At Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, visitors can view, photograph, and hand-feed exotic and endemic species of birds. Upon arrival, guests are provided with a bottle of nectar and hummingbirds quickly descend to outstretched arms. Look for Jamaica’s national bird, the regal long-tailed Doctor Bird.
Nestled in the hills a few miles off the highway, Greenwood Great House was once owned by the family of famous English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The antique-filled home is more than 200 years old and is one of the best-preserved great houses in Jamaica. During the tour, guests can admire the extensive collection of antique furniture and enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside.
The central feature of Montego Bay, Sam Sharpe Square commemorates Sharpe, a slave and local Baptist deacon who advocated passive resistance to force the planters to comply with emancipation. Sharpe was hanged in what was then Charles Square. After independence, Sam Sharpe was made a National Hero and the square was named in his honor.
Also in the square, the Cage was built in 1806 as an overnight jail for runaway slaves, disorderly seamen, and vagrants. Two blocks east of the square, lies Burchell Memorial Church, established in 1824, where Samuel Sharpe was a deacon. His remains are buried in the vault.
Rafting the Martha Brae is one of Montego Bay’s most popular tourist attractions. At Martha Brae Rafter’s Village, guests can drift down five kilometers of the river on bamboo rafts poled by local guides. Along the way, rafters can admire the tropical scenery and learn about local flora and fauna. The tour includes a visit to a medicinal herb garden.
Tucked in the foothills of the Catadupa Mountains, Croydon in the Mountains is a 132-acre working plantation with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. The plantation’s main crops are coffee, pineapples, plantains, and citrus, and the plantation also produces honey. During the tour, visitors can learn about the different crops, sample the produce, and sip drinks made from the plantation’s fresh fruit as they stroll around the beautiful grounds. Afterwards guests enjoy a barbecued lunch topped off with Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee.
The Bellefield Great House and Gardens is a restored mansion in Montego Bay that reflects the lifestyle of the 18th-century plantations. Visitors here can tour the original sugar mill and the antique-filled Great House and enjoy beautiful views of the tropical gardens. After the tour, guests are treated to a traditional Jamaican lunch. The plantation is also available for weddings and private events.
Also known as the “Hip Strip”, Gloucester Avenue is a trendy section of Montego Bay. Located near Doctor’s Cave Beach, the street is lined with art galleries, cafés, and shops. T-shirts and souvenir stores dominate the strip and shoppers should be prepared for persistent vendors. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant is a popular spot with blaring tunes and big-screen TVs.
Overlooking the ocean, about 20 minutes from Montego Bay, Rose Hall Great House is a restored plantation home built in 1770. According to legend, Annie Palmer (the White Witch of Rose Hall) ruled here with cruelty and possessed black magic powers that would eventually seal her husband’s grim fate.
Today her home is decorated with furniture from the period, and visitors can tour the house during the day or opt for the spine-chilling candlelit night tour. Some claim to have seen the ghost of the White Witch drifting through the Great House.
At Doctor’s Cave Beach and Bathing Club, white sands fringe clear, calm waters that some believe are fed by mineral springs. In the early 1920s a famous British osteopath declared that the water had curative powers after swimming here – a claim which helped shape the future of Montego Bay by luring visitors from around the world. Hotels sprung along the beach and the area became a tourist hotspot.
Today the beach is as popular as ever and is often crowded with cruise ship passengers, despite the admission charge. Visitors will find change rooms, restaurants, and gift shops along this strand, and beach equipment is available for rent.