Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise
If you are visiting Jamaica on a Royal Caribbean cruise like we did recently on Oasis of the Seas, then your cruise ship will probably be docking in Falmouth, Jamaica. Located on the northern coast of the island, the historic Falmouth cruise port opened in 2011. Falmouth is located in close proximity to both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, requiring only a 30 minute or 45 minute drive respectively. Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are also popular cruise port destinations for many cruise lines offering more exciting options for shore excursions. If you are visiting any of these ports on your next cruise, you will want to take a look at our comprehensive guide on the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Falmouth Cruise Port
Visit Mystic Mountain
Mystic Mountain, located in Ocho Rios, offers many thrilling adventures in the heart of the Jamaican rainforest. Hop onboard the signature bobsled attraction to reenact a scene from Cool Runnings as you soar down the mountainside in your very own bobsled just like the famous Olympic team. Mystic Mountain also offers a canopy zipline tour where you can glide through the rainforest while admiring the aerial vistas. If you want to soar above the treetops without the thrill of the ziplines, Mystic Mountain also offers an aerial Sky Explorer tram providing similar panoramic views of the rainforest and nearby Dunn’s River Falls.
Also available with any of these attractions are access to the Lookout Tower, waterslide, infinity pool, butterfly garden, hummingbird garden, and nature trail. The Tranopy tour is all-inclusive providing access to the sky explorer tram, ziplines, and bobsled. Combo tours also exist with a visit to Dunn’s River Falls. We experienced a combo tour with the Sky Explorer, bobsled, and Dunn’s River Falls during our visit to Jamaica in 2013.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Mystic Mountain
Experience the Falls
Dunn’s River Falls is often described as a one of a kind attraction and voted the best shore excursion in Ocho Rios. It provides an exhilarating climb up a series of waterfalls ascending over 600 feet. As a group, you are led up the falls with an experienced guide in a human chain over the rocky terrain. With natural stone steps and some additional man-made accommodations for safety, you will feel the rush of the cool water as you make your way to the top, making a few stops along the way to pose under the waterfalls and dip into the natural pools. Some physical strength is required to make the climb to the top, and water sneakers are recommended as the climb can get a bit slippery. Dunn’s River Falls can be coupled with a variety of other activities for a fun-filled day in Jamaica.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise- Dunn’s River Falls
Blue Hole and Secret Falls, located in the hills of Ocho Rios, provides a similar experience but not as commercialized. Though less climbing, it still offers an action packed day. With its signature “blue hole” for swimming, diving, cliff jumping, and a tarzan swing, a 20 foot cascading waterfall, and secluded caves, your time spent at Blue Hole can be as adventurous or relaxing as you’d like. This attraction can also be combined with other activities on the White River including river tubing/rafting.
Take a Bob Marley Tour
For a true Bob Marley experience, take the 1.5 hour scenic drive from Ocho Rios to the mountain village Nine Miles, the birthplace of Bob Marley. Here, you can tour the very home in which the “King of Reggae” lived as a child and see his final resting place, while hearing stories of his life from your Rastafarian guide. You’ll even have a chance to stand on Mt. Zion Rock. The word on the street is that you should have an open mind if booking this tour!
You can also choose to visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, which is closer to a 2 hour drive from Ocho Rios. The Museum is located in the reggae legend’s former home and is filled with mementos from the musician’s life. The tour offers a 75 minute guided walk through the grounds including the Main House, Exhibition Hall, Theater, Gift Shop, and One Love Café. The Museum is open 9:30 am to 4pm, and tickets are currently priced at $25. If you are a Bob Marley fan, this should make your list of the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise. For fans of reggae, it just might be worth the trek.
Taste the Local Flavor
No trip to Jamaica would be complete without tasting the local flavor. That is why it makes our list of the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise. You would be missing out if you didn’t experience the Jamaican jerk chicken. With a spicy rub not intended for the delicate palette, your smoky jerk chicken will pair nicely with rice and beans and a Red Stripe beer. Scotchies, a casual eatery with locations in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Kingston, is often rated as one of the best restaurants in Jamaica, so why not stop in for a meal? Another popular local snack are the patties. Juici Patties and Tastee Patties both claim to serve the best flaky meat filled pastries, so you be the judge! Ackee and Salt Fish is another Jamaican favorite. The ackee fruit when boiled resembles scrambled eggs and is often paired with salted cod and vegetables for a tasty authentic dish. If none of these dishes peak your interest, you can still experience some local flavor by trying a cup of Blue Mountain coffee or some Appleton Estate Rum.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Taste the Local Flavor
Go Rafting on the Martha Brae
Located near the Falmouth cruise port is a unique rafting adventure. This 60 minute authentic Jamaican experience is perfect for families of all ages and couples looking for a relaxing exploration. Sit back and enjoy the ride on this 30 foot bamboo raft as you float down a 3 mile stretch of the Martha Brae River. You will take in the beautiful sights, learn about the legend of Martha Brae, and even take a quick dip in the water if you choose. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the natural landscapes and wildlife surrounding you. The rafts are pretty stable, so this excursion is perfect even for those who can’t swim, like myself! Included in the trip is also a visit to Miss Martha’s Herb Garden, a complimentary punch, and time to explore the Rafter’s Village for a handcrafted souvenir of the trip- perhaps a model-sized bamboo raft.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Rafting on the Martha Brae
Explore the Green Grotto Caves
The Green Grotto Caves located in Ocho Rios are now one of Jamaica’s most popular natural attractions but have served multiple purposes over the years, including a hideout for slaves and a storeroom for rum barrels during WWII. Exploring the unique limestone formations, stalagtites, and stalagmites of the Green Grotto Caves is certainly one of the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise. This approximately 1 hour guided tour will take you through the underground passageways to the innermost cavern and grotto where you can admire the translucent waters. The great thing about this excursion is that it can be coupled with other experiences to make the most out of your visit to Jamaica.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Green Grotto Caves
Tour the Rose Hall Plantation
The greatest of Jamaican Great Houses is Rose Hall in Montego Bay, situated on a 6,600 acre plantation. A visit to this plantation certainly makes our list of the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise for the “White Witch of Rose Hall” legend alone. It is said that the mistress of the plantation, Annee, “did away” with countless husbands and lovers with her black magic and witchcraft. Many claim to see her ghost still roaming the property. In fact, the home was even featured on the television show Ghost Hunters International. Guided tours are available of the home during the day or night if you dare.
Also, situated on the plantation is the White Witch and Cinnamon Hill golf courses for those who want to tee off while on vacation, the Hilton all-inclusive resort where day passes are available for full use of amenities, and much more.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Rose Hall
Take a City Tour
If you are a history buff then you will love the Historic Walking Tour of Falmouth. You can take a guided tour or pick up a map and complete the route on your own. Experience the history, culture, and architecture of Falmouth while visiting notable sites along the path including the Falmouth Courthouse, Baptist Manse, the Moulton Barrett House, Water Square, the William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, and more. Falmouth history and food tours are also available, as well as trolley tours for those who are not up to walking in the Caribbean heat.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise- Historic Falmouth Tours
With a Best of Ocho Rios Tour, you can get a glimpse of what the city has to offer in a short amount of time. You will visit sites like the Prospect Plantation to take a tractor drawn jitney and experience a working plantation, Dolphin Cove where there are various dolphin, shark, and stingray shows and experiences, a drive through Fern Gully known for its biodiversity, Shaw Park Lookout and Gardens for amazing photo-ops, and more.
Visit Good Hope Estate
The Good Hope Estate located in Falmouth also warrants a visit while in Jamaica. This estate that once belonged to John Tharpe, the largest land and slave owner in Jamaica, was a former sugar plantation but is still one of the most elegant structures in town. These estate grounds offer panoramic vistas of the Queen of Spain Valley, the Cockpit Mountains, and the Martha Brae River. Today, the estate is still a working citrus farm and a nature adventure park offering historical, cultural, and adventurous tours. You can tour the Great House, enjoy the 2,000+ acres of nature, partake in an Appleton rum tasting experience, test your thrill for adventure with dune buggies, ATVs, ziplines, and river tubing, or simply relax by the Great House pool. Some activities also include lunch and/or high tea. Whatever you chose to do while visiting the Good Hope Estate, you are sure to see why it makes our list of the best things to do in Jamaica on a cruise.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Good Hope Estate
Spend the Day at One of the Many Beaches
Jamaica, like most Caribbean islands, offers many beach options, so we have tried to compile a list of the most popular beaches for cruisers. Of course, everyone has their own beach standards, so be sure to do your research when picking from this short list. Also, if you have a favorite beach in Jamaica that is not listed, let us know in the Comments section!
Burwood Beach and Red Stripe Beach are the closest options from the Falmouth cruise port. Burwood Beach is one of two public beaches in the area that has recently been updated. Red Stripe Beach is a private beach which has shuttle service offered by the cruise lines and amenities available for rental. Margaritaville in Falmouth is another great option. Located close to the pier, you can enjoy free WiFi, the pool with a swim up bar, food, and a huge drink menu. If you are looking for an all-inclusive experience, many recommend getting a day pass to the Royalton White Sands Resort.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Margaritaville in Falmouth
If your cruise ship is docking in Ocho Rios, Reggae Beach now known as the Bamboo Beach Club is the most popular among cruisers. If you are looking for an all-inclusive option try the highly rated Jewel Runaway Bay all-inclusive day pass. This resort is only 20 minutes away from the Ocho Rios cruise port and has a new waterpark.
If you want to venture to Montego Bay, Doctor’s Cave, located on the “Hip Strip”, is one of the most visited beaches in Jamaica. For an admission price of only $6 a person, you can enjoy a day in paradise. The Hilton Rose Hall is also located in Montego Bay and offers all-inclusive day passes.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise – Doctor’s Cave
If you want to visit the longest and possibly biggest hot spot in Jamaica, you will need to head to Seven Mile Beach in Negril, which is actually quite a hike from Falmouth and even further from Ocho Rios.
Have you done any of the activities listed in our best things to do in Jamaica series? What are your favorite things to do while visiting this Caribbean island? Drop us an anchor below to share your thoughts and help fellow cruisers make the most of their visits to Jamaica.