Where will the road take YOU?

Destination Diaries

E-mail Print PDF


Montego Bay


By Angela Ash

Montego Bay is a bustling city in Jamaica, bursting with duty-free shopping, pristine beaches, and historical gems.  It is easy to see why Montego Bay is included on many cruise itineraries, but also offers some of the best resorts in all of the Caribbean. 

If you plan to spend a day relaxing on the sand, Doctor's Cave Beach Club is a popular destination.  However, if you have a little more culture or excitement in mind, then Montego Bay will not disappoint!


For fantastic food, the best libations in the universe, and an exhilarating good time, stop on Montego Bay's "Hip Strip" at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Just ten minutes from the cruise ship pier, this is the PERFECT place to spend an afternoon. 

Now, I am sure that almost everyone alive has been to a Margaritaville, but this is like a Margaritaville on steroids!  This is not merely a restaurant, but it is a party paradise, full of adventure at every turn.  With a 120 foot slide winding down the building, those brave enough to take the leap will be deposited into the warm, crystal-clear Caribbean Sea, where they can swim, jump on the water trampolines, or relax on the floating sundeck.  Really... how cool is THAT?

And of course, it is probably illegal somewhere on the planet to step foot in a Margaritaville and not have what?  Yes, a margarita!  But the options are truly endless, so you will have to sample a few.  My personal favorite concoction is the Five O'Clock Somewhere, a perfect mixture of everything tempting that should ever be put into a drink!  And having a drink at Margaritaville can't just be normal.  With take-home souvenir choices like an imitation blender or a giant clock that you can hang about your neck or carry like a purse, sipping from a regular glass just won't do!


And when hunger calls, the vast array of tantalizing menu selections is simply AMAZING!  For starters, the Volcano Nachos will literally make your jaw drop.  A giant mound of tortilla chips are served on a platter, topped with everything that you can imagine, and then some.  You can try to finish off this bewitching mountain of goodness, but good luck!  And if you want to experience another appetizer firmly listed under "One of the Best Thing's EVER" category, indulge in the Lava Lava Shrimp.  Lightly breaded shrimp are tossed in an addictive Asian aioli sauce, piled high on a platter, just daring you to eat every memorable morsel. 

Margaritaville serves plenty of large sandwiches and burgers to to fill any stomach, like the legendary Cheeseburger in Paradise.  The Fried Grouper Sandwich, served as po' boy, is also a favorite.

And if you are ready for one of the Chef's Special Selections, then prepare your taste buds for an explosion!  The Coconut Shrimp is one of the best dishes I have ever tasted, with jumbo skewered shrimp, fried in coconut batter. Also try Jimmy's Jammin' Jambalaya.

Now, even if you can only take two bites, you must save room for the Key Lime Pie. 

Margaritaville is a definite "must visit" while in Montego Bay!

For more information, visit Margaritaville online.

While you are in Montego Bay, delving into a bit of history is a MUST!


There are some places that, once you have crossed the threshold, they seem to stay with you.  They are enigmatic, memorable locales, that leave traces in your mind long after you have packed your bags and gone home. 

The Rose Hall Great House is one of these abodes, and it is easy to see why. 

Rose Hall has one of a handful of Montego Bay's plantation great houses.  Many were burned to the ground during a rebellion, but somehow, even though many would insist it should have been the first to burn, it stands tall... a constant reminder of the atrocities that occurred within. 

Annee Palmer ran the Great House with a strong arm and a whip clenched tightly in her hand.  She was known to torture her slaves purely for her own entertainment.  However, inflicting pain was not enough for Annee, as that she also murdered three husbands.  Finally dying at the hands of her slave lover, she is suspected of haunting Rose Hall, and is commonly known as the White Witch.

This structure bedazzles all who enter with its architecture, history, and its notable surroundings.  However, it is often human nature to be drawn to things which evoke both fascination, as well as a good dose of fear. 

Guests are taken throughout the house on a guided tour, filled with all sorts of facts regarding the property and its inhabitants.  As one climbs the staircase to the second level, the mood in the air definitely seems to change. 

Upon walking into one of the bedrooms where Annee made herself a widow, I literally feel as if someone has tossed a wet blanket over my head.  There is a "heaviness" in the room, and a slight chill, on an otherwise hot and balmy afternoon.  Being a bit of a disobedient tour guest, I have walked into this room a few moments before the rest of the group.  As I stand, taking in these emotions, I "feel" someone walk up behind me... obviously the other visitors.  However, as I turn around to make space for them to view the room, there is no one there, and I can still hear the guide's voice two rooms away. Perhaps it was a visitor of a different sort... 

The Rose Hall Great House is a beguiling property, and they offer both day and night tours, complete with a visit to Annee Palmer's grave.  For anyone interested in history, architecture, and a good ghost story, your visit to Montego Bay will not be complete without an exploration of the Rose Hall Great House!

For more information, visit the Rose Hall Great House online, or call (876) 953-2323.

And just a few minutes away from the Rose Hall Great House is yet another historic plantation property, with yet more infamous residents.



Built in the 1700s, Cinnamon Hill is best known for its endearing, celebrity inhabitants.  Once owned by the family of the 19th century English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, this plantation house has been lovingly restored to its former grandeur. 

However, the resident that gains the most notoriety for calling this his second home is the last person to actually live at Cinnamon Hill, although the house remains in his family, as part of his estate.  Cinnamon Hill was the private retreat belonging to Johnny Cash, and it is questionable if his spirit has ever left.

When walking through the rooms of Cinnamon Hill, it is almost like Johnny and June have just left for the weekend.  Family portraits hang on the walls, and personal mementos line the shelves.  An alligator that Cash personally killed is skinned and displayed on the wall leading up the stairs, and his shoes are by the back door, as if he may walk in at any moment to grab them before going on a long walk on the spacious, beautifully landscaped grounds.



If the expression if "walls could take" might ever apply, it would be here.  Although in this case, I believe the proper phrase would be "if walls could sing".  Upstairs, home videos line a cabinet, and one can not help but wonder if a sing-along at the piano downstairs may have been captured, or if material that has never been heard might grace these recordings. 

Exploring Cinnamon Hill is utterly surreal, as closets remain untouched, with the contents of Johnny and June's wardrobe still intact. Four decades of memories still remain, displayed in a way that can not help but elicit emotion from all who witness them.

This was quite obviously their personal retreat from the hustle and bustle of their high profile existence, and the feeling that lingers is that of peace.  For some reason, it feels like the presence of June Carter takes center stage at Cinnamon Hill.  Often when looking at a photograph or a keepsake, it feels as if she may just be looking over your shoulder, happy that someone is finding enjoyment in the things that she treasured. 

While the main goal is to preserve this great house in the manner in which it was kept, group tours are reserved by appointment only. When visiting Montego Bay, one may not even realize that such a musical tome exists on the island.  So make it a point to explore this magnificent home for yourself.  It will be the highlight of your Jamaican adventure!

For additional information, visit Cinnamon Hill online to begin planning your tour today.



 Delroy Dennis of Sunny Tours Jamaica inside Cinnamon Hill

You may be wondering just how to get from one amazing attraction in Jamaica to the other.  It can be confusing and stressful to rent a vehicle, and often driving on unfamiliar roads can prove to be unsafe. 

The obvious way to visit locations in Montego Bay, Falmouth, and Negril is through Sunny Tours Jamaica! 

Sunny Tours specializes in Cruise Ship tours, but they also offer all types of excursions, airport transfers, and transportation services. 

With so many tour companies to choose from, the process may be a bit overwhelming.  However, the guides and drivers of Sunny Tours are licensed, knowledgeable, and best of all... personable!  I have used many tour companies in my travels, but I would be hard pressed to find another organization to be anywhere near as accommodating.  While they offer a plethora of tours, anything may be customized to your liking.  They are also experts in somehow intuitively knowing what to suggest to their customers that is of particular interest to them, while still staying within their budget. 

When visiting Montego Bay, ask yourself how precious your time in port truly is.  Don't waste hours of your day visiting places of no interest, just because they are part of a large bus tour that might include just one attraction on your "must see" list.  You have invested not only money, but invaluable vacation time, so be sure to make the most of it by seeing what you want to see, when you want to see it!

For more information, visit Sunny Tours Jamaica online to view their extensive services.

When planning your day in port in Montego Bay, be sure to "Visit Jamaica" online for tips and information on all that Montego Bay has to offer!