If you’re looking for things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica, you’ll be spoiled for choice! Montego Bay is famous for its beautiful beaches, but there’s so much more to this vibrant Caribbean city.
Montego Bay is home to some of the most popular tourist attractions in Jamaica. From watersports and rainforest excursions to historic and cultural sites to lively markets and exciting nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Montego Bay. Let’s take a look at the top 20 activities in Montego Bay.
Montego Bay is the second most visited city in Jamaica after Kingston. For more than 50 years, it has been a popular destination for all sorts of getaways, including honeymoons, destination weddings, and romantic vacations.
1. Take the cure at Doctor’s Cave Beach.
There are many wonderful beaches in Jamaica. One of the most popular beaches in Montego Bay is Doctor’s Cave Beach. This world-famous beach is known for its clear turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Supposedly the waters here are fed by mineral springs and have restorative effects—or at least, that’s what a famous British doctor claimed in the 1920s, making this a tourist hotpot and popular with cruise ship passengers.
Visitors to Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay can enjoy plenty of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. There are also restaurants and bars nearby. But because it’s so popular, this beach can get crowded; you may want to check out Cornwall Beach next door, which offers the same beautiful scenery but fewer people. (FYI, there is a small admission fee to Doctor’s Cave Beach, and Cornwall Beach is owned by a hotel so you will need to get a day pass.)
2. Watch planes fly from the sand.
Dead End Beach is a lovely free beach close to Doctor’s Cove Beach; here you can watch planes coming into the nearby airport, right over you. This is also a great spot for the sunset.
3. Hang out at Dump Up Beach.
Dump Up Beach is in the downtown area of Montego Bay and popular with locals. It’s free, beautiful, and has great facilities.
4. Enjoy water sports like parasailing, jet-skiing, and boat rides.
Water sports in Montego Bay are popular among visitors, due to the stunningly clear and calm waters.
There are a number of companies that offer parasailing, jet skiing, and banana boat rides. You can also take a glass-bottom boat tour to get a glimpse of the vibrant marine life that inhabits the waters around Montego Bay.
Some water sports are included in all-inclusive resorts, Sandals resorts include them for sure. Make sure you check when booking your accommodations.
5. Get up close and personal with marine life.
You can snorkel right off the beach in Montego Bay along thriving coral reefs that are just offshore. Or visit the Montego Bay Marine Park, which allows snorkeling and scuba diving in its protected waters that are home to a wide variety of marine life.
6. Swim with horses!
And did you know that you can go swimming with horses in Jamaica? You can book a tour that takes you first on a horseback trail ride, then to the beach where you’ll enjoy a 15-minute swim in the sea while on your horse!
7. Go on safari.
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, why not head out on one of Montego Bay’s many jungle safari tours? These tours will take you deep into the heart of Jamaica’s lush rainforests, where you’ll get to see some of the island’s abundant wildlife. You might even spot a few crocodiles!
8. Play golf.
Montego Bay is home to a number of excellent and beautiful golf courses, including the White Witch Golf Course and Cinnamon Hill Golf Course.
9. Go horseback riding.
Horseback riding is a popular activity in the Jamaican countryside, and many companies offer tours.
10. Enjoy Jamaica’s natural beauty.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the island’s natural beauty, with plenty of trails that wind through the mountains and forests of Jamaica and are easily reached from Montego Bay.
11. Explore the many cultural and historic sites in Montego Bay.
Cultural and historic sites in Montego Bay and nearby include Rose Hall Great House, Greenwood Great House, Sam Sharpe Square, Green Grotto Caves, and St. Mary’s Anglican Church. The Rose Hall Great House is a former sugar plantation built in 1770 that has been restored and is now open to the public as a museum.
Take a guided tour here and learn about its history, including the former owner “the White Witch of Rose Hall” Annie Palmer, who was said to have black magic powers. Rose Hall even offers candlelit tours at night for the chance to see her ghost.
The Greenwood Great House is another historic site in Montego Bay. You can tour the grounds and learn about the history of the plantation, which is one of the best-preserved such homes in Jamaica. This historic home is more than 200 years old and was once owned by the English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s family.
Sam Sharpe Square commemorates Sam Sharpe, a slave and Baptist deacon who was hanged here (then known as Charles Square) for his role in the Baptist War slave rebellion in 1831-32. This rebellion occurred after local planters refused slaves’ requests to be paid a working wage and given more freedom. Shortly after Sam Sharpe’s tragic death, Great Britain began working toward the end of slavery.
The square was renamed for him after Jamaica became independent and declared him a national hero. The church at which he was a deacon is nearby, and his remains are interred there (Burchell Memorial Church).
The Green Grotto Caves offer a fascinating glimpse into Jamaica’s rich history. This labyrinth of caves was first used by the native Tainos peoples, and fragments of their pottery have been found here. In the 17th century, Spaniards hid here from the invading English. The caves were also used as a hiding place for slaves. You can explore the caves and marvel at the underground Grotto Lake (which appeared in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die”).
St. Mary’s Anglican Church is a beautiful stone church located on the Montpelier Estate. Built-in 1847, it was the site of a slave revolt against the owners of the estate, which was burned to the ground.
12. Take a photo tour of Instagram-worthy locations in Montego Bay.
A fun activity on your Jamaica vacation is to hit all the scenic spots on a photo tour. Instagrammable locations in Montego Bay definitely include the Green Grotto Caves (above). Other scenic spots are the beautiful beaches, Montego Bay Marine Park, Rose Hall Great House, Greenwood Great House, Dunn’s River Falls, Martha Brae River, and the Luminous Lagoon, as well as House Boat Grill, Sugar Mill, Delmare, and Margeurite’s restaurants (see below).
13. Get romantic.
Romantic things to do in Montego Bay include taking a sunset cruise, river rafting down the Martha Brae River, or having dinner at one of the city’s many fine restaurants. A sunset cruise is a great way to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the Jamaican coastline.
Rafting down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft is also a peaceful and romantic experience. Sit back and relax as a local steers the raft for several miles down the river through lush jungle, passing old plantations and pointing out interesting tropical plants and wildlife. There are bars to stop at along the way for a cool drink, and rope swings in case you want to get adventurous.
If you’re looking for a romantic dining experience, Montego Bay has no shortage of fine restaurants to choose from. Some of the best restaurants in Montego Bay are the Sugar Mill, Delmare, the House Boat Grill, and Margeurite’s Seafood by the Sea.
Many say that the Sugar Mill is Jamaica’s best restaurant. Located at Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, the Sugar Mill pays homage to the resort’s history as a sugar plantation. Set high on a hill, it offers gourmet Jamaican cuisine in an intimate, elegant setting with indoor and open-air seating. Also at Half Moon is another top Jamaican restaurant, Delmare. This award-winning seafood restaurant has an Italian influence and overlooks the beach.
The House Boat Grill is on a houseboat moored in the calm waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park. Choose from seating either in the downstairs dining room or on the rooftop “Moon Deck” at this casually elegant restaurant serving international fusion cuisine. Sunset views are stunning.
Margeurite’s Seafood by the Sea offers sophisticated fine dining and fresh seafood and steaks at the edge of the Caribbean. Located in what was a private home on Gloucester Avenue, it features stunning water views and an open-air terrace and has an award-winning wine list.
14. Take a day trip.
There are quite a few day trips from Montego Bay that you can take. One favorite is a trip to Dunn’s River Falls, one of Jamaica’s most beautiful waterfalls. Dunn’s River Falls is near Ocho Rios, about a 90-minute drive from Montego Bay. You can hike to the top of this stunning waterfall and then splash around in terraced pools.
Another popular choice is a visit to Nine Mile, the village where reggae legend Bob Marley grew up. Tours here showcase his childhood home and early influences. His mausoleum is also here. Some tour companies will combine these two destinations for a full day of fun.
You can also visit the Bob Marley Museum. Located in Kingston in his home, the museum features personal memorabilia, exhibits about his life, a theater, a record shop, and a café offering delicious Jamaican cuisine. You can even tour the recording studio where he made his famous music.
A fascinating day trip from Montego Bay is a visit to Croydon Plantation, which is a working farm that produces coffee, citrus, pineapples, plantains, and honey. You even try samples of their products, including fresh juice, and your tour includes lunch and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can go ziplining through the rainforest! There are plenty of companies that will pick you up from your hotel and return you after a day of exhilarating zip lining across the jungle canopy. You can also combine this with hiking, ATV tours, and river tubing.
How about trying Jamaican bobsledding? If you’ve ever seen the movie “Cool Runnings,” you know the amazing story of the Jamaican bobsled team which made it to the Olympics in Calgary in 1988 against incredible odds—and also returned to the Pyeongchang Olympics. At Mystic Mountain Jamaica Adventure Park, you can bobsled too! You take a chairlift to the top of the mountain, where you can visit the Olympic museum. Then zoom down on your bobsled! Mystic Mountain is about an hour and a half from Montego Bay.
After that sort of adventure, you may need a drink. On a day trip to the Appleton Rum Estate, you can tour the famous distillery, sample rums, and take home a free bottle.
Another day trip from Montego Bay is a tour of the nearby GreenGrove plantation. This historic site was once used as a sugar cane plantation and is now home to a beautiful botanical garden. Or take a visit to the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, a stunning swimming hole that’s surrounded by lush jungle vegetation. Another fun place to swim is Pirates Cave, where pirates once hid their treasure. Afterward, be sure to stop at Rick’s Café and watch the world-famous local cliff divers.
A beautiful eco-tourism day trip is in the mountains over Montego Bay. Ahhh… Ras Natango Gallery and Garden features a lush botanical garden filled with all varieties of tropical plants and flowers like orchids and bougainvillea. There is a free shuttle from Montego Bay, and the ride takes about 15 minutes. The gallery here features unique hand-crafted art and items. Or, go to Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, where you can feed exotic birds (like hummingbirds!) by hand.
15. Swim in the Luminous Lagoon.
A unique experience is going on the Luminous Lagoon, about 45 minutes from Montego Bay where the Martha Brae River meets the Caribbean. Tour boats depart after dark from Glistening Waters Marina and glide along the lagoon’s waters, which glow when disturbed due to the presence of millions of dinoflagellates. These are microscopic organisms that glow at night, and Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon is one of only four such sites in the world. You can even jump out and swim in the glowing waters during your tour.
16. Go on the hunt for the perfect souvenir.
Shopping in Montego Bay is a must-do activity, especially if you’re looking for souvenirs. The city’s Craft Market is the perfect place to find unique handmade items such as wood carvings, jewelry, and paintings. You can also find plenty of duty-free shops in Montego Bay, where you can purchase alcohol, tobacco, and cosmetics at tax-free prices.
The Shoppes at Rose Hall in Montego Bay is a popular shopping destination as well, as is the “Hip Strip,” as Gloucester Avenue is known. This bustling street near Doctor’s Cave Beach is lined with shops, art galleries, cafes, and bars, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Montego Bay.
17. Have fun at a special event.
Montego Bay is also home to a variety of concerts, festivals, and events. Reggae Sumfest is a popular music festival each July. In August, you can feast at the Mobay Jerk Festival. If you like to watch sailboat racing, the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race takes place in January.
18. Feast on local cuisine.
Local restaurants in Montego Bay are definitely worth checking out. One of the most popular Jamaican dishes is jerk chicken, which you’ll find at almost every restaurant in town. Other popular Jamaican foods include curried goat, rice and beans, and ackee and saltfish. Be sure to try a few of these local delicacies during your stay in Montego Bay!
A popular local place to eat in Montego Bay is Scotchie’s for the Jamaican jerk chicken, as well as grilled pork and fish. Seating is outdoors under shade trees and cabanas at this casual spot.
Another popular local hot spot in Montego Bay is The Pelican Grill. Located downtown on Gloucester Avenue, this family-operated restaurant has been serving classic Jamaican dishes for 50 years.
Other top local restaurants in Montego Bay that serve Jamaican fare are Peppa’s Cool Spot and The Pork Pit.
19. Get dressed up for a romantic gourmet dinner.
There are plenty of fine dining restaurants in Montego Bay that give you the opportunity for an elegant and romantic dinner. The Sugar Mill at Half Moon Bay Resort is set high on a hill and offers gourmet cuisine in an open-air setting. The House Boat Grill features waterfront dining in the Montego Bay Marine Park. Margeurite’s offers sophisticated fine dining and fresh seafood at the edge of the Caribbean. For more great suggestions, see “Get romantic,” above.
20. Experience Montego Bay’s famous nightlife.
You’ll also want to check out some of Montego Bay’s vibrant nightlife. The city is home to plenty of clubs and bars that stay open late into the night. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or simply enjoy a few drinks with friends, you’ll find plenty of options in Montego Bay. The best bars in Montego Bay are located in the Hip Strip area. “Hip Strip” is the local name for Gloucester Avenue, a busy street near Doctor’s Cave Beach.
Famous hot spots in Montego Bay are Margaritaville and Pier One. Margaritaville is a lively open-air bar that offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Visitors can enjoy live music, delicious cocktails, and plenty of dancing, as well as an adult jungle gym in the water. Pier One is a music venue on the water that has live entertainment every night of the week.
If you like to dance, Blue Beat Ultra Lounge is a dance club (so dress accordingly). It also has comedy shows and live jazz performances.
The House Boat Grill also offers an open-air bar to enjoy a cocktail in a more peaceful atmosphere.
There you have it: a guide to the 20 best things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Whether you’re looking for beaches, nightlife, or adventure, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in this popular romantic destination. There’s no doubt that Montego Bay is one of the best places to visit in Jamaica. With so much to see and do, you’ll never be bored in this wonderful city. Start planning your trip to Jamaica today and get ready to experience all that Montego Bay has to offer!
Do you have any questions about what to do in Montego Bay? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more travel inspiration, be sure to check out our blog for more fun destinations.