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Montego Bay, Jamaica City Info
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Caribbean > Jamaica
Montego Bay

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Population:  2.5 million

Time Zone:  Eastern Standard Time

Highest Point:  7,402 feet (Blue Mountain Peak)

Lowest Point:  sea level (Caribbean Sea)

Language:  English

Government:  Independent.  Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations


Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean archipelago are part of a mountain range, which in prehistoric times probably formed a land bridge between what is now Mexico and Venezuela. The island is about the size of Connecticut.   It is 146 miles long and from 22-58 miles wide.


Many years ago, volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor, forming Jamaica's mountains, which reach up to 7,402 feet in height.  The mountains, located in an east-to-west line in central Jamaica, contain more than 120 rivers and many waterfalls, as well as thermal springs. In the high mountains of the east, the landscape features semitropical rainforest and copses of mist-covered pines. The mountains are bordered on the north and east by a narrow coastal plain fringed with beaches. The flat, arid southern coastline reminds visitors of African savanna or Indian plains, whereas the moist, fertile North Coast slopes steeply from hills down to excellent beaches. Much of Jamaica is underlaid by limestone, so the landscape is dotted with dozens of caves that store large reservoirs of naturally filtered drinking water.


Average Temperatures:












































When to Visit: 

The weather is perfect all year, and Jamaica is more and more a year-round destination. There is, however, a high season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the island.


Reservations should be made 2 to 3 months in advance for trips during the winter. At some hotels and resorts it is necessary to book a year ahead for Christmas holidays or February.

Along the seashore, in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the island is naturally air-conditioned by northeasterly trade winds, and temperature variations are slight. Coastal readings average between 71°F and 88°F year-round. The island has two rainy seasons: May; and October - November.

The Hurricane Season:  The hurricane season, officially lasts from June 1 to November, but satellite weather forecasts generally give adequate warning  several days in advance so that precautions can be taken. If you're heading to Jamaica during the hurricane season, you can call your local branch of the National Weather Service (listed in your phone directory under the U.S. Department of Commerce) for a weather forecast or check The Weather Channel online.




National Holidays: 


New Year's Day Jan. 1

Ash Wednesday

Good Friday

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday

National Labour Day (late  May)

Independence Day (a Monday in early August)

National Heroes Day (3rd Monday in October).

Christmas Day and Boxing Day Dec. 25 and 26


A Word of Caution:  Travelers to Jamaica should be aware that despite the widespread presence of ganja or marijuana, its use is illegal in Jamaica.   Drug-sniffing dogs are employed at all airports, drug laws are strictly enforced, and penalties can include imprisonment.



There are two international airports on Jamaica:

Donald Sangster in Montego Bay (tel. 876/952-3124) and

Norman Manley in Kingston (tel. 876/924-8452

The most popular flights are from New York and Miami. Remember to reconfirm all flights no later than 72 hours before departure. Flying time from Miami is 1 1/4 hours; from Los Angeles, 5 1/2 hours; from Atlanta, 2 1/2 hours; from Dallas, 3 hours; from Chicago and New York, 3 1/2 hours; and from Toronto, 4 hours.


Cruise Ships

Most cruise ships heading for Jamaica travel at night, arriving the next morning at the day's port of call, perhaps Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. In port, passengers can go ashore for sightseeing, shopping, and a local meal. Prices vary widely.


Currency:  Jamaica has its own dollar, which is far less valuable than the U.S. dollar. In all monetary exchanges, determine which dollar unit is being quoted in the price, Jamaican or US.


All the major resorts and first-class restaurants quote prices in U.S. dollars, so many visitors can go through their entire trip without converting their currency into Jamaican dollars. Its still a good idea to carry some Jamaican dollars: For some transactions, such as a drink of coconut water from a roadside vendor, prices are only quoted in Jamaican dollars.


If you have Jamaican dollars left over at the end of your trip, you'll need to show exchange receipts from a bank or other official bureau for the local dollars you purchased. This is a rather cumbersome process. Exchange only the amount of Jamaican money you think you'll actually need.


Getting Around

Jamaica is a large island without a highly developed public transportation system.  If you plan to stay in the general area of your hotel or resort, a car is not necessary.  If you plan to explore the island, a rental car is a wise choice.  Rental rates are high.  Be sure to deal only with agencies whose names are known in the US.  Rentals are available at both airports.


Driving in Jamaica -- Drive on the left side of the road. Gas is measured by the imperial gallon (a British unit of measurement that's about 25% more than a U.S. gal.); most stations don't accept credit cards. Your valid driver's license from home is acceptable for short-term visits to Jamaica.


A coastal route designated by an "A" plus a number encircles Jamaica. It's well marked and easy to follow. More complicated are secondary roads, urban streets, and feeder roads, whose markings sometimes are infuriatingly unclear. Recognizing this problem, the Jamaica Tourist Board has issued one of the best maps of the island, the Discover Jamaica road map. It contains a detailed overview of the entire island, as well as blowups of Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, Spanish Town, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios; there's also a very useful street index to Kingston. Get it from any Jamaica Tourist Board office or car-rental agency.


Mileage Information:  Subject to road conditions, driving time from Montego Bay to Negril (about 52 miles) is 1 1/2 hours; between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios (67 miles), 1 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio (66 miles), 2 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Kingston (54 miles), 2 hours; between Kingston and Mandeville (61 miles), 1 1/2 hours; and between Kingston and Port Antonio (61 miles), 1 1/2 to 2 hours.


Taxis can be flagged down on the street or summoned by phone. Rates are per car-not per passenger-and 25% is added to the metered rate between midnight and 5am.  JUTA cabs are supposed to have meters, but most of them are not in working order. Agree on the price of the trip before booking. Cab fares should be posted inside the taxi; if you don't see them, you have the right to request a copy from the driver. A 10% to 12% tip is usually added.  Avoid pirate or unlicensed taxis. Not only are they not metered-they are illegal and rarely carry insurance.


By Moped & Motorcycle

The front desk of your hotel can usually arrange the rental of a moped or motorcycle.



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