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Montego Bay, Jamaica Travel Guide

Montego Bay Summary


  • 80-90 degrees F (27-32 degrees C) beach weather year-round
  • Warm locals and some of the most attentive service anywhere in the Caribbean
  • Direct flights to Montego Bay from major U.S. cities
  • Some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean
  • Some of the most luxurious resorts in Jamaica
  • Best fine-dining restaurants in Jamaica
  • Clubs, casinos, and other nightlife on the Hip Strip
  • River rafting on the River Lethe and Martha Brae River
  • Money-saving all-inclusive packages offered virtually everywhere (even at the Ritz-Carlton)
  • Most resorts have private beaches (for resort guests only)
  • Tap water is safe to drink
  • Modern, well-equipped hospital available


  • Most hotels have small, rocky patches of beach
  • Prevalent drug culture
  • High crime rate, including prostitution and occasional gang-related violence
  • Criminalized homosexuality between men and hostility toward LGBT individuals
  • Very little public transportation (mostly unmetered taxis available)
  • Slight chance of hurricanes from June 1 to Nov. 30

What It's Like

With top golf courses, some of Jamaica's most luxurious retreats, and a narrow coastline backed by jungle-like green hills, Montego Bay ("MoBay") is both Jamaica's second-largest city and a prime vacation hub. At its center is the Hip Strip, a tourist-focused street with kitschy clubs like Margaritaville (don't forget your free bong!) and somewhat sketchy casinos and live music venues like Coral Cliff (a popular place to score drugs).

There's less cruise-ship crowding than in Ocho Rios and more development than in Negril, but with small, rocky patches of beach pretty much everywhere except Half Moon and Doctor's Cave, MoBay's main draw is its international airport.

Where to Stay

At the top end, luxurious, estate-like Round Hill and Half Moon both still exude their original 1950s British-colonial charm. For golfers, the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall and its famed White Witch golf course is a premier pick.

Newer, more affordable all-inclusive mega-resorts like the massive, Iberostar Rose Hall, Riu Montego Bay, and Grand Palladium are popping up throughout MoBay (and all of the Caribbean, for that matter).

For a more central, prime party location, budget all-inclusives like Royal Decameron Montego Beach and Breezes Montego Bay are adjacent to motels, but they offer good beaches and are within walking distance of the Hip Strip.

Montego Bay Cruise Port Guide

Visitors arriving at the Montego Bay Cruise Port have three main options: take a 10-minute taxi ride (or hop-on, hop-off shuttle) into the city’s main tourist center; get a day pass to a nearby resort (where beaches are often nicer and quieter than in town); or take an excursion. In town, the so-called Hip Strip is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars such as Margaritaville, which features a waterslide from the rooftop into the ocean. From here, it’s a five-minute walk to Doctor’s Cave Beach, one of the only public beach options in town, known for its fine white sand and clear water. There’s a small fee to enter, but the beach is well-equipped; visitors can rent loungers, umbrellas, water sports gear such as snorkels (there’s not a ton to see); food and drink service is offered; and there are bathrooms. Just be prepared for crowds, noisy kids, beach vendors, and frequent offers to buy weed (as well as people smoking it). Other attractions in town include the Crafts Market and Rose Hall Great House.

Public transport options to get around the island are scarce, so those looking to avoid the slight seediness of Montego Bay may prefer to take a taxi or an organized tour to a prettier part of Jamaica (of which there are many). A couple of popular options include Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, a 90-minute drive away but deservedly famous (although there’s a party scene here, too); and Dunns River Falls, an adventurous, refreshing alternative to the beach. English is spoken on Jamaica and the U.S. dollar is widely (although not always) accepted; note that you might get charged higher prices for using it and get change in Jamaican dollars. When taking a taxi, always establish a price before you get in, and look for official taxis with red license plates.

Montego Bay Hotel Guides

  • Best Value Hotels in Montego Bay

    At Oyster Hotel Reviews, value is the most important factor we consider when evaluating a hotel. After sleeping at 40 of the most popular hotels in Jamaica, here are the Montego Bay hotels really offer the most for your money.

  • Best Luxury Hotels in Montego Bay

    In Jamaica, luxury can come from a colonial-style canopy bed frame or an outdoor shower; from over-the-top pampering or warm hospitality; from a champagne flute garnished with sugar cane or a private drive to a roadside jerk chicken shack. We've searched the island for the best hotels and slept in their high-thread-count linens, and these are the hotels in Montego Bay that truly live up to their promised elegance or refined, natural beauty.

  • Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Montego Bay

    Most resorts in Jamaica call themselves "family friendly," and many are. But these Montego Bay hotels are among the few on the island that offer an incredible pool, calm waves at the beach, supervised kids' activities, cribs, and large rooms. Plus, these hotels go above and beyond with everything from private nannies to pirate-ship water parks.

  • Best Hotel Rooms in Montego Bay

    After sleeping at 40 hotels (and counting) across the island of Jamaica, we can confidently say that these are the most comfortable, most beautiful, most distinctly relaxing rooms in Montego Bay.

  • Best Hotel Restaurants in Montego Bay

    From fusion to authentic, locally-grown Jamaican fare, these hotels in Montego Bay all showcase exceptional cuisine. Great food is priory-one to make this list, but we also give due attention to the unique settings and stellar service. Also, its worth noting that virtually every hotel in Jamaica offers all-inclusive dining packages -- this means that you can order the lobster and the steak, and not sweat the bill.

  • Hotels for Destination Weddings in Montego Bay

    These beautiful hotels will help you plan the big day -- and make your wedding an event to remember.

  • Celebrity Getaway Hotels in Montego Bay

    Numerous Jamaican resorts have played host to famous guests from Gwen Stefani -- who loves the island so much she named her child Kingston -- to 50 Cent to Sharon Stone.

  • Cleanest Hotels in Montego Bay

    On a tropical island, keeping a hotel clean is quite a challenge. A few mosquitoes or even roaches here and there are unavoidable -- even at the poshest of places. But the following is a list of dazzling hotels in Montego Bay -- no dust, strewn hairs, slight stains, or discarded glasses at the beach. But don't just take our word for it -- take a look at our photos, blow them up by clicking the magnifying glass on the top right corner, and see the grout in the bathroom for yourself.

  • Best Hotel Service in Montego Bay

    Being that Jamaica is one of the friendliest, most service-oriented islands in the Caribbean, you're likely to find a pleasant, consistently helpful staff at just about any hotel. But for a hotel to make it onto this list, the service must be truly exceptional -- brilliant concierges, prompt room service, welcome freebies, and thoughtful gestures to make every guest feel especially well cared for. Here are our picks for Montego Bay.

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