Ah Jamaica! As your ship pulls into Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, you can already hear the gentle reggae rhythms lulling you into dreamland, as you imagine yourself swaying back and forth on a beachside hammock. You can smell the freshly roasted Blue Mountain coffee, and see the inviting lush mountain paths that lead you to clear, rushing waterfalls. And you’re here! So make the most of your time while you’re in port with one of these excursions.
Visit the Great Houses
Jamaica’s “great houses” are stunning examples of late 18th-century plantation architecture. One of the finest and most famous on the island is the Rose Hall Great House, which was home to Annie Palmer, the White Witch, whose spirit some say still haunts this lavish house. Another example is the Croydon Plantation, a working plantation nestled in the foothills of the Catadupa Mountains, with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Near Ocho Rios, a visit to the Brimmer Hall Estate includes a tractor-drawn jitney ride, which takes you to see tropical fruit trees and coffee plants. Jamaican buffets are included on all the tours.
Take the Bob Marley Nine-Mile Tour
If you’re a music fan, visit Nine Mile, the birthplace of reggae icon Bob Marley—it’s truly a spiritual place. From Ocho Rios, Nine Mile is a scenic one and one-half hour drive through the Jamaican countryside, winding its way through rural villages to his home, set amid the mountains. Thousands make the journey each year as a pilgrimage to pay their respects. You’ll visit the house where Marley lived as a child, listen to his music, and hear tales of his childhood and musical sojourns. You’ll stop for Jamaican Beef Patties and local Red Stripe beer along the way.
Hit The Beach
If you’re docking in Montego Bay, grab your sunscreen and bathing suit and head to the dazzling white sands of Doctor’s Cave Beach. The warm, placid waters make for an inviting place to swim, snorkel, or party. Stare out at the turquoise Caribbean waters with a bottle of Red Stripe under a beach umbrella or snorkel the clear waters to see colorful variety of marine life. The beach is also part of Montego Bay Marine Park, where you can rent Jet skis and take a glass bottom boat ride. Stay late for one of the island’s most spectacular sunsets. In Ocho Rios, head to Turtle Beach, a stretch of white sand fronting calm, shallow waters, shaded by palm trees. Sun beds, umbrellas, and jet skis await.
Play a Panoramic 9
Just because you’re on a cruise, doesn’t mean you can’t spend the day on the greens with the sparkling Caribbean waters and Blue Mountains as your backdrop. Montego Bay, especially, has some the most spectacular golf courses in the Caribbean. Try Cinnamon Hill, with its challenging seaside and mountain course, or White Witch of Rose Hall Golf Course, set amid the lush greenery in Jamaica’s famous plantation country. If you dock in Ocho Rios, tee off at Sandals Golf & County Club to panoramic views of sea and country. All courses provide club and cart rentals.
Bobsled through a Rainforest
Bobsledding in Jamaica? You bet! The normally cold-weather winter sport is alive and well here. From Montego Bay, your tour will take you into the rainforest to a winding course high up in the Blue Mountains. Once buckled in, you’ll head down a path through a lush landscape of natural springs and exotic flora and fauna. A thrilling and unique ride, for sure.
Give your Palate some Pleasure
Spend a day sampling the Jamaica’s culinary and liquid pleasures. Head to Gloucester Avenue and Kent Road in Montego Bay and try authentic jerk pork or season spare ribs at the food stands; sample slowly, as they’re often zipped up with hot sauce sure. On MoBay’s beachfront strip are some of the islands best restaurants, serving inventive takes on conch, shrimp, and other seafood favorites. Wash it down with a bottle of Red Stripe, the local beer, or a glass of rum punch. If you fancy the latter, take the Appleton Estate Rum Tour, where you can sample some of Jamaica’s finest rum.
Riding horseback Along the Beach
Get off the boat and onto a horse for a trek across the Jamaican countryside, including riding along a secluded beach. The Heritage Beach Horse Ride takes you through lush forests where Taino Indians lived, past castles and sugar factories, and through a natural wetland shaded by almond and coconut trees. Upon arrival at the beach, you’ll strip down to your bathing suits and gallop down the beach. You’ll even have time for sunning, swimming, and refreshments before heading back to Ocho Rios.
Shopping Montego Bay for Jamaican Crafts
Jamaica is a duty-free shopper’s paradise. You can find loads of deals on Swiss watches, Italian handbags, Indian silks, alabaster wood carvings, Blue Mountain coffee, and Appleton Estate rums. Stroll through the duty-free shops at Montego Freeport, near the cruise terminal, and Sam Sharpe Square in downtown MoBay. While you’re downtown, check out the Crafts Market where you can sift through a plethora of handmade Jamaican souvenirs.
- William Travis