Sandals Montego Bay North Kent Avenue St James
250 Guest Rooms • 2 Meeting Rooms • Restaurant[s]
Location:Directly on the beach
Nearby Points of Interest: Chukka Cove Jeep Safari • Martha Brae River Rafting • Shopping
Sandals Royal Caribbean Rst & Pvt Island Mahoe Bay St James
197 Guest Rooms • 1 Meeting Room • Restaurant[s]
Location: On private beach
Nearby Points of Interest:
Secrets St. James Montego Bay One Secrets Cove, Lot A59 Freeport
330 Guest Rooms
Location: Ideally located on the northwest coast of Jamaica.
Nearby Points of Interest: Rose Hall Great House • Dunn's River Falls • Rick's Cafe
Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay Lot A59 Freeport
330 Guest Rooms
Location: Ideally located on the northwest coast of Jamaica
Nearby Points of Interest: Bob Marley Experience & Theatre • Dunn's River Falls • Rick's Cafe
The Tryall Club Main Bay Rd Main St
96 Guest Rooms • 2 Meeting Rooms • Restaurant[s]
Location: 35 min from Montego Bay, 1 hr from Negril & South Coast
Nearby Points of Interest:
Passport/Visa Requirements: All U.S. citizens must have a passport when traveling by air to or from Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico. Citizens of Canada, Mexico and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda also must have a passport or other designated secure document to enter the U.S.
Passports are required for land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders with the U.S. and for cruise passengers returning to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada or Bermuda. Reconfirm travel-document requirements with your carrier prior to departure.
Languages: English, Jamaican patois.
Predominant Religions: Christian (Protestant, Roman Catholic), Rastafarian.
Time Zone: 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Voltage Requirements: 110 volts. 220-volt systems exist in some larger properties.
Telephone Codes: 876, country code;
There are numerous full-service banks on Gloucester Avenue and in the city center, including the National Commercial Bank at 40 Market St. The closest bank to the cruise-ship terminal is in the Freeport Shopping Centre.
There is an FX Trader at 37 Gloucester Ave. for currency exchange, open 9 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday (phone 888-991-2056). Banks on Gloucester Avenue include a branch of First Global Bank. Next to the Doctor's Cave Beach Club , there are ATMs operated by the National Commercial Bank and Canada's Scotiabank.
There is a 24-hour money exchange bureau and a branch of the National Commercial Bank in the arrival hall at the airport.
Western Union has branches at the Pelican restaurant on Gloucester Avenue and Church Street and in Overton Plaza at the top of Dome Street.
The U.S. dollar is commonly accepted in Montego Bay, as are most major credit cards. However, we recommend carrying some Jamaican money for tips, beach fees and other incidentals. When you exchange currency, keep your receipt so that you can reconvert your cash on departure.
Room tax is 8.25%; a 10% service charge is typical. Departure tax is US$27, included in most airline tickets.
A 15% government general consumption tax (GCT) is applied to most goods and some services in Jamaica, including car rental, restaurants, entertainment and retail sales. Although this tax is included in the prices listed in most shops, note that GCT is generally added to the bill in restaurants.
Most hotels and restaurants will include a 10%-15% service charge on your bill. A 10%-20% tip is considered normal.
Our favorite time (and everyone else's) is November-April—Jamaica can be very crowded then. The temperature is fairly stable year-round, so it's possible to visit in other months as well. Winter coastal-area day temperatures are in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C. June-September is usually in the 80s-90s F/30-35 C. Nights tend to be 5-10 F/3-5 C degrees cooler everywhere. Temperatures in the hills and mountains are usually cooler than on the coast—take a sweater for nights. The hottest time is July-October, when the humidity, heat and hurricane possibilities are the highest. Most rain falls between May and October, but even then it generally comes in brief showers and seldom ruins anyone's vacation. Hurricane season is June-November.
What to Wear
Lightweight tropical clothing is preferable, with a shawl or light jacket for cool evenings. You may wish to wear long pants and sleeves to discourage mosquitoes. Beachwear is appropriate only at the beach—you should wear a cover-up when strolling in town (men, too). A hat and sunscreen are musts to avoid sunburn.
Even the most casual restaurants expect shoes and a shirt, except those on the beach, where button-down and barefoot is the rule. Appropriate dinner dress is Caribbean chic. Formal resort restaurants require men to wear a jacket and tie. Be sure to take comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing.
Business attire is fairly conservative—take a lightweight suit.
You can make long-distance calls from the public phones in Freeport Shopping Centre, but you'll need to purchase a phone card. International calls can be expensive. It's cheaper to call collect, use your calling card or buy an international calling card (available in varying denominations from most shopping centers). Phones are also available at Teleworld Services in Miranda Ridge Plaza off Gloucester Avenue.
Most hotels offer direct-dial telephone services with a substantial service change; local businesses provide fax services for a fee.
Cell-phone coverage is good everywhere in town. Main local providers are Digicel and Cable & Wireless. GSM cell phones equipped with tri-band or world-roaming service will find coverage throughout much of the coastal region. Cell service averages about US$1.50-$2 per minute, making prepaid SIM cards more economical for those planning to make many local calls.
Prepaid SIM cards cost about US$60 and usually include a US$20 airtime credit. Cell phones are also available for rent.
Cyber Shores At Doctor's Cave Beach with a wireless network serving the beach area. US$8 for 60 minutes. Open 8 am-8:30 pm. Phone 876-971-1050.
Internet Place A downtown option for Internet access with rates generally lower than in the resort area. US$1.70 for 30 minutes. 11 Market St., Montego Bay. Phone 876-979-2460.
Jolly Rogers Sports Bar & Grill ADSL service provided. Customers can use their own computers. Open daily 8 am-2 am. US$3 for 15 minutes and US$6 for a half-hour. Shop 3, Casa Montego Arcade, Montego Bay. Phone 876-971-0058.
Mail & Package Services
Many resorts will mail letters to the U.S. for guests staying at the property. The main post office is at the intersection of St. James Street and Meagre Lane. Open Monday-Friday 8 am-5 pm. Phone 876-952-7016.
DHL pick-up and deliveries can be arranged, and FedEx has an office in the Chadwick Plaza. Phone 876-952-0411.
Newspapers & Magazines
The main local newspapers are the Jamaica Observer, Daily Gleaner, The Western Mirror and The North Coast Times. The publication Destination Jamaica is placed in larger hotel rooms. Jamaica Tourist is published quarterly and available free of charge at the airports and in most of the hotels and shops.
Taxis are the best way to get around Montego Bay, and you'll have no trouble finding one. In fact, your main problem will be discouraging eager cabdrivers who offer their services when you don't need them.
There is little or no public transportation serving downtown Montego Bay or the tourist strip on Gloucester Road, but it's easy to get around on foot. However, be prepared to be assailed by passing taxis and vendors: Just say "No" politely and go on your way.
There is no in-town bus service; however, Montego Bay Metro Line buses travel to the suburbs, as do minibuses and route taxis. All depart and arrive at the transportation station near the junction of St. James and Barnett streets.
Donald Sangster International Airport (MBJ) is 2 mi/3 km east of the city center. It is one of the island's two international airports and features shops and restaurants. (The other international airport is in Kingston and is the prime entry point for tourists who arrive by air.) As in all airports in major cities, keep a watch on your suitcase and wallet. Phone 876-952-3124. http://www.mbjairport.com.
Taxis and rental cars are available at the airport. A taxi ride to the town center costs about US$10. Tourists unfamiliar with Montego Bay should avoid getting into a shared local taxi, even though it is a cheaper way to get into town.
Rental cars tend to be expensive compared with other countries, and there's a 15% government tax. You must be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver's license to rent a vehicle. Definitely reserve in advance during peak season, although that may not be enough to guarantee you get a car. Supplies can run short. Make sure that the license number on your contract matches the one on your car—there have been incidents of plate-switching. Most of the major rental companies have offices in Montego Bay, and several are located at the airport and at the cruise-ship terminal.
Driving is on the left. Roundabouts at major intersections can be confusing: Yield to all traffic coming from your right. Local drivers are often aggressive and freewheeling. Service stations are open daily and accept cash only.
Island Car Rentals charges US$12-$40 per day plus US$12 insurance. Toll-free 866-978-5335. http://www.islandcarrentals.com.
Route taxis are the way most people get around. Buses (usually minivans) also provide transportation from Montego Bay to other points in Jamaica. Prices are very reasonable, but expect cramped quarters, a loose schedule and some daredevil driving. The buses usually only depart after they've taken on a full load. Although they're by no means a luxurious way to get around, the buses will put you into contact with Jamaicans. They're probably best suited to adventurous and experienced travelers who don't mind roughing it.
Before you get in a taxi, make sure it's licensed and insured: They have red plates with the letters PP (private passenger) before the numbers. Among the more reputable cabs are those operated by the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association, or JUTA (phone 876-952-0813).
Taxis are not metered, so always agree on a fare, the currency to be used and the length of trip before getting in. It is common for drivers to drop you off at an attraction and return for you later. They are reliable about returning, but don't pay the full fare until the return trip.
For More Information
Jamaica Tourist Board Open Monday-Friday 8:30 am-4:30 pm, Saturday 9 am-1 pm. Gloucester Avenue at Cornwall Beach, Montego Bay. Phone 876-952-4425. http://www.visitjamaica.com.
Music and other cultural activities are a big part of Montego Bay's annual celebrations. In January, Montego Bay hosts the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, featuring an eclectic lineup of favorite headliners, as well as upcoming stars (http://jamaicajazzandblues.com). Bob Marley Week takes place in early February (his birthday is 6 February) and includes concerts and lectures around the island.
The Trelawny Yam Festival is an annual event spread out over a week leading up to the Easter weekend. Grand Yam Festival Day is held on Easter Monday and includes cultural celebrations, farmer competitions, dominoes tournament, best-dressed donkey contests and a Festival Village with vendors selling yam dishes and jerk. Phone 876-610 0818.
Jamaica's Carnival starts on Easter Sunday (in March or April) and lasts one week. It includes parades, dances, reggae and calypso bands, flamboyant costumes, parties and children's parades. Reggae Sumfest in July is the largest reggae festival in the world. Book early as hotel rooms and flights sell out way in advance. http://www.reggaesumfest.com.
Independence festivities take place in early August, and the Montego Bay Yacht Club Marlin Tournament is held in mid-September. It attracts anglers from Jamaica and abroad. The Yacht Club also hosts an Easter regatta, Jamaica Sailing Week in March or April (weather-dependent) and Jam-Am Yacht Race in December. Phone 876-979-8262.
For more information about upcoming events in Montego Bay, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board. Phone 876-957-9314. http://www.visitjamaica.com. Additional event listings can be found at http://www.whatsonjamaica.com.