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Montego Bay, Jamaica City Info
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Montego Bay

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Regions of Jamaica

Montego Bay: This is the number-one destination for all of Jamaica, appealing to the widest possible range of visitors. "Mo Bay," as it's known, has the best golf in the West Indies, and four of the largest resorts on the island; and duty-free shopping as well. This is about as far from rural Jamaica as you can get: The tourist dollar drives its economy. But it also boasts several attractions in its environs, including former great houses of plantations, decaying old towns such as Falmouth, and daylong adventures into remote Maroon Country.

Negril: Situated near Jamaica's relatively arid western tip, Negril's Seven Mile Beach is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of sand in the Caribbean.  That beach, its laidback lifestyle, and its wild parties are the main attractions in Negril.

The South Coast: The little-visited South Coast, lying east of Negril along the A2 (the road to Kingston), is undiscovered Jamaica, although it is becoming better known all the time. In contrast to the island's lush, tropical image, this area is dry and arid. Hotels are few and far between, and they are frequently small, family run establishments. The chief draw is Treasure Beach, tucked away on the secluded coast.

Mandeville: Located in south-central Jamaica, Mandeville is the country's highest-altitude town and is built in a style strongly influenced by the British. It is now the center of the island's noted coffee cultivation; a sense of slow-paced colonial charm remains a trademark of the town.

The North Coast: This region's primary natural attractions include its steeply sloping terrain, the setting for panoramic public gardens and dramatic waterfalls. Set on a deep-water harbor easily able to accommodate cruise ships, Ocho Rios boasts a dense concentration of resort hotels and other vacation spots. Its surrounding area contains a number of Jamaica's premier attractions, including Dunn's River Falls. What the area offers in abundance, are some of the grandest resorts in the Caribbean

Runaway Bay: Directly west of Ocho Rios is the satellite town of Runaway Bay, which boasts a handful of resorts opening onto some good beaches and has the distinct advantage of not being as populated by tourists as  Ocho Rios.

Port Antonio: The hub of eastern Jamaica, Port Antonio still basks in nostalgia. Frequently photographed for its Victorian/Caribbean architecture, it offers a change of pace from Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay. Beaches such as San San are among the most alluring in the country, and this is also a base for exploring some of the major attractions in Jamaica's eastern region, including rafting on the Rio Grande River.

Kingston & Spanish Town: Located on the southeast coast, Kingston is Jamaica's capital, largest city, and principal port. It is a cosmopolitan city with approximately 750,000 residents in its metropolitan area and serves as the country's economic, cultural, and government center. Residents proudly call it the world's reggae capital, as well. Twenty minutes west of Kingston by car is Spanish Town, a slow-paced village containing the Cathedral of St. James.

Port Royal: once an infamous hideout for pirates and renegades.

The Blue Mountains: A land of soaring peaks and deep valleys with luxuriant vegetation, the Blue Mountain range rises to the north of Kingston. Mountain roads wind and dip, and are in bad repair. Tours from Kingston are a safer bet. You can book tours throughout this region of coffee plantations and rum factories. Maintained by the government, the prime part of the mountain range is the 192-acre Blue Mountain-John Crow Mountain National Park.


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Appleton Express
Book with your hotel tour desk or 876-952-3692
Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday through Thursday
Admission charged

The Appleton Express is an air-conditioned bus that travels from Mo Bay to the Appleton Rum Distillery on the south side of the island. (If you traveled to Jamaica a decade ago, you may remember that the Appleton Express was formerly a train that took day-trippers across the island.

There is a tour of the distillery, and every visitor gets a complimentary bottle; children get soft drinks. The tour also makes a stop at Ipswich Caves.

Plantations & Great Houses

Barnett Estate
Granville Main Road
876-952-2382, fax 876-952-6342
Open daily
Admission charged

“Barnett” and “Jarrett” are names well known on the island. Still among Jamaica’s most powerful families, the Barnetts and Jarretts were plantation owners and have owned land for many generations. Today, a visit to the Barnett Estate offers a look back at the past to the days when this land grew everything from sugarcane to coconuts. You can take a one-hour horseback tour of the estate or a guided tour by a costumed docent. This plantation tour is one of the island’s best.


Belfield Great House
Hours: daily, 10-5
Admission charged

This restored historic house is open to visitors, with guided tours available before or after dinner. Located on the 3,000-acre Barnett Estate near Montego Bay, the site is also home to the Belfield 1797 restaurant, operated by Elegant Resorts International.

Belvedere Estate
Chester Castle
876-956-7310 in Montego Bay
876-957-4171 in Negril
Hours: 10-4, Monday-Saturday
Admission charged

Look back at the plantation days with this heritage tour. Belvedere was one of the first estates to be burned during the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, so today most of the sites on the plantation are ruins or reconstructed. The uprising brought about the end of slavery in 1838.

Tours include a look at the ruins of the great house, dating back to the early 1800s, the ruins of a sugar factory, a horse-drawn sugar mill and herb garden. Belvedere is staffed by many craftspeople in period costume. Visitors can watch a blacksmith at work, see a bakery using a clay oven, talk with an herbalist in a wattle and daub house and see a canoe-maker carving the trunk of a cottonwood tree. Also on site is the Trash House Restaurant and Bar (where the sugarcane trash was once stored). Lunch is served daily and visitors can picnic on the grounds.

Inaccessible Cinammon Hill

Cinammon Hill on the North Coast Highway is presently the home of country singer Johnny Cash, who spends quite a bit of time on the island and has done charitable work in Jamaica. Cinammon Hill, located near Greenwood Great House, was the birthplace of Edward Moulton Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s father.

Croydon In The Mountains
Located 20 miles into the interior near the town of Catadupa
in St. James (take B6 out of town)
Hours: 8:30-5:30 daily; tours from 10:30-3:30
Admission charged

This 132-acre working pineapple and coffee plantation offers half-day estate tours. The property was the birthplace of Samuel Sharpe, a national hero on this island. Sharpe led a slave rebellion in 1831 that helped bring about the abolition of slavery. You can learn about the preparation of coffee, honey, pineapples and more.

Greenwood Great House
North Coast Hwy., 15 miles east of Montego Bay
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

This was once the home of the Barrett family (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Tours include a look at the finery enjoyed by the plantation families. Like Rose Hall (below), Greenwood is a reminder of the turbulent period in Jamaica’s history when wealthy plantation owners lived in luxury thanks to the profits of the slave labor used to power sugar plantations.

Rose Hall
North Coast Highway
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

Rose Hall is the best-known great house in the country and is an easy afternoon visit from Montego Bay. This was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch. Guided tours take you to the ballroom, dining room, and Annie’s bedroom and grave. The gift shop displays photographs of what many believe are ghostly apparitions in the bedrooms of Rose Hall.

The White Witch

As the story goes, Annie was born in 1802 in England to an English mother and Irish father. At the age of 10, her family moved to Haiti, and soon her parents died of yellow fever. Annie was adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess and became skilled in the practice of voodoo. Annie moved to Jamaica, married, and built Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with over 2,000 slaves. According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and her slave lovers. To learn more about the tales of Rose Hall, read the novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, which you’ll find in gift shops around the island.

Bob Marley Experience
Half Moon Shopping Village
North Coast Highway
Hours: 10-6 daily

This new attraction features a 68-seat theater where you can watch a documentary on the life and works of reggae great Bob Marley. The film runs several times daily. The largest part of the attraction is a huge shop filled with Marley memorabilia – CDs, books, T-shirts. The shop claims to have the largest collection of Marley gifts in the Caribbean.


Montego Bay has the best collection of golf courses in Jamaica; most take full advantage of the city’s location, offering gorgeous views of the sea and hills. Fees include golf cart and clubs. Caddies are mandatory and will cost an additional fee.


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