As one of Jamaica’s premier ports of call, Montego Bay is surrounded by clear Caribbean waters and lush tropical mountains.
From the moment you step off your cruise ship, you’ll enter a dazzling world filled with waterfalls, rivers, coral reefs, and hidden caves. Explore a coffee plantation, visit the birthplace of reggae legend Bob Marley, and shop ’til you drop on the Hip Strip. When it’s time to slow down, unwind at the Bamboo Beach Club or go for a nighttime swim in the Luminous Lagoon.
In & Around the Port of Montego Bay
The Port of Montego Bay (also called the Freeport Zone) lies a few miles west of downtown. The docks are large enough to welcome four cruise ships at once — not surprising for the second-largest city in Jamaica.
When you disembark, you’ll have immediate access to a telecommunications and tourist information desk. There’s also plenty of duty-free shopping if you don’t want to stray far from the ship.
If you haven’t signed up for a shore excursion, you can get downtown (or nearby beaches) via taxi or local bus.
16 Things to Do in Montego Bay, Jamaica
So, you’ve stepped off the cruise ship into one of the most popular Caribbean ports. What should you do first? We’ll count down 15 top Montego Bay attractions, so keep reading!
1. Horseback Rides
Looking to see a unique side of Montego that brings you closer to nature?
Seeing the crystal clear waters of the bay from horseback is the perfect way to do so. Don’t just see the waves on horseback, but experience the thrill of taking your horse for a dip in the ocean too!
It might surprise you to find that horses enjoy swimming as much as we do, and they’re quite good at it. If you’re wanting to enjoy a more grounded approach, rest assured that there are also plenty of rides through the hills of Montego.
It’s no surprise that one of the best tours is operated by Chukka Ranch, with an office close to the port.
2. Dunn’s River Falls & Park
The terraced Dunn’s River Falls are about five stories feet high and 600 feet long and fed from a spring at its source. Several small pools and lagoons dot the vertical sections of the falls, making for a good time with the whole group.
Enjoy climbing the falls with or without a guide (if you dare). An excursion taking one to one-and-a-half hours, expect to take plenty of photos as you play in the pools and falls.
If you aren’t sure you’re up for a vigorous climb, fear not. There are man-made stairs for easy access alongside the falls for the water-averse, or those unable to make the climb.
Make sure to check out the plaque placed by the Jamaican Historical Society at the bottom of the falls.
3. Croydon Plantation
Located at the bottom of the Catadupa Mountains, enjoy the beauty of the Croydon Plantation. Growing coffee and pineapple on the plantation, you’ll be delighted by the exotic flavors that touch your lips.
Sample local fruits such as star fruit, jackfruit, breadfruit, and more exotics. Even cashew and macadamia nuts are on local offer. You’ll be surprised by the variety of pineapples grown there, as well as the history of the plantation.
Don’t forget to save room for an authentic Jamaican dish served along with the world-famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Don’t miss out on learning about Samuel Sharpe while you’re there, because you’ll need it for #14.
4. ATV or Dune Buggy Adventures
If horses aren’t your thing, we understand the appeal of riding machines.
ATVs don’t swim, but they can get you anywhere else in Montego in style. Island Routes operates this service, taking you through the lush Montego countryside and plantations.
It’s an adrenaline surge that’s hard to match doing anything else, with multiple companies offering adventures around Montego Bay.
5. Ziplining & Tubing at Montpelier
Only a short 15 minutes from Montego, enjoy the village of Montpelier along with exciting ziplining and tubing.
It’s so important to know how to zipline in safety, and you’re in good hands again with Chukka! With knowledgeable guides, you’ll be flying through the canopies of Jamaica’s thick jungle.
If going slower is your thing, enjoy a jungle river float on an inner tube and let the stress melt away.
6. Catamaran Sail & Snorkel
Catamaran sailboats are really cool, let’s face it. The wide deck makes it ideal for large groups, parties, and snorkel excursions.
Why not have all three at once on a shared or private catamaran trip around the bay and beyond. If diving is more your thing, feel free to indulge off the coast of MoBay in the Montego Bay Marine Park.
Whether diving or snorkeling, there’s plenty to see. Even if you aren’t a fan of getting in the water, enjoy the sun on the deck of your very own catamaran adventure!
7. Doctor’s Cave Beach
Doctor’s Cave Beach is definitely one of the most popular locations in Montego for a variety of reasons. Despite being close to the so-called “hip strip” (more on that later), it’s MoBay’s very own local rejuvenation spot!
In the 1920s a British osteopath claimed that the waters here, which mix with a nearby mineral spring, bring healing. Formerly accessible by a cave, a hurricane in the 1930s destroyed the entrance.
Today the waters are still as clear as ever. The bar, restaurant, and rented umbrellas and chairs make it more comfortable than ever before. The high-quality facilities and location ensure this beach is on the top of the list. Cruise ship passengers can spend half a day at the beach enjoying everything on offer.
8. Ahhh… Ras Natango Gallery and Garden
Well-known artist and nature-lover Ras Natango’s gallery and cultural center are renowned for being a place to relax and go “Ahh…”
Between the cultural heritage expressed through Ras’s artwork and the peace of the garden, it’s hard to wonder why it’s a major tourist destination. Enjoy the garden full of exotic orchids, fruit trees, bromeliads, and more. You can take in all the nature on a tour.
More than 18 species of birds are known to inhabit the gardens and add to the visual and auditory bliss.
Did we mention the art classes with spectacular views that overlook Montego Bay? Located high in the Montego Bay mountains, in the Camrose District, peace is only a 15-minute shuttle ride away.
9. Inner Tubing the Blue Hole
About 20 minutes away from Montego is the Ocho Rios Blue Hole. Known also as the Secret Falls, Irie Blue Hole, or Island Gully Falls, it’s one of Jamaica’s best little-known secrets.
Made from a series of connected natural limestone sinkholes and waterfalls, its blue color comes from a high mineral content. With 20-25 foot depths, it’s a great place to take a plunge from the top of the falls.
Of course, if you’d rather just float around all day, feel free! Just be sure to add sturdy water shoes to your packing list, as you’ll need them to navigate the falls.
10. Take a Dip in the Luminous Lagoon
The Luminous Lagoon comes alive at night, unlike (almost) anywhere else in the world.
In fact, only five bays in the whole world are known to host luminescence like this. Bioluminescent organisms, billions of them, light up the waters as they get disturbed. Swim or ride a kayak through them confident that it’s safe and harmless to you.
Be ready to witness a rare light show, and plan it around the cycle of the moon for best effect. You can book tickets here for your lagoon trip!
11. Jamaican Food Tours
Eating good food is one of life’s greatest joys, and in Montego, you might be happiest of all.
From Rick’s Cafe to Scotchies jerk chicken, there are plenty of places to try out. Food tours are the best way to take advantage but don’t forget to check out the latest offers of cooking classes too.
Almost nothing can beat Jamaica’s cuisine, with its unique blend of flavors from a variety of cultures that made their way to the islands. Don’t be afraid to get adventurous and try some dishes you’ve never seen before!
12. The Hip Strip & Margaritaville
One of the most popular shore excursions in Montego Bay, the Hip Strip is a great place to shop for gifts or duty-free items. Not to be missed is Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. With great American and Caribbean fare to be had, you won’t leave hungry or disappointed.
It’s more than just the food, though. With waterslides and watersports in their aqua park, it isn’t just the kids that get all the fun.
Visit the Hip Strip and enjoy the seaside nightclub by moonlight and chill out to the awesome reggae grooves they have on offer.
13. AquaSol Theme Park
Another fun excursion for the whole family, AquaSol Theme Park focuses on fun for kids, but there are plenty of things for adults as well. From drifting in go-karts to drifting in the shallows at the beach, you won’t be disappointed.
The facilities that rival any other beach in Montego make this a must-try.
14. Montego Bay Cultural Centre
Maintained and overseen by the Montego Bay Arts Council Ltd, the Montego Bay Cultural Centre keeps Jamaica’s history alive. More than that, it welcomes visitors from around the world and shares that history.
Opened in the summer of 2014, it also houses the National Gallery West, which is an extension of the National Gallery of Jamaica and National Museum West. Explore Jamaican artifacts and history, from The Freedom Monument and the “Christmas Rebellion” to antiquity.
15. Green Grotto Caves Experience
For a historical and cinematic experience, visit the beautiful Green Grotto Caves. The rich history of the caves goes all the way back to the original inhabitants, the Tainos who used the caves for a number of practical reasons.
Later when the English invaded the island, the Green Grotto Caves were used as a Spanish hideout. Throughout the years, it had a dozen other names for a dozen different historically important events. It even served as a nightclub in the 90s!
Take a walk through the labyrinth of time as you go through the Grottos and get lost in the mystical ambiance.
16. Appleton Estate Rum Distillery
We end with one of the most popular things to do during a visit to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Appleton Estate Run Distillery is where you can learn more about the famous Appleton products.
At the Appleton Estate you can enjoy rum tasting and taking a behind the scenes tour into how it’s all made! The south coast facility in Jamaica has been making rums since 1749 and there’s so much history take in.
Montego Bay FAQs
To make sure you get the most about your trip to Montego Bay, let’s quickly answer a few FAQs.
The cruise port lies about three miles west of Montego Bay. You can hire a taxi for about $7 (be sure to agree on the fare before you climb in) or you can take a local bus into town.
Montego Bay is busiest during the winter months (December to April) because of the clear skies and warm temperatures. Keep in mind that hotels and tours will be busier and more expensive during peak season. Prices are lower during the summer and autumn months, but that’s also hurricane season, so be sure to watch the forecast.
Jamaica is blessed with a warm, humid, tropical climate. Temperatures are rarely below 70 degrees or above 90 degrees, meaning you can wear shorts and flip-flops year-round. Be sure to pack plenty of sunblock to protect your skin against the intense sunshine!
The Best Things to Do in Montego Bay: Now You Know
Montego Bay is sure to be one of the highlights of your Caribbean cruise adventure.
Explore the island via horseback, ATV, dune buggy, or inner tube. Get lost in the mystical Green Grotto Caves or the island’s many hidden waterfalls and pools. Taste authentic Jamaican flavors and learn about the birthplace of Bob Marley and reggae culture.
With so many Montego Bay attractions to choose from, your only regret will be not having more time to explore this incredible destination!
Now that you know the best things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica, it’s time to finalize your packing list. You probably already have your swimsuits and sandals picked out, but what about those little accessories you might not have thought of?
This list has you covered to ensure you don’t forget anything!
Main Photo Credit: Timothy L Barnes / Shutterstock.com