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Custom Excursion for Jamaica's Port of Montego Bay
Posted On 11/10/2018 17:13:23
Trip Date 01/01/2014
Destinations | Cruise | Jamaica | Port of Montego Bay | Custom Shore Excursion in Montego Bay | Richmond Hill Inn | Grace Hotel | Doctor's Cave Beach
While aboard the Norwegian Jewel on a 7 night New Year's Western Caribbean cruise, we made our first ever visit to Montego Bay, Jamaica. We hired a private driver to take us on a tour of the highlights of Montego Bay. After enjoying some time at the beach, our driver returned us back to the port ensuring that we wouldn't miss our all aboard time.
If you'll be cruising the Caribbean and have a scheduled port day in Montego Bay, this post is just for you. Read on for an overview of a one day excursion including several fantastic hilltop views of the city and ending with some time to relax at Doctor's Cave Beach, very near the cruise port.
The Port of Montego Bay
The Port of Montego Bay is a popular port of call for cruise ships. There are many things to do including climbing Dunn's River Falls, touring the Rose Hall Great House, snorkeling, river rafting or our choice of a private tour. We wanted to plan a day that was independent from the cruise ship to avoid the crowds and have a more personal tour. We also wanted the day to be relatively inexpensive, and we knew that we could save some money by booking an independent tour. Finally, we wanted to have a driver to escort us so that we could see the sites and remain safe during our visit. Fortunately, our tour met all of our goals.
The Private Driver
After reading some very positive recommendations, we contacted Paradise Palms Jamaica Tours. We arranged to have a private driver take us on a customized tour which included several hilltops for photos, the Richmond Hill Inn and Doctor's Cave Beach. The sites were all enjoyable and the cost of the tour through Paradise Palms was inexpensive.
The only issue that we had was knowing where to meet our driver. We assumed that when we arrived at the port and exited the ship, we would be able to find our driver waiting for us. However, we waited for what seemed to us to be a long time during which we were misdirected by several other guides trying to match up people with their tours. As with most ports, there are lots of people exiting the ship once it is docked, and there is often a lot of confusion.
We finally figured out that the issue is that the tour companies contract out with drivers, but the drivers apparently don't know exactly where to pick-up their passengers. While there is a secure port area, it is intended solely for cruise ship planned tours. When you leave the port building after exiting the ship, there are workers there to help you find your tour driver, however the independent tour drivers are not allowed to come inside the port area. With them waiting outside, it can be problematic to find them. When you call the company through which you arranged your tour, it can take a while for them to figure out where your assigned driver is waiting. It took us more than an hour including several calls to our tour company (luckily one of our cell phones worked) to get some reliable information on how to find the driver.
Once we got past this hurdle, we had an excellent day, so don't let the confusion stop your plans for a private excursion. Take a look at these suggestions to ensure that meeting your independent tour guide is as painless as possible. Before leaving home, make sure that your driver knows:
Which port you will be docked at - Montego Bay and Falmouth are only about 20 miles apart and drivers regularly operate tours from both ports.
Know exactly where to meet your driver. The meeting areas include
by the port building inside the secure area; or
at the private tour waiting area directly across the driveway inside the secure area; or
in the turnaround area just outside of the secure port area.
Try to get your driver's direct phone number before leaving home so that you can avoid having to call the tour company office. It's much easier to speak directly to him or her without having the tour company act as a go-between with your driver.
In our case, all of the port guides said our driver would be inside the secure area, however he was not. He was waiting outside of the secure port area and was not attempting to go inside the secure area.
Hill Top Views of Montego Bay
Our day trip took us to several hill top views offering beautiful picturesque views of the bay. The water is wonderfully blue and the views truly show off the beauty of the island.
View atop Montego Bay
The Richmond Hill Inn
The Richmond Hill Inn, also referred to as Hotel Grace, is a historic house on top of a hill overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The house was originally built and owned by the Dewars family, well known as a large whisky producer. The house includes a plantation and a museum with artifacts and heirlooms from the colonial and whisky producing days on the island. Offering wonderful views from the pool patio, the Richmond Hill Inn also operates as a hotel and ideal site for weddings and special functions.
Patio of Richmond Hill Inn
Wordy Explorers over Montego Bay
We enjoyed the nice breezes flowing through the building and perusing the museum contents and other rooms containing historical furnishings from the plantation days.
Richmond Hill Great Room
Doctor's Cave Beach
After leaving the inn, we made our way to Doctor's Cave Beach and Bathing Club, a secure beach area with an entrance fee. Because of the $6.00 per person per day fee, the beach is very nice and the street salespeople are unable to pester you while you are relaxing at the beach. As the fee was included in our tour cost, the driver communicated with the entrance personnel and paid our entrance fee. He then waited for us and when we exited the beach club at the end of the day, he was ready to escort us back to his car to help prevent other salespeople from approaching us.
Doctor's Cave Beach and Bathing Club has white sands with clear calm waters that some people believe are fed by mineral springs. In the 1920's, after swimming at Doctor's Cave Beach, a famous British osteopath noticed that the water had curative powers. His claim help shaped the future of Montego Bay as visitors were enticed from around the world to make a visit to swim in the water. Hotels sprung up along the beach and the area then became a tourist attraction.
Doctor's Cave Beach
Located at 92 Gloucester Avenue, the beach today is as popular as ever. It is often crowded with cruise ship passengers due to its proximity to the port and is also popular for snorkeling. During our visit, the beach was clean and the sand and water were terrific. There were restrooms and several restaurants with live music on the beach. There were also some shady spots near the building on the far left side of the beach (when facing the water).
Montego Bay Tourist Sights
We had the option of making a stop at Margaritaville as well as a stop for shopping but we requested to skip both. Touring with Paradise Palms Jamaica Tours, there are also a variety of other tour packages available. All in all, we enjoyed a great day soaking in the views of the city and sea as well as relaxing at the beach. If you are headed to Montego Bay, and want to avoid the cruise ship shore excursion offerings, check out Paradise Palms Jamaica Tours to inquire about customizing a day most enjoyable for your taste!
Created On 10/20/2018 23:15:35
Updated On 02/09/2019 14:07:50
Scheduled On 11/06/2018 17:13:23
Posted On 11/10/2018 17:13:23
Last Editor Stacy
Location Montego Bay Cruise Port