Must see attractions in Montego Bay & Northwest Coast

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montego Bay

    National Museum West

    This well-curated, revamped museum, peppered with period objects, takes you through the history of western Jamaica, from the Cohaba ceremonies of the indigenous Taínos and the arrival of the Spanish, followed by the English, to the transatlantic slave trade, the advent of king sugar, Maroon rebellions, emancipation and the development of 20th-century Montego Bay as a tourist destination. A separate room introduces you to the rise of Rastafarianism, the alleged divinity of Haile Selassie and the back-to-Africa movement.

  • Sights in North Cockpit ­Country

    Windsor Cave

    This cave may be off the beaten track to most people, but it's one of Jamaica's most important bat habitats, home to 12 species of around 100,000 bats. It was donated to the World Wildlife Fund in 1995 with the proviso that it never be developed. It's not terribly impressive inside, but you can either explore it with congenial guide Dango or, better yet, join a naturalist tour from Windsor Great House and watch the bats emerge at sunset. The entrance is a 1km hike from the road, ending with a clamber up a narrow rocky path. Beyond the tight entrance, you’ll pass into a large gallery full of stalactites and a huge chamber with a dramatically arched ceiling; in rainy season you can hear the roar of the Martha Brae River flowing deep underground. Dango hangs out at the colorful Rasta shack at the bottom of the road to Windsor; negotiate a price with him, bearing in mind that he counts each separate chamber as a separate 'cave' (eg US$20 per person, per chamber).

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Doctor’s Cave Beach

    It may sound like a rocky hole inhabited by lab-coated troglodytes, but this is actually Montego Bay’s most famous beach and the one with the most facilities. A pretty arc of sugary sand fronts a deep-blue gem studded with floating dive platforms and speckled with tourists sighing happily. Er, lots of tourists – and a fair few Jamaicans as well. The upside is an admission charge keeps out the beach hustlers, though it doesn't ensure that the beach is kept spotless. Founded as a bathing club in 1906, Doctor’s Cave earned its name when English chiropractor Sir Herbert Barker claimed the waters here had healing properties. People flocked to Montego Bay, kick-starting a tourism evolution that would culminate in the appearance of Homo Margaritavillus decades later. There are lots of facilities on hand, including a restaurant, a grill bar, an internet cafe and water sports, and lots of things to rent (beach chairs, towels, snorkeling gear).

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Indigenous Rastafarian Village

    If you want to learn about the Rastafarian movement, come out to this…hmmm...‘theme park’ is definitely not the right description. How about ‘living interpretive exhibit'? There’s not exactly a natural mystic floating in the air, but this ‘village’ is still a good introduction to Jamaica’s most-famous indigenous religion. If coming from downtown MoBay, head south on Barnett St and then drive east along Fairfield Rd for around 5km. Book your visit in advance. You’ll be taken through a pretty, jungly settlement, shown medicinal plants (not what you’re thinking) and given a coherent breakdown of what the Rasta faith traditionally believed in. As most travelers don’t learn much about Rastafarians past the ramblings of dreadlocked hustlers, this is a pretty valuable experience, and the all-day tour includes some lovely treks into the surrounding countryside, complete with swimming in paradisiacal natural pools.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Montego Bay Marine Park & Bogue Lagoon

    The waters of Montego Bay are gorgeous to behold both above and below the surface, but they have long been compromised by the effects of fishing, water sports and pollution. With the creation in 1991 of the Montego Bay Marine Park, environmental regulations at last began to be strictly enforced to protect the area’s coral reefs, flora and fauna, and shoreline mangroves. The park extends from the eastern end of the airport westward (almost 10km) to the Great River, encompassing the mangroves of Bogue Lagoon and the fishing waters around Airport Point. You can hire canoes or set out with a guide to spot herons, egrets, pelicans and waterfowl; swimming and crawling below are barracudas, tarpon, snapper, crabs and lobsters. Request a guide two days in advance; there’s no charge but donations are gladly accepted.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    St James Parish Church

    Regarded as the finest church on the island, it was originally built between 1775 and 1782, but was so damaged by the earthquake of March 1, 1957, that it had to be rebuilt. With luck, the tall church doors will be open (if not, call the rector) to view the interior, one of the most beautiful rooms in Jamaica. Note the wonderful stained glass depicting the Crucifixion, and the marble monuments, including works by renowned 18th-century English sculptor John Bacon. To the left of the altar is a memorial to Rosa Palmer, the original, virtuous mistress of Rose Hall whose history often gets confused with that of Annie Palmer, also known as the White Witch of Rose Hall. Outside are the neglected (yet romantic, in a decaying way) gravestones of old planters.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Bellefield Great House

    Built in 1735, the restored Bellefield showcases 18th-century colonial living and Jamaican culinary history. You get to see the local gardens with tremendous, centuries-old trees, meander past an on-site jerk pit and miniature version of a sugar mill, wander the house, and gorge yourself at a delicious lunch buffet (eight-person minimum). The estate is southeast of central MoBay along Fairfield Rd. Take the right turn at the Y-fork marked for Day-O Plantation, then the signed right turn at Granville Police Station. Tours must be arranged at least 24 hours in advance. There's a four-person minimum.

  • Sights in North Cockpit ­Country

    Good Hope Great House

    The former home of John Tharp, Jamaica's largest land and slave owner in the late 18th century, sits on a hill overlooking the estate. A Good Hope Estate pass allows you to visit this high-beamed, stone edifice on an hour-long tour. You can walk its breezy verandas, with the floorboards made from now extinct orangewood, and admire the original tiled bath. The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Elizabeth Williams, the original lady of the house. Tours of the great house are part of the aviary, Challenge Course and waterpark pass.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Sam Sharpe Square

    This bustling, cobbled square is named for Samuel Sharpe (1801–32), national hero and leader of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion; it is also where he was hanged in its aftermath. At the square’s northwest corner is the National Heroes' Monument. Nearby is the Cage, a tiny brick building built in 1806 as a lockup for vagrants and other miscreants.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Montego Bay Cultural Centre

    At the southwest corner of Sam Sharpe Sq you’ll find the copper-domed Civic Centre, an elegant colonial-style, cut-stone building on the site of a ruined colonial courthouse where trials were held in the wake of the Christmas Rebellion of 1831 and where Sam Sharpe was sentenced to death. Inside there's a very good history museum, an art gallery that hosts occasional exhibitions and a 200-seat theatre, used to host MoBay's cultural events.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Burchell Memorial Baptist Church

    Two blocks east of Sam Sharpe Sq is one of the churches in which Sam Sharpe is said to have been a deacon. The building, which dates to 1835, is a slice of British countryside architecture smoldering handsomely away in the tropical heat. The original church was founded in 1824 by Reverand Thomas Burchell and was under renovation at research time. Sharpe’s remains are buried in the vault.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Dead End Beach

    A meet-the-locals affair just north of Gloucester Ave, this narrow strip is also known as Buccaneer Beach. The lack of space promotes togetherness; at high tide it’s pretty accurate to drop the ‘beach’ from ‘dead end.’ There are no facilities here, but the lack of crowds makes the sunsets over the bay all the more gorgeous.

  • Sights in North Cockpit ­Country

    David Pinto Pottery Studio

    Renowned Jamaican ceramicist David Pinto has his studio in one of the original estate buildings opposite the Chukka Adventures reception. You'll find David here most days, and some of his work – functional pottery, art and one-of-a-kind pieces – is available for purchase at the Chukka gift store.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Walter Fletcher Beach & Aquasol Theme Park

    While the theme-park moniker is pushing it (the kid-orientated facilities consist of some blow-up water slides and a go-cart circuit), this place on Walter Fletcher Beach, with its food stalls and local crowds, offers a decent spot to relax in a chilled-out local environment. The beach is sandy and relatively clean and the water is safe for swimming, with some limited snorkeling possibilities. Food and drink comes courtesy of the on-site deck-bar with things heating up at sunset, especially at weekends. Look out for billboards advertising sporadic live-music events.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Fort Montego

    At the southern end of Gloucester Ave, up a set of stairs, is this inauspicious fort. The sole remnant is a small battery with three brass cannons on rails and a separate armoury, hidden behind the craft market. Built in 1750 by the British, its cannons were fired only twice: one time misfiring and killing its own operator and another time mistakenly shooting at a British vessel and missing.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Creek Dome

    The bizarre-looking Creek Dome was built in 1837 above the underground spring that supplied drinking water for Montego Bay and was still in use after 1894 when the city got running water. The structure is actually a hexagon with a crenellated castle turret in which the ‘Keeper of the Creek’ lived and collected a toll on the dispensation of drinking water.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    Cage

    In its current reincarnation as a craft shop, the Cage was built in 1806 as a lockup for drunk and disorderly sailors, vagrants and slaves who failed to adhere to the 3pm curfew (the bell in the 1811 belfry rang a warning at 2pm).

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    One Man Beach

    With beachfront soccer and crowds of splashing locals, this crescent beach at the south boundary of Old Hospital Park is very popular but, sadly, rather litter-strewn.

  • Sights in Montego Bay

    National Heroes' Monument

    This bronze monument, crafted by Jamaican sculptor Kay Sullivan, depicts Sam Sharpe, bible in hand, speaking to four admirers.