Month: April 2009

St. Thomas Travel Deals – Guide

underwater observatory marin park eilatQuick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – St. Thomas Travel Deals

A – Overview

The three islands and the 60 cays that comprise the US Virgin Islands include some of the most magnificent coast on earth. The area is host to nearly two million vacationers each year. Most of the islands, cays and jutting rocks that make up the territory are clustered around the 30 square mile island of St Thomas which lies 1000 miles south of Miami, 75 miles east of Puerto Rico and just southwest of the British Virgin Islands.

st thomas overview

St. Thomas has a year round temperature averaging 78°F. The ever-present trade winds keep the air from being unbearably hot. In addition, the region reports lower humidity levels than many of the other places in the Caribbean, making it a vacation paradise in both summer and winter. On nearly any day of the year, there are many hours of sunshine. Rain showers do come, but they’re usually a welcome relief and pass quickly.

St. Thomas is the busiest cruise ship harbor in the West Indies. The cruise from the US to St. Thomas is as enjoyable as the time spent at this idyllic destination. Busy Charlotte Amalie ( uh-MAL-ya: named for the wife of King Christian V in 1691), at the heart of the island is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it remains the shopping hub of the Caribbean. The beaches on this island are renowned for their white sand and calm, turquoise waters. National Geographic rated the island as one of the top destinations in the world for sailing, scuba diving, and fishing.

Charlotte Amalie, with its white houses and bright red roofs glistening in the sun, is one of the most beautiful towns in the Caribbean. The town is also filled with historic sights like Fort Christian, an intriguing 17th-century building constructed by the Danes. The town’s architecture reflects the island’s culturally diverse past. A walk through town reveals its international heritage. You will pass Dutch doors, Danish red-tile roofs, French iron grillwork, and Spanish-style patios.

Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, is the only town on the island. Its seaside promenade is called Waterfront Highway or simply, the Waterfront. From there, it is easy to follow any of the streets or alleyways into town to Main Street or Dronningens Gade. Principal links between Main Street and the Waterfront include Raadets Gade, Tolbod Gade, Store Tvaer Gade, and Strand Gade. The capital is known for its delightful shops and patios, winding streets, and Old World Continental flavor.

The Father of the Impressionists, Camille Pissarro, was born on St Thomas in 1830. Though he spent most of his life in Paris he’s still thought of fondly as a native son. The Dronningens Gade house where he was born is open to the public. The epicenter of Virgin Islands art is the Tillet Gardens Arts Center, a complex of studios, classrooms and galleries in a lovely setting northeast of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.

Main Street is home to all the major shops. The western end (near the intersection with Strand Gade) is known as Market Square, once the site of the biggest slave market auctions in the Caribbean Basin. Today, it’s an open-air cluster of stalls where native farmers and gardeners gather daily (except Sunday) to peddle their produce. Go early in the morning to see the market at its best.

You’ll find an eclectic mix of cuisines on St. Thomas, including American, Italian, Mexican, and Asian. Local Caribbean dishes include seafood specialties like “ole wife” and yellowtail, which are usually prepared with a spicy Creole mixture of peppers, onions, and tomatoes. A popular native side dishes is fungi (pronounced foon-gee), made with okra and cornmeal. Most local restaurants serve johnnycake, a popular fried, unleavened bread.

Because of St. Thomas’s thriving commercial activity, the atmosphere is one of vitality and zest for living. Varied nightlife and a resort atmosphere make St. Thomas the liveliest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Those seeking seclusion can easily find it, however, at a hotel in more remote sections of the island. Hotels on the north side of St. Thomas look out at the Atlantic; those on the south side front the calmer Caribbean Sea.

The landscape includes dense subtropical forests, arid stretches dominated by succulents and coastal mangrove swamps. Indigenous trees include kapok, whose silky seedpod fiber was used as stuffing in pillows and lifejackets; calabash and the teylerpalm, whose delicate fronds make good brooms and were once used to construct fish traps. Madagascan flame trees brighten the vista along with bougainvillea, jasmine and frangipani.

The images gleaned from picture postcards assault the senses in their reality as your ship approaches St. Thomas: stretches of beach flair into the distance, and white sails skim across water so blue and clear it defies description. Red roofed houses color the green hillsides as do the orange of the flamboyant trees, the red of the hibiscus, the magenta of the bougainvillea, and the blue stone ruins of old sugar mills. Towns of pastel-tone villas, decorated with filigree wrought-iron terraces, line narrow streets that climb from the harbor. Yes, this is paradise!

B – City information

Population:
St Thomas 54,000

Capital city:
Charlotte Amalie

People:
African descent (75%), US mainland expatriates (13%), Puerto Rican (5%), Danish, French

Language:
English, plus some Creole, Spanish and French

Religion:
Baptist (42%), Catholic (42%), Episcopalian (17%)

Government:
Unincorporated territory of the US

Major industries:
Tourism, oil refining

Major trading partners:
USA, Puerto Rico

Time Zone:
Atlantic Time Zone. Daylight saving time not observed. Otherwise, it is the same as Eastern Standard Time.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 86F 67F
April – June 89F 70F
July – September 90F 73F
October – December 88F 69F

Health risks:
Sunburn: Be sure to apply sunblock or sunscreen often.

Electricity:
110-120V, 60Hz US appliances will work with no adapter.

Weights & measures:
Imperial

Telephones:
From North America, dial 1 + 340 + the seven-digit local number. Elsewhere, dial your country’s international direct dialing prefix + 1 + 340 + the seven-digit local number.

When to Go:
The peak tourist season is between December and April, but this has more to do with the weather in North America and Europe than it does with the reliably balmy Virgin Islands’ weather. It’s therefore best to visit outside this period, when you can expect room rates to be almost half those charged during the busier months. An additional draw is that the calmer weather between April and August tends to keep the waters clearer for diving.

Public Holidays:
1 January – New Year’s Day
Third Monday in January – Martin Luther King Jr Day
Third Monday in February – Presidents’ Day
Late March or April – Easter
Last Monday in May – Memorial Day
3 July – Emancipation Day
4 July – Independence Day
First Monday in September – Labor Day
Second Monday in October – Columbus Day, Virgin Islands Friendship Day
11 November – Veterans’ Day
Fourth Thursday in November – Thanksgiving
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Boxing Day

Currency:
US dollar (US$)

Banks:
Several major U.S. banks are represented on St. Thomas. Hours vary, but most are open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 2:30pm, Friday from 9am to 2pm, and 3:30 to 5pm.

Business Hours:
Typical business and store hours are Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm. Some shops open Sunday for cruise-ship arrivals. Bars are usually open daily from 11am to midnight or 1am, although some hot spots stay open later.

Dentist:
The Virgin Island Dental Association ( 340/775-9110) is a member of the American Dental Association and is also linked with various specialists. Call for information or an appointment.

Doctor:
Doctors-on-Duty, Vitraco Park ( 340/776-7966) in Charlotte Amalie, is a reliable medical facility.

Drugstores:
For over-the-counter and prescription medications, go to Drug Farm, 2-4 9th St. 340/776-7098, or Havensight Pharmacy, Havensight Mall, Building #4 340/776-1235).

Electricity:
110 to 115 volts, 60 cycles, as on the U.S. mainland.

Emergencies:
Police, 911; ambulance, 922; fire, 921.

Hospitals:
The St. Thomas Hospital is at 48 Sugar Estate ( 340/776-8311), Charlotte Amalie.

Hotlines:
Call the police at 911 in case of emergency. If you have or witness a boating mishap, call the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue ( 787/729-6800, ext. 140), which operates out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Scuba divers should note the number of a decompression chamber ( 340/776-8311) at the Roy Schneider Community Hospital on St. Thomas.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning:
The major hotels provide laundry service, but it’s more expensive than a laundromat. For dry cleaning go to One-Hour Martinizing, Barbel Plaza ( 340/774-5452), in Charlotte Amalie. A good full-service Laundromat is 4-Star Laundromat, 68 Kronprindsens Gade ( 340/774-8689), in Charlotte Amalie.

Liquor Laws:
Persons must be at least 21 years of age to patronize bars or purchase liquor in St. Thomas.

Newspapers and Magazines:
Copies of U.S. mainland newspapers, such as The New York Times, USA Today, and The Miami Herald, arrive daily in St. Thomas and are sold at hotels and newsstands. The latest copies of Time and Newsweek are also for sale. St. Thomas Daily News covers local, national, and international events. Virgin Islands Playground and St. Thomas This Week, both of which are packed with visitor information, are distributed free all over the island.

Post Office:
The main post office is at 9846 Estate Thomas ( 340/774-1950), Charlotte Amalie, open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday from 7:30am to 2:30pm.

Rest Rooms:
You’ll find public toilets at beaches and at the airport, but they are limited in town. Most visitors use the facilities of a bar or restaurant.

Telephone, Telex, and Fax:
All island phone numbers have seven digits. It is not necessary to use the 340 area code when dialing within St. Thomas. Numbers for all three islands, including St. John and St. Croix, are found in the U.S. Virgin Islands phone book. Hotels will send faxes and telexes for you, usually for a small service charge. Make long distance, international, and collect calls as you would on the U.S. mainland.

Transit Information:
Call 340/774-7457 to order a taxi 24 hours a day. Call 340/774-5100 for airport information and 340/776-6282 for information about ferry departures for St. John.

Weather:
For weather reports, call Vietema at 340/774-2244.

Arriving By Plane:
If you’re flying to St. Thomas, you will land at the Cyril E. King Airport 340/774-5100, to the west of Charlotte Amalie on Route 30. From here, you can easily find a taxi to your hotel or villa. Chances are you will be staying east of Charlotte Amalie, so keep in mind that getting through town often involves long delays and traffic jams.

Nonstop flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands from New York and Atlanta take 3 3/4 and 3 1/2 hours, respectively. Flight time from Miami is about 2 1/2 hours.

Getting Around By Car:

Driving Rules
Always drive on the left. The speed limit is 20 m.p.h. in town, 35 m.p.h. outside town. Take extra caution when driving in St. Thomas, especially at night. Many roads are narrow, curvy, and poorly lit.

Renting A Car
There is no tax on car rentals in the Virgin Islands.

Warning
St. Thomas has a high accident rate. Visitors are not used to driving on the left, the hilly terrain shelters blind curves and entrance ramps, roads are narrow and poorly lit, and drivers often get behind the wheel after too many drinks. To be on the safe side, consider getting collision-damage insurance.

Parking
Because Charlotte Amalie is a labyrinth of congested one-way streets, don’t try to drive within town looking for a spot. If you can’t find a place to park along the waterfront (free), go to the sprawling lot to the east of Fort Christian, across from the Legislature Building. Parking fees are nominal here, and you can park your car and walk northwest toward Emancipation Park, or along the waterfront until you reach the shops and attractions.

Getting Around On Foot:
This is the only way to explore the heart of Charlotte Amalie. All the major attractions and the principal stores are within easy walking distance. However, other island attractions, like Coral World or Magens Bay, require a bus or taxi.

Getting Around By Bus:
St. Thomas has the best public transportation of any island in the U.S. chain. Buses, called Vitrans, leave from street-side stops in the center of Charlotte Amalie, fanning out east and west along all the most important highways. They run between 5:30am and 10:30pm daily, and you rarely have to wait more than 30 minutes during the day.. The service is safe, efficient, and comfortable. For schedule and bus stop information, call 340/774-5678.

Getting Around By Taxi:
Taxis are the major means of transportation on St. Thomas. They’re not metered, but fares are controlled and widely posted; however, we still recommend that you negotiate a fare with the driver before you get into the car. Surcharges are added after midnight. For 24-hour radio dispatch taxi service, call 340/774-7457.

Taxi vans transport 8 to 12 passengers to multiple destinations on the island. It’s cheaper to take a van instead of a taxi if you’re going between your hotel and the airport.

Visas:
No visas are required for citizens of the US and Canada, though you’ll have to prove citizenship by way of a birth certificate, voter’s registration card or valid passport. Most other nationalities don’t need a visa either, but will need a passport for a stay of less than 90 days. Proof of onward transportation is required upon entry

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Coral World Marine Park and Underwater Observatory:
6450 Coki Point
340/775-1555
A marine complex that features a three-story underwater observation tower 100 feet offshore. It’s a 20-minute drive from Charlotte Amalie off Route 38. Inside, you’ll see sponges, fish, coral, and other aquatic creatures in their natural state through picture windows.

 

Marine Gardens Aquarium:
Part of Coral World Marine Park;
Daily from 9 – 5:30
Admission charged.
Saltwater tanks display everything from sea horses to sea urchins. An 80,000-gallon reef tank features exotic marine life of the Caribbean; another tank is devoted to sea predators, with circling sharks and giant moray eels. Activities include daily fish and shark feedings and exotic bird shows. The latest addition to the park is a semisubmarine that lets you enjoy the panoramic view and the “down under” feeling of a submarine without truly submerging.

Coral World’s guests can take advantage of adjacent Coki Beach for snorkel rental, scuba lessons, or swimming and relaxing. Lockers and showers are available. Also included in the marine park are the Tropical Terrace Restaurant, duty-free shops, and a nature trail.

Estate St. Peter Greathouse Botanical Gardens:
At the corner of Route 40
6A St. Peter Mountain Rd. and Barrett Hill Road
340/774-4999
Daily 9 – 4;
Admission charged.
This complex consists of 11 acres set at the foot of volcanic peaks on the northern rim of the island. They are laced with self-guided nature walks that will acquaint you with some 200 varieties of West Indian plants and trees, including an umbrella plant from Madagascar. From a panoramic deck in the gardens you can see some 20 of the Virgin Islands, including Hans Lollick, an uninhabited island between Thatched Cay and Madahl Point. The house is filled with a display of local works of art.

Paradise Point Tramway:
Across from Havensight Mall and the cruise ship dock.
340-774-9809
Daily 8:30-5
Fee charged.
Gondolas transport passengers 700 feet up a mountainside to Paradise Point. The 3.5 minute ride offers views of the harbor and Charlotte Amalie.

Charlotte Amalie:
The color and charm of the Caribbean come to life in this waterfront town, the capital of St. Thomas, where most visitors begin their visit to the island. Old warehouses, once used for storing stolen pirate goods, have been converted to shops. In fact, the main streets, called “Gade” (a reflection of their Danish heritage), now merge into a virtual shopping mall. The streets are often packed. Sandwiched among these shops are a few historic buildings, most of which can be seen on foot in about 2 hours.

King’s Wharf
The site of the Virgin Islands Legislature, which is housed in the apple-green military barracks dating from 1874.

Fort Christian
340/776-4566
Named after the Danish king Christian V, this structure was a governor’s residence, police station, court, and jail until it became a national historic landmark in 1977. A museum here illuminates the island’s history and culture. Cultural workshops and turn-of-the-century furnishings are just some of the exhibits you can expect to see. A museum shop features local crafts, maps, and prints. Fort Christian is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Emancipation Park
Where a proclamation freeing African slaves and indentured European servants was read on July 3, 1848. The park is now mostly a picnic area for local workers and visitors.

Grand Hotel
Near Emancipation Park, the Grand Hotel is a visitors center which dispenses valuable travel information about the island. When this hotel was opened in 1837, it was a grand address, but it later fell into decay, and finally closed in 1975. The former guest rooms upstairs have been turned into offices and a restaurant.

Frederik Lutheran Church
Built between 1780 and 1793. The original Georgian-style building, financed by a free black parishioner, Jean Reeneaus, was reconstructed in 1825 and again in 1870 after it was damaged in a hurricane.

Government House
The administrative headquarters for the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s been the center of political life in the islands since it was built, around the time of the American Civil War. Visitors are allowed on the first two floors, Monday through Saturday from 8am to noon, and 1 to 5pm. Some paintings by former resident Camille Pissarro are on display, as are works by other St. Thomas artists.

Seven Arches Museum
Government Hill
340/774-9295
Visitors enjoy visiting the private home of longtime residents Philibert Fluck and Barbara Demaras. This 200 year Danish house has been completely restored and furnished with antiques. Walk through the yellow ballast arches into the Great Room, which has a great view of the Caribbean’s busiest harbor. Admission fee includes a cold tropical drink served in a beautiful walled flower garden. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 – 3, or by appointment.

Frederik Church Parsonage
Next to the Government House. Dating from 1725, and one of the oldest houses on the island. It’s the only structure in the Government Hill district to retain its simple 18th century lines.

Yellow-Brick Building
Built in 1854 in what local architects called “the style of Copenhagen.” You can go inside and browse through the many shops within.

99 Steps
These steps, which were erected in the early 1700s, take you to the summit of Government Hill, from where you’ll see the 18th-century Crown House, immediately to your right on the south side of the street. This stately private house was the home of von Scholten, the Danish ruler who issued the famous proclamation of emancipation in 1848 .

St. Thomas Reformed Church
Dating from 1844. Much of its original structure, which was designed like a Greek temple, has been preserved intact.

St. Thomas Synagogue
340/774-4312
The oldest synagogue in continuous use under the American flag and the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere; it was erected in 1833 by Sephardic Jews, and it still maintains the tradition of having sand on the floor, commemorating the exodus from Egypt. The structure was built of local stone along with ballast brick from Denmark and mortar made of molasses and sand. It’s open to visitors from 9am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Next door, the Weibel Museum showcases 300 years of Jewish history. It keeps the same hours.

Enid M. Baa Public Library
Formerly the von Bretton House, dating from 1818.

Market Square
Officially known as Rothschild Francis Square. This was the center of a large slave-trading market before the 1848 emancipation. Today it’s an open-air fruit and vegetable market, selling, among other items, genips (to eat one, break open the skin and suck the pulp off a pit). The wrought-iron roof covered a railway station at the turn of the century. The market is open Monday through Saturday, its busiest day.

The Waterfront (Kyst Vejen)
Where you can purchase a fresh coconut. One of the vendors will whack off the top with a machete, so you can drink the sweet milk from its hull.

Fort Christian
The town’s top ranking historic attraction; a modest red structure that looks to be lacking in strength. The building dates to the 1670s when it served as a combined defense post, government house, church and community hall. When the threat of invasion dissipated, the fort became a jail and, since 1987, a museum with displays on the region’s natural heritage (including medicinal plants and bird life) and art.

Market Square
Today the covered plaza is the local food market but it was once the Caribbean’s busiest trading post for slaves.

Those craving peace and privacy are better off heading to the nearby uninhabited islets of Hassel Island and Great Outlying Neighborhoods

 

The most important of the outlying neighborhoods is Frenchtown. Some of the older islanders still speak a distinctive Norman-French dialect here. Since the heart of Charlotte Amalie is dangerous at night, Frenchtown, with its finer restaurants and interesting bars, has become the place to go after dark.

 

 

Another neighborhood is Frenchman’s Hill. The Huguenots built many old stone villas there, and they open onto panoramic views of the town and its harbor.

 

Nightlife:

Theater

Reichhold Center For The Arts
Rte. 30, across from Brewers Beach
340/693-1559.
This amphitheater has its more expensive seats covered by a roof. Schedules vary, so check the paper to see what’s on when you’re in town. Throughout the year there’s an entertaining mix of local plays, dance exhibitions, and music of all types

D – Family Fun Attractions

Coral World Marine Park and Underwater Observatory
6450 Coki Point
340/775-1555
A marine complex that features a three-story underwater observation tower 100 feet offshore. It’s a 20-minute drive from Charlotte Amalie off Route 38. Inside, you’ll see sponges, fish, coral, and other aquatic creatures in their natural state through picture windows.

Marine Gardens Aquarium
Part of Coral World Marine Park;
Daily from 9 – 5:30
Admission charged.
Saltwater tanks display everything from sea horses to sea urchins. An 80,000-gallon reef tank features exotic marine life of the Caribbean; another tank is devoted to sea predators, with circling sharks and giant moray eels. Activities include daily fish and shark feedings and exotic bird shows. The latest addition to the park is a semisubmarine that lets you enjoy the panoramic view and the “down under” feeling of a submarine without truly submerging.

Coral World’s guests can take advantage of adjacent Coki Beach for snorkel rental, scuba lessons, or swimming and relaxing. Lockers and showers are available. Also included in the marine park are the Tropical Terrace Restaurant, duty-free shops, and a nature trail.

Estate St. Peter Greathouse Botanical Gardens
At the corner of Route 40
6A St. Peter Mountain Rd. and Barrett Hill Road
340/774-4999
Daily 9 – 4;
Admission charged.
This complex consists of 11 acres set at the foot of volcanic peaks on the northern rim of the island. They are laced with self-guided nature walks that will acquaint you with some 200 varieties of West Indian plants and trees, including an umbrella plant from Madagascar. From a panoramic deck in the gardens you can see some 20 of the Virgin Islands, including Hans Lollick, an uninhabited island between Thatched Cay and Madahl Point. The house is filled with a display of local works of art

E – Events & Entertainments

March

Transfer Day (31 March)
Commemorates the 1917 handover of the islands from Denmark to the US.

April

Carnival on St Thomas:
A crazy week full of masquerades, drumming, dancing, feasting and mocko jumbies (costumed stiltwalkers). Unlike other Carnivals in the Caribbean, which precede Lent, St Thomas’ takes place after Easter, usually in late April

The St Thomas Yacht Club’s International Regatta
churns up the waters every April.

July

Christmas in July:
when Santa dances on the streets of Charlotte Amalie with the tallest elves you’ve ever seen.

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San Juan Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – San Juan Travel Deals

A – Overview

Founded In 1510, San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, spreads out along the northern coast and also inland. Its nucleus is Old San Juan, a seven square block walled area, sitting on a point of land between the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay. Old San Juan is filled with history and culture, and is a living museum. It is preserved in all its natural grace and beauty, and at 500 years of age is far from being decrepit. Some of its narrow streets are paved with small blue-gray cobblestones which came to the port hundreds of years ago as ships’ ballast.

san juan overview

San Juan is a place to park the car and walk. The terrain is hilly and the sidewalks steep, but walking is safer than driving under these conditions, and there is so much to see! There are many charming cafés at which to stop, rest and enjoy a cup of fine Puerto Rican coffee or a meal along the way.

The newer part of San Juan is a thoroughly modern, bustling city of a million people. A series of bridges link the inlet with the resort areas of Condado and Isla Verde as well as the residential communities of Santurce and the suburbs of Hato Rey and Rio Piedras.

Puerto Rico is a perfect family destination. The smallest children love the sandy beaches, the warm shallow seawater and the swimming pools constructed especially for them. Kite flying on the breezy days is a favorite pastime. There’s no end to the activities available for older children, including boat rides, shell collecting, horseback riding, hiking, wind surfing, and snorkeling. The adults in the family will also enjoy exploring the underwater wonders of Puerto Rico. On land, they will have the opportunity to play on what are considered the best golf courses ion the Carribean. the best golf Most resort hotels offer programs of activities, and many have play directors and supervised daily fun for various age groups.

Music is a special source of Puerto Rican pride, and the bold Latin beat is best characterized by the music and dance form known as salsa, which shares not only its name with the Spanish word for “hot sauce” but also a zesty, hot flavor. This fusion of west African percussion, jazz (especially swing) and big band and other Latin beats produces mambo, merengue, flamenco, cha-cha, and rumba.

San Juan is home to ballet, fine drama, symphony orchestra performances. It is also the scene of many lively and colorful festivals, which can take place at any time due to the warm, sunny weather that is present year round. Government regulated casinos operate in the larger hotels, and provide enjoyment to many visitors. Most are open 20- 24 hours a day. Horse racing is another favorite sport on which to wager.

Puerto Ricans welcome visitors and are eager to show off their city. They are justifiably proud of its timeless beauty, its warmth and its zest for life

B – City information

Population:
Pop. 437,745;
Metropolitan Area Population: 1,086,376
The largest part of the population is of Spanish descent. There are also Portuguese, Italians, and French. About 85 percent of the people are Roman Catholics

Location:
Puerto Rico, commonwealth of United States of America 1000 miles southeast of Miami and 1600 miles from New York.

Elevation:
8ft

Area:
300 square miles

Country:
Puerto Rico

Time Zone:
Atlantic Time (GMT -4 Hours) Same as Eastern Standard Time without Daylight Saving Time.

Climate:
Tropical, Hot

Weather:
Average Temperatures (in Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 81 70
April – June 85 72
July – September 86 75
October – December 85 72

Temperatures average 78-83F year round. December-April are the coolest months. Sweaters are necessary in the mountains during winter. In the hottest months, July-September, temperatures often top 90F. Sunblock is essential year round! About 59 in. of rain falls annually on the island, most of it during hurricane season June-November, but rain can fall in brief torrents year round. This is a warm rain in San Juan, and one can easily “drip dry” after a shower.

Tourist Assistance:
Tourist Offices: In The U.S., Puerto Rico Tourism Company, 575 Fifth Ave., New York, Ny 10017, Phone 212-599-6262 Or 800-223-6350.

Currency:
Currency: U.S. Dollar. Traveler’s checks and credit cards are widely accepted.

Banks:
Mon-Fri 9:30 -3 . Some are open on Saturdays. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are widely accepted.

Post Office:
If you travel to San Juan on a cruise, The easiest way to mail letters and postcards is from the ship. The U.S. Postal Service dispatches mail daily. The old post office on Recinto Sur in old San Juan is open Mon-Fri 8am – 5pm and Sat 8am – noon.

Documentation:
Passport/Visa Requirements: proof of citizenship recommended but not necessary for U.S. Citizens. All others should have proof of citizenship. Reconfirm documentation requirements with carrier before departure.

Departure Tax:
None

Electricity:
110 Volts, 60 cycles AC, same as US.

Telephones & Fax:

International Dialing Code:
International telecommunications are good. The pay phones have instructions in English And Spanish. You can also place long-distance calls from world service telephone at Pier one: phone 721-2520

Telephone Area Code:
787

Emergency:
911

Hospitals:
while the drinking water is considered safe, many residents drink bottled water. Medical facilities are plentiful in San Juan and outside the city. The Ashford Memorial Community Hospital is located in the tourist area of Conrad phone 721-2160. For municipal ambulance service, call 343-2550.

National Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 6 Three King’s Day
Jan 11 De Hosts Day
Feb 22 Washington’s Birthday
Late Feb. Ponce Carnival
Ma22r Emancipation Day
Apr 5 Good Friday
Apr 7 Easter
Apr 16 De Diego Day
May 30 Memorial Day
Jun 24 San Juan Bautista Day
July 4 Independence Day
Jul 17Munoz Rivera Day
July 25 Constitution Day
July 27 Dr José Cellos Barbuda’s Birthday
Sept 1. Labor Day
Oct 12 Columbus Day
Nov 11. Veteran’s Day
Nov 19 Discovery Day
November 25 Thanksgiving Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

How To Get Around:
Much of the sightseeing and shopping can be done on foot as distances around the City are not great.

Driving in Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rico’s 3,500 square miles are a lot of land to explore. Although you can get from town to town via público, it’s not the best way to travel unless your Spanish is good and you know exactly where you’re going. In spite of traffic signs in Spanish and aggressive fellow drivers, a rental car may be best for exploring outside the old city. Roads in Puerto Rico are well marked with distances posted in kilometers and speed limits in miles per hour. Be aware that many of Puerto Rico’s newer roads are toll roads, so keep change handy. Roads in the interior of the island can be narrow and steep. Chickens and dogs share the road with vehicles. You may find that local drivers travel at high speeds regardless of road conditions or narrowness of the roads. Drive defensively and make sure to buy a good road map.

Public Transportation:
catch one of the free, open-air trolleys by getting on near the terminal or anywhere along their routes: one follows a northwesterly path Boulevard De Valle and Calle Norzagaray To Calle Cristo and La Fortaleza while the other travels northeasterly along San Francisco Street, Plaza De Armas and Fortaleza Street.

Taxis:
Taxis are readily available at the ship terminal, with dispatchers supervising loading and unloading. They are usually the best way to get around San Juan quickly and easily – as long as you and the driver agree on rates and routes beforehand. a word of caution: in the past some taxi drivers have been accused of overcharging passengers, especially tourists. The public service commission has set up a system to try to improve this situation.

Local Bus Service:
Air-conditioned but crowded, public buses run from the harbor to various locations in the greater San Juan area the Metropolitan bus authority or AMA, its Spanish acronym covers the greater San Juan area, which consists of San Juan, Santurce, Rio Piedras, Hato Rey, Bayamon and Carolina. Small bus companies serve island towns and environs. Publicos vans and cars are low priced and offer rides along established routes but may not keep to a schedule or be very comfortable. In one of these packed public cars, typically a mini-van or sedan whose license plate includes the letters “pd” or “p”, the 15-minute trip from San Juan to Rio Piedras, for example, stretches to 45 minutes.

Ferry:
The Aqua Express, a daily ferry service, connects Old San Juan at Pier Two with Cataño and Hato Rey. .

Airports:
Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is located about 20 minutes east of downtown San Juan, and 10 minutes from Isla Verde. It is the largest and busiest in the Caribbean. If you take a cruise that begins in San Juan, most cruise lines will arrange your transportation from the airport to the pier. if not, a taxi ride to the port will take about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. There are also a number of limousine services. The airport has just undergone a $30 million facelift.
Isla Grande airport, a mile south of the port, handles general aviation within the island and to other Caribbean islands. An airplane with pilot can be rented from one of the flying schools there for a sightseeing flight around the city or the island. Contact Hill Aviation phone 723-3385

C – Attractions & Things To Do

El Bosque Nacional Del Caribe
Take Route 3 East From San Juan And Turn Right South On Route 191, About 25 mi. from the city. stop in at the Centro De Información El Portal El Portal Tropical Forest Information Center on route 191 at the entrance to the park.
787/888-1810
Daily 9-5
Admission is charged
The best way to see the 28,000-Acre Caribbean National Forest (Or El Yunque, as it’s commonly known) is to go with a tour guide. Dozens of trails lead through the thick rain forest, and guides take you to the best observation points, bathing spots, and waterfalls.

La Fortaleza
721-7000 Ext 2211
9:00-4:00 Mon-Fri
Guided tours in English on the hour, in Spanish every 30 minutes The governor’s palace, built between 1533 and 1540, was used as a fortress against Carib attacks but greatly expanded in the 19th century. It is believed to be the oldest executive residence in continuous use in the western hemisphere. Access to the official areas is not permitted.

el osque nacional del caribe

Catedral De San Juan
153 Calle Cristo
787/722-0861
Weekdays 8:30-4; Masses Sat. 7 pm, Sun. 9 am; 11 am, Weekdays 12:15
Built in the 16th century but extensively restored in the 19th and 20th. the remains of Ponce de León are in a marble tomb near the transept. The Catholic shrine of Puerto Rico had humble beginnings in the early 1520s as a thatch-topped wooden structure. Hurricane winds tore off the thatch and destroyed the church. It was reconstructed in 1540, when the graceful circular staircase and vaulted Gothic ceilings were added, but most of the work was done in the 19th century.

Centro Ceremonial Indígena De Tibes
787/840-2255 Or 787/840-5685
Admission charged.
Tues.day – Sunday 9-4.
Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. At Tibes, are found pre-Taíno ruins and burials dating from ad 300 to ad 700. Some archaeologists, noting the symmetrical arrangement of stone pillars, surmise the cemetery may have been of great religious significance. The complex includes a detailed re-creation of a Taíno village and a museum.

Castillo Serrallés
17 El Vigía Hill, 787/259-1774. Admission Charged.
Tues.-Sun. 9:30-5.
A splendid Spanish revival mansion perched on El Vigía Hill that recalls the era of the sugar barons.
After hurricane damage, El Morro Trail, a jogger’s paradise, is being reconstructed. The trail provides Old Town’s most scenic views across the harbor. The first part extends to the San Juan Gate; it then goes by the well-preserved walls of El Morro, a 16th-century fort, and eventually reaches a scenic area known as Bastion de Santa Barbara. The trail is designed to follow the rhythm of the movement of the ocean surf, and sea grapes and tropical vegetation surround benches that are perfect for a rest. The walk is romantic at night, when the walls of the fortress are illuminated.

Fuerte San Felipe Del Morro/Fuerte San Cristóbal
Daily 9:00-5:00
Small admission charge.
San Felipe Del Morro was built in 1591 to defend the entrance to the harbour, and the 11-hectare fort san cristóbal was completed in 1772 to support El Morro and to defend the landward side of the city. The massive six-level fortress covers enough territory to accommodate a nine-hole golf course. It is a labyrinth of dungeons, barracks, turrets, towers, and tunnels. its small, air-conditioned museum traces the history of the fortress. Tours and a video show are available in English.

Plaza Del Quinto Centenario
The Plaza Del Quinto Centenario, Inaugurated On 12 October 1992 To Commemorate The 500th Anniversary Of Columbus’ Landing, is a modernistic square on several levels with steps leading to a central fountain with hundreds of jets good view of El Morro, the cemetery and sunsets.

Bicardi Plant
787-788-1500
2.5 miles west of Cataño at km 2.6 on State Road 888, across the straits from El Morro Castle, is the world’s largest rum factory.
Take the ferry and then a taxi. Displays and samples are offered. A one hour tour leaves every 30 minutes.
Mon-Sat 8:30-4:30
Free admission.

Cuartel De Ballajá
724-5052
Mon-Frid 10:00-4:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-5:00
Guided Tours Available Weekdays 1030, 1130, 1230 And 2:00
Free
Once the barracks for Spanish Troops and their families, was also inaugurated 12 October 1992 with the museum of the americas on the second floor tracing the cultural development of the history of the new world.

Dominican Convent
724-0700
Chapel museum open Wed-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Built in the early 16th century, later used as a headquarters by the US Army, is now the office of the institute of culture, with a good art gallery. Cultural events are sometimes held in the patio, art exhibitions in the galleries.

Iglesia De San José
Calle San Sebastián, Plaza De San José, 787/725-7501. Admission Free.
Mon-Sat 8:30-4:00, Sun Mass at noon
With its vaulted ceilings, this is a splendid example of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture. The church, one of the oldest in the western hemisphere, was built in 1532 under the supervision of Dominican friars. The body of Ponce de León was buried here for almost 300 years before being moved in 1913 to the Catedral De San Juan.

Casa De Los Contrafuertes
724-5949
Wed-Sun 9:00-4:30
Early 18th Century, believed to be the oldest private residence in the old city, now has periodic art exhibitions on the second floor and a small pharmacy museum with 19th century exhibits on the ground floor.

Casa Blanca
1 Calle San Sebastián
724-4102
Tue-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Guided Tours Tue-Fri By Appointment.
Admission charged.
Built in 1523 by the family of Ponce De León, who lived in it for 250 years until it became the residence of the Spanish and then the US military Commander-in-Chief. It is now a historical museum which is well worth a visit.

The Alcaldía, Or City Hall
724-7171 Ext 2391
Mon-Fri 8:00-4:00 Except Holidays
Built 1604-1789.

The Intendencia
722-2121
Mon-Fri 8:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Formerly the Spanish colonial exchequer, a fine example of 19th century Puerto Rican Architecture, now houses Puerto Rico’s State Department.

The Naval Arsenal
724-5949
Wed-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
The last place in Puerto Rico to be evacuated by the Spanish in 1898, exhibitions are held in three galleries.

Casa Del Callejón
725-5250
Both Museums Closed For Restoration
A restored 18th-century house containing two colonial museums, the architectural and the Puerto Rican Family.

Reserva Natural Las Cabezas De San Juan
The reserve is open to the public, by reservation only, Friday-Sunday and to tour groups Wednesday-Thursday. Tours are given on request in advance, by phone four times Daily; An English tour is available at 2 Pm. Rte. 987, Km 5.8
787/722-5882 Or 787/860-2560

Most of Puerto Rico’s natural habitats are rolled into Las Cabezas Reserve’s 316 acres. nineteenth-century El Faro, one of the island’s oldest lighthouses, is restored and still functioning. The wide variety of birds makes this a favorite spot for bird watchers.

Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden)
Intersection Of Rtes. 1 and 847 at entrance to Barrio Venezuela, Río Piedras
787/767-1710.
Admission free.
Daily 9-4:30
The main attraction at the University of Puerto Rico is the lush 75-acre forest of more than 200 species of tropical and subtropical vegetation. Gravel footpaths lead to a graceful lotus lagoon, a bamboo promenade, an orchid garden with some 30,000 plants, and a palm garden. Signs are in Spanish and English. Trail maps are available at the entrance gate.

Additional Museums

Pablo Casals Museum
723-9185
Tue-Sat 9:30-5:30
Pablo Casals museum is in an 18th century house beside San José church, with Casals’ cello and other memorabilia.

San Juan Museum Of Art And History
Norzagaray Y Macarthur
724-1875
Tue-Sun 10:00-4:00
Built in 1855 as a marketplace, now a cultural centre with exhibition galleries.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
787/977-6277
399 De Diego Avenue in Santurce
Tuesday through Sunday 10 – 5
Admission charged. The museum’s gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays until 8pm for special interactive and educational programs.
Launched in the summer of 2000, this is one of the island’s most important art museums. It houses more than 250 pieces, including works by two of Puerto Rico’s most recognized artists: Campche and Rafael Tufiño.
Visitors may also view works by gifted international artists, attend films in the state-of-the-art theater, or participate in classes in the 5 acre sculpture garden.

Observatorio De Arecibo
This facility is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center of Cornell University. Rte. 625
787/878-2612.
Admission Charged
Wed.-Fri. Noon-4, Weekends 9-4.
The town of Arecibo is home to the world’s largest radar/radio telescope: a 20-acre dish, with a 600-ton suspended platform hovering over it, sits in a 565-ft-deep sinkhole. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the observatory. This is where where groundbreaking work in astronomy, including SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, continues.

Casa Del Libro
723-0354
Tue-Sat, Except Holidays, 11:00-4:30
An 18th century house on Calle Cristo, has a collection of rare books, including some over 400 years old.

Museum of the Sea
725-2532
On pier one, with a collection of maritime instruments and models. Open when the pier is open for cruise ships.

Museo De Arte De Ponce Ponce Museum Of Art
Av. Las Américas, 787/848-0505 Or 787/848-0511
Admission charged
Daily 10-5.

The Indian Museum
Calle San José 109 On The Corner Of Luna
724-5477 Or 722-1709
Tue-Sat 9:00-4:00
No admission charge
The Indian museum concentrates on Puerto Rican indigenous cultures, With exhibits, ceramics and archaeological digs.

Fort San Jerónimo
77245949
Wed-Sun 9:30-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Another museum in the old city, it is a military museum.

Río Piedras
755-7979
Tue-Sat 9:00-1:00
Founded In 1714 but became incorporated into San Juan in 1951. On the edge of Río Piedras, the gardens and library of the former governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, are open to the public, with a museum showing his letters, photos and speeches.

The University Of Puerto Rico
764-0000, Ext 2452
Mon-Fri 9:00-9:00, Weekends 9:00-3:00
The University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras is in a lovely area. The University Museum has archaeological and historical exhibitions, and also monthly art exhibitions.

Botanical Garden
250-0000 Ext 6580
Daily 9:00-4:30
The Botanical Garden at the agricultural experiment station has over 200 species of tropical and subtropical plants, a bamboo promenade one variety can grow four feet in a day, an orchid garden over 30,000 orchids, and an aquatic garden.

Hato Rey
The financial district of San Juan nicknamed ‘The Golden Mile’.

Luís Muñoz Marín Park
Avenida Jesús T Piñero
Tue-Sun 9:00-5:00
Covers 35 Hectares, which can be toured by a one kilometre cable car.

Parque Luis Muñoz Marín
Next To Las A
Admission Free; Parking $1 Per Vehicle.
Tues.-Sun. 9-5.
This idyllic 90-acre tree-shaded park is dotted with gardens, lakes, playgrounds, and picnic areas. An aerial gondola connects it with the parking area and provides a 61/2-minute tour of the grounds. An outdoor amphitheater is the venue for plays, concerts, and folk performances.

Museum Of Contemporary Puerto Rican Art Santurce
The Sacred Heart University
268-0049
Tue-Sat 9:00-4:00, Sunday 11:00-5:00

Fine Arts Center
724-4751
Opened in 1981, with theatres and halls at the corner of De Diego and Ponce De León.

Parque De Las Cavernas Del Río Camuy
Rte. 129, Km 20
787/898-3100 or 787/898-3136
Admission and parking fee.
Tues.-Sun. 8-4. Last tour starts At 3:50
The 250-Acre Río Camuy reserve contains one of the world’s largest cave networks. Tours take you on a tram down through dense tropical vegetation to the cave entrance, where you continue on foot over underground trails, ramps, and bridges. The caves, sinkholes, and subterranean streams are all spectacular. Be sure to call ahead; the tours allow only a limited number of people, and hours change slightly in the off-season.

San Cristóbal
Admission Charged.
Daily 9-5.
787/729-6960 More Info
This 18th-Century fortress guarded the city from land attacks. even larger than El Morro, San Cristóbal was known in its heyday as the Gibraltar of the West Indies.

Miramar
A residential area having several moderately priced hotels as well as some expensive ones. Miramar is separated from the Atlantic coast by the Condado Lagoon and the Condado Beach area, where the luxury hotels, casinos, nightclubs and restaurants are concentrated. From Condado the beach front is built up eastwards through Ocean Park, Santa Teresita, Punta Las Marías and Isla Verde. Building is expanding along the narrow strip beyond Isla Verde, between the Sea and the airport. Along this road, Avenida Boca De Cangrejos, there are lots of food trucks selling barbecued specialties.

Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

The diving is excellent off Puerto Rico’s south, east, and west coasts as well as its offshore islands. it’s best to choose specific locations with the help of a guide or outfitter, who will know current conditions and safety concerns. Snorkeling and scuba instruction, equipment rentals, and tours are available at the following:

Boquerón Dive Shop
Main St., Boquerón, 787/851-2155.

Caribbean School Of Aquatics
Taft St. No. 1, Suite 10f, San Juan, 787/728-6606.

Caribe Aquatic Adventures
Radisson Normandie Hotel,
Corner of Av. Rosales And Av. Muñoz Rivera,
Puerta De Tierra, San Juan, 787/724-1882 Or 787/281-8858.

Coral Head Divers
Palmas Del Mar, Rte. 906,
Humacao, 787/850-7208 Or 800/635-4529.

Dive Copamarina
Copamarina Beach Resort, Rte. 333, Km 6.5,
Guánica, 787/821-0505, Ext. 729, Or 800/468-4553

Mundo Submarino
Laguna Garden Shopping Center,
Av. Baldorioty De Castro, Carolina,
787/791-5764.

Parguera Divers Training Center
Hotel Posada Por Lamar, Rte. 304, Km 3.3,
La Parguera, 787/899-4171.

Puerto Rican Diver Supply
A-E6 Santa Isidra 111,
Fajardo, 787/863-4300.

The Artisan Markets
Sixto Escobar Park Calle Cuevillas,
Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, 787/722-0369 Luis Muñoz Marín Park
Next to Las Américas expressway West on Av. Piñero,
Hato Rey, San Juan, 787/763-0568.

Casinos
By law, all casinos are in hotels. The government keeps a close eye on them. Dress for the larger casinos tends to be on the more formal side. the law permits casinos to operate noon-4 am, but individual casinos set their own hours. hotels that house casinos have live entertainment most weekends, restaurants, and bars; drinks are usually served in the casino to players. The minimum age is 18

D – Family Fun Attractions

Plaza Acuática
787-754-9800
Fax: 787-751-9009
For beach lovers and water fanatics. There are water slides, a giant wave pool, spiraling body slides, activity pool and kiddy pool. Professionally trained lifeguards, first aid and security staff are on duty. There are also gift shops, two 18-hole mini-golf courses and a large, dry play area for children. Facilities are available for birthday parties and private activities.

Luis A. Ferré Science Park
Rt. 167, Ave. Comerio
787-740-6868
Wed -Fri 9-4, Sat-Sun 10-6
A science park for the whole family to enjoy

Plaza del Quinto Centenario
This plaza is the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1492. Dominated by a giant stone pillar and a beautiful ground level fountain (it’s not enclosed and the children get soaked, which makes it that much more enjoyable).

Museo del Niño
787-722-3791
Tues-Thurs 9-3:30 Fri. 9-5; Sat., Sun. 12:30-5
A very popular children’s museum with educational exhibits. On the Plaza de Catedral.

Ponce Boardwalk
This is the boardwalk on the Caribbean Sea, just across from the Ponce Yacht Club. There are lots of food kiosks in this open air venue. Free transportation to the central plaza on the Chu-Chu Train.

Río Piedras Botanical Garden
787-763-4408
Daily 8-4:30
Rt 1 at Rt 847, San Juan
A major botanical garden, located in San Juan. Affiliated with the University of Puerto Rico.

Ponce Trolley Tour
Ponce
787-284-4141
Free daily tour of the historic zone starting at the central plaza.

Parque de Bombas
Plaza las Delicias, Ponce

In the central plaza, behind the Catedral de la Guadalupe, this century-old wooden firehouse is open to the public. It is painted bright red and black. Antique fire engines on the first floor; exhibits on the second floor.

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center
Rt 503, Km 2.1, Ponce
787-840-2255
This major historical site goes back to 400AD. An impressive museum and grounds. Tues-Sun 9-4.

Isabela Trolley
Calle Corchado #75, Isabela
787-782-2100 EXT 201
Call Isabela City Hall for reservations.
A trolley service for visitors.

Humpback Whales
Rincón
Humpback whales may be seen in the winter from the observation park at the Rincón Lighthouse.

El Yunque (Caribbean Nat.Forest)
Rt 191 Km 4.2, Río Grande
787-888-1810
Daily 7-6
Forest hikes, camping, visitors center, exhibits. The only rain forest in the US forest service system.

Aguadilla
This is one of the world’s great beach, surfing and sports beach areas. The beaches are too numerous to mention as the run they entire coastline from Rincón to the south to Isabela to the east. The surfers, windsurfers, beach scuba divers and all their support crew and admirers are great fun to watch. It is even more fun to join in. Winter is the peak surfing season.

Beaches

By Law, All Puerto Rican Playas Beaches are open to the public. The government runs 13 balnearios public beaches, which have dressing rooms, lifeguards, parking, and in some cases picnic tables, playgrounds, and camping facilities. Admission is free, parking is $2. Most balnearios are open 9-5 daily in summer and Tuesday-Sunday the rest of the year.
For more information contact the Department Of Recreation and Sports 787/722-1551 Or 787/724-2500.

Isla Verde
This white-sand beach has good snorkeling, with equipment and chair rentals along the beach. Close to San Juan, It’s a lively and popular beach.

Parque De Tercer Milenio
Third millennium park. On the Puerta de Tierra stretch at the entrance to old San Juan, the park encompasses Balneario Escambrón, a patch of honey-color beach with shade from coconut palms and a mostly gentle surf. There are showers available, and several restaurants; and the park is open daily 7-7.

Playita Condado
Kids will like Playita Condado, marked Condado Public Beach on its sign. The small beach has an even surf and some shade from trees and is adjacent to the Condado Plaza Hotel off busy Avenida Ashford.

Balneario Boqueró
On the southwest coast is a broad beach of hard-packed sand fringed with coconut palms. It has picnic tables, cabin rentals, a basketball court, a minimarket, and scuba-diving and snorkeling outfitters nearby.

Playa Luquillo
Crescent-shaped Playa Luquillo comes complete with coconut palms, changing rooms, lockers, showers, picnic tables, tent sites, and stands that sell Puerto Rican savories and tropical cocktails. Coral reefs protect its crystal-clear lagoon from the Atlantic waters, making it an ideal place to swim. It’s one of the island’s largest and best-known beaches and is crowded on weekends. It also has a “mar sin barreras” (sea without barriers), ramp that allows wheelchair users water access 787/889-4329 or 787/889-5871.

Playa Flamenco
This spectacularly beautiful beach is on the north shore of Culebra island. The 3-mile-long crescent has shade trees, clear, shallow water, picnic tables, and rest rooms and is popular on weekends with day-trippers from Fajardo. In winter, storms in the Atlantic often create great waves for bodysurfing.

Playa Soni
This wide strand of sparkling white sand is located on the eastern end of Culebra, on a protected bay with calm waters. The views of the islets of Culebrita, Cayo Norte, and St. Thomas are stunning. Snorkeling here is popular, too. As there are no facilities and little shade, bring lots of water and an umbrella.

Vieques
Nothing in Puerto Rico in recent months has generated more headlines than the 52-square-mile island of Vieques (about the size of Aruba), off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Local residents have protested the presence of the U.S. Navy here since the 1950s. The Navy has long found the island an ideal terrain for use as a bombing range. Activists charge the Navy is ignoring health and environmental hazards. A compromise has been reached, which includes the promise of $90 million in aid if residents will allow exercises with live ammunition to continue.
Most of Vieques consists of long, natural, and pristine beaches of white sand.
The visitor information center 787/741-5000 is in the fishing village of Esperanza

Other Vieques beaches are: Playa Sun Bay, a gorgeous stretch of sand with picnic facilities and shade trees.
Red and blue beaches, on the U.S. Marine/Camp Garcia base open to the public 6-6 when military exercises are not in progress, are superb for snorkeling and privacy.
Bahía Mosquito Bay is best experienced on moonless nights, when millions of bioluminescent organisms glow when disturbed

E – Events & Entertainments

Festivals
Everything is closed on public holidays. One of the most important is 24 June, though in fact the capital grinds to a halt the previous afternoon and everyone heads for the beach. There is loud salsa music and barbecues until midnight when everyone walks backwards into the sea to greet the Baptist and ensure good fortune. 25 July is the Día de la Constitución and when this takes place on a weekend it is almost impossible to get a hotel room. Reservations should be made in advance. Every town/city has local holidays for harvest festivals (pineapple, tobacco, sugar cane, etc) and for celebration of the town’s saint. There is a festival somewhere every week.
Several towns and regions also have pre-lenten carnivales, complete with parades, folk music, local dishes, a carnival queen pageant, and music competitions. all are in early to late February.

January:
New Year’s Day (1 Jan) – Public holiday; most businesses closed.
Three King’s Day (6 Jan) – Religious holiday celebrated around the island with feasts and parties.
De Hostos Day (11 Jan) – Half-day holiday honors Eugenio Maria de Hostos, an educator and patriot.
San Sebastian Street Festival (mid-January) – Street party in Old San Juan with music, dancing, food and crafts.

February:
San Blas Marathon (early Feb) – Half-marathon in the southern town of Coamo attracts international and local runners. It’s Puerto Rico’s biggest race, and the crowds are always large.
Ponce Carnival (late February) – Every city in Puerto Rico honors its patron saint with a festival, but Ponce celebrates in grand fashion with processions, parades and floats. Colorful paper-mache masks are worn by many of the revelers.

March:
Emancipation Day (22 Mar) – This half-day holiday commemorates the emancipation of slaves.

April:
Good Friday and Easter – These religious holidays are the most solemn days of the year. The island nearly comes to a halt.
De Diego Day (19 Apr) – Celebration of the birth of Jose de Diego, writer, poet and statesman who was the first Puerto Rican president under U.S. rule.

June:
Casals Festival (mid-June) – The island’s premier cultural event honors Pablo Casals, who founded the festival in 1957. It showcases top musicians from around the world as well as local talent. At the Performing Arts Center in Santurce. Tickets US $20-$40; phone 809-721-7727 or 728-5744.
San Juan Bautista Day (23 Jun) – The island’s patron saint is celebrated at the beach, as “sanjuaneros” take to the water backward in order to bring good luck for the coming year.

July:
Barranquitas Artisans Fair (mid July) – The original artisans’ fair in the hill town of Barranquitas still draws hundreds of crafts people (carvings, masks, jewelry, and paintings).
Munoz Rivera Day (19 Jul) – Celebration of birth date of statesman Luis Munoz Rivera, Puerto Rico’s first resident commissioner in Washington and father of Puerto Rico’s first elected governor, Luis Munoz Marin.
Loiza Carnival (late July) – St. James the Apostle is honored as Loiza residents masquerade with masks and costumes designed to frighten off the evil spirits. Music, dancing, food and crafts.

October:
Bomba y Plena (7-9 Oct) – Music festival celebrating the island’s African-Caribbean heritage with music and dancing in Old San Juan.
Columbus Day (21 Oct) – Half-day holiday, known as La Raza, that commemorate Columbus’ landing in the New World.

November:
Discovery Day (19 Nov) – Public holiday commemorating the day in 1493 when Columbus reached Puerto Rico; all businesses closed.
Thanksgiving Day (mid-November) – Businesses and offices closed. Most families gather for dinner; many restaurants offer special meals at reasonable prices.

December:
Bacardi Arts Festival – The largest festival for artisans on the island. Just about every craftsman turns out for this fair on the grounds of the Bacardi Rum Distillery.
Christmas Day (25 Dec) – Religious holiday; most businesses closed

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Montego Bay Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Montego Bay Travel Deals

A – Overview

Jamaica’s cultural life is rich and varied, with its own unique music, art, and cuisine. Jamaica’s lush vegetation, scenic mountaintops, clear waterfalls, and pristine beaches are among the highlights of this magical island. Jamaica is the third largest, and certainly one of the brightest, stars in the Caribbean constellation.

montego bay overview

Montego Bay (Mo Bay), along with Ocho Rios, are Jamaica’s north-coast pleasure capitals. The region’s appearance in numerous Beach Boys’ tunes is now ancient history, but the fabulous beaches and resorts continue to enchant visitors and residents alike. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city, after the capital of Kingston, in terms of population, but is the undisputed tourist capital of the island. The city is divided into three parts: the city center, the hotel area, and the surrounding hills with their picturesque villas. The city streets of Montego Bay are crowded and lively: full of crafts and culture. The architecture is a mix of wood frame houses, Georgian design, and modern office buildings. Not far from the city center are the deep water piers where enthusiastic passengers disembark daily from visiting cruise ships.

Montego Bay offers attractions that are both natural and manmade. The most famous of its beaches is the Doctor’s Cave beach. The beach is said to be fed by healing mineral springs, and it has some of the clearest and most sparkling water to be found at any beach in the world. Visitors will also want to tour the local rum-producing estates for a taste of Jamaica’s best. Just minutes away from the center of the city is the Barnett Estate Plantation, home of the oldest plantation family in Jamaica. The Belvedere Estate is also nearby. It encompasses thousands of acres, and is still in operation. An evening on the Great River is an experience not to be missed. The evening boat rides along the river’s torch-lit banks are spectacular.

Montego Bay’s world-famous beaches attract thousands every year. Some seek solitude in a phenomenal setting; others are attracted to the feeling of romance and excitement that pulses through the island’s air. The sun shines on Montego Bay, inviting visitors to experience the vacation of a lifetime.

B – City information

Population:  2.5 million

Time Zone:  Eastern Standard Time

Highest Point:  7,402 feet (Blue Mountain Peak)

Lowest Point:  sea level (Caribbean Sea)

Language:  English

Government:  Independent.  Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations

 

Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean archipelago are part of a mountain range, which in prehistoric times probably formed a land bridge between what is now Mexico and Venezuela. The island is about the size of Connecticut.   It is 146 miles long and from 22-58 miles wide.

 

Many years ago, volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor, forming Jamaica’s mountains, which reach up to 7,402 feet in height.  The mountains, located in an east-to-west line in central Jamaica, contain more than 120 rivers and many waterfalls, as well as thermal springs. In the high mountains of the east, the landscape features semitropical rainforest and copses of mist-covered pines. The mountains are bordered on the north and east by a narrow coastal plain fringed with beaches. The flat, arid southern coastline reminds visitors of African savanna or Indian plains, whereas the moist, fertile North Coast slopes steeply from hills down to excellent beaches. Much of Jamaica is underlaid by limestone, so the landscape is dotted with dozens of caves that store large reservoirs of naturally filtered drinking water.

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   86F  

  67F

February

   86F

  67F

March  

   86F  

  68F

April  

   87F

  70F  

May  

   87F

  72F  

June  

   89F

  74F 

July  

   90F

  73F  

August  

   90F  

  73F

September  

   89F

  73F

October  

   88F

  73F

November  

   87F

  71F

December  

   87F

  67F

 

 

 

When to Visit: 

The weather is perfect all year, and Jamaica is more and more a year-round destination. There is, however, a high season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the island.

 

Reservations should be made 2 to 3 months in advance for trips during the winter. At some hotels and resorts it is necessary to book a year ahead for Christmas holidays or February.

Along the seashore, in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the island is naturally air-conditioned by northeasterly trade winds, and temperature variations are slight. Coastal readings average between 71°F and 88°F year-round. The island has two rainy seasons: May; and October – November.

The Hurricane Season:  The hurricane season, officially lasts from June 1 to November, but satellite weather forecasts generally give adequate warning  several days in advance so that precautions can be taken. If you’re heading to Jamaica during the hurricane season, you can call your local branch of the National Weather Service (listed in your phone directory under the U.S. Department of Commerce) for a weather forecast or check The Weather Channel online.

 

 

 

National Holidays: 

 

New Year’s Day Jan. 1

Ash Wednesday

Good Friday

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday

National Labour Day (late  May)

Independence Day (a Monday in early August)

National Heroes Day (3rd Monday in October).

Christmas Day and Boxing Day Dec. 25 and 26

 

A Word of Caution:  Travelers to Jamaica should be aware that despite the widespread presence of ganja or marijuana, its use is illegal in Jamaica.   Drug-sniffing dogs are employed at all airports, drug laws are strictly enforced, and penalties can include imprisonment.

 

Arriving:

There are two international airports on Jamaica:

Donald Sangster in Montego Bay (tel. 876/952-3124) and

Norman Manley in Kingston (tel. 876/924-8452

The most popular flights are from New York and Miami. Remember to reconfirm all flights no later than 72 hours before departure. Flying time from Miami is 1 1/4 hours; from Los Angeles, 5 1/2 hours; from Atlanta, 2 1/2 hours; from Dallas, 3 hours; from Chicago and New York, 3 1/2 hours; and from Toronto, 4 hours.

 

Cruise Ships

Most cruise ships heading for Jamaica travel at night, arriving the next morning at the day’s port of call, perhaps Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. In port, passengers can go ashore for sightseeing, shopping, and a local meal. Prices vary widely.

 

Currency:  Jamaica has its own dollar, which is far less valuable than the U.S. dollar. In all monetary exchanges, determine which dollar unit is being quoted in the price, Jamaican or US.

 

All the major resorts and first-class restaurants quote prices in U.S. dollars, so many visitors can go through their entire trip without converting their currency into Jamaican dollars. Its still a good idea to carry some Jamaican dollars: For some transactions, such as a drink of coconut water from a roadside vendor, prices are only quoted in Jamaican dollars.

 

If you have Jamaican dollars left over at the end of your trip, you’ll need to show exchange receipts from a bank or other official bureau for the local dollars you purchased. This is a rather cumbersome process. Exchange only the amount of Jamaican money you think you’ll actually need.

 

Getting Around

Jamaica is a large island without a highly developed public transportation system.  If you plan to stay in the general area of your hotel or resort, a car is not necessary.  If you plan to explore the island, a rental car is a wise choice.  Rental rates are high.  Be sure to deal only with agencies whose names are known in the US.  Rentals are available at both airports.

 

Driving in JamaicaDrive on the left side of the road. Gas is measured by the imperial gallon (a British unit of measurement that’s about 25% more than a U.S. gal.); most stations don’t accept credit cards. Your valid driver’s license from home is acceptable for short-term visits to Jamaica.

 

A coastal route designated by an “A” plus a number encircles Jamaica. It’s well marked and easy to follow. More complicated are secondary roads, urban streets, and feeder roads, whose markings sometimes are infuriatingly unclear. Recognizing this problem, the Jamaica Tourist Board has issued one of the best maps of the island, the Discover Jamaica road map. It contains a detailed overview of the entire island, as well as blowups of Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, Spanish Town, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios; there’s also a very useful street index to Kingston. Get it from any Jamaica Tourist Board office or car-rental agency.

 

Mileage Information:  Subject to road conditions, driving time from Montego Bay to Negril (about 52 miles) is 1 1/2 hours; between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios (67 miles), 1 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio (66 miles), 2 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Kingston (54 miles), 2 hours; between Kingston and Mandeville (61 miles), 1 1/2 hours; and between Kingston and Port Antonio (61 miles), 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

 

Taxis can be flagged down on the street or summoned by phone. Rates are per car-not per passenger-and 25% is added to the metered rate between midnight and 5am.  JUTA cabs are supposed to have meters, but most of them are not in working order. Agree on the price of the trip before booking. Cab fares should be posted inside the taxi; if you don’t see them, you have the right to request a copy from the driver. A 10% to 12% tip is usually added.  Avoid pirate or unlicensed taxis. Not only are they not metered-they are illegal and rarely carry insurance.

 

By Moped & Motorcycle

The front desk of your hotel can usually arrange the rental of a moped or motorcycle

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Regions of Jamaica

Montego Bay: This is the number-one destination for all of Jamaica, appealing to the widest possible range of visitors. “Mo Bay,” as it’s known, has the best golf in the West Indies, and four of the largest resorts on the island; and duty-free shopping as well. This is about as far from rural Jamaica as you can get: The tourist dollar drives its economy. But it also boasts several attractions in its environs, including former great houses of plantations, decaying old towns such as Falmouth, and daylong adventures into remote Maroon Country.

Negril: Situated near Jamaica’s relatively arid western tip, Negril’s Seven Mile Beach is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of sand in the Caribbean.  That beach, its laidback lifestyle, and its wild parties are the main attractions in Negril.

The South Coast: The little-visited South Coast, lying east of Negril along the A2 (the road to Kingston), is undiscovered Jamaica, although it is becoming better known all the time. In contrast to the island’s lush, tropical image, this area is dry and arid. Hotels are few and far between, and they are frequently small, family run establishments. The chief draw is Treasure Beach, tucked away on the secluded coast.

Mandeville: Located in south-central Jamaica, Mandeville is the country’s highest-altitude town and is built in a style strongly influenced by the British. It is now the center of the island’s noted coffee cultivation; a sense of slow-paced colonial charm remains a trademark of the town.

The North Coast: This region’s primary natural attractions include its steeply sloping terrain, the setting for panoramic public gardens and dramatic waterfalls. Set on a deep-water harbor easily able to accommodate cruise ships, Ocho Rios boasts a dense concentration of resort hotels and other vacation spots. Its surrounding area contains a number of Jamaica’s premier attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls. What the area offers in abundance, are some of the grandest resorts in the Caribbean

Runaway Bay: Directly west of Ocho Rios is the satellite town of Runaway Bay, which boasts a handful of resorts opening onto some good beaches and has the distinct advantage of not being as populated by tourists as  Ocho Rios.

Port Antonio: The hub of eastern Jamaica, Port Antonio still basks in nostalgia. Frequently photographed for its Victorian/Caribbean architecture, it offers a change of pace from Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay. Beaches such as San San are among the most alluring in the country, and this is also a base for exploring some of the major attractions in Jamaica’s eastern region, including rafting on the Rio Grande River.

Kingston & Spanish Town: Located on the southeast coast, Kingston is Jamaica’s capital, largest city, and principal port. It is a cosmopolitan city with approximately 750,000 residents in its metropolitan area and serves as the country’s economic, cultural, and government center. Residents proudly call it the world’s reggae capital, as well. Twenty minutes west of Kingston by car is Spanish Town, a slow-paced village containing the Cathedral of St. James.

Port Royal: once an infamous hideout for pirates and renegades.

The Blue Mountains: A land of soaring peaks and deep valleys with luxuriant vegetation, the Blue Mountain range rises to the north of Kingston. Mountain roads wind and dip, and are in bad repair. Tours from Kingston are a safer bet. You can book tours throughout this region of coffee plantations and rum factories. Maintained by the government, the prime part of the mountain range is the 192-acre Blue Mountain-John Crow Mountain National Park.

 

 

 

Attractions

 

Appleton Express
Book with your hotel tour desk or 876-952-3692
Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday through Thursday
Admission charged

The Appleton Express is an air-conditioned bus that travels from Mo Bay to the Appleton Rum Distillery on the south side of the island. (If you traveled to Jamaica a decade ago, you may remember that the Appleton Express was formerly a train that took day-trippers across the island.

There is a tour of the distillery, and every visitor gets a complimentary bottle; children get soft drinks. The tour also makes a stop at Ipswich Caves.

 

Plantations & Great Houses

 

Barnett Estate
Granville Main Road
876-952-2382, fax 876-952-6342
Open daily
Admission charged

“Barnett” and “Jarrett” are names well known on the island. Still among Jamaica’s most powerful families, the Barnetts and Jarretts were plantation owners and have owned land for many generations. Today, a visit to the Barnett Estate offers a look back at the past to the days when this land grew everything from sugarcane to coconuts. You can take a one-hour horseback tour of the estate or a guided tour by a costumed docent. This plantation tour is one of the island’s best.

 

 

Belfield Great House
876-952-1709
Hours: daily, 10-5
Admission charged

This restored historic house is open to visitors, with guided tours available before or after dinner. Located on the 3,000-acre Barnett Estate near Montego Bay, the site is also home to the Belfield 1797 restaurant, operated by Elegant Resorts International.

 

Belvedere Estate
Chester Castle
876-956-7310 in Montego Bay
876-957-4171 in Negril
Hours: 10-4, Monday-Saturday
Admission charged

Look back at the plantation days with this heritage tour. Belvedere was one of the first estates to be burned during the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, so today most of the sites on the plantation are ruins or reconstructed. The uprising brought about the end of slavery in 1838.

Tours include a look at the ruins of the great house, dating back to the early 1800s, the ruins of a sugar factory, a horse-drawn sugar mill and herb garden. Belvedere is staffed by many craftspeople in period costume. Visitors can watch a blacksmith at work, see a bakery using a clay oven, talk with an herbalist in a wattle and daub house and see a canoe-maker carving the trunk of a cottonwood tree. Also on site is the Trash House Restaurant and Bar (where the sugarcane trash was once stored). Lunch is served daily and visitors can picnic on the grounds.

 

Inaccessible Cinammon Hill

Cinammon Hill on the North Coast Highway is presently the home of country singer Johnny Cash, who spends quite a bit of time on the island and has done charitable work in Jamaica. Cinammon Hill, located near Greenwood Great House, was the birthplace of Edward Moulton Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s father.

Croydon In The Mountains
Located 20 miles into the interior near the town of Catadupa
in St. James (take B6 out of town)
Hours: 8:30-5:30 daily; tours from 10:30-3:30
876-979-8267
Admission charged

This 132-acre working pineapple and coffee plantation offers half-day estate tours. The property was the birthplace of Samuel Sharpe, a national hero on this island. Sharpe led a slave rebellion in 1831 that helped bring about the abolition of slavery. You can learn about the preparation of coffee, honey, pineapples and more.

 

Greenwood Great House
North Coast Hwy., 15 miles east of Montego Bay
876-953-1077
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

This was once the home of the Barrett family (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Tours include a look at the finery enjoyed by the plantation families. Like Rose Hall (below), Greenwood is a reminder of the turbulent period in Jamaica’s history when wealthy plantation owners lived in luxury thanks to the profits of the slave labor used to power sugar plantations.

 

Rose Hall
North Coast Highway
876-953-2323
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

Rose Hall is the best-known great house in the country and is an easy afternoon visit from Montego Bay. This was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch. Guided tours take you to the ballroom, dining room, and Annie’s bedroom and grave. The gift shop displays photographs of what many believe are ghostly apparitions in the bedrooms of Rose Hall.

 

The White Witch

As the story goes, Annie was born in 1802 in England to an English mother and Irish father. At the age of 10, her family moved to Haiti, and soon her parents died of yellow fever. Annie was adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess and became skilled in the practice of voodoo. Annie moved to Jamaica, married, and built Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with over 2,000 slaves. According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and her slave lovers. To learn more about the tales of Rose Hall, read the novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, which you’ll find in gift shops around the island.

 

 

Bob Marley Experience
Half Moon Shopping Village
North Coast Highway
Hours: 10-6 daily
Free

This new attraction features a 68-seat theater where you can watch a documentary on the life and works of reggae great Bob Marley. The film runs several times daily. The largest part of the attraction is a huge shop filled with Marley memorabilia – CDs, books, T-shirts. The shop claims to have the largest collection of Marley gifts in the Caribbean.

 

Golf

 

Montego Bay has the best collection of golf courses in Jamaica; most take full advantage of the city’s location, offering gorgeous views of the sea and hills. Fees include golf cart and clubs. Caddies are mandatory and will cost an additional fee

montego bay jamaica golf vacation

D – Family Fun Attractions

Montego Bay Marine Park
(876)952-5619
Jamaica’s first national park, protects the beautiful reef fish, corals, turtles and other marine creatures and their spectacular “underwater rainforest” habitats of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves.

Sailing Trips
White Sands P.O.
Montego Bay
(876) 940-4465
Go sailing with Calico pirate style on the blue waters of Mo-Bay, aboard an old wooden sailing ship. A Day trip includes snorkeling, lunch and drinks. Sunset Cruises are also available.

Croydon in the Mountains
25 miles from Montego Bay
(876) 979-8267
This working plantation offers to visitors a wealth of knowledge and history about Jamaican life in the rural areas. There are interesting insights in coffee cultivation and processing. Samples of exotic fresh fruit, fruit juices and fruit drinks are available. Unusual fruits like: Carambola, Oneca, Otahiti apples and Passion fruit are available during season.

AguaSol Theme Park
is a one of a kind beach park located at the Walter Fletcher Beach on Montego Bay’s “Hip Strip”. AguaSol features a large white sand beach, MoBay 500, a new go-cart racing course, Kiddies snack bar, Voyage Sports Bar and Grill, 42 large screen satellite television sets, Coordinated beach activities, Games, Table tennis, Water sports, a gift shop, and a discotheque at night.

Barnett Estates
Granville Main Rd
876-952-2382
The Barnett Estates showcases a captivating tour that is led by guides in period costume. The guides are unique in that they recite period poetry and sing period songs. The Estate is still active and grows coconut, mango, and sugarcane on most of its 3,000 acres. Samples are offered to those who join the optional plantation tour by horseback.

Maroon Village Tour
32 Church Street, Montego Bay – Jamaica
876- 979-0308
All day excursions are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to Cockpit Country, the mountain home of the Maroons, runaway slaves who defeated the British to gain their independence. This tour provides a fascinating historical, educational and cultural journey! Buffet lunch and beverages are served.

Doctor’s Cave Beach Bathing Club
White Sands Beach P.O.
Montego Bay – Jamaica
876-952-2566
The most well-known and famous beach in Montego Bay is the Doctor’s Cave Beach Bathing Club. Visitors can enjoy the brilliant waters and smooth beaches.

James Bond Beach
(876) 975-3663
This beach was named after the James Bond movie” Dr No”. It is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Ian Fleming, the author of the 007 legend, is said to have come here regularly for a swim. The beach also features many restaurants and bars. Glass bottom boats, kayaks, wave runners and snorkeling facilities can also be found here.

MoBay UnderSea Tours
Casa Blanca Hotel, Gloucester Ave
(876) 940-2493
Explore Montego Bay’s marine sanctuary aboard the most advanced vessel of its kind. Panoramic underwater view of the marine environment, colorful coral reefs, exotic tropical fish and other sea life. Air-conditioned cabin holds 53 passengers, live and educational narration by marine experts.

Rocky Point Riding Stables
Montego Bay – Jamaica
876- 953-2286
At Rocky Point Riding Stables visitors can enjoy a variety of equestrian activities, from riding lessons to adventurous trail rides.

Rose Hall Beach Club
(876) 953-3506
White sand, picnic areas, hammocks, bars, dining pavilion, kitchens, gift shop, a stage, showers, changing rooms and other amenities, CPR trained Lifeguards and staff. A place one dreams of. Relax, swim, sail, water-ski, jet-ski, many watersports equipment and beach games. Frozen tropical delights, sumptuous food and all-inclusive picnics!

E – Events & Entertainments

Annual Events

 

January

Accompong Maroon Festival, St. Elizabeth. Annual celebration of Maroons of Western Jamaica, with traditional singing and dancing, feasts, ceremonies, blowing of the abeng (cow’s horn), playing of Maroon drums. 876/952-4546. January 6.

 

Jamaica Sprint Triathlon, Negril. Hundreds participate in a three-part competition joining swimming, cycling, and running in one sweat-inducing endurance test. Contact the Jamaica Tourist Board. Late January.

 

February

Tribute to Bob Marley-Symposium in Music, Ocho Rios. Seminars for students of music.  876/926-5726. First week in February.

 

Bob Marley Birthday Bash, Montego Bay. An annual concert that celebrates a local star.  876/978-2991. February 6.

 

Reggae Summerfest, Ocho Rios. Annual reggae bash, featuring top reggae stars. Call  876/960-1904 for dates.

 

March

Montego Bay Yacht Club’s Easter Regatta. Annual sailing event of several races staged along the North Coast over a 6-day period around Easter. ( 876/979-8038). (March or April)

 

April

Carnival in Jamaica, Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay. Weeklong series of fetes, concerts, and street parades. Contact local tourist offices. First week of April.

 

June

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. International performers play alongside Jamaican jazz artists; other events include barbecues.  888/637-8111 or 876/927-3544 (www.ochoriosjazz.com). Second week in June.

 

National Dance Theatre Company’s Season of Dance, Kingston. Traditional and modern dance, as well as notable singers.  876/926-6129. June through August.

 

August

Reggae Sunfest, Catherine Hall, Montego Bay. Annual 5-day music festival.  876/952-0889 (www.reggaesumfest.com). First week of August.

September

 

September

Falmouth Blue Marlin Tournament, Montego Bay. Very popular locally.  876/954-5934. Late September.

 

October

Port Antonio International Fishing Tournament. One of the oldest and most prestigious sport fishing events in the Caribbean, with participants from Europe and North America.  876/927-0145. Mid-October

 

November

Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, Montego Bay. Series of concerts at Rose Hall Great House.  876/952-4425. Third week of November.

 

December

Motor Sports Championship Series, Dover Raceway, St. Ann. Prestigious championship event.  876/960-3860. Early December.

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