Insider Guide to Montego Bay's 'Hip Strip'
Gloucester Avenue, more popularly known as the ‘Hip Strip’, is the pulsating epicentre of Jamaica’s tourism capital, Montego Bay, that is mere minutes from the Donald Sangster International Airport extending along the stretch of road just above the hotel all the way to the Aquasol Theme Park. With constant music and activity daily from daytime until well past nightfall, this is where the town’s most popular shops, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and beach hangouts come alive with fun-seeking travelers.
Here’s a quick run-down of the nine (9) experiences on the ‘Hip Strip’ we think deserve your time and attention:
1. Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records is literally right outside the hotel’s entrance offers a fusion of old-school quintessential Reggae culture with a contemporary casual dining and sports bar experience. Fresh, local ingredients combined in dynamic menu items will certainly leave you wanting more and their drink menu featuring delicious and exciting cocktails is sure to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
2. Starbucks Cafe is also right outside our entrance and offers customers an inviting destination to relax, unwind and connect in one of the area’s most iconic neighbourhoods. Customers can enjoy a wide range of Starbucks beverages and food, also featuring Starbucks Reserve® Jamaica Blue Mountain whole bean coffee, a long-time favorite with Starbucks customers in the U.S. and Canada.
3. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, features a double-decker bar with giant water trampolines and a 120-foot (37-meter) water-slide that plunges into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. From island-inspired bites on the famed sunset patio to dancehall and reggae beats under the moonlight at the seaside nightclub, you won't want to miss this spot on the ‘Strip’.
4. Blue Beat Jazz Lounge is the Strip’s premier martini and jazz lounge which adds a sophisticated dimension to the city’s nightlife. Along with music to keep jazz lovers happy, Blue Beat serves up Asian-Caribbean fusion cuisine and the best martinis in town. Weekly activities include live jazz and themed nights that feature Latin music and techno music while offering patrons a romantic view of the sea.
5. Doctor’s Cave Beach, which strikes a stunning backdrop featuring spectacular ocean views from the hotel, is a lot more than just a great beach and is located in the middle of the ‘Hip Strip’, mere steps away from our poolside. It was here that the curative nature of the waters was often recommended for those who needed that bit of tropical sun, sea and sand, and although many other beaches have some of the qualities of Doctor's Cave, none have all of them.
6. Coral Cliff is a world-class gaming and entertainment venue that features action-packed slots and table games in a one of a kind adventure-themed gaming lounge. New twists on classic Jamaican recipes and tried-and-true favourites can be found at Coral Cliff's Bubble & Spice restaurant or you can enjoy an expertly made cocktail at one of the hottest bars in Jamaica.
7. The Pelican Grill is Montego Bay’s ‘go-to’ place for home-style cooked Jamaican meals which is family owned and operated, serving only the freshest, truly authentic dishes to patrons for almost 50 years. The restaurant is centrally located on the ‘Hip-Strip’ with a view overlooking the park & the sea. It is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner, offering a comfortable, family friendly, atmosphere that makes it perfect for family dining and special celebrations.
8. Aquasol Theme Park offers family-friendly water or land-based activities including pristine snorkeling, banana boat rides, jet-skiing, kayaking, and glass-bottom boat trips, go-karts, tennis, and volleyball. It is a large amusement park on the ocean featuring a white-sand beach, go-kart racing track and two full-size tennis courts, which are shaded by large trees. At night, Aquasol hosts live music with local and national reggae and pop acts.
9. Shopping on the ‘Hip Strip’ is such a popular activity that most daytime sightseeing tours offered by hotels, include a stop off along the strip. You'll find everything from the ubiquitous ‘Red Stripe beer’, ‘We Be Jammin’ and ‘Life's A Beach’ t-shirts, eclectic local crafts of wood and seashell to a wealth of fine-jewelry merchants and duty-free items are also available with fair prices and helpful attentive store owners whose no-hassle attitude is a welcome pleasure.
The combination of friendly locals, fun-seeking tourists, thumping reggae music, free-flowing rum drinks and Red Stripe, along with great shopping deals, whether it be from high-end duty-free boutiques or souvenir trinket stalls, all make for exciting, safe, fun-filled experiences just mere steps away from our hotel. It’s a lively area, so it might not be suitable for those looking for a mellow, off-the-beaten-track experience or for small children. Check with our front desk should you have any queries regarding any of the recommendations on this list and enjoy the ‘Strip’!