About Montego Bay
Its population is largely descended from African slaves brought here to work sugar cane fields. Pirates loved Jamaica’s protected anchorages. But the Royal Navy ultimately did away with buccaneers, and in the 20th century, tourism and mining surpassed sugar, rum and coffee production in the economy. But even a visitor is likely to notice Jamaica is an island of haves and have-nots.
Lush, green and hilly, Jamaica is the third-largest Caribbean island, after Cuba and Hispaniola.
First, call it by the commonly used ‘Mo Bay’. On the northwestern edge of Jamaica, Mo Bay is a vacation destination, with hotels and resorts catering especially to Americans. Decades before they arrived, Ian Fleming chose Montego Bay for his holiday home, and here he wrote his early James Bond novels. He put Bond at Doctor’s Cave, one of the acclaimed local white sand beaches. Most famous – or infamous – of the remaining sugar plantation great houses is the18th-century Rose Hall. This was the home of Annie Palmer, called the White Witch of Rose Hall because she practiced voodoo, frightening her 2,000 slaves.
Also open for tours is Greenwood Great House. Greenwood has no ghost stories but does have a pub. Other tourist activities include visiting the Appleton Rum Estate, golfing on championship courses and river rafting.
• Doctor’s Cave beach
• Greenwood and Rose Hall great houses
• Montego Bay Marine Park (for scuba diving)
• Martha Brae River rafting
Jamaica Tourist Board
Cornwall Beach, Jamaica
Tel: (+876) 952 4425.
Duty-free shops feature crystal, leather goods, perfumes and gold pieces. Half Moon Village is the prime destination for high-end buyers, whereas haggling is common in the craft market on Market Street. The best Jamaican products are carved wood and batik fabric. Lowest prices on Blue Mountain and High Mountain coffee and rum are in the supermarkets; tourist stores inflate prices.
There is a variety of restaurants in Montego Bay, but you’re here, so eat as the Jamaicans do. The main course will likely be the barbecue called jerk. Generally your jerk pork has been basted with peppers, allspice and other herbs and cooked over a coal fire. You can also find jerk chicken and goat. Seafood is widely available, especially salt fish (usually dried cod) and ackee (the cooked fruit of the ackee tree). Another staple is rice and peas (actually kidney beans mixed with white rice, coconut milk and scallions).
When to go:
Tropical climate and ocean breezes make Jamaica a popular destination year round. Hurricane season is June to November. High season for tourists – and prices – is mid-December to mid-April.
2.5km (1.5 miles).