Mon­tego Bay, Ja­maica

Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - Contents - BY JUAN DEL PRADO PHO­TOS JOSE CAR­LOS DE SAN­TI­AGO

Se­duc­ing Power

THIS SMALL POINT OF RE­LAX­ING BEACHES AND CHARM­ING NA­TURE OF NORTH­ERN JA­MAICA IS LIKE A HUGE MAG­NET THAT DRAWS IN TOURISTS FROM ALL AROUND THE GLOBE. IT’S NO DOUBT JA­MAICA’S MOST IN­TER­NA­TION­AL­IZED DES­TI­NA­TION AND THERE ARE REA­SONS GALORE TO BEAR THAT OUT.

The sun as a per­ma­nent ally, the crys­tal-clear sea­wa­ter, fas­ci­nat­ing beaches and an ar­ray of land­scapes and se­duc­ing es­capades are the ba­sic in­gre­di­ents of Mon­tego Bay’s tourist suc­cess.

A large cruise ter­mi­nal that started op­er­at­ing back in the 1960s and the lo­cal air­port are by far the main en­try points to this place of north­ern Ja­maica, a lo­ca­tion where Britons founded the city that to­day ranks as the is­land na­tion’s sec­ond-largest burg.

Some of the finest ho­tels of the en­tire Caribbean re­gion op­er­ate in Mon­tego Bay, a well-de­vel­oped gue­stroom port­fo­lio that re­mains pretty ac­tive and of­fers a va­ri­ety of water­sports to choose from.

The white sands, the co­conut groves and the turquoise sea make up an idyl­lic par­adise where rest­ing is a gen­uine plea­sure. And far be­yond the sea, the 85,000-in­hab­i­tant city is quite an ex­cel­lent choice for leisure and re­lax­ation. Ge­or­gian-style houses, old churches and the hu­mon­gous Craft Mar­ket are just some of the must-sees.

For cu­ri­ous peo­ple seek­ing to move on fur­ther, the sur­round­ing hills pro­vide breath­tak­ing views. Sports­peo­ple can sneak up to golf cour­ses tai­lor-made for the most de­mand­ing play­ers and choose from many other op­tions, such as ten­nis, cricket, soc­cer, horse­back rid­ing, cy­cle-tourism… you name it!

The Shaw Park Gar­dens and the Coy­aba River Mu­seum & Gar­den, as well as the En­chanted Gar­den Ho­tel, are all perched on these green hills on the way to Mil­ford, the town’s south­ern exit. From there vis­i­tor can get to Fern Gully, one of the most sought-af­ter spots on the is­land whose fern-wo­ven tun­nel cover the road and let no sun­light leak in.

Ocho Rios is for many the is­land’s top al­lure, thanks to the spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­fall of Dunn’s River Falls. Its wa­ters slope down tall stair­case-shaped rocks from the top of the moun­tains all the way to the sea. This is no doubt one of those tours any ho­tel in Mon­tego Bay sug­gests to its guests.

Ja­maica is a small is­land equipped with good roads that run the na­tion through from north to south and from west to east. There­fore, driv­ing around is in­deed the best way to scour this lovely ter­ri­tory and plan cus­tom­ized sight­see­ing.

The white sand, the palm trees and the turquoise sea com­bine into a per­fect par­adise where re­lax­ation is a plea­sure. And be­yond the sea, the city of Mon­tego Bay, with its Ge­or­gian-style and col­or­ful houses, is an ex­cel­lent leisure op­tion you can’t pass up

The en­tire north side of the coun­try boasts tra­di­tional beach am­bi­ences, with Ne­gril and Port An­to­nio top­ping the list. The moun­tain­ous cen­tral area of­fers quite a dif­fer­ent vi­sion to what many peo­ple might think of when it comes to a Caribbean is­land, while the south side har­bors Kingston, the na­tion’s cap­i­tal and a des­ti­na­tion teem­ing with cul­tural val­ues, like the Bob Mar­ley Mu­seum and Port Royal’s old zone which are home to Fort Charles and the Mar­itime Mu­seum. Even though traf­fic in Ja­maica is like in the UK, the op­por­tu­nity of mov­ing around freely is one no one should pass up. The en­tire ter­ri­tory of barely 4,200 square miles, run­ning al­most 150 miles from west to east and nearly 50 miles from north to south, lets trav­el­ers get to any nook and cranny that might have caught their eyes.

Its ex­quis­ite cof­fee, rum and its col­or­ful, well-sea­soned cui­sine that takes in the Ja­maican jerk –an ex­clu­sive in­gre­di­ent from the is­land that is lo­cally used in cook­ing all meals, ei­ther pork and chicken to beef and veg­etable sal­ads– are also some of the things any vis­i­tor must give a big crack at.

Ei­ther way, Mon­tego Bay is blessed with all this much and many other things that can be reached from there. You may al­ter­nate days of wa­ter­ski­ing, surf­ing, wind­surf­ing or sail­ing with oth­ers packed with trekking, bird­watch­ing, horse­back rid­ing, golf and se­lec­tive es­capades to very spe­cial spots, ei­ther on your own or in a group. It’s all about the tourist cap­i­tal of Ja­maica and no­body should re­ally ex­pect any less

North­ern Ja­maica is one of the Caribbean’s largest cruise home­ports.

View of the fa­mous Ocho Rios wa­ter­falls.

Bob Mar­ley is an iconic fig­ure of this coun­try’s cul­ture and life­style.

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