Nightlife is not guaranteed at Montego Bay's top hotels. In winter the restaurants and bars of the Ritz-Carlton or Half Moon have the most diverse amusements. After dark it's sleepy at Round Hill and Tryall.
The following clubs attract mainly a crowd of 20- to 40-somethings.
A highly visible and popular nightspot in Mo Bay is a two-in-one restaurant, Marguerite's Seafood by the Sea and Margaritaville Sports Bar & Grill, Gloucester Avenue (tel. 876/952-4777), across from the Coral Cliff Hotel. It specializes in moderately priced seafood and margaritas served on a breezy terrace overlooking the sea. The sports bar and grill features a 33m (110-ft.) Hydroslide, live music, satellite TV, a sun deck, a CD jukebox, and a straightforward menu of seafood, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, salads, and snacks -- nothing fussy.
Montego Bay's latest hot spot is the Groovy Grouper, at Doctor's Cave Bathing Club along Gloucester Avenue (tel. 876/952-8287; www.groovygrouper.com). It's a private club, but a US$5 daytime admission can gain your entrance. After 5pm, you can just walk right in. The lively bar and restaurant is located right on the sands of what is the best beach along the north coast of Jamaica. You can order some of the best rum punches in Mo Bay, especially the bartender's special, "Groovy Delight." Food includes conch chowder (or fritters), along with freshly made salads and wings. Jerk calamari is a specialty. The big night is Friday, when chefs present a US$20 all-you-can-eat seafood beach buffet.
Where should you go if you're looking to hang out someplace that's a bit earthier and rowdier? Consider a restaurant and nightspot with the most whimsical name of any in Jamaica, the Jamaica Bobsled Café, 69 Gloucester Ave. (tel. 876/940-7009). Prefaced with the bright colors of the Jamaican flag, and an oversized digital clock that counts down the minutes to the next Winter Olympic Games, this is a tongue-in-cheek reminder of one of the most effective public relations and press campaigns in the history of Jamaica: the Jamaican bobsled team. Prominently displayed is the actual bobsled that was used by the Jamaican team in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. Burgers, platters, and salads at this place cost from US$5 to US$22 each. It's open Monday to Thursday 11am to midnight; Friday to Sunday from 7am to 2am.
Cricket Club, at Wyndham Rose Hall (tel. 876/953-2650), is more than just a sports bar; it's where people go to meet and mingle with an international crowd. Televised sports, karaoke sing-alongs, tournament darts, and backgammon are all part of the fun. It's open daily from 8pm to 2am; there's no cover.
The Brewery, Gloucester Avenue (tel. 876/940-2433), is one of the city's most popular nightlife hangouts. It's a cross between an English pub and a Jamaican jerk-pork pit. There's a woodsy-looking bar where everyone is into Red Stripe and reggae, lots of neo-medieval memorabilia, and a covered veranda in back overlooking busy Gloucester Avenue.
When it comes to gambling parlors, Mo Bay is no San Juan, much less Las Vegas. If you must, there's the Coral Cliff Gaming Lounge on Gloucester Avenue (tel. 876/952-4130), open 24 hours so that locals can play for small stakes at its slot machines -- nearly 100 in all. Don't expect large jackpots. On-site is a big-screen TV and bar, drawing a Bud-swilling sports crowd.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.