Jamaica was once the perfect base for pirates. 300 years before it became known for all inclusive, perfect white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, it was the top choice for a pirate hideaway. The scurvy dogs travelled throughout the Caribbean plundering the new world’s treasure ships and stowing their bounty away. Enjoy our guide to the Pirate Route Jamaica.
If you aarrrre (sorry!) a fan of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, you might be familiar with Jamaica’s history of plundering and scavenging. For everyone else that’s loved Pirates of the Caribbean, wants to hoist the holly roger or simply have a holiday with a little extra spice, we’ve got the ultimate road trip for wannabe marauders.
Port Royal As you enter Port Royal you’re greeted with an old sign that says: ‘Where the Buccaneers Drank their Beer.’ That’s the kind of place we want to visit. Port Royal has a trusty Pirate legacy; it was invaded by the undead forces of the infamous Jolly Roger and used as a base by Henry Morgan a Welshman who became known as one of the most successful and ruthless pirates around. It’s also said to have been frequented by the famous swashbuckler Jack Sparrow and Jamaica has made claims as the birthplace of Blackbeard, (but so has Bristol in the UK and Carolina in the US.)
Kingston Head back towards Kingston on your road trip and take a trip to Bob Marley’s former home. Not pirate related, but a must see when you’re in the Jamaica. Further along, about 18 miles on the highway, you’ll find the old capital Spanish Town. The English pirate, Calico Jack who operated throughout the Caribbean in the ‘golden age of piracy’ was hanged here after his capture in Negril Bay, alongside his two female crew, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. These ladies made the crew by disguising themselves as men. This worked until Read started to develop feelings for Jack himself.
Negril Bay Follow the road around and you’ll find the scene of a great pirate raid. This is where Calico Jack was enjoying a rum fuelled party when Captain Barnet was dispatched to capture him. No doubt his senses were a little dulled and he was caught. Calico Jack was executed and his body was displayed in an iron frame as a warning to other pirates.
Montego Bay The second city of Jamaica is a good place to get the kids involved in a little pirate fun. From there you can hop on a replica galleon, where you’ll be treated to hearty dinner to set you up for an enemy raid. Pirates armed with swords and pistols will jump on deck and a fiery battle will take place!
Ocho Rios A perfect place to finish your pirate road trip. Apart from a simply stunning drive, Ocho Rios is where you’ll find the legendary pirate Henry Morgan’s hideaway. It is said Morgan directed his attacks from behind thick walls. It’s also where the location of British playwright Noel Coward’s estate Firefly. It’s said the room where Coward wrote his compositions – “the room with a view” overlooks a gun slit, “pirate cabin” that hid Morgan from view. Today, Coward’s grave side stands near a secret tunnel that Morgan used to escape to sea.
Not content with being both the capital of the Parish of St. James and Jamaica’s second city, the Bay is also the island’s capital of tourism. From spring-breakers that descend each year for bouts of ritualized raucousness to homing Jamaica’s busiest airport and cruise-ship port – it’s no surprise that Montego Bay Jamaica has a steady stream of visitors. And with so much to see and do, narrowing it all down into one travel guide is no mean feat. We’ve selected our top picks – the best beaches, the most interesting areas, the most delicious places to eat and the most fun things to do. Enjoy…
Montego Bay Jamaica Travel Guide
Beaches in Montego Bay Jamaica
Jamaica is defined by its pristine sandy shores, and some of its best are in ‘MoBay’, as the locals call the area. A particularly renowned spot is Doctor’s Cave Beach, named so because it was once owned by a doctor who donated it to a local swimming club. Although there is a small entrance fee, it’s well worth it, as the quiet sands are perfect relaxing. However the nearby water sports facilities, eateries and golf courses mean the beach suits the more active of travellers equally.
Where to go in Montego Bay
Gloucester Ave Known as the ‘hip strip’, most of the hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops of Montego Bay line this parade. The strip runs parallel to the beach and boasts some of the best eating options on the island.
Downtown Centred on pedestrian Sam Sharpe Sq, Downtown fans out over a grid, its cobbled roads reach competing storefronts, ridden by pushcart peddlers who seem to appear out of thin air on every corner. Downtown is a breath of fresh air from trinket tourist streets, featuring a selection of decaying Georgian buildings and the excellent Museum of St James, which bears poignant testament to the city’s brutal slave history.
Montego Freeport Aside from being one of Montego Bay’s main shopping ports, Freeport built in the 1960s, consists of five primary berths – two of which are dedicated exclusively for cruise shipping – making it a great photo spot.
Things to do in Montego Bay
Rose Hall Great House Rose Hall has an incredible past. The Great House was once the home of the notoriously evil Annie Palmer, the ‘White Witch of Rose Hall’, who murdered three husbands and terrorised her slaves. Two U.S. entrepreneurs, John and Michele Rollins, restored the building to its original glory, complete with period furnishings and lavish decor. Upon visiting, expect to get your bloog chilled as charming Jamaican hostesses tell tales of the evil Annie. There’s no need to fear though – a walk in the beautiful gardens is certain to restore your equilibrium. And if it doesn’t – head to Annie’s Pub in the dungeon of the Great House for something a little stronger to calm your nerves.
Aquasol Theme Park Situated on Walter Fletcher beach, Aquasol theme park offers a go-kart track with 10 Honda bumper carts, plenty of water sports (including kayaking, parasailing, banana boating and glass bottom boating) and sporting activities such as trampolines, wave runners, beach volleyball and two professional tennis courts. For when you get a bit peckish, The Voyage sports bar and restaurant serves excellent food, in front of 42 big-screen TV’s for sporting events, pool tables, slot machines and many other games.
Dunn River Falls While it’s entirely possible to fritter all of your time away on the beach, Jamiaca offers so much more than that. Dunn River Falls is a place where the fresh rain water cascades down stone terraces that cut right through the dense Jamaican rainforest and empties out into the Caribbean. Located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, this sublime spectacle puts the beach to shame. Not only can you see the beauty of the falls, but you can also climb up the cascading water from the beach below. From Montego Bay there are several tours available, but the least expensive option is to take one of the shared mini buses that drop you off right in front of the entrance. It takes about an hour and half each way for just a couple of quid.
Where to eat in Montego Bay
Whether you’re looking for authentic Jamaican cuisine, something British or even a curry – Montego Bay has it all in terms of restaurants. There’sThe Houseboat Grill, situated in the calm waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park Fish Sanctuary. This unusual floating restaurant offers a unique setting for an intimate, one of a kind dining experience and some of the freshest fish in Jamaica. Or, Day O Plantation Restaurant, located in the lush tropical hills of Montego Bay City, is surrounded by a colourful tropical garden. Here you can sample the finest in Jamaican and foreign cuisine, all within elegant Jamaican splendour. Or, why not head to the Hip Strip to a local and tourist favourite alike, The Pelican Restaurant (no website). Well- known as one of Montego Bay’s best places to find mouth-watering Jamaican cuisine, their menu features classic Jamaican specialties like steamed red snapper with okras and bammy, ackee and salted codfish with boiled green bananas, yam and fried Johnny cakes.
Book a cheap holiday to Montego Bay Jamaica with Purple Travel (ABTA member) by calling us on our free hotline 0207 993 9228.