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 a 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 to Montego Bay
For an authentic meal near Montego Bay, you can’t go wrong with Scotchies, a casual outdoor cafe 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.
Time it takes: Short walk from the port to Lower Harbour Street in 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.
Time it takes: 5-minute walk from the port to Rodney Street in 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, laidback outdoor bar and grill that’s close by. 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 traditional rice and beans, along with an ice-cold Red Stripe or fresh coconut water.
If you’re an adventure junkie…
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 look 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.
Time it takes: About 5 hours
Walk on the ocean floor with a space-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 lush tropical gardens and a local petting zoo—perfect for animal lovers.
Time it takes: About 3 hours and 30 minutes
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…
Time it takes: 20-minute taxi ride
Discover intricately carved wooden handicrafts, handwoven baskets and handmade jewelry at this bustling spot. 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.
Time it takes: 1-hour taxi ride
Spanning five acres of beachfront property in Ocho Rios, Island Village is a collection of restaurants, boardwalks and vendors selling local goods, foods and souvenirs. Surprise-and-delight reggae concerts welcome travelers, as they take in the scenery of this village-like shopping center.
Whatever you decide to do in Jamaica, make sure to reserve at least a little time to wander around the port—you’ll love the charming shops, and there’s nothing like a fresh coconut to sip on after a warm day. Head here to chart your course for the Caribbean.