Known as the gateway to the Caribbean, Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, can be daunting to first-time visitors, especially during the busy season. As one of the largest and busiest airports in the Caribbean, Sangster International Airport services not only tourists headed to popular destinations on the north coast of the island (including Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril), but it's also a hub for many regional airlines throughout the Caribbean. Named after the former Jamaican Prime Minister Sir Donald Sangster, the airport handles up to nine million passengers per year. Read on for your ultimate guide to navigating Sangster International Airport when you arrive for your next Jamaican vacation, including where to eat, where to park, and how to spend your tropical layover.
Sangster International Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
- Airport Code: MBJ
- Location: Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica
- Website: https://www.mbjairport.com/
- Flight Tracker: https://flightaware.com/live/airport/MKJS
- Departure Information: https://www.mbjairport.com/departures
- Arrival Information: https://www.mbjairport.com/arrivals
- Map: http://www.mbjairport.com/pdfs/TerminalMap-GroundFloor.pdf
- Phone Number: +1 876-952-3124
Know Before You Go
Although there are three international airports on the island of Jamaica, including Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios, Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay is the largest international airport in the Caribbean and the most popular hub for travelers either staying within Jamaica or traveling to another tropical island.
This is the preferred port of entry for travelers going to popular vacation destinations such as Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios. The airport also accommodates private jets with a separate area for those aircrafts, complete with its own immigration and customs processing, to better serve guests who prefer to arrive on the island in high style.
Sangster International Airport Parking
The short-term and long-term parking in Sangster International Airport is easily accessible and within walking distance, across from the passenger terminal. The MBJ Parking location is convenient, but rates can become increasingly expensive if you're planning on keeping your vehicle there for several nights. Hourly parking rates begin at J$150 for the first hour, with an additional J$150 each for the second and third hours. After three hours, you will be charged J$600 for the rest of the 24-hour period. Daily parking rates are J$600 for the first day and every day thereafter.
Located only 4 miles from the center of Montego Bay, and an even closer drive to the nearby beaches, it's a short drive from the airport to your final destination. Visitors in the busy season should build in extra time for potential traffic along the way to the airport. If you're not given a free shuttle with your hotel, and are reluctant to rent a car during your trip, opt for a private transfer service. Jamaica Customized Transportation and Tours offers private van transfers at an inexpensive rate, compared to other offerings.
Public Transportation and Taxis
You can access Sangster International Airport via rental car, taxi, private transfer, or hotel shuttle.
- Taxis: There are two separate taxi companies operating at the airport, and should be available at the Ground Level. If there are any questions, a Service Desk is located at the Arrivals Hall
- Hotel shuttles: Many resorts offer free shuttles. Contact your hotel in advance to see if this is an option and secure a pick-up.
- Car rentals: Located in the Ground Transportation Arrivals Hall (after departing customs). Featured rental companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, Island Car Rental, National, and Thrifty.
Where to Eat and Drink
- On the first-floor, post-security you can find Air Margaritaville, a sit-down restaurant (also great for cocktails, of course).
- Cricket’s Sports Bar is located post-security on the first floor.
- Viva Gourmet Market: Right after security, this is your spot for grab-and-go sandwiches.
- Jamaica Bobsled (Gate 8): This bar celebrates Jamaica's history of sports (Bobsledding is featured).
- For travelers looking for a taste of a chain back home, consider the following: Auntie Anne's (Gates 3, 4, and 13), Dairy Queen (Gates 6 and 7), Starbucks, (Gates 4, 9, and 16).
- The Food Court features typical fast food options including Cinnabon, Domino’s Pizza, Island Deli, Nathan's, Quiznos, Wendy's.
- Groovy Grouper: Located just outside of arrivals, this bar is the perfect spot for a beer while waiting for your transfer.
Where to Shop
- Tortuga Rum Company: Stock up on the island's specialty liquor before heading home.
- Reggae Mart: Bring the spice of the island back home with you.
- Coffee & Spice: In case you're already suffering Blue Mountain Coffee withdrawal
- Native Creations: For purchasing local crafts and leather
- Tuff Gong Traders: A place to buy clothing for the ultimate Bob Marley fan in your life (and if that fan is you: treat yourself)
- Lastly, for Jamaican souvenirs, visit: Casa de Xaymaca, Jamaican Heritage, Jamaican Pirates, Souvenir Xpress, or Sun Island.
The Club Mobay Departure Lounge (alongside Club Kingston Departure Lounge) is hailed as the premier lounge in the Caribbean and is located in Terminal 9. Club Mobay lounge access includes its own gift shops and restrooms. You can purchase a day pass or an annual membership, or just pay at the door to access the following lounges:
- Club Mobay Arrivals Lounge: Ground Transportation Hall
- Club Mobay Arrivals Lounge: International/Arrivals Hall
- Club Mobay Lounge: Mezzanine Level, Gate 12 (international flights only)
- Club Mobay Lounge: International Departures Terminal, Gate 9
The following hotel lounges are located inside the Ground Transportation and Arrivals Hall: Sandals, Half Moon, Couples Resorts, Hyatt Zilara / Ziva. After Customs clearance, you will be greeted by Customer Services Representatives, who will direct you to your hotel lounge.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
There is free Wi-Fi available at the Sangster International Airport via the "Digicel" network.
Sangster International Airport Tips & Facts
- If you're traveling with a large group or extended family, opt for the 'Red Cap' Porter Service to avoid struggling with all your bags.
- The busy season at the airport is during the wintertime, beginning in December through mid-April, once the last of the spring-break travelers have returned home. Early December is still relatively quiet, however, and is the best time to visit during the colder months.
- The Club Mobay VIP Fast Track service includes an expedited immigration and security process for arriving guests (as well as lounge access), and it's worth it in the busy season. Guests visiting from mid-December to early April should consider booking the Fast Track service in advance to make sure your arrival and departure experience will be as smooth as possible.
- The immigration line can be on the longer side, so be sure to fill out your paperwork while still on the flight (and if you have to grab a form at the kiosk upon arrival, complete it while in-line).
- Groovy Grouper: Located just outside of arrivals, this bar is the perfect spot for a beer while waiting for your transfer or airport pick-up.