8 Hours in Jamaica

You’ve only got one day in port. Here’s how to make the most of your time and explore the best of what the island has to offer.
by 1714

Every time you hear a Bob Marley jam, you probably daydream of Jamaica’s ocean breezes. From reggae beats and jerk chicken to palm trees and white sand beaches, there’s a lot to love about this Caribbean island. Wondering how to tackle it all when you sail there on your next cruise? We’ve broken it down so you can experience the adventure of a lifetime, all in 8 hours.


If you’re a foodie…


Time it takes: 30-minute taxi ride from the port (Montego Bay)

For an authentic meal near Montego Bay, you can’t go wrong with casual outdoor café Scotchies, often named as one of the best restaurants in Jamaica. Pull up a stool and enjoy jerk chicken (the secret to how they make it so spicy is an intense spice mixture rubbed in before cooking) and to-die-for hush puppies.

Jerk Chicken - BBQ chicken, grilled pineapple and rice & peas

Juici Patties Time it takes: 5-minute walk from the port (Lower Harbour Street, Falmouth)   It may look like a typical fast-food joint, but Juici Patties is a popular Jamaican chain that features the other big local specialty: patties! These savory, flaky pastries filled with meat and spices are perfect for lunch or an afternoon snack. Go truly local and stuff it into coco bread for a tasty sandwich. P.S. If time is really short, you’ll find two patty stands within walking distance from the ship.

Breakfast #juicipatties #onecheesybeef #onemegacheese #addictive #tastesooooooogood A photo posted by LifeofKG (@lifeof_kg) on

Pepper’s Jerk Center Time it takes: 5-minute walk from the port (Rodney Street, Falmouth) Don’t have time to go all the way to Montego Bay? Totally fine! You can still taste-test authentic jerk pork and chicken at this highly rated, laid-back outdoor bar and grill that’s close to the port. Between the music, the rustic-cool tables and the friendly staff, you may just decide to stay and relax all afternoon. Pair your jerk with the traditional rice and beans an ice-cold Red Stripe or fresh coconut water.

Having a blast at #peppersjerkcenter. #falmouth #Jamaica #travel #notatourist @topman_peppersjerkcentre A photo posted by Jordan Craig (@_jordancraig_) on


If you’re an adventure junkie…

Dunn’s River Falls

Time it takes: About 4 hours and 30 minutes

This world-famous waterfall near Ocho Rios is a must-do. You can either climb the falls, which looks like a shallow river rushing over a large, uneven stone “staircase” — or simply marvel at them from the safety (and dryness!) of a viewing platform. Pro tip: bring your own water shoes to start climbing ASAP.

Dolphin Trek

Time it takes: About 5 hours

Walk on the ocean floor with an astronaut-like helmet that allows you to breathe underwater, and interact with the dolphins in a natural lagoon at Falmouth’s popular Dolphin Cove. Your trip to the park also includes a shark show, lush tropical gardens and a local petting zoo — perfect for animal lovers.

Rio Bueno River Rafting

Time it takes: About 4 hours

Paddle through the exhilarating twists and turns of the beautiful Rio Bueno River. After the currents fade, you’ll arrive in calm waters for some swimming and relaxing — and, if you still haven’t gotten your adrenaline fix, take a swing on the Tarzan rope that lets you hurl yourself right into the water.


If you’re a shopaholic…

Jacob Taylor Beach Craft Market

Time it takes: 15-minute taxi ride from the port (Duncans)

Discover intricately carved wooden handicrafts, hand-woven baskets and handmade jewelry. Chat with the artisans, watch them work and pick up a few favorites. Afterwards, grab Jamaica’s beer of choice (Red Stripe) and cool off on the beach or at nearby favorite bar Leroy’s Reggae Spot.

Coffee Experience Beyond Compare Time it takes: Right next to port (Historic Falmouth Port) The Jamaican souvenir to bring home is the island’s world-famous Blue Mountain Coffee. Locally grown and harvested, this coffee sells in the United States for more than twice its local price. Sample a few varieties at the Coffee Experience Beyond Compare and then take your favorite home for your morning brew.

#bluemountaincoffee #jamaican A photo posted by John P Murtagh (@johnpaulmurtagh) on

Harmony Hall Art Gallery

Time it takes: One hour taxi ride from port (Tower Isle, St. Mary)

Dive into the local art scene of Ocho Rios at Harmony Hall, a restored mid-19th century plantation house filled with paintings and sculptures by more than 100 Jamaican artists and artisans. Whether you buy or just browse, you’ll get a sense of the vibrancy and creativity that’s abundant in this island nation.


Whatever you decide to do, make sure to reserve at least a little time to wander around the port — you’ll love the charming shops and souvenir stands, and there’s nothing like a fresh coconut to sip on after a warm day of Jamaican sightseeing.