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Introducing Montego Bay

There’s a good chance MoBay (as everyone calls it) will be your introduction to Jamaica – some 80% of travelers choose the second-largest city in Jamaica as their port of entry. And we mean ‘port’ – many folks fly here, but enormous cruise ships dock alongside sweating cargo container boats as well. Nestled in front of a wall of green hills, Montego has made an interesting progression from local port to tourist-packaged commodity to an intriguing, if not terribly attractive, blend of both. As a result, while the Hip Strip (Gloucester Ave), a long stretch of commercialized cheesiness, is initially off-putting, it has also become a place to sample genuinely creative cuisine and a nightlife scene where surprising amounts of locals rubs shoulders with cruise passengers. Past the Hip Strip, MoBay is colorful, chaotic and occasionally dangerous. We recommend not spending too much time here – the beaches are better elsewhere, while the ‘real’ Jamaica and its attendant music scene is more authentic in Kingston. That said, Montego is a decent first stop, and a good base for day-tripping around Western Jamaica.