Day-Tripping In Montego Bay

Our guide to a day in Jamaica's second-largest city 

Montego Bay may be best known for its all-inclusives and its “hip strip”—the famed row of reggae bars lining Gloucester Avenue—but Jamaica’s second-largest city is full of other gems, from historic plantations to high-flying jungle adventures. 

8 to 9 a.m.

Stop in for breakfast at The Pelican Grill (on the hip strip). This family-run joint has been packing in visitors and locals alike for 50 years, thanks to its delicious Jamaican specialties. Try the ackee and saltfish, the callaloo omelettes, or, if you have a sweet tooth, a shake from The Pelican’s old-fashioned soda fountain.  

9 to 11 a.m.

Once you’ve loaded up on home cooking, pay a visit to the Rastafari Indigenous Village. You’ll learn first-hand about Rasta culture—and its nature-revering way of life—as you walk through medicinal herb gardens and try your hand on the drums in an immersive, two-hour tour. Reservations are a must. 

11 a.m. to noon

Following your village tour, swing by the Gallery of West Indian Art, a compact, colourful building just up the street. Full of handmade works, including pottery and jewelry, this is also a stop for souvenirs you won’t find in Montego Bay’s duty-free shops. 

Noon to 3 p.m. 

On the flip side of Rasta culture are the lifestyles on display in the island’s historic Great Houses. There are dozens of these beautiful old plantations sprinkled across the island, each offering a glimpse into how the island’s most prominent families lived large back in the 18th century. Bellefield Great House and Gardens, five minutes from downtown MoBay, is an especially good draw for foodies with its culinary gardens and onsite jerk pit. Spring for the buffet lunch followed by a guided tour and rum tasting. 

3 to 6 p.m.

After a fairly restful morning, it’s time to get your heart pumping with a trip across the longest zipline in the Caribbean. Enjoy sliding along the five varied lines that make up Jamaica Zipline Adventure Tours. “Big Timba,” a 1,600-foot line high above the Great River, is a guaranteed rush. Transportation from most Montego Bay resorts and locales is included. 

6 to 9 p.m.

Once you’ve caught your breath, it’s time for the quintessential beachside feast. Just a handful of picnic tables perched on the edge of the water, the Lobster Trap is the perfect day-capper. Located about 20 minutes from downtown in Hopewell, this hidden gem is as relaxed as dining venues come. The choices on the menu are few—lobster and fresh catch cooked over charcoal and served with sides of potatoes and callaloo—but that’s the beauty of it. Book your table a day ahead so local fisher Derby knows how much to catch.

Getting There: WestJet flies to Montego Bay 20 times a week from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Winnipeg.