Jamaica has a lot to offer travelers, from the oceanside scenery to English-oriented island resorts. Jamaican food culture is known for the refined rum, Red Stripe beer, Blue Mountain coffee and jerk dishes. The voyage into the Caribbean is as unique as this Afro-centered destination, bringing warm weather all year round and the occasional school of dolphins.
If you’re planning for things to do in Jamaica while on a cruise, you’ll have to make some choices about the wealth of places you could explore and dine. You will find every setting from seaside coves to clear, blue waterholes and cuisines packed with soulful spices. View the following list for suggestions:
Table of Contents
- Outdoor Recreational Excursions
- City Life in Jamaica
- Historical Jamaican Estates
- Relaxation Excursions
- Book Your Cruise to Jamaica With Windstar
Outdoor Recreational Excursions
If you would enjoy hiking in the mountains, climbing cliffs, swimming through caves and gliding down zip lines, the island of Jamaica has all of that and more. The scenery will make you feel like you’re on the set of a movie as you participate in seaside adventures under the direction of local guides. Below are some of the best recreational excursions you can try:
1. Explore the Waterfalls
Jamaica is known for its beaches and the beautiful, layered waterfalls scattered over its rocky terrain. While there are plenty of falls to visit for brief Jamaica cruise excursions, Dunn’s River Falls is arguably the most popular. This location has a series of waterfalls that run down into a valley. Dunn’s River Falls stands around 180 feet high. The uphill hike along the ledges will take you around wading pools as you get closer to the summit of the falls.
If you plan to land in Port Antonio, you can visit Reach Falls, a nearby swimming hole with a picnic area, and guided tours. The Driver’s River runs into the falls and conceals a cavern called the Rabbit’s Hole, where you can swim under the cover of the rocks.
2. Dive Into the Irie Blue Hole
If you land at the port town of Ocho Rios, the Blue Hole is close by. This area is one of three bodies of water named blue holes in Jamaica, but the Irie Blue Hole is also called the Secret Falls. Go cliff-jumping into water that gets its name for the beautiful reflection of the sky above.
Remember to bring your bathing suit, as many tours of the Blue Hole involve swimming, climbing and jumping. You can stop at Mom’s Homestyle Restaurant or the Ocho Rios Jerk Centre for lunch.
3. Go White Water Rafting
For more excitement in Ocho Rios, hit the White River in a tube or kayak and have some fun on the water. The limestone bedrock acts as a natural filter for the water, it’s clear blue and feels comfortable all year long.
If you would prefer a more leisurely ride through the rapids, the Martha Brae near the Falmouth cruise port is an excellent option too. The Martha Brae is gentler and just as crystal clear.
4. Go Caving
You will find limestone caves and other rock formations over every nook of the island, along the coasts, near rivers and hidden behind waterfalls. Take the deep-veined Green Grotto Caves between Ocho Rios and the Montego Bay, for example. They have a fascinating history of being used as a hiding place for slaves, and in World War II, they served as a storeroom for barrels of rum.
The Green Grotto Caves are a popular excursion today, and tour groups regularly explore these naturally formed limestone caverns, guided by natural light and the lanterns along the cave walls.
5. Go Horseback Riding
Riding a horse over the beach is an unforgettable experience. You can also go on a scenic ride through the horse trails along the coast and explore historical sites from horseback. You can walk your horse through the surf of the Caribbean Sea or stop to take a refreshing dip in the water.
6. Visit Dolphin Cove
Dolphin Cove at Ocho Rios offers supervised tours where you can meet these majestic marine creatures face-to-nose. In addition to swimming with and feeding dolphins and, if you dare, sharks, you can also go snorkeling with stingrays and saltwater fish. While you’re at Dolphin Cove, check out the Jungle Trail walk and view other interesting fauna.
7. Go on the Portland Nature and Eco Tour
For a comprehensive recreational experience in Portland, go on the Nature and Eco Tour. Meals are included, with alcoholic drinks for an additional cost and the tour group will pick you up from your lodging location. This tour is an excellent opportunity to see Portland with fellow travelers. Spend time on the beaches, taking nature walks in the rainforest with your guide and rafting on the river.
8. Go Hiking in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are where Jamaica’s famous coffee brand gets its name. Tour guides take hiking groups up the peaks, where the cool air tastes clean. The tallest peak is about 7,400 feet, giving you a fantastic view of the mainland from the summit.
If you enter Jamaica from Port Antonio, look for a mountain tour offering local pick-up and refreshments. Many visitors travel there from Kingston to go bird watching and sightseeing from the ledges.
City Life in Jamaica
If you would rather stay indoors while you explore the areas surrounding your port, Jamaica has local tour routes for curious visitors and plenty of cozy restaurants and eateries. Review the best things to do while you’re in the city below:
9. Take a Tour on the Zion Bus
The Jamaican musician Bob Marley, popularly known as the “King of Reggae,” was born in a rural village called Nine Mile, and it’s open to tours. You can visit his childhood home up in the mountains on a country bus ride from Ocho Rios to the remote villages in the hills. On the way, listen to Marley’s best hit songs while you partake in the catered rum punch and chicken with rice and peas.
Your guide will fill the time with stories of young Bob’s adventures in St. Ann and his life as a singer-songwriter. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Bob Marley.
10. Try the Jamaican Cuisine
You will find Jamaican food and drinks suited for any palate, but as a visitor, you have the most to sample if you enjoy savory, spicy meats and full-bodied rum. Try a Blue Mountain coffee in the morning with some Johnny cakes made of salt mackerel. In the evening, have some fruity rum punch with jerk chicken, goat curry and roast yams.
Jerk chicken is slathered in a spicy rub and cooked slowly over a grill or open flame. You can find an alternative to the authentic flavor if you prefer less spice. Another popular Jamaican cuisine is called a pattie, and you can find these meat-stuffed pastries at Juici Patties, Tastee Patties or another restaurant. If you visit one of the Scotchies locations, which can be found everywhere from Ocho Rios to Kingston, try the famous beer.
11. Go on a Highlights Tour of Falmouth
Whether your cruise leads you to stay in a Falmouth bed and breakfast or at a resort, the city is a diverse and welcoming place for outsiders to get acquainted with. A tour bus can be one of the best ways for someone new to Jamaica to see the sights. If you prefer walking, try the Falmouth Heritage tour, which explores historical buildings in Falmouth such as the courthouse, Baptist Manse, Moulton Barrett House, Water Square and older churches like William Knibb Memorial Baptist and St. Peter’s Anglican. The food tours are also great, and you can hop on a trolley to stay out of the Caribbean heat.
12. Go on the Ocho Rios Tour
This coastal tour will take you to St. Ann’s Bay, where you can view the statue of Christopher Columbus and the Court House of 1866. On your way, you will pass through the lush Fern Gully and the Shaw Park Gardens.
Historical Jamaican Estates
The island is home to many famous estates where celebrities and local legends once lived. Jamaica’s popularity on cruises of the Caribbean is the result. Below are some of the most sought after locations, so consider visiting for photographs and maybe a few other souvenirs:
13. Take a Tour of the Rose Hall Great House
This mansion sits near Montego Bay on about 6,600 private acres and has an infamous history in Jamaica. As you tour the seemingly innocent gardens and the empty indoor chambers, your guide will teach you the dark history of the cruel mistress who once lived there with the slaves who endured her rule. Annee Palmer was rumored to have been a witch capable of casting black magic. The famed White Witch of Rose Hall is said to wander the plantation house’s hallways to this very day.
14. Take a Tour of the Cinnamon Hill Great House
If Rose Hall is a little too scary, visit the home of Johnny Cash instead, or go from one to the next—since Cinnamon Hill is nearby. The Cinnamon Hill House was built in 1734 by the poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s ancestor. Although ghosts are said to inhabit the centuries-old mansion, it has a quieter history.
15. Take a Tour of the Good Hope Estate
John Tharpe once owned this plantation house near Falmouth. The grounds boast scenic views of the Queen of Spain Valley with the Cockpit Mountains in the background and the Martha Brae River running close by. It’s currently used as a citrus farm. However, the ground is still open to tours.
16. Take a Tour of the Croydon Plantation
The Croydon Plantation in the Catadupa Mountains is used to grow coffee and pineapple trees today. Along with hearty meals, guides offer tour groups samples of the local produce, including star fruit, jack fruit and macadamia nuts. The guides discuss the plantation’s history and how Samuel Sharpe initiated the 1831 Slave Rebellion, making him go down in history as a national hero.
If you’re tired from hiking through the scenic mountains, try going on a leisurely food tour or find a spot to relax while listening to the waves splash against the shore. Below are some ideas for less active excursions:
17. Go to the Beach
Like all islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica has many beaches where visitors can peacefully lounge after a day of active excursions. If you’re looking for ideal things to do for your relaxation, the beach is a stress-easing place to end up. Falmouth is close to Burwood Beach, a public area in Trelawny Parish with white sand, and the private Red Stripe Beach with a shuttle service.
Montego Bay is one of the most popular, along with Doctor’s Cave on the “Hip Strip.” Near Ocho Rios is Bamboo Beach, which is also called Reggae Beach and has a clubhouse. If you’re near Ocho Rios, you can also visit Puerto Seco Beach, Ocho Rios Bay Beach, or “Turtle” Beach, James Bond Beach, and Mahogany Beach.
18. Go on a Blue Mountain Coffee Tour
Head over to Blue Mountain Farms for a leisurely walking tour of the coffee trees and a sample of the richly blended product. On a coffee tour, you will also eat an authentic Jamaican lunch and have the opportunity to try ice cream made with coffee at the Devon House.
19. Go on a Private Tour of Somerset Falls and the Blue Lagoon
If you dock at Port Antonio, find a tour group that will take you on a drive to the botanical garden, where you will find Somerset Falls. The hidden grotto behind the waterfall is a peaceful place to explore, with a pool runs clear as it passes through the limestone. If you would rather avoid getting wet, the front of the waterfall makes a romantic opportunity for photographs that couples often appreciate.
The tour will then take you on a boat ride across the Blue Lagoon, which is named for the purity of the mirror-like waters. As you drift past tropical flowers and trees only found in the rainforest, you will slowly approach the opposite shore.
20. Visit Navy Island
Just a short boat trip from Errol Flynn Marina Beach, Navy Island is an uninhabited area where you will find some fascinating pieces of lost history. Visitors sometimes have private picnics among the dense foliage and secluded beaches. It makes the perfect getaway from the thick crowds around Port Antonio where you can converse privately.
If you would rather get a few snapshots with the island in the background instead of journeying there yourself, it is easily visible from the mainland. You could take pictures with the lush, green island touching either edge of the viewfinder with most cameras.
Book Your Cruise to Jamaica With Windstar
Cruising to Jamaica will give you the chance to relax on an island, leaving your daily routine far behind. Come to sample the authentic Jamaican cuisine and experience a diverse array of cultural influences.
Are you setting off for the Caribbean soon? Browse Windstar’s Caribbean cruises to find your ideal vacation package. Our cruise ships are small enough to prevent overcrowding and can dock in areas that larger cruises are unable to land. We have cruises that stop in Jamaica along with neighboring islands.