Dreamer Catamaran Cruises Cornwall Beach is the departure point for a sail on one of three catamarans—Tropical Dreamer, Day Dreamer and Island Dreamer. Tours offered include a three-hour "Sail and Snorkel" cruise, which includes an open bar and snorkeling instruction, or a two-hour "Champagne Sunset Sail & Dinner" that departs the beach at 5 pm. US$65 per person, including transfers from nearby resorts. Phone 876-979-0102. http://www.dreamercatamarans.com.
Montego Bay Yacht Club Private charters for groups can be arranged. Happy hour at the bar is the local favorite for sunset viewing and frosty beer. Phone 876-979-8038. http://www.mobayyachtclub.com.
As the sportsfishing capital of Jamaica, MoBay has plenty of fishing boats. The tours operating fishing trips are required to have licenses. For a list of boats currently operating trips, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board office. Phone 876-952-4425.
No Problem At Pier 1 at the Marina, half- and full-day charters can be arranged. Boats are equipped to reel in big game fish. US$360-$690. Phone 876-381-3229.
Salty Angler Fishing Charters Also at Pier 1, half- and full-day charters offer fly and light tackle fishing plus lessons. Phone 876-863-1599.
Several championship courses lure dedicated golfers to Montego Bay. Half Moon Golf Club
Although not as dramatic as competing courses, this course still offers golfers a challenge, especially when the trade winds are blowing. Open daily 7 am-6 pm. Greens fees US$130. Cart and caddie are available at additional cost. Rose Hall, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2560. http://halfmoon.rockresorts.com.
The Wyndham Rose Hall Resort and Country Club This Cinnamon Hill course with ocean views played host to the prestigious Jamaica Open for several years. Open daily 7:30 am-6 pm. Greens fees range US$110-$145 for guests not staying at the hotel. Rose Hall, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2650. http://www.rosehallresort.com.
Tryall Golf, Tennis and Beach Club The course at this club is deceptively challenging. Open daily 8 am-5 pm. Greens fees US$125 for nonguests. North Coast Highway (30 minutes west of Montego Bay), Montego Bay. Phone 876-956-2650. http://www.tryallclub.com.
White Witch If you're a golfer looking for a course with lots of character, White Witch's mountainside setting and deep ravines make for some challenging shots. The impressive clubhouse houses a restaurant upstairs. Also a pro shop. Open daily 6 am-9 pm. Greens fees for nonguests range US$130-$175 depending on the season. Rose Hall, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2800 or 876-518-0174. http://www.whitewitchgolf.com.
Braco Stables Located 32 mi/52 km east of Montego Bay, this family-owned stable offers bareback riding along the beach at sunset and provides guides for tours through the countryside and along the northwest coast of the Caribbean Sea. Phone 876-954-0185. http://www.bracostables.com.
Double A Ranch Take a leisurely ride through the Jamaican countryside on gentle horses that trot through quaint villages and on mountain trails. Open Monday-Friday 9 am-4 pm. Phone 876-952-6261.
Good Hope Country House This company offers horseback riding amid sensational surroundings. The 90-minute rides go past historic buildings and a river. Open daily except Wednesday. US$50 by reservation only. On the edge of Cockpit Country, Falmouth. Phone 876-610-5798 or 876-469-3444 for reservations. http://www.goodhopejamaica.com.
Rocky Point Stables at Half Moon Equestrian Center, This facility offers a variety of horseback-riding excursions. The two most popular outings are a beach ride and a beginners' ride. Long pants are required (wear a swimsuit underneath if you're taking the beach ride). Monday-Saturday 7 am-5 pm. 90-minute beach ride is US$70, offered at 7 am and 4 pm. Beginners' ride is US$50, offered at 10 and 11 am, and 3 pm. Lessons range US$50-$80. Pony rides for children older than 6 are US$20. Adjoining the Half Moon Beach, Golf & Tennis Resort, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2286. http://www.horsebackridingjamaica.com.
Scuba & Snorkeling
You can snorkel from the beaches along Gloucester and Kent avenues or in the Montego Bay Marine Park, a protected area off the eastern shore containing mangroves and seagrass beds, as well as coral reefs. Equipment is available for rent in area dive shops. Boats also take snorkelers to nearby reefs. Expect to pay about US$30-$60 for a boat excursion, including equipment. Prices vary greatly between high season (December-April) and low season (May-November).
Scuba diving outlets can be found on each of the three major beaches. Two local dive resorts are the Cariblue Hotel & Seaworld Dive Centre (phone 876-953-2022) at Ironshore and the Reading Reef Club (phone 876-952-7217) at Reading, about 4 mi/7 km west of Montego Bay. Most all-inclusive resorts have their own facilities. The Jamaica Tourist Board or any of its information booths can advise you of choices for snorkeling or scuba diving (phone 876-952-4425). Deal only with established operators.
For advanced divers, The Point, north of the airport, is the ultimate wall dive because of the dense corals and fish, sharks and rays that are fed by the clear waters. Airport Reef, on the southwest edge of the airport, is considered the best site on the island with masses of coral canyons, caves, tunnels and the wreck of a DC-3 aircraft.
You must be a certified diver and present your certification to rent equipment and go on a standard scuba outing. Introductory "resort course" scuba lessons are available to those with no experience and cost around US$80. They include limited instruction and a supervised dive. Some cruise ships also arrange classes for beginners—check with your shore-excursion staff if you're arriving by ship. Rhapsody Cruises This company offers two three-hour sailing and snorkeling cruises daily aboard the Tropical Dreamer (53 ft/16 m) and Island Dreamer (65 ft/20 m) catamarans. Open Monday-Saturday. Sailing times are usually 10 am-1 pm and 3-6 pm. US$65 per person, including equipment rental. Phone 876-979-0102. http://www.dreamercatamarans.com.
Spas and Health Clubs
Harmony Gardens On the second floor of the Montego Bay Club Hotel and directly across the street from Doctors Cave Beach, this wellness spa offers a range of treatments from acupuncture and reflexology to Swedish and Thai massage. Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay. Phone 876-940-6641.
Although the bay is fairly sheltered from winds, MoBay has some great sailboard activity, especially along the north shore. Doctor's Cave, Cornwall and Walter Fletcher beaches have watersports shops. The beach hotels in the area also rent equipment. A deposit may be required. Tropical Beach Water Sports
Windsurfing equipment and Jet Ski rentals. Instructor on staff. Open daily 9 am-5 pm. Prices range US$45-$120 per hour. Next to Sandals, Montego Bay. Phone 876-940-0836.
Tennis & Racquet Sports
You can play tennis at most major hotels for a small fee. Call ahead to reserve a court. Day passes are available from Sandals Montego Bay for US$85, good 10 am-6 pm (phone 876-952-5510). Half Moon offers a day pass for US$45, depending on occupancy level. The day pass does not include meals and ends at 5 pm (phone 876-953-2211).
Most nocturnal activity centers around Gloucester Avenue—the Hip Strip—where music, dancing, satellite TV, live entertainment, food and drink mingle in a lively, street-festival setting. There are street parties on most Monday nights.
Friday and Saturday are the liveliest nights in the discos. You can purchase evening passes at many of the all-inclusive resorts and enjoy the entertainment there, along with plenty of food and drinks. Passes cost about US$80 per person and are usually valid 6 pm-2 am.
Bars, Taverns & Pubs
Blue Beat On the Hip Strip, this trendy bar has a mellow menu of jazz and a potent menu of martinis such as the Lady Sings the Blues (ample quantities of vodka, lime and Sprite). Phone 876-952-9609.
Margaritaville Sports Bar & Grill This place has theme nights (including wet T-shirt contests) and serves 52 different margarita varieties, plus lunch and dinner options that include the famous Cheeseburger in Paradise. There are TVs all around the several bars, and a 110-ft/34-m waterslide that snakes from the rooftop terrace to spill patrons into the bay. A DJ spins sounds at night, occasional live music is hosted, and at times the partying can get a little wild—especially during spring break. Several resorts offer shuttles to the Hip Strip that drop tourists off at Margaritavilla and return them to the resorts. Daily 11 am (7 am when cruise ships are in port) till the last patrons leave. There is no entrance fee during the day. An entrance fee is charged in the evenings ranging from US$10-$25 depending on the night. Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-4777. http://www.margaritavillecaribbean.com.
Royal Stocks This bar has all the atmosphere of an English pub. It offers good pub grub, including soup, sandwiches and a pasta special. The house special is blackened snapper. Drinks, soccer on TV, darts and occasional live jazz. Open daily 10 am-10 pm. Shop 11, Half Moon Shopping Village, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-9770.
Twisted Kilt Pub Every night is ladies night at this Hip Strip hangout with an Irish pub vibe and two-for-one martinis 6-9 pm. Pub fare includes burgers, fish-and-chips and chicken wings. Sports fans can watch the latest sporting events on the big-screen TVs, including NFL, MLB and NBA games. Open 11 am-2 am. Phone 876-952-9488. http://twistedkiltcaribbean.com.
Dance & Nightclubs
Witches Nightclub For nightclub entertainment, try this place. It occasionally features local and international artists, and the disco is always one of the hottest weekend scenes around. Open 9 pm-2 am. Nonguests of the hotel can buy a pass for US$95, which allows all-inclusive privileges at the nightclub including the buffet and all the drinks and dancing you can handle. Ironshore (at the Holiday Inn SunSpree), Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2485.
The Coral Cliff Hotel and Entertainment Resort This place has live entertainment six nights a week. The gaming lounge and Rum Jungle Cafe and Bar is a 24-hour facility, and the lounge has slot machines with jackpots in U.S. dollars. There is also a small cabaret and special acts are hosted. The decor resembles an African jungle, complete with plastic animal heads on the walls. No cover charge. Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-4130. http://www.coralcliffjamaica.com/night.htm.
The performing arts are vital to Jamaican culture, with concerts, dance, theater and poetry readings staged at churches, community centers and resorts. Check the local newspapers for listings and schedules. Many performances coincide with the festivals, including the Air Jamaica Blues and Jazz Festival held in January and the Reggae Sumfest in July.
The Fairfield Theatre Founded in 1975, this is a great venue to catch the latest plays and performances. Fairfield Road, Montego Bay. Phone 876-876-0182.
The Outameni Experience This attraction in Trelawny uses music, art, dance, film, drama and Jamaican cuisine to chronicle 500 years of history. The Taino Indian term means come together and reflects the island's motto: "Out of Many, One People." Exhibits include a slave ship simulation, tributes to Rasta and reggae, and a tour through the historic Orange Grove Great House. This is a popular shore excursion and is also sold in most hotels. Tours start at 10 am and run every half hour until 3 pm. Prices vary depending on day of tour and size of group. In Coopers Pen, Trelawny (opposite the Starfish Trelawny Resort, 18 mi/29 km from the airport), Montego Bay. Phone 876-954-4035. http://www.outameni.com.
There is football off the highway at the UDC playfield, as well as league basketball at Jarrett Park on Humber Avenue. There are also games of cricket, football and baseball played in parking lots and schoolyards. Players are often happy to have spectators on hand, but ask before snapping any photographs.
Although you can buy anything from electronics to spices in the duty-free stores, better bargains are found in Montego Bay's craft markets. Look for stores selling Jamaican items such as sauces, spices, jams, jellies, rum, Blue Mountain Coffee, cigars and herb teas. Works by Jamaican artists and craftspeople are delightful. Look for paintings, sculpture, relief carvings, pottery, carved furniture, hand-turned wooden bowls, jewelry crafted from coconut shells, woven straw and banana-leaf items, cutwork embroidery, brilliant fabrics and clothing.
There's a range of stores in the cruise-ship terminal and the adjoining Montego Freeport Shopping Centre. Most of the shops there are branches of downtown stores, such as Cardow's (a duty-free shop), Ruth Clarage (original clothing and ceramic jewelry), Gemini and Casa de Oro. Lady Bird Souvenir Shoppe and Harry's Art and Craft Gallery are independents. We found port prices to be about the same as those in town. Other options include Gloucester Avenue, which is lined with small strip malls. Several of the hotels on the beach have duty-free shops, but better prices are found in the malls and in the stores on the Hip Strip.
You'll encounter many enthusiastic vendors no matter where you go, whether you're actively shopping or not. If you aren't interested, a firm "No, thank you" should suffice. If you do see something you like, expect to bargain: It is a time-honored tradition, always conducted with humor and mutual respect. Never pay the first asking price for anything. Prices are marked in either Jamaican or U.S. dollars, although U.S. currency usually will secure a better price as vendors covet American money. Always establish the currency up front.
Shopping Hours: Generally Monday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm (Thursday till 1 pm).
Decor Gallery This gallery displays works by Jamaican artists, both prints and originals on canvas and paper. Open Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm. Shop 11, St. James Place (across from Breezes on Gloucester Avenue), Montego Bay.
Gallery of West Indian Art For original Jamaican artwork, as well as Cuban and Haitian, don't miss this gallery, which has two retail outlets in Montego Bay and wholesalers throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. Open Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm. 11 Fairfield Road, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-4547. http://www.galleryofwestindianart.com.
Fort and the Fantasy Craft Markets These craft markets are open daily 8 am-7 pm. (The nearby Fustic Street Market is best avoided unless you're part of an organized tour.) Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay.
Fort Montego Crafts Market This market offers the best in local straw, wood and leather products. At the southern end of Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay.
Montego Bay Craft Market This market, the largest in Montego Bay, is packed with straw and wicker, belts, clothing, jewelry and wood carvings at very reasonable prices. Daily 7 am-7 pm. Harbour Street, Montego Bay.
Half Moon Shopping Village This is an upscale shopping complex with several good restaurants and duty-free stores selling jewelry, leather and cosmetics. Next to Half Moon Beach, Golf & Tennis Resort, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-3946.
Shoppes at Rose Hall Approximately 30 retail stores cater to the high-end shopper looking for jewelry, designer clothing and resort wear. Open Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm, Sunday till 2 pm. North Coast Highway (opposite Rose Hall Great House), Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-3245.
The City Centre Shopping Mall This mall offers the finest in duty-free merchandise, including jewelry, crystal, perfumes, leather goods, linens and electronic equipment. You can also purchase Blue Mountain Coffee and cigars there. Fort Street (north of downtown), Montego Bay.
Casa de Oro A wide selection of duty-free watches, diamonds, emeralds, gold chains, rings, pendants and bracelets as well as fragrances, eyewear and leather accessories. Second location in Montego Bay at 23 Halfmoon Village (phone 876-953-9755). 36 City Centre, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-3502. http://www.casadeoro.com.
Irie Creations This shop is a good bet for quality native arts and crafts. City Centre Mall, Montego Bay.
Jamaica Bobsled Cafe In the middle of the Hip Strip (with other locations at the airport), this watering hole has a gift shop that sells clothing, jewelry, CDs and art. Open daily 10 am-2 am. 69 Gloucester Ave., Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-1448.
Jamaica Farewell This store carries a wide selection of both imported and local liquor and cigars at reasonable prices. Open daily 7 am-10 pm. (If there are no international flights, the store closes earlier). Located in the Sangster International Airport and the Cruise Ship terminal, Montego Bay. Phone 876-979-1069.
Jewels & Time This shop is an authorized dealer for Philip Stein watches, Hearts on Fire diamonds, John Hardy jewelry and timepieces by Ernst Benz and Maurice LaCroix. There is a second location in the Shoppes at Rose Hall. Open Monday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm. 32 City Centre, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-3261. http://www.jewelsandtime.com.
Klass Kraft This is the best place to find leather sandals and key rings. Open 9 am-5 pm. 44 Fort St., Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-5782.
Swiss Stores Ltd. This shop is the Montego Bay branch of the store in Kingston where Swiss-born merchant Rudolf Wackerlin sold the first Rolex watch in Jamaica in 1935. Today there are four locations including one in Shoppes at Rose Hall. Phone 876-953-9274. http://www.swissstoresjamaica.com.
The Presita Shop This store sells jewelry, watches and fragrances. Open 9 am-5 pm. Located downtown, on St. James Street in the City Centre Building, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-3261.
Things Jamaican This place sells native arts and crafts, including items made from wood and ceramic. Fort Street, Montego Bay. Phone 876-979-1929 or 876-971-0775. http://www.thingsjamaicanshopping.com.
To Appleton. This inland town is the home of Appleton Estate (phone 876-963-9215), where one of Jamaica's leading rums is made. You can tour the distillery, watch a video showing how sugarcane is transformed into rum and sample the goods. Several tour companies offer excursions that include the Appleton Estate. Tours cost US$25. Lunch is a separate charge. It is recommended that you call at least 24 hours before your tour to make lunch arrangements. The adjacent gift shop is worth a look with its large variety of rum-themed souvenirs. Tours are offered Monday-Saturday 9 am-3:30 pm (closed public holidays).
To Falmouth. This former sugar port is past its prime but remains a charming, unspoiled example of a Jamaican fishing village. It is busiest during the market on Wednesday. Attractions include the Victorian market and the parish church, which was built in 1796. You'll see several examples of Georgian architecture along Market Street west of the town center (near Water Square), including the mansion built by the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Attractions in the surrounding area include raft trips on the Martha Brae River and tours of Cockpit Country, a spectacularly scenic region of dramatic limestone hummocks and deep ravines. The unique landscape is best explored from Good Hope Country House, an 18th-century great house set atop a hillock overlooking a plantation of sugarcane and tropical fruits.
A mile/kilometer east of Falmouth, Luminous Lagoon is a bioluminescent bay that appears to glow in the dark thanks to small phosphorescent animals that live in the lagoon. Evening cruises depart at 7 pm from the Glistening Waters Marina. US$20 per person, which includes one drink. To book a tour contact Jamaica Tours at 876-953-3700.
If the ship-sponsored excursions are full or if you prefer to arrange your own guided tour, there are several reputable tour operators in Montego Bay. If you book your own tour, you might save a few dollars—but keep in mind that it will take some time to contact the operators, comparison shop and make a booking. Most of the island tours offered are similar to those arranged by cruise ships. Prices may vary. Caribic Vacations
This company provides day tours to attractions in various parishes across the island. Trips include the beautiful Y.S. Falls on the south coast, the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and rafting on the Rio Grande. 1310 Providence Drive, Ironshore, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-9879 or 876-953-9895. http://caribicvacations.com.
Chukka Caribbean Tours If you're seeking thrills and spills on your vacation, this company offers several options, including horseback ride 'n' swim tour, jungle river tubing, a Jeep adventure, ATV safari, kayaking and a canopy tour, all of which put you in contact with the natural beauty of Jamaica. Shop 5, Freeport Shopping Centre (most hotels sell Chukka tours), Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-5619 or 877-424-8552. http://www.chukkacaribbean.com.
Jamaica Co-operative Automobile & Limousine Tours Ltd. This company provides group transfers and shuttle service. Open daily 9 am-5 pm. 80-B Claude Clarke Ave., Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-7574. http://www.jcaltours.com/mobay_tours.html.
Jamaica Tours Limited Jamaica Tours Limited provides tours to all major attractions, as well as other out-of-the-way attractions all across the island. Tours include MoBay's golf courses, Rose Hall Great House and a half-day to Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. 1207 Providence Drive, Rose Hall, Ironshore, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-3700. http://www.jamaicatoursltd.com.
John's Hall Adventure Tours This company provides tours that include a farm tour and a tour of Montego Bay. Open daily 9 am-2 pm. US$60 includes transportation and lunch. 26 Hobbs Ave., White Sands Beach, Montego Bay. Phone 876-971-7776, or 305-351-9496 in the U.S. http://johnshalladventuretour.com.
JUTA Tours Provides group transfers from the airport and a variety of tours, including a Montego Bay Highlight tour that stops at the Rose Hall Great House. Open daily 8:30 am-4:30 pm. 80-B Claude Clarke Ave., Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-0813. http://www.jutatoursnegrilltd.com.
Sunholiday Travel and Tours This transportation provider takes upwards of four guests to any requested destination. Open daily 9 am-5 pm. Holiday Village, Rose Hall, Montego Bay. Phone 876-953-2837.
Tropical Tours Offers day trips to Cuba from Montego Bay including champagne and snacks in-flight and sightseeing and shopping in Santiago. It also arranges for Cuban visas. Phone 876-952-0400. http://www.tropicaltours-ja.com.