Montego Bay Jamaica
Montego Bay, the capital of Saint James Parish on Jamaica’s north coast, is a major cruise ship port with numerous beach resorts and golf courses outside its commercial core. Popular beaches include Doctor’s Cave Beach and Walter Fletcher Beach, home to an amusement park. There’s also snorkelling and diving at coral reefs in the protected waters of Montego Bay Marine Park.
When Christopher Columbus for the first time visited the island in 1494, he named the bay Golfo de Buen Tiempo (“Fair Weather Gulf”). The name “Montego Bay” is believed to have originated as a corruption of the Spanish word manteca (“lard“), allegedly because during the Spanish period it was the port where lard, leather and beef were exported. Jamaica was a colony of Spain from 1511 until 1655, when Oliver Cromwell‘s Caribbean expedition, the Western Design, drove the Spanish from the island.
During the epoch of slavery, from the mid-17th century until 1834, and well into the 20th century, the town functioned primarily as a sugarcane port. The island’s last major slave revolt, the Christmas Rebellion or Baptist War (1831–1832) took place in the area around Montego Bay; the leader of the revolt, Samuel Sharpe, was hanged there in 1832. In 1975, Sharpe was proclaimed a national hero of Jamaica, and the main square of the town was renamed in his honor.
Montego Bay’s city status prior to British rule was debated, however, it had its city status revoked during Jamaica’s British colonial. In 1980, it was re-proclaimed a city by act of parliament, but this has not meant that it has acquired any form of autonomy as it continues to be an integral part of the parish of St. James.
Today, Montego Bay is known for its large regional hospital (Cornwall Regional Hospital), port facilities, second homes for numerous upper class Jamaicans from Kingston as well as North Americans and Europeans, fine restaurants, and shopping opportunities. The coastland near Montego Bay is occupied by numerous tourist resorts, most newly built, some occupying the grounds of old sugarcane plantations with some of the original buildings and mill-works still standing. The most famous is the White Witch‘s Rose Hall which now features a world-class golf course.
The infrastructure of the city is going through a series of explosive modernizations which once completed, aims to keep Montego Bay as a top destination in the region. The Montego Bay Convention Centre, built on a large site near to the Rose Hall estate, was opened by Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding on 7 January 2011.
Montego Bay is pivotal to Jamaica’s economy. The city holds most of the weight of the country’s tourism sector. Most of the country’s visitors arrive and depart from Montego Bay’s Airport or Port. Many international companies have resorts in the city including Hyatt, Hilton Hotels, Holiday Inn, RIU Hotels, Royalton and Iberostar.The city is the home to the headquarters of international resort chain, Sandals. Recently, the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Tourism, has begun to focus on bolstering the city’s entertainment and gastronomic offerings. Though the city’s airport hosts a number international chains like Auntie Annie’s, Quiznos, Nathan’s, Dairy Queen to name a few, the city itself does not have access to these restaurants. By virtue of this new focus, the city has become home to a newly established Hard Rock Café and became home to Starbucks‘ first Jamaican location, at Doctor’s Cave Beach, in November 2017. The city also serves as the Head Office for Starbucks‘ operations in Jamaica.