Montego Bay, Jamaica cruises

The colorful streets and sandy beaches of Montego Bay bring with them a charm and character you’ll not soon forget.

Montego Bay port guide

On the northwest coast of Jamaica lies Montego Bay, one of Jamaica’s most well-loved cities. Turquoise waters lap at the white sand shores, the infectious sounds of reggae are heard around every other corner and, from the middle of the day, the faint aroma of jerk chicken escapes from restaurants and food shacks alike. When you dock in Montego Bay, you’re a stone’s throw away from that postcard-perfect Caribbean scene.

Top landmarks and sights in Montego Bay

With a Spanish and English colonial past, and a more modern reputation centred largely on authentic representation through art, you can understand Jamaica best by exploring its landmarks. And, in Montego Bay, you’ve plenty to choose from.

Sam Sharpe Square

Off St James Street in the center of Montego Bay is Sam Sharpe Square, a plaza and memorial dedicated to the man who many believe to be the leading force behind the abolition of slavery in Jamaica. The leader of the island’s largest slave rebellion, also known as the Baptist War or Christmas Rebellion, was hanged on this site in 1832, at the end of the 11-day revolt.

St James Parish Church

This 18th-century church was built to cater for the increasing number of tradesmen and merchants operating in Jamaica at the time. Its construction symbolized the importance of Montego Bay in Jamaica and helped cement the city as a significant location within the British Empire.

Plantation Houses

You can take a closer look at Jamaica’s colonial history with a visit to a plantation house. In Montego Bay, Rose Hall and Bellefield Great House are among the most well-known. Bellefield House is on one of the oldest sugar plantations in Jamaica, with the Great House and Sugar Mill dating back to the late 18th-century. Rose Hall is also the site of a golf course and is said to be haunted by past plantation owner, Annie Palmer – now better known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.

Things to do in Montego Bay

How to spend your time in Montego Bay is entirely down to you. Perhaps you want a jam-packed schedule, squeezing in as many highlights as possible. Or does a relaxed day on the beach sound a bit more you?

Play at activity parks

For a fun-filled day, you could choose to go to one of Montego Bay’s activity parks. Located close to Hip Strip are the Aqua Sol Theme Park, on Walter Fletcher Beach, and Margaritaville. Both of these bring a host of water sports, slides, and games.

Take it easy on the beach

If you’re dreaming of a chance to simply relax and enjoy the sunshine on a Caribbean beach, Montego Bay could fast become your favorite port of call. Doctor’s Cave Beach is considered by many to be the best in the area, with its perfectly soft sands and clear waters. Or there’s Dead End Beach which is slightly further north. This one’s free to enter and has a slightly more exhilarating edge thanks to the planes that fly just overhead, as they land and take off at neighbouring Sangster International Airport.

Learn about Jamaican culture

A short distance from Montego Bay center is the Rastafari Indigenous Village, on the Montego Valley River. Here you can learn about beliefs, meet the people, hear the music, eat the food, and more, to understand the Rastafarian way of life. There’s also the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, in Sam Sharpe Square. Located in the Civic Centre, which was built on the ruins of a colonial courthouse, the museum showcases exhibits that help illustrate Jamaican history and culture.

Eating and drinking near Montego Bay

Follow your nose to find an abundance of delicious food in Montego Bay, as you explore the flavors of Jamaica. Among popular local dishes to try is Jerk (usually chicken, fish, or pork), which essentially refers to a wet or dry seasoning that uses spices including allspice, thyme, and scotch bonnet peppers.

Ackee and saltfish is another favorite. This is a unique meal usually made with saltfish, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and ackee – a creamy fruit with a texture somewhat similar to scrambled egg. Goat curry, beef patties (not dissimilar to a Cornish pasty), and a side of festivals – fried dumplings – are also worth a try.

You’ll need something to wash down all these punchy flavors, whether it’s with a refreshing beer – locals love a Red Stripe - a rum punch, or perhaps a soft drink. Jamaican sorrel served over ice is a sweet, gently spiced choice. Rum connoisseurs may wish to try Wray & Nephew, a local overproof rum that’s not for the faint-hearted at 63% volume.

Shopping in Montego Bay

Many consider Hip Strip, on Gloucester Avenue, in Montego Bay to be the main shopping destination in the city. As you wander along, you’ll find high-end duty-free shops well-stocked with luxury clothes, jewellery, fragrances, and more, but likewise you’ll find stalls selling homemade trinkets and local fresh produce. The party atmosphere on Hip Strip is another reason to come along – expect plenty of people, rum punch, and reggae music.

Another spot you could try is the Blue Diamond Shopping Plaza, where souvenir shops have a wonderful selection. There are also some lovely restaurants here, should you need refreshment.

Getting around: Montego Bay transport

Much of Montego Bay central can be explored on foot, but if you’d like to go further afield taxis are widely available. It’s always wise to agree on a price before you embark on a taxi journey and be sure to check that it’s a licenced JUTA taxi. The cruise port itself is around three miles away, but the walk is unsheltered and hot, so you might prefer a taxi or shuttle bus.

Montego Bay port facilities

The cruise port at Montego Bay can accommodate up to four ships at one time. It offers some modest facilities including internet, tourist information, shops, and restaurants.

Top tips for Montego Bay


The currency used in Montego Bay and throughout Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar. You’ll find that US Dollars are widely accepted, however you’re likely to be given change in local currency. You can purchase currency on your Cunard Queen, or you’ll find ATMs dotted around Montego Bay if you’d like to get cash out. Card payments are accepted in most establishments; however, cash might be useful for smaller purchases at stalls or food shacks.


Tipping is not mandatory in Jamaica, but if you would like to award good service then 10-15% of your total bill is appropriate. Some bars and restaurants may add a service charge anyway, so do check your bill first.


Jamaica enjoys warm weather year-round, with temperatures generally staying between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. The hottest month is July and the coolest is February, and the rainy season is usually in the fall months of September to November.