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Jamaica

Best Jamaica Excursions and Tourist Attractions

The best excursions in Jamaica include the famous Dunn's River Falls, the historic Falmouth and Dolphin Cove near Ocho Rios.

1) Dunn's River Falls


Dunns River Falls
Dunns River falls; © Caribeez.com
Dunns River Falls isn't the tallest or widest falls by any means. But one of the top attractions in the Caribbean draws large and steady crowds. The crowds are there not so much to view the falls but to climb them.

Visitors form a line and hold hands as they work their way up the cascading platforms of water to the top. It is a great Caribbean family excursion. We had a blast climbing them.

It is conveniently near the cruise and resort area of Ocho Rios, although some tour operators will bring people from Falmouth and Montego Bay. Note that crowds are often thick, so ask on cruise ships or at resorts about the best times to go.

The cost to enter the park at the time of this writing was $20 for adults and $12 for children. The park is a five to 10-minute drive from the cruise port. Excursion operators will charge about $50 to $60 per person including transportation and park fees. Other options that include lunch or getting there by catamarans will cost more.

2) The Blue Hole


The Blue Hole southeast of Ocho Rios are another option for people who prefer to avoid the crowds at Dunn's River Falls. The Blue Hole is a natural limestone sinkhole that indeed has vibrant blue water. Visitors get to leap off rock edges and swim in it.

The crowds are getting thicker here as well as more people find out about it. Some operators offer Dunn's River Falls and Blue Hole in combination for as little as $55 per person.

3) Dolphin Cove


Dolphin Cove is next to Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. Like other dolphin experiences, it allows visitors to swim with the dolphins. $$

Seven Mile Beach in Negril
Seven Mile Beach in Negril is among the best in Jamaica. Credit: Wikimedia (Creative Commons License)

4) Best Beaches


The best beaches may be a matter of opinion, but a few names come up again and again.

Seven Mile Beach in Negril is the longest in Jamaica. Doctor's Cave Beach is the most popular one in Montego Bay. Treasure Beach on the south coast is popular with both locals and tourists.

James Bond beach near Ocho Rios is the site of the famous Golden Eye, where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels.

5) Rafting and River Tubing


Visitors who want to spend a relaxing time enjoying the landscape can raft on the Martha Brae or Rio Grande rivers. Local guides use poles to propel flat wood rafts that often hold only two passengers.

The Martha Brae excursion is the more popular and accessible of the two. The rafting village is three miles from Falmouth, 20 miles from Montego Bay and 40 miles from Ocho Rios. These four-hour excursions including transportation cost about $135 per person.

More adventurous river rafting and tubing is available on the Rio Bueno River accessible from Ocho Rios and Monego Bay. The rapids are Class II, which means they are mild enough for most families. The cost is about $70 per person.

6) Falmouth


Royal Caribbean Cruise and the Port Authority of Jamaica have embarked on a project to restore the historic town of Falmouth and make it the first-ever thematic cruise port destination.

The Historic Falmouth Cruise Port is a 32-acre living museum with costumed guides and merchants. The Falmouth experience will include tours of historic sites along with shopping, dining and attractions in the surrounding areas.

Falmouth is a 40-minute drive from Montego Bay and a little more than an hour from Ocho Rios.

7) Royal Botanic Gardens, Hope


The Hope Gardens is located on 60 acres of land in New Kingston. Highlights include the formal Botanic Garden, Sunken Gardens, Orchid House and Lily Pond.

8) Golf


Jamaica is home to at least 12 golf courses including three in Montego Bay, two in Rose Hall and one each in Kingston, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Rio Bueno, Runaway Bay, St. Catherine and Westmoreland.

9) Green Castle Estate


Eco tourists may want to drive one hour east of Ocho Rios to one of the largest organic and orchid farms in the Caribbean. It covers 1,600 acres on the north coast of the island.

The Tropical Study Center provides support for nearby rural communities, while the organics and orchid tour allows visitors to see the work developed at the farm. The facility combines research and ecotourism in one location.

10) Greenwood Great House


Greenwood, located in Falmouth, is more than 200 years old and was owned by the family of the famous English poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. It is known as one of the best-preserved historic houses on the island.

11) Blue Mountains National Park


The Blue Mountains have become famous for Blue Mountain Coffee, which is one of the major attractions for this national park. It is an hour and 40 minutes southeast of Ocho Rios.

Energetic visitors can hike and camp in the park. The highly energetic ones can climb to the top of the Blue Mountain, which is 7,402 feet high.

12) Rose Hall Great House


The restored 17th century Georgian mansion and tropical gardens at Rose Hall is one of the attractions at a 7,000-acre vacation development that also includes resorts, golf courses and vacation homes. The mansion has decor and furnishings reflecting the 17th century style. Tour guides add entertainment value with stories about the murderous "white witch" who lived there.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020
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