This post was most recently updated on February 18th, 2016

 Getting to Know the Real Jamaica. Photo Credit: winryder

Jamaica’s northwest coast features one of the Caribbean’s top destinations—Montego Bay. It’s the second largest city on the island, and is known just as much for its cruise ship ports as its breathtaking beaches and picturesque mountains.  With cheap tickets to Jamaica, there’s no better time to take advantage of Montego Bay’s luxurious resorts, which offer every amenity imaginable. And if you’re looking to explore the region a bit more and experience Jamaica in a different way, here are a few of our favorite tips.

Start Your Day with Coffee

Croydon in the Mountains Plantation guided tours takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Montego Bay hotels providing roundtrip transportation to this unique farm. The farm is about an hour and a half bus ride from Montego Bay, and is a popular choice among both cruise ship and resort guests. Still a working plantation, Croydon sits at the foothills of the serene Catadupa Mountains, and is filled with waterfalls, wild flowers, and rolling coffee groves and gardens. In addition to coffee, the plantation grows sugarcane, and tropical fruits including citrus fruits and pineapple.  Savor what a fresh, juicy pineapple really tastes like before it is shipped hundreds of miles to a grocery store in the United States. The tour includes a lunch inspired by the local harvest.

A Taste of Jamaica’s History

At the cobblestone heart of downtown Montego Bay is Sam Sharpe Square, named after the country’s heroic leader who challenged colonial slavery. Born in the parish of St. James in Montego Bay in 1801, Sharpe was a slave during his brief life of 31 years, yet he was an educated preacher and traveled Jamaica teaching slaves about Christianity and freedom. He led the Christmas Rebellions of 1831 in which he encouraged slaves to not work on Christmas Day. Statues built in his honor line the square that mixes historic Georgian architecture with modern facilities. Soak up sun and history while strolling through Sam Sharpe Square, where you will also find vendors selling a wide range of items, from wood-carved figurines to hand-woven straw baskets. Nearby is Old Fort Craft Park in downtown Montego Bay, which has 180 vendors licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board with many locally-made crafts. Come prepared to bargain!

Back in the Saddle

Jamaica’s beaches make horseback riding a fantastic way to enjoy the island’s magnificent landscape. The Half Moon Equestrian Center in Montego Bay provides one of the top equestrian experiences around, with lessons, guided one-hour, twenty-minute rides along the beach, and pony rides for children ages six and under. The beach rides are for people aged eight and older, and swimsuits need to be worn under your clothes because the horses do like to splash in the waves.

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How about you travelers? Any favorite Montego Bay tips? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Photo Credit: winryder

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