Montego Bay, Jamaica Cruise PortPhoto by Raphael Fauveau
- Overview of Montego Bay, Jamaica
- What language is spoken in Jamaica?
- What is the national currency in Jamaica?
- How do I get around from the cruise port?
- How can I stay in touch with home? Either via Email or phone?
- What are the top attractions and must-sees in Montego Bay? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- What are the best eats in Montego Bay?
- What are the must-drinks in Montego Bay?
- Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Montego Bay? Where can I get them?
- What is the weather like in Montego Bay, Jamaica?
Montego Bay (often referred to as "MoBay" by the locals) offers a combination of beautiful beaches and excellent duty-free shopping. Jamaica is a beautiful island with much to see and do. Be aware, however, that the vendors can be particularly aggressive - drugs and prostitution are also a problem and should be avoided at all costs. Haggling is expected on everything from taxi rides to souvenirs.
Cruise ships dock in Freeport, which is several miles away from the main tourist areas of Montego Bay.↑ Back to Top
English is the "official" language of Jamaica, but it has a very melodic, rhythmic quality. Some people also speak "Patois", which is a mix of English and some African languages.↑ Back to Top
The Jamaican Dollar (JMD) is the official currency. As of May 2011, one American dollar is equal to 84.7 Jamaican dollars. Click here for current exchange rates.
Do they accept US Dollars around the port?
Jamaican law requires that Jamaican Dollars are used for all goods and services. This rule is followed rather loosely - some vendors will accept American dollars but you will always get JMD in return. Credit cards are also widely accepted (Visa & MasterCard only.)
Where can I get or exchange money?
At "cambios" (official money exchange offices), hotels, and banks.
- Banks closest to cruise Port:
There is a Scotiabank right at Freeport Village where the ship docks. Other Scotiabank branches with ATMs are in Sam Sharpe Square near the waterfront in Montego Bay; at Doctor's Cave Beach on Gloucester Ave, Montego Bay; and at the Half Moon Bay Resort.
- ATMs closest to cruise Port:
There is an ATM at the Scotiabank right at Freeport Village where the ship docks. Other Scotiabank branches with ATMs are in Sam Sharpe Square near the waterfront in Montego Bay; at Doctor's Cave Beach on Gloucester Ave, Montego Bay; and at the Half Moon Bay Resort.
Note: Don't depend on the availability of ATMs on the island - they are not as common as in other places, and they are frequently out of order. Do not use ATMs at night.
Be aware that oncoming traffic will be coming from the opposite direction (on your side of the road) than in the United States. Don't walk alone, particularly after dark.
Buses run regularly from Montego Bay to Kingston but other routes on the island don't follow set schedules. You can hail a bus from anywhere along the road, but they tend to be extremely crowded as the driver is paid per person.
Taxis are expensive in Jamaica - charges are per car, not per passenger. You need to haggle with the driver and agree on a price BEFORE getting into the cab. Look for taxis with red license plates marked "PPV" (Public Passenger Vehicle) - these are the only cabs that are registered and approved by the government. Using a non-approved taxi can be very dangerous and should absolutely be avoided. Many taxi drivers display the blue "JTB" sticker on their front window - this means they have been approved by the Jamaica Tourist Board, and are generally associated with the hotels and resorts.
Ace Rent-a-Car has an office very near the cruise ship dock in Freeport - call ahead and they will pick you up when the ship docks. Driving in Jamaica is on the left and the road conditions are quite poor. Many drivers drive in the middle of the road to avoid pot-holes, so be alert!
The roads in Jamaica are too crowded and unsafe for scooter or bike travel to be considered safe.↑ Back to Top
There is a telecommunications center called Jamaica Digiport International at the cruise ship terminal where the ship docks. Calls can be made at these centers for quite a bit less than on the ship. May want to save all those calls home for when you get to port.
How can I call home? Are there call centers? Where are the Internet cafes?
There is a telecommunications center called Jamaica Digiport International at the cruise ship terminal where the ship docks. In Montego Bay, Cyber Haus, 35 Gloucester Ave. offers internet access with an ocean view. In addition, Cybershores has an office at Doctor's Cave Beach.
What are the cell phone rates?↑ Back to Top
What are the top attractions and must-sees in Montego Bay? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- Aquasol Theme Park, Gloucester Ave. in Montego Bay is a family-friendly water-oriented theme park offering everything from water trampolines to go-kart racing to banana boat rides and many other activities. Your admission fee covers beach chairs as well, and there is a restaurant and gift shop on site.
- Caliche Whitewater Rafting offers everyone from beginners to adventure-seekers a chance to ride some rapids in their sturdy inflatable rafts, taking every precaution necessary to insure your comfort and safety, including helmets and top-of-the-line safety vests. The tour also includes a stop at a local restaurant for lunch.
- Croydon on the Mountains, located just outside Montego Bay, would be an excellent choice if you are interested in experiencing the "real" Jamaica (instead of the beaches and shopping.) A working plantation, you will enjoy samples of the native fruits and sugar cane on your guided tour. Lunch (with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee) is included in the ticket price.
- Indigneous Village Rastafari Experience has tours offered from the cruise terminal. You can explore crafts made by the native people, learn about their food and customs, sample some of their spa products, and come to understand their religion and way of life.
- Doctor's Cave Beach, which is part of the Montego Bay Marine Park, is located 20 miles east of Montego Bay and is perhaps the most famous beach on Jamaica. The beach is maintained by the Doctor's Cave Bathing Club. There is a fee to use the beach. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and there are restaurants, bars, and restrooms as well. Snorkeling is quite good just off the beach. Believed to be fed from natural springs, the waters have been said to have healing powers.
- Cornwall Beach, which is walking distance from the downtown area of Montego Bay, Beach is a popular choice for tourists. With its calm water, it is an ideal choice for children or hesitant swimmers. Food and beverages are available at several beachfront restaurants.
- Walter Fletcher Beach, located right in the heart of Montego Bay, is the home to the Aquasol Theme Park. In a fairly protected area, this beach is a great choice for children due to its calm water and many activities.
There is an excellent variety of shopping options in Montego Bay, from inexpensive hand-made crafts at the outdoor craft market near Sam Sharpe Square on Harbour Street to high-end shopping for luxury items at the Half Moon Shopping Center. There is shopping available right at the terminal where the cruise ship docks if you don't choose to venture any further. Understand, however, that you will encounter fairly aggressive "hagglers" everywhere - a polite "no, thank you" is sometimes enough, but it doesn't always work. Haggling is expected at craft markets and in most shops.↑ Back to Top
- The White Witch Course, located 12 miles northeast of the port(see map), is one of the highest rated courses in the Caribbean. The course, which sits on the grounds of what used to be a plantation, is named for the plantation's beautiful but wicked 19th century mistress, Annee Palmer. The White Witch Course is a 6,758-yard, par 71, 18-hole championship course. The course boast a beautiful mountainous terrain and ocean views on 16 of 18 holes. Reservations for tee times can be made online or by contacting the pro shop at (876) 684-0174.
- Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, located 9 miles northeast of Montego Bay (see map), is a par 71, 18-hole course with mountain and ocean views on almost every hole of the course. The course is also near the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" was filmed and the waterfall that the immortal poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning "How do I love thee, let me count the ways" was written. Reservations for tee times can be made online or by contacting the pro shop at (876) 953-2984 or 3981 or after hours call (866) 699-6938 (US only).
- Half Moon Golf Club, located 10.5 miles northeast of Montego Bay (see map), is a 7,119 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The course is is known for being an excellent walking course (not all courses on the island allow walking). Note that caddies are mandatory at this course. Reservations for tee times can be made online.
Check out this video of dolphins playing on a dive
Montego Bay is famous for wall dives and a Marine National Park as well as a DC-3 aircraft in Montego Bay to explore.
Below are a few dive company options:
- Captain's Watersports, about 20 minutes from the cruise ship dock in the Round Hill area, offers everything from introductory scuba lessons to PADI Open-Water certification, including pool courses for kids ages 8-10. Dives leave every day at 8:30 am, 10:30 am, and 1 pm.
- Sun Divers Watersports & Scuba School - explore a sunken Cessna 152 plane, a minesweeper or a tugboat, visit Shark's Reef and play with the harmless nurse sharks, or see turtles, octopus, and eagle rays. $45 for a one-tank dive
- Prospect Plantation Tour - This working farm tour takes visitors by tractor-drawn jitney or on horseback to view fields of bananas, cassava, sugarcane, coffee, allspice and more. Can also choose to tour by horseback or camel!
- The Black River Safari from Montego Bay ticket includes bus transportation to the river, lunch, and beverages. You will see native birds and marine life (including crocodiles) as well as small fishing villages. Bring a bathing suit as the tour stops at a waterfall and pool for swimming. Contact the tour operator to make arrangements for pick-up. This tour generally takes 9 hours, so make sure that you get an early start and discuss timing with tour operator before booking this tour.
- The Bamboo Raft Tour on the Martha Brae River is a 75-minute ride on a bamboo raft from Rafter's Village, about 4 miles from the Falmouth Area. You'll see the Great House at the Good Hope Estate, built in 1755 and now restored to its former glory. The Great House sits on 2,000 acres of a former sugar plantation. Currently they grow papaya, ackee, citrus and anthuriums on the property.
Use caution as you would in any port city - don't flash money or expensive jewelry, don't walk alone at night and, as a precaution, lock your car doors even when you are in the car. Avoid deserted beaches, and don't leave valuables in your car. Stay alert!↑ Back to Top
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Jamaica has several varieties of beer unique to the island - Red Stripe being the most popular, but there is also Dragon Stout (similar to Guinness, but a bit sweeter) and Lion Heart Stout. The enjoy these beers at the original Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville on Gloucester Ave in Montego Bay. It is in the area known as the "Hip Strip". It features a 120 foot waterslide and two water trampolines and is unlike any bar you have ever seen. There are 52 varieties of margaritas and 22-ounce beer bongs to keep you nice and hydrated in the island heat.↑ Back to Top
Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, which can be purchased in the shopping area in town or on the tour of the factory, is a sipping rum finely aged in oak barrels. If you are a connoisseur and looking for something really special try the Limited Edition 30 Year Old Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Klass Kraft Leather Sandals are a practical and comfortable souvenir of you visit to Montego Bay. The Klass Kraft Leather Sandals is located at 44 Fort Street in Montego Bay. Here Jamaican craftspeople make leather sandals, caps, and other accessories on-site.
Art from the Gallery of West Indian Art, located at 11 Fairfield Road in Montego Bay, would be an excellent reminder of your visit. Albert Artwell is a Jamaican artist who specializes in religious scenes with a touch of humor. Market women are often the subject of the colorful work of Clifford "Bobart" Scott. And Erroll Allen specializes in watercolors of the island and its people.↑ Back to Top