Montego Bay

Montego Bay


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Destination Basics

Jamaica enjoys hot temperatures averaging 25 C to 30 C. It varies in the summer months between late May and September, when it's even warmer and rainier. Many days there is a refreshing cool breeze and coastal regions around Montego Bay tend to have slightly cooler temperatures in the higher elevations (for example, the pointy hills of Cockpit Country).

Pack a loose, long-sleeved shirt and one pair of long pants for protection against the mosquitoes and warm rain.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Montego Bay

Bob Marley became an international superstar, singing about his people and encouraging the world to “come together” and share in “one love.” In Jamaica, this rings true. About 95 per cent of Jamaicans are black, while Spanish descendents and indigenous Arawak Indians make up the rest of the population.

Religion is a huge cultural influence, with more than 90 per cent practising Christianity. Yet, just about every religion can be found in the Montego Bay area and all co-exist. Sometimes there are two to three churches of different denominations in a single town block. Even in tiny villages, elaborate churches share streets with ramshackle shrines or temples that are home to different faiths.

A small population of Jamaicans are practising Rastafarians. It's a spiritual belief focused on African-centric philosophies involving world harmony and peace. Their one life, one love beliefs extend to their choice not to eat animal products, so there is always plenty of available food for vegetarian travellers.

The local joke about a bar being within a block of every church does not stray far from the truth. “From the holy spirit to the liquid spirit,” folks say here. Locals also like to boast that they have more bars and more churches than any other country in the world.

The U.S. dollar and credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shops and almost all other attractions in major cities where tourists visit. If you're planning to leave the tourist areas and visit local shops on the outskirts of town or in the rural areas, you'll need Jamaican dollars. Most Jamaican ATMs accept international bank cards and dispense funds in Jamaican dollars. Exchange rates can vary daily so it's best to shop around for the best rate before converting your cash.

The coast highway between the eastern city of Port Antonio and the west island area of Negril is scenic and lined with pristine beaches. Some beaches are on private land and some are publicly accessible. At Sunset Beach and Doctor's Cave, you have to pay an entrance fee for showers and other amenities.

Towering over this stretch of coast is Cockpit Country, a 190-sq.-km area of mostly wilderness. It is difficult to travel by road and car because the region's mainly composed of porous Karst limestone. A four-month rainy season creates pitted roads and, often, vast sinkholes, giving the Cockpits its distinct upside-down egg carton appearance. This beautiful rolling landscape is habitable in some parts but in others, becomes so waterlogged that roads can be impassable.

More than 300 plant varieties, including ferns, shrubs and trees as well as medicinal herbs dominate the rolling inland areas of Cockpit Country. It's also dotted with palms, orange groves and fruit trees of every possible variety.

Surprisingly, there are few snakes here. When the country fell under British rule in the 1670s, foreigners brought a ferret-like creature known as the mongoose. The snakes are mostly gone but the mongooses remain. There is a local legend that if a mongoose crosses your path and turns back, you must do the same to avoid bad luck.

Please keep in mind that parts of Cockpit Country are remote and wild and exploring the region without a guide is not recommended.

Taxis in Jamaica are either metered or flat rate. Rates are charged by the car, not by the number of passengers. Check with your driver prior to the start of your trip for rates and details. To arrange taxi services, most hotels and resorts have assigned Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) or Jamaican Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) drivers who carry photo ID and display a JTB or JUTA sticker on their front windshield. Tipping your driver is recommended—about 10 to 15 per cent is customary. Travellers should be aware that trips taken between midnight and 5 a.m. run on a standard tipping rate of 25 per cent on top of the metered fee.

Roundtrip transfers between the airport and your hotel can also be purchased in advance by contacting WestJet Vacations at least three days prior to your departure. Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and bicycles can also be rented for the day or for the week from most resort locations.

Car rentals are also available in Jamaica, but not recommended. Driving here is on the left hand side of the road and you must be at least 23 years old (and have a valid credit) to rent.

Sightseeing buses also run frequently in Montego Bay. Check with your Jamaica Tours Limited representative or your hotel concierge for further information.


When traveling to Montego Bay, you'll fly into Montego Bay Sangster International Airport. During your flight, you'll receive a double-sided Jamaican Immigration/Customs form. Please note that this information must be complete in order for it to be stamped by immigration officials upon arrival.

After a brief stop at baggage claim, you'll bring the stamped portion of the form to a customs officer. When you depart, you will need to present this form to outgoing immigration. Do not lose this portion of the form since the screening process at departing immigration will be much lengthier if you do. In addition, make sure you sign this form before returning it.

Guests should also be aware that a transfer or return flight ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required upon entry into Jamaica. So make sure to have your return WestJet ticket accessible in your carry-on when you arrive.

If you have purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, look for a Jamaican Tours Limited representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign after you exit the customs area. Simply identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and you'll be on your way.


Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the check-in counters in the departure area of the Montego Bay Sangster International Airport. An airport tax of J$1,000 is charged upon departure but when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in your ticket price.

If you have some time before your flight, the Montego Bay airport has all the shopping conveniences of an international airport, including duty free shopping. There are also many places to grab a bite to eat, as well as business, play and lounge areas to pass the time before your departure.


Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in Jamaica, the Jamaican government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to show proof of vaccination. It is also always recommended that you stay up-to-date on standard vaccines. Check with your local clinic for more information.

Jamaica uses the North American standard plug; however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles

Whether you're on the beach, floating downriver in a bamboo raft or looking for a bag of June plums and mangoes at a roadside stand, Jamaica's unique character stays with you at every turn. Open your eyes, embrace the reggae beat and remember to enjoy the slower pace of Montego Bay.

Make the effort to leave your hotel or resort and experience authentic Jamaican life. Walk the Hip Strip, a popular stroll packed with locals and travellers, along with a dense concentration of shops, restaurants and bars. This strip is popular day and night, but really gets hopping when the sun goes down.

Head to the city centre and Market Street on a Saturday for a busy produce market. It fills up with exotic goods, vendors, shoppers and drivers trying to navigate a maze of people. Here you'll find tons of products and animals like goats and donkeys. You should also explore one of the city's three craft markets.

Hire a guide to take you to the scenic countryside and stop to buy freshly picked mangos, papaya and avocados. Jamaica's warm climate means many types of fruit are grown here. Some are rarely found elsewhere, like ackee (Jamaica's national fruit), half a dozen varieties of berry-sized plums and other dietary staples.

Just don't leave Jamaica before indulging in street food and local treats. These include fresh coconut water, a pear-shaped, juicy Otaheiti apple and spicy jerk chicken or pork, served simply with soft white bread. The spicy wood smoke is enticing and you can usually spot the vendors' telltale giant black drums with clouds of smoke. Pimento wood makes the food taste and smell of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices.

For dinner in your hotel room, local supermarkets and strip malls offer the best prices for everyday items and groceries. Find hot sauces, Blue Mountain coffee and even Jamaica's famous rum, Appleton Estates – one of the country's main exports.

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