Jamaica has three popular cruise ports including Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Falmouth. If you are visiting Jamaica on a Royal Caribbean cruise, then you will likely dock in Falmouth. However, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are popular cruise destinations for many other cruise lines. If your next cruise is transporting you to this lush island, you will want to take a look at our comprehensive guide of the Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise.
Best Things to Do in Jamaica on a Cruise (2021)
Feel the Need for Speed at Mystic Mountain
Mystic Mountain, located in Ocho Rios, is one of the most popular shore excursions. This Rainforest Adventures location offers many thrilling adventures in the heart of the Jamaican rainforest. The main attractions include the Sky Explorer aerial lift, the famous Bobsled Jamaica attraction, the Ragga Ride, and a canopy zipline.
During your visit to Mystic Mountain, be sure to hop onboard the signature bobsled attraction to reenact a scene from Cool Runnings. Soar down the mountainside in your very own bobsled just like the famous Olympic team.
You can combine the bobsled with the various other attractions depending on your level of thrill-seeking for some amazing panoramic views of the rainforest and nearby Dunn’s River Falls.
Guests can make a day out of it with the Ultimate Mystic Mountain Package. Or perhaps, couple a visit to this popular location with a visit to Dunn’s River Falls itself.
Related Post: Caribbean Cruise Packing Guide
Experience the Falls
Dunn’s River Falls is often 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. 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. You will stop a few times 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 rocks can get a bit slippery.
If you’d prefer, there is also a dry climb alongside the falls.
There is even the new Falls Flyer, a series of 7 ziplines and 4 bridges over the waterfall!
Konoko Falls in Ocho Rios provides another opportunity to climb some falls with less crowds. These falls are also less steep than Dunn’s River Falls so easier to navigate. There is also a botanical garden and aviary on site to explore.
Get Adventurous at Blue Hole
Blue Hole is a natural phenomenon located in the hills of Ocho Rios. Its signature “blue hole” certainly lives up to its name with stunning hues and calm, refreshing waters.
The area is fed by cascades of the Secret Falls and is the perfect spot for swimming and relaxation. If you are feeling adventurous, there is also a section for diving. Channel your inner Tarzan on the rope swing for some one of a kind cliff jumping. Or, you can even explore some underwater caves or hike the small series of waterfalls.
This attraction can also be combined with other activities on the White River including river tubing/rafting.
Go River Tubing
The White River in Ocho Rios is a popular spot for river tubing in Jamaica on a cruise. The journey is usually along a 2-3 mile stretch on the river, including leisurely floating as well as mild rapids. You can sit back and relax in your inner tube while enjoying the scenery.
Rio Bueno is another popular location in Jamaica for river rafting. Here, your guide will navigate you through a series of rapids ranging up to class II rapids.
Rafting on the Martha Brae
Located near the Falmouth cruise port is a unique rafting adventure for those who prefer something a bit more tame. This authentic Jamaican experience is perfect for families of all ages. The rafts are pretty stable, so this excursion is perfect even for those who can’t swim.
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 and learn about the legend of Martha Brae herself along the way. You can even take a quick dip in the water if you choose.
Related Post: Beginner’s Guide to Cruise Planning
Take a Bob Marley Tour
For a true Bob Marley experience, board the Zion Bus for a 1.5 hour scenic drive from Ocho Rios to the mountain village Nine Mile, 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.
You will also hear stories of his life from your Rastafarian guide. 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 it is filled with mementos from the musician’s life.
Taste the Local Flavor
No trip to Jamaica would be complete without tasting the local flavor. 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 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.
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!
If none of these dishes pique your interest, you can still experience some local flavor by trying a cup of Blue Mountain coffee or some Appleton Estate Rum.
Explore the Green Grotto Caves
The Green Grotto Caves located near Ocho Rios are now one of Jamaica’s most popular natural attractions but have served multiple purposes over the years. They were once a hideout for slaves and a storeroom for rum barrels during WWII.
Estimated at over 5 million years old, exploring the unique limestone formations, stalagtites, and stalagmites of the Green Grotto Caves is certainly a fun way to spend your day in Jamaica.
This guided tour will take you through the underground passageways to the innermost cavern and grotto where you can admire the translucent waters and the striking rock formations.
Related Post: How to Book the Perfect Shore Excursions
Tour the Rose Hall Plantation
The greatest of Jamaican Great Houses is Rose Hall in Montego Bay, situated on a 6,600 acre plantation. Tour the house and gardens as you learn about the slaves and its infamous owner, Annee Palmer. 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 the “White Witch of Rose Hall” 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 nearby is the Cinnamon Hill Great House, home of Johnny Cash.
Set Off on a City Highlights Tour
A city highlights tour is a great way to catch a glimpse of many sights in a short amount of time. This is a good shore excursion option for someone who is visiting Jamaica for the first time.
If you are a history buff, then you will love a Falmouth Heritage walking tour. 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 food tours are also available, as well as trolley tours for those who are not up to walking in the Caribbean heat.
On a Best of Ocho Rios tour, you can enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to the town of St. Ann’s Bay to view the Court House of 1866 and Statue of Christopher Columbus. You will also drive through the lush Fern Gully and possibly other sites like Shaw Park Gardens for amazing photo-ops.
Visit Good Hope Estate
The Good Hope Estate located near the Falmouth cruise port also warrants a visit while in Jamaica. This estate once belonged to John Tharpe. It 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, or partake in an Appleton rum tasting experience. Additionally, you can test your thrill for adventure with dune buggies, ATVs, ziplines, and river tubing. Or, simply relax by the Great House pool.
Related Post: Top Reasons to Book a Cruise Early
Purchase an All-Inclusive Day Pass
Purchasing an all-inclusive day pass to a nearby resort is a popular activity when visiting Jamaica on a cruise. Depending at which cruise port your ship is calling, you will have a variety of options.
The Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay offers day passes for full use of amenities. Many cruisets also recommend getting a day pass to the Royalton White Sands Resort which is located very nearby the Falmouth cruise port.
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 option in Ocho Rios, try the highly rated Jewel Paradise Cove all-inclusive day pass. RUI Resorts also offer day passes to locations in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Spend the Day at One of the Many Beaches
Jamaica, like most Caribbean islands, offers many beach options as well. Of course, everyone has their own beach standards. So, be sure to do some research when choosing your beach day. Also, if you have a favorite beach in Jamaica that is not listed, let us know.
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.
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.
Near Ocho Rios, Bamboo Beach (Reggae Beach) is another popular spot for cruisers. The Bamboo Beach Club offers plenty of sand, sun, and a lively atmosphere to enjoy a day ashore in Jamaica. Puerto Seco Beach, Turtle Beach (Ocho Rios Bay Beach), James Bond Beach, and Mahogany Beach are all within driving distance from Ocho Rios as well.
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 any of the cruise ports though.
If you are looking for something a bit different during your visit to Jamaica, you can saddle up for a horseback ride and swim. During your scenic trail ride, you will stroll along the coast exploring historical sites as well as the flora and fauna of the area. Then, take a dip in the Caribbean Sea with your new 4-legged friend.
Horseback riding can often be combined with other popular activities as a shore excursion for a fun-filled day in Jamaica.
Related Post: Top Cruise Destinations
Finally, like most Caribbean ports of call, you can also partake in a dolphin experience during your visit to Jamaica. At Dolphin Cove Ocho Rios, you can interact and swim with these majestic animals in their natural environment. There are a variety of different dolphin excursions available as well as shark encounters.
Included with all Dolphin Cove experiences are the ability to snorkel with stingrays, the Jungle Trail walk, and use of the beach.
The company also operates a Dolphin Cove in Montego Bay and the new Yaaman Adventure Park at the former Prospect Plantation in Ocho Rios.
Have you done any of the activities listed in our best things to do in Jamaica? What are your favorite things to do while visiting this Caribbean island? Drop us an anchor below to share your excursion reviews.