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Montego Bay or Mo Bay as it is known,is how most visitors first see Jamaica as they approach by air. This north coast community is the capital of Jamaica's tourism industry. Most visitors arrive by air but it is also a popular cruise ship destination. If you are looking for a taxi to take you to your hotel look out for the PPV licence plates as these indicate legitimate taxis. Several "Great Houses," which once oversaw hugh sugar plantations, are today notable visitor attractions. Rose Hall is one of the best-known and is an easy afternoon visit for Montego Bay guests. Rose Hall was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch. According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and slave lovers.
Ocho Rios also known as "Ochi" is a bit more than two hour's drive from the airport at Montego Bay. A popular cruise port, the market and souvenir shopping is the main attraction. Ocho Rios is commonly referred to as the "garden center" of Jamaica, is remarkably fertile and lush. Flowering hibiscus, bird of paradise, bougainvillea and other tropical blooms fill the air with sweet perfume year-round. Ocho Rios is a launching point for shore excursions into the interior. Such as Dolphin Cove, where you can swim with Bottle Nose dolphins or you can visit the world famous Dunn's River Falls. Dunn's River Falls is actually a series of falls that cascade from the mountains to the sea. Here you don't just view the falls, but actually climb up them.
Port Antonio
If your looking for a quiet, secluded getaway, Port Antonio is the place. This lush region of Jamaica is peaceful and unspoiled. It was once a favorite of celebrity jet-setters and today is especially popular with eco tourists and anyone who really wants to get away from it all. If at all possible, take the two to three-hour excursion down the Rio Grande. Nearby, Boston Beach is known across the island for its jerk, slow-cooked in pits.
The beautiful swimming hole, Blue Lagoon, that's been termed "bottomless" because of its uncanny blue hue but it is actually 180 feet deep. The top activity in Port Antonio is a romantic ride aboard a bamboo float powered by a pole maneuvering captain.
All pictures on this page are coutesy of Ray Chen Photography

Runaway Bay
The smallest resort area in Jamaica is located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Several resorts draw travelers to this stretch of beach that offers easy day trips to either of the big cities.

South Coast
Once the getaway for wealthy Kingstonians looking for relief from the heat, today Mandeville boasts the highest standard of living on the island. Perched over 2,500 feet above sea level, the community enjoys a proper English atmosphere, cool nights and is home to the Caribbean's first golf course.

Kingston
Kingston is Jamaica's capital city and is the heart of the islands cultural community. You will find the Bob Marley Museum and a host of other art galleries and theatre outings.

Did you know that?
When Christopher Columbus landed in Port Maria on the fourth of May 1494 he found Taino (Indians) there?
The author Ian Flemming wrote some of his most well-known James Bond thrillers from his home in Goldeneye, Orcabessa?

On June 7, 1692 Port Royal known then as the "wicked" and "richest" city in the world sunk into the sea. This occurred during a great earthquake. Much has been written about this catastrophe, but little is known about the fire that caused a level of destruction similar to that experienced by the residents of Port Royal at the time of the earthquake.

On Saturday, the 9th of January 1702, about 11 o'clock Port Royal was awakened with a lamentable cry of fire. The flames spread furiously and in almost three hours most of the houses were in flames. By 10 p.m. later in the evening everything was totally destroyed except the two forts. It was reported that "14 acres of land being the richest ground ever belonged to the crown of England, was perished". Most of the provisions, silks, linens, cloths, spices and most forts of merchandize of incredible value were totally consumed by fire.

Hundreds of people who the day before were worth some thousands of pounds were reduced by this calamity to starvation.

History - Key Dates

  • 1494 - Christopher Columbus discovered the island.
  • 1509 - The Spanish occupied the country and remained in possession for 146 years.
  • 1655 - The English captured the island from the Spanish and colonised the territory.
  • 1692 - Port Royal, which had become the focal point of the pirates plundering the Caribbean and Central America, was destroyed by earthquake and Kingston became subsequently the chief city and port.
  • 1838 - Slaves were emancipated and the economy foundered due to the crisis on the plantations.
  • 1848 - Britain's free trade policy led to a further deterioration in the Jamaican economy because sugar protection was lifted and Jamaican sugar was in competition with cheaper sugar from elsewhere.
  • 1865 - The Morant Bay Rebellion broke out after prolonged disputes between the planters and the settlers.
  • 1866 - Crown Colony Government replaced the old system of representative government.
  • 1870 - An export Trade in Bananas replaced the predominance of sugar and restored the island's economy.
  • 1944 - Universal adult suffrage was introduced under the new Constitution and proved to be the first step in the gradual move toward independence.
  • 1953 - A full ministerial system was established.
  • 1958 - Jamaica joined the federation of the West Indies which was an ssociation of 10 British island territories in which Jamaica and Trinidad were the largest.
  • 1959 - The country was granted full internal self-government.
  • 1961 - Jamaica voted in a Referendum to secede from the Federation of the West Indies and to achieve Independence.
  • 1962 - The Federation was dissolved and Jamaica became independent on August 6th.

[The Caribbean Handbook 1998/99 pg.136]

National Symbols

National Tree
"Hibiscus elatus" the blue Mahoe.

National Flower
"Lignum vitae" translated literally means "wood of life". Indigenous to Jamaica the plant is renowned for its medicinal quality.

National Bird
"Trochiculus polytmus" ( the Doctor Bird) which lives only in Jamaica. It is a species of the Humming Bird.

National Fruit
The ackee an edible fruit which was brought to Jamaica from West Africa in the 18th century by Captain Bligh. Its botanical name is "Blighia sapido".

National Flag
The flag is tricolour, with a simple design of crossed diagonals in gold and triangles in black and green. The colours are symbolic: Green- agriculture; Black- hardships to be overcome; Gold- sunshine.

Jamaican Motto: "Out of Many One People"

Hospitals:

Nuttall Memorial Hospital
6 Caledonia Ave.
Kingston 5
Tel: 926-2139
St. Joseph Hospital
22 Deanery Rd.
Kingston 3
Tel: 928-4955
The Eldemire Hospital
3 Orange St.
Montego Bay
Tel: 952-2620
Univerity Hospital of the West Indies & Faculty of Medicine
Mona
Kingston 7
Tel: 927-1620
Victoria Jubilee (Maternity) Hospital
North St.
Tel: 922-1700
Andrews Memorial Hospital
27 Hope Rd.
Kingston 10
Tel: 926-7401-2
Chinese Sanitarium
2 North St.
Kingston
Tel: 922-2735
Hargreaves Memorial Hospital
32 Hargreaves Ave.
Mandeville
Tel: 962-2040
Hope Institute
Elletson Flats
Kingston 7
Tel: 927-2111
Hope Veterinary Hospital
98 Old Hope Rd.
Kingston 6
Tel: 927-5843
Kingston Public Hospital
North St.
Tel: 922-0210
Maxfield Medical Centre
69 Maxfield Ave.
Kingston 13
Tel: 926-1120
Medical Assocs. Hospital
18 Tangerine Pl.
Kingston 10
Tel: 926-1400
National Chest Hospital
Liguanea
Kingston 6
Tel: 927-7121
Norwood Medical Centre
9 Norwood Ave.
Kingston 5
Tel: 929-0151

Population 3,000,000
Area (sq miles) 4,411 square miles
Official Language English, Patois
Official Currency Jamaican Dollar
Canadian Citizens Require Birth Certificate (or Citizenship Card) & Photo ID
US Citizens Require Birth Certificate (or Citizenship Card) & Photo ID
Electricity 110V
Tipping 10-15% if not already included
Airport Name Donald Sangster International - MBJ
Possible Hurricanes August - November
Rainy Season May, June, September - November - 1/2 days of rain
Geography Lush, tropical, mountainous
Duty Free Shopping Montego Bay and Ocho Rios Cruise Port
Beaches White sandy beaches
Golf 11 - 18 hole courses 1 - 9 hole course in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios
Bars & Nightclubs Mostly limited to Hotels
Restaurant Choice Mostly limited to Hotels
Water sports Good Availability
Self Drive Left-hand drive
Scuba Diving Available
US Dollar Acceptance 1.00 USD = 65 Jamaican Dollars
Canadian Dollar Acceptance 1.00 CAD = 45.00 Jamaican Dollars
Credit Card Acceptance Widely Accepted
ATM Availability Limited to central Montego Bay and Ocho Rios
Water Quality Water mains chlorinated / bottled water still recommended for drinking
Time Zone Eastern
Departure Taxes & Fees 1000 JMD
Taxi - Safty Make sure that your taxi has a PP on the licence plate to ensure that you are traveling in a licenced vehicle.

Month J F M A M J J A S O N D
Avg. High 28 29 29 30 30 31 31 31 30 30 30 29
Avg. Low 20 20 30 22 22 23 23 23 23 23 22 20
Avg. Rainfall 30 20 30 40 100 80 80 80 90 180 70 40

Some of the information provide to you on this page is provided courtesy of Jamaica Alive, a Hunter Publishing guide book also sold on Resorts Caribbean. Click here to buy Jamaica Alive