MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica
Gloucester Avenue, following
the shoreline in Montego Bay, blends the sounds, smells and sights
of Jamaica with a culture all its own. The stretch is known as The
Hip Strip, and the name is well deserved. A melange of shopping
malls, stalls, busy beaches, pubs, cool cafes and hot nightspots
line both sides of the street. Clubs and restaurants are open until
the wee hours. This place has attitude!
On Cornwall Beach, at the Strip’s northern end, visitors can settle
in for a cool drink at the rustic outdoor bar under a sea grape
tree. Conversations come easy here, and clients are bound to make a
few new friends. Right next-door is the Jamaica Tourist Board
office, where the knowledgeable staff will help organize visitors’
Hungry? Tell clients to go local across the street to The Native
Restaurant. Its menu complements the name, offering hearty plates
of stewed oxtail with rice and peas (actually red beans), Jamaica’s
famous jerk chicken or pork, and the national dish: ackee and salt
fish. Move southward to the Strip’s shopping area. Stylish malls on
one side of the road offer name-brand perfumes, designer jewelry
and the like in an organized atmosphere. Trendy shops sell
duty-free watches, leather goods and the latest clothing styles in
tropical prints and flowing chiffons. Quiet galleries exhibit fine
paintings and sculptures, plus Jamaica’s distinctive Wassi
If visitors didn’t “go native” for lunch, they should definitely
drop into The Brewery Pub at Miranda Ridge Plaza. That English look
with Jamaican flavor extends to the menu as well, creating a new
food group Jamaican Pub Grub.
On the beach side of the Strip, all sorts of stalls and tables
display everything from art to bird-feeders and knockoffs of
merchandise seen at the more expensive venues. Tell clients to take
a second look they just might discover a woodcarver with real
Some vendors just hang their wares over their arms and give
visitors a movable shopping experience as they walk along next to
them. And clothing on this side of the street is more than likely
hung on a string from tree to tree. A favorite is the parang,
Jamaica’s answer to the sarong or surround. This very useful item
usually comes with a lesson on wrapping yourself into three or four
Of course, one strip fixture to count on is the hair braider.
The entrepreneurial types provide almost a salon setting with
comfortable chairs in the shade, but generally, customers just sit
on a wall and let braiders have their way. Children love having
their tresses decorated with tons of extender beads.
There are bargains to be had here, but “bargain” is the key
word. Storeless vendors are called higglers in Jamaica, and half
the purchasing fun is haggling with the higgler.
Visitors will have now reached Doctor’s Cave Beach, the spot that
put this city on the map with its pure white sand and clear water
believed to be fed by mineral springs. Doctor’s Cave has been a
fixture on top-ten best beaches lists for years. Breezes Montego
Bay, the SuperClubs all-inclusive hotel, is next door, and the
hotel across the street proudly bears the Doctor’s Cave name.
Beach and water activities abound here. Most unique is the Sea
Trek, run by Chukka Caribbean Adventure Tours, where you can view
the magical mysteries of the deep without even getting your hair
wet. Clients can begin their trek by donning a big space
helmet-type device with a wide viewing window in the front and an
air hose at the back. The latter keeps divers breathing normal as
they walk with a guide along the sea floor, enjoying close
encounters with colorful tropical fish, sea fans, coral and a
variety of underwater life.
Tell clients to save their thirst for the last beachside outpost
on the Strip, Margaritaville. Day or night, this joint is jumping!
Opening time is 11 a.m., when Jimmy Buffet tunes create background
for avid sports fans watching the big screen. Cheeseburger in
Paradise, of course, is the menu item of choice, but pizza is also
a favorite, washed down with a 22-ounce beer bong. As the sun goes
down, partygoers get down to Latin and reggae beats, and American
Idol wannabees give it their all at the karaoke mike.
For a different nightlife experience, visitors can move across
to Coral Cliff Hotel’s Jackpot Jungle, where over 120 slots and
arcade games vie for attention from both kids and adults in a cool
Speaking of cool, clients can meander into the games room and
bar called “Chillin.” Imagine shooting hoops in Jamaica as
snowflakes fall around you and flashing lights keep a musical beat.
Top this off with a drink at the authentic hand-carved ice bar,
complete with ice shot glasses. Thoughtful management provides
patrons with coats and gloves.
Send your clients to the Hip Strip. It’s the place to connect
with Jamaica’s locals and feel the Mo Bay beat.
Jamaica Tourist Board
Chukka Caribbean Adventure Tours