Montego Bay On a Budget
SightsHead to Harbour Street to explore the craft markets where vendors are selling many unique goods to the frequent cruise ship passengers that are usually exploring this area. You can always try to plan it out so that you get there before or after a large group of cruisers.
One of the famous beaches in Montego Bay is called Doctor's Cave Beach, where the waters supposedly have healing powers. Perhaps the water isn't really magical in that sense, but it sure is a magical sight to see. The water is crystal clear and calm with white sand that is perfect for sunbathing. Keep in mind that MoBay is a hub for cruise ships, so you will likely find crowded beaches during peak seasons.
Twenty minutes from MoBay is the Rose Hall Great House, which was a plantation home in the 1700's. It has since then been restored and is a beautiful property. The house is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Annie Palmer, who lived in the house and was a practitioner of black magic.
If you are staying in Montego Bay then you will most likely visit the Sam Sharpe Square, which is in the city center. The square is named after a slave who resisted planters that didn't comply with emancipation efforts. He was later hanged in the square and after independence was recognized as a National Hero. In the square, you will also find a cage that was built in the early 1800's as a holding place for runaway slaves. The square holds a lot of history and is worth visiting while in Montego Bay.
NeighborhoodsIn Montego Bay itself, there are two general areas: Downtown and Gloucester Avenue. Downtown is where you will experience 'real' Jamaica, and is not considered safe when day turns to night. Gloucester Ave is where you will find all the tourist focused spots like hotels, shops, and restaurants.
There are a couple places around Montego Bay that many travelers visit. Falmouth is one of these places; it is about 18 miles east of MoBay and is Jamaica's most well preserved Georgian town. There is a flea market every Wednesday morning with fresh food vendors. The village of Reading is west of Montego Bay and it is at a raised elevation so you can head up there for beautiful views. Lethe is another village near Montego Bay where you can raft down the Great River and see a beautiful stone bridge dating back to the 1800's. Many people don't usually venture far from the beaches in MoBay but it is definitely worth exploring further into the mountains that surround the town!
ActivitiesSnorkeling is magnificent in Montego Bay, especially at Cornwall Beach. It is another popular beach, though, so there will likely be lots of people. Other snorkeling spots are Coyaba Beach, Montego Beach, and Bogue Lagoon.
The only kitesurfing center in Jamaica is located 20 minutes from MoBay, any/all levels of kitesurfers welcome! The company is called KiteBoarding Jamaica in Bounty Bay.
Zip line through the tropical forest in the town of Lethe, which has the longest zip lines in all of the Caribbean.
As you can see from these activities, Jamaica is terrific for the whole family. For even more ideas, check out this great post about the best things to do in Jamaica with kids which has both indoor and outdoor things to do.
Food and DiningSeafood is probably the food highlight of Montego Bay, and there are tons of places to find great (and fresh) seafood. A great restaurant to try for seafood is called Pier One Seafood, and it is an open-air venue with fresh fish and tropical drinks. For some delicious traditional Jamaican jerk chicken, head to Pork Pit on Gloucester Ave. Of course, if you want more of an extravagant dinner experience, head to Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville (also on Gloucester Ave). They serve a range of dishes, including jerk chicken, and even have a hot tub and water slide that leads into the sea where you will then find a water trampoline.
TransportationSangster International Airport is nearby Montego Bay and is the largest airport on the island. There are tons of companies that offer private transportation once you arrive in Jamaica. Jamaica Airport Transfers is one of these companies and it will take you from the airport to your hotel for an affordable cost. Taxis are the best way to get around Montego Bay (unless you feel like walking) but make sure that you take an official Red Plate taxi. Always establish a price before getting into the taxi otherwise, you will have to pay double or triple what it should actually cost. These taxis do not take credit cards.
A bus service also operates in and around Montego Bay, and has routes to cities throughout the island.