You can always find fascinating Things to Do in Montego Bay. And Jamaica’s greater tourism hub is also an exciting tourist town, with plenty to offer every type of traveler. So we’ve rounded up six of our favorite Things to Do, see and eat in Jamaica’s second city. Get ready to get Montegonian! CJ Travel Editor Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon tells you what you need to know.
Sample Scotchie’s If you haven’t tasted jerk, well, you haven’t tasted Jamaica! For our money, the best version of Jamaica’s famously fiery barbecue in Mo’Bay comes from Scotchie’s flagship jerk restaurant, about a five-minute drive east of the airport. Order a quarter-pound of chicken or pork, some breadfruit or festival on the side, and a Ting (grapefruit soda) to wash it down, and you’re golden. Scotchie’s is always our first stop after touching down at Sangster International. (And usually our last before leaving, too.)
Hunt For the Haunted Just east of the Bay, the 18th-century Rose Hall Great House presides over a 6,600-acre hillside estate where its infamous mistress, Annie Palmer, is said to have murdered all three of her husbands and several slave lovers. And the 30-minute tour of the reputedly haunted “calendar house” (so called because it once had 365 windows, 12 bedrooms and 52 doors) is a must for history buffs and those with a taste for the macabre. Take your time exploring the grounds, but don’t be tempted to stay past sunset. There’s a reason why no one’s spent the night here since 1989 …
Take The Cure Back in the early 1900s, a local doctor and and his friends would venture through a (now collapsed) cave to take a morning dip into a part of the sea which was fed by network of underground streams, and that he was convinced had curative properties. The private club the good doctor established in 1906 is now called Doctor’s Cave Bathing Club, and has attracted legions of visitors since. While technically the club remains private, anyone can buy a day membership ($6 for adults; kids half-price), so feel free to park your bum on its beach and enjoy what the doctor ordered. Because eating is always one of the best Things to Do in Montego Bay.
Get Cultured There’s much more to Jamaican culture than reggae, and there are many more places to find it beyond your hotel’s weekly “Jamaica Night” show. Head to Sam Sharpe Square, where the Montego Bay Cultural Centre houses the western branches of the National Museum and National Gallery, both of which feature exhibits that reflect the history, art and culture of the Caribbean’s largest English-speaking island and its people.
Bite The Bay Want to nosh like a local? Then you’ve got to swing by The Pelican Grill, where for more than 50 years Montegonians have been enjoying ackee and saltfish on a Sunday morning, and the thickest malted milkshakes at any time of day. If you want a meal that’s authentically Jamaican and which won’t cost you and arm and a leg, then this family-run diner on waterfront Gloucester Avenue is where you want to eat.
Get The Goods Savvy shoppers don’t leave souvenirs to chance. Instead, the head for the Mo’Bay neighborhood of Catherine Hall where, secreted between the houses, is the Gallery of West Indian Art, a trove of Jamaican and Caribbean paintings, woodcarving and craft that beats a tacky made-in-Taiwan shot glass any day of the week. You can’t go wrong with one of the gallery’s signature “spotties:” carved wooden animals hand-painted in sun-drenched hues and then stippled with white polka dots of acrylic paint. Whimsical and distinctive, they start at just $20. It’s another one of the great Things to Do in Montego Bay, Jamaica.