Commonly referred to as Mo Bay, Montego Bay is the largest second city in Jamaica. The first thing we noticed was the air. It was hot and steamy, very thick. Quite a difference from the air conditioning of the aircraft.
We knew that official currency is the Jamaican dollar, the current exchange rate is about US$ 1.00 - JA$ 46.50 but this can fluctuate, change at banks and exchange bureaus only.
US dollars are widely accepted and major credit cards are also commonly used. For travel Montego Bay is a relatively safe city, Americans need to be especially careful. Jamaicans will ask girls to marry them on the street, and kidnappings are not unusual.
We were looking for clean rooms, good food & drinks, nice staff, activities to entertain during the day (games, water sports including snorkeling) nice beach/pools and good a price! After much searching for a late July vacation, I'm honing in on Starfish Montego Bay Resorts in Montego Bay since it seems to get positively reviewed, is reasonably priced and looks great.
My only outstanding question is whether it has a good Jamaica kids club for my sons (7 yo and 9 yo) At Starfish Resorts, all meals, drinks and a bevy of activities and entertainment are included. The location is 37km (23 miles) east of Montego Bay airport. It offers Jamaica activities for both children and adults. My children rarely eat well abroad as they are fussy and are typical children who like what they know. The Jamaica food was amazing, they had very good variety and the lobster was amazing, the burgers and patties by the pool where perfect for the afternoon beach side lunch.
Breakfast was always a hit - they had pasta at lunch (the pasta was cooked fresh and made to your own taste) and in the evening fries and something. Jamaica food in jamaica is absolutely tasty there and seems to taste a little better than foods in jamaica here, maybe because it's more natural. The only negatives I had is that in the morning they never had coffee you had to wait around for it and it always ran out and also at the bar there was never any cups so you had to wait like 10 minutes to get a drink The Montego bay beach was beautiful with crystal blue water and white sand, and the resort has an adjacent island perfect for relaxing. Entertainment was always fun and relaxed, including the turtle racing and the karaoke challenge.
We wanted our sons to see some of the country not just the inside of the Jamaica resort. We did an open jeep safari where we rode in the back of a jeep with about 6 other people. It was an adventure going up into the mountains, not for the fainthearted. The jeep then took us into the mountains stopping at a village to visit a school then church. After that we rode through an orange plantation, and the driver stopped at various points to explain about native vegetation, bamboo growing, etc.
We then rode to a waterfall area, climbed the falls and had a wonderful jerk lunch. We did Hilton High Montego Bay Day Tour. We were expecting to make stops at towns/villages and historic landmarks along the trip. Montego Bay tour guide told us some “how to speak Jamaican”. When we arrived at the “plantation” we were escorted in to their restaurant where we were fed a “typical Jamaican breakfast” which consisted of home made white bread, a type of sweet bread (similar to raisin bread), and fruits from the plantation. A local band played music for us while we ate. On the return trip, the tour guide gave three half hearted facts about the vicinity directly around the Hilton plantation and then remained silent for the rest of the return Montego Bay trip.
My sons slept. This trip was not the best we have been on. We went to the Jamaica Rockland bird sanctuary (about 7Km outside of Montego Bay). I thought it might be dull for my kids, but they loved it. The caretaker was interesting and told us all about the different birds that we fed while there, then took us for a walk around the grounds, where we saw various tropical plants and a gorgeous view of MoBay from the mountainside. We visited AquaSol Theme Park Jamaica is a kind beach park located at the Walter Fletcher Beach on Montego Bay's "Hip Strip". It has a go-kart track with 10 Honda bumper carts and water sports, jet ski's are not cheap. Aqualsol is cool. We ate at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville. It was ok but very expensive. Pork Pit was cheap the food isn't really that bad. I thought the chicken was a little dry, but very tasty. It is very busy at lunchtime as alot of the locals eat there.
We swam with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove Jamaica ( the dolphin experience) is in Ocho Rios about an hour and a half away. The kids loved it though. I just felt it was a very commercial trip - that probably sounds stupid but I felt they were out for every opportunity to make more money from me - i.e. photos, dvds, etc also only actually in the water for about 25 minutes. Although it was a very enjoyable 25 minutes. Got a kiss off "Sugie" the dolphin and he danced in front of us and round us but that was about it.
The people were great and it was a lovely, relaxed holiday.
We would go back. The Caribbean is the most beautiful sea on earth and at its heart is the island of Jamaica.