old fort, this craft market features plenty of local crafts that will surely please the people back home who your buying souvenirs for.  The thing you have to remember is that these vendors are trying to make a living in a tight economy where every penny counts.  They purchase, make, or have family members who make all of the items in their shops and these struggling entrepreneurs spend countless hours putting a little bit of Jamaican love in each piece.  Don't expect to just site-see in this craft market as these shop keepers are ready to negotiate with you!   Bring small bills and be ready to buy something from almost every shop.  Just a $1 USD bracelet or key chain and a $5 USD wood carved figurine will go a long way in supporting these family-run shop owners.  Palm Baskets are also big!  If you visit the Market on a day where there is no cruise in port you will see fewer vendors and be able to peruse the shops slightly less interrupted by vendors biding for your patronage.

The Montego Bay Craft Market on a non-cruise day.
3.  Visit Fort Montego. 
If your visiting the Craft Market then you'll definitely want to check out Fort Montego.   You will have to venture around and explore the different elements because they aren't all centrally located around one site.  The Armory is located in the back right corner of the Craft Market, the park is located at the foot of the Craft Market, and the cannon is located right at it's entrance.  A truly interesting historical site, this is a must see!  A Fort that was build to help the British defend the Island from French and Spanish conquerors, it's stones were hand cut and laid by Jamaican slaves.  The craftsmanship and history in each stone is truly remarkable.  Make sure to also check out the intricate building of the walls behind the fort.  It's truly amazing the earth works and retaining ability of this mid 18th century fort.

4.  Watch a Raggae Dancehall Show.  
If your not quite ready to hit a club and try out your hips at dancing like a Jamaican, maybe you should watch a show instead.  I have seen a lot of dance shows from many different cultures, but none as breathtaking as the Jamaican Reggae Dancehall.  Be prepared for a lot of hip movement and fast beat-driven shaking.  And be prepared to want to join in, because it's a contagious style.   You can't visit the island without seeing this first hand!  Some clubs offer performances or you can check out the resort performances which often have at least one Reggae Night.

Reggae Dancehall Show
5.  Walk the City.  
One of the most important things to do when you visit any city in any other country is walk and talk.  Really SEE the city as a local sees it.  Talk to the locals and hear what they have to say.   You really can't appreciate the beautiful tourist attractions within a city without seeing the real life of the country's people.  When you walk around Montego Bay you will see an interesting approach to architecture that is popular in Caribbean countries which consists of what typical North American's would consider an "add on" way of building.  The interesting part is that Jamaicans build the first rooms of their home and leave re-bar and openings for future additions often time years before those additions will even be begun.  The idea is that as the family gets more money to invest in the house and as their families grow, they will add rooms.  This often gives buildings a hodge-podge of styles and ornamental details because they have been added together over years of additions after styles and tastes have changed.   This is very interesting when compared to American homes, which are typically build completely from the very beginning and often leave no room for additions.  It truly is a wonderful site to behold.  While your admiring the Jamaican city's architecture, make sure to stop and talk to the people!  I have found that most Jamaicans are eager and willing to talk with you about their country and their lives.  They are truly a very friendly people with a rich culture and society, so get to know the REAL people and place, not  just what you see at the resort.

Montego Bay apartments

Have you been to Montego Bay?  Tell us what you thought of these destinations and the many other great sites!  

Want to go to Montego Bay?? Check out these last minute deals: Montego Bay
Also, check out my list of Top 5 Things-To-Do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

The next time I go to Jamaica, I plan to stay in Negril and take a Blue Mountain Coffee Tour (because I LOVE COFFEE!!), visit the Luminous Lagoon (how cool is a totally-natural glowing pond of water??), and finally visit the birth place of Bob Marley!  Want to go to Negril?  Check out these last minute deals: Negril


  1. I had the chance to visit Montego Bay and I absolutely loved it! It was a pity I only got to stay one day (and see very little) :(
    I will surely follow your suggestions next time I'm there!

    Have a lovely day!

    1. Yes, it's a shame that you only got to stay one day, but at least you have a list now to follow for future visits! It really is a city you could spend an entire week exploring!

  2. Great list! Definitely adding it to my bucket list!

    1. If you haven't been to Jamaica, you really should! The people, the culture, the nature, the history! One of my favorite places :)

  3. Unfortunately my other comment didn't make it through but I said that the last time I visited I regret not leaving the resort and that there are so many things I could have done. I have bookmarked this page for when I return to MoBay soon :)

    1. Oh yes, I definitely recommend breaking free of your resort! Many times if possible! If you get the chance to head down to Ocho Rios it's a beautiful place too! Of course my favorite thing about Jamaica is the people. Such a friendly place.


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