Montego Bay sits on the northwest coast of Jamaica. It will be forever associated in my mind with large all-inclusive hotels and non-stop eating, drinking and partying. Yeah, it has all the beaches and a laid back atmosphere but whenever we go there, I feel like it’s a race to see who can contract diabetes first; the endless supply of food, booze and carbonated drinks will break the strongest of wills. Only here have i witnessed unfettered carbohydrate feeding frenzies! The great thing about all-inclusives is that they’re fantastic for families and if you’re on a budget. The pools are fun, the beaches are free of hustlers, there’s always entertainment, and it’s easy to find your way home at the end of the night. The last two times I’ve stayed in MoBay, it’s been in all-inclusives – the Hilton Rosehall and one of the RIUs. Although, I’ve come to realise that I simply lack the willpower to walk away from the all day buffet and bar. For the sake of my waistline, next time i’m going to try Airbnb.
Here are my top six things to do in MoBay, enjoy:
1. Glistening Waters (Luminous Lagoon), Falmouth, Jamaica
Just East of Montego Bay, near Falmouth, is Glistening Waters, Jamaica’s only natural night-time attraction, the Luminous Lagoon. The waters that surround Oyster Bay are home to tiny bio-luminescent micro-organisms that glow and emit a blue light when disturbed or agitated. Simply disturb the waters with your hands and watch as the waters create an unusual lighting effect that is one of a kind! Take a night-time boat tour out on the bay and watch as the wake behind the boat lights up and illuminates an almost unbelievable fluorescent blue glow. There’s a hotel and restaurant there too, if you fancy making a night of it.
2. Rose Hall Great House Estate
Rose Hall Great House, dating back to 1770, is nestled among acres of sugar cane just a few miles from MoBay. It is one of the greatest historic houses in Jamaica and full of legends. The tale of ‘The White Witch of Rose Hall’ being one of the most famous. You can take part in a tour if you want to learn more about this historic Great House and the stories it has to tell. The super-fancy Half Moon Resort, the Hyatt, and the Iberostar Rose Hall are located on the old estate.
3.Doctor’s Cave Beach
Montego Bay’s most famous beach, founded in 1906, Doctor’s Cave Beach Club is nestled between the Marine Park and the Hip Strip. The translucent water is known for its mineral content and the white sand beach which is clean and inviting. The small admission charge keeps out most of the beach hustlers. There are lots of facilities on hand including a food court and things to rent (beach chairs, towels, snorkeling gear).
4. Cornwall Beach
If you’re a sun bunny but don’t fancy spending your entire two week break on the hotel beach next to the couple from Brighton who you recognise from your outbound flight, then you should escape the hotel and head to the coolest beach in MoBay. A place to come and hang out with the locals. Irie. There are lots of facilities on hand including an internet cafe and water sports, and lots of things to rent (beach chairs, towels, snorkeling gear). Food is available there, or do what we do and bring your own picnic. Redstripe anyone?
5.The Hip Strip
Decidedly lacking hipsters, Gloucester Avenue is located not far from Mo Bay airport. GA is lined with tourist hotels, shops, and restaurants, so go crazy…enjoy the banter and bargaining and ask yourself: how can you not go back home without owning a Bob Marley beach towel and a gents leather bracelet?
5. Rocklands Bird Sanctuary
Take a visit to Rocklands Feeding Station in the aptly named Anchovy. If you’re a ‘twitcher’, you’ll love it, and it’s super close to MoBay. The sanctuary is home to thousands of different birds from Jamaica and elsewhere. You can sit and watch the birds as they interact with visitors, bottle feed the Humming birds or hand feed other species such as the Jamaican Mango bird or the Red-billed Streamertail. Best to call ahead to confirm feeding time if you want to join in the fun.
6. Sam Sharpe Square
If you want to glimpse a bit of local history, then the square named after the National Hero Samuel Sharpe, is just what you’re looking for. There are some interesting Georgian buildings sitting side by side with modern structures, as well as monuments commemorating the history of the square. There’s always a lot going on in the square and the side streets are busy with vendors. Of particular note is the cast iron fountain in the middle of the square’s roundabout. It was donated by Captain J Kerr, a banana baron.