Jamaica’s Montego Bay may be renowned for its laidback vibes, colourful craft markets and beautiful beaches, but the city is also home to a good selection of historical settlements. Whether you’re a history buff or simply want to learn more about Montego Bay and the wider area, take a look at my top picks for must-visit local landmarks and towns with a rich heritage.
The village of Good Hope was once little more than a sugar estate, established in 1774 in the hills of Trelawny. Now, the site is home to a number of old colonial buildings, as well as a more modern villa complex.Good Hope
You should arrange a guided tour of the plantation to learn more about what life was like for the slaves who worked there, and call in at the old house, which is full of antique furniture. You can also tuck into high tea at the site, and be waited on by staff dressed in period costume, before paying a visit to the studio of master potter David Pinto, which is located in one of the old plantation buildings.
The small, quiet town of Duncans in Trelawny dates back to the 1700s and is home to a clutch of attractive old structures, such as the clock tower. Just south of the town are numerous old plantation houses, while to the west you can explore the ruins of Stewart Castle – a once stately mansion. Although only remnants can now be seen, you can still experience the air of elegance the site retains.
You can then take a stroll along Fisherman’s Beach and watch the age-old fishing trade in action, or stop by the arts and crafts stalls that dot the sand. There are also various food vendors selling freshly-cooked Jamaican snacks here.
Greenwood Great House
Head to Greenwood if you want to travel back in time by more than 200 years, as the settlement is home to a grand old house formerly owned by the family of renowned English poet, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.
The beautifully-preserved building is as breathtaking internally as it is externally; venture inside and you can admire rooms furnished with period items, as well as take a look at the extensive collection of books and musical instruments.
The coastal town of Falmouth is a real must-visit, especially if you enjoy looking at antique architecture. The settlement – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is home to Jamaica’s highest concentration of Georgian buildings, many of which have been painstakingly restored.
Most of the buildings date back to the 1700s when the sugar industry was booming, but the town declined in the next century when the sugar money dried up. Both the large mansions and the small homes from the era are being renovated so visitors can experience the way of life of the different social classes that lived in the area.
The local market is still popular, and if you pay a visit you can browse homewares, food products and haberdashery at bargain prices. Another popular attraction is the Baptist Manse on Market Street, which is made from stone and is thought to have been a Masonic temple in times gone by. Now, the building houses an art gallery on its first floor, while the ground level is a community space.
If you want to visit Jamaica, browse breaks to Montego Bay from The Holiday Place for some inspiration.