Destination: Montego Bay, Jamaica
With its fabled, Caribbean blue beaches, spicy cuisine and vibrant craft markets, Jamaica’s Montego Bay hums to its own relaxed beat.
MoBay, as the locals call it, became a must-visit destination after the idyllic bay was featured in the James Bond classic, Live and Let Die. Today, it's the second largest city in Jamaica, known primarily as a top Caribbean destination for anyone looking to escape a dreary, northern winter. There are plenty of other relaxing, beautiful and delicious reasons to visit:
A jerk pit stop is mandatory when visiting Jamaica. At Scotchies, a casual outdoor eatery, locals and visitors alike line the tables under palm-thatched pavilions for some of the island's most authentic jerk pork and chicken. Open air cooking and a stocked bar means diners get a full sensory experience—complete with Red Stripes and rum punches. Don't forget to order a side of roasted breadfruit and bammy (cassava flatbreads) with your jerk. If you prefer dinner with a view, head over to The HouseBoat Grill, the storied houseboat that has hosted scores of film and music stars over the years. Choose grilled snapper filet, surf and turf or pick your own lobster—to be split and grilled with brandy and white wine.
If you're in the market for fine art, head to The Gallery of West Indian Art, owned and operated by Liz de Lisser. She offers a beautifully curated collection of everything from big-name canvases by Jamaican artists Albert Artwell and Milton Messam, to hand-painted, wood carvings and furniture. Visit the outdoor, tropical-inspired Shoppes at Rose Hall for local artisan-made goods, relaxed island wear, high-end jewelry and brand name watches. And pop by Déjà Vu—a celebrity favourite— for custom-made clothing.
When Dr. Alexander James McCatty donated his Montego Bay beach property to be turned into a public swimming club, the people rejoiced. Today, the Doctors Cave Bathing Club still boasts crystalline blue waters, umbrella-topped loungers, comfortable changing rooms, bathrooms and a club house. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. For a historical hit, visit the windswept Rose Hall Great House that dates back to the 18th century. Legend has it that the beautiful manse is haunted by Annie Palmer, who moved to Jamaica and became known as the White Witch of Rose Hall. If haunted houses aren’t your thing, the meticulously restored plantation estate, with miles of silk wallpaper and antiques might still lure you in. Or perhaps you’ll tee up a round at the White Witch Golf Course surrounding the grand house. It’s considered one of the most challenging courses on the island.
There’s no better place to relax than the AAA, Four Diamond rated Tryall Club with its 87 sumptuous private villas, each uniquely designed and equipped with its own personal chef and private swimming pool. Located 12 miles outside Montego Bay, The Tryall Club was chosen by Conde Nast for inclusion on its Gold List of “Best places to stay in the whole world.”
Montego Bay is far more than the perfect weather and sunny smiles…while the flawless beaches may initially draw you in, the music and culture are sure to keep you coming back for more.