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JAMAICA

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Coral Princess, Mystic Mountain, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Coral Princess, Mystic Mountain, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The island of Jamaica is situated south of Cuba, east of the Grand Cayman and west of Haiti.  It is about 230 km (140 mi) east/west and 80 km (50 mi) north/south.  The country has a population of just under 3 million with one third of the people living in the capital of Kingston.  The Arawak and Taino inhabited the island prior to Christopher Columbus claiming it for Spain in 1494. The British took it over in 1655 and it gained independence in 1962, while remaining part of the British Commonwealth.  Today Jamaica is best known for reggae and Bob Marley.  It also has been high profile at the Olympics with its abundance of short distance runners, such as Usain Bolt.  The fabulous beaches and warm temperatures are what attract tourists.  Montego Bay is the common entry point by air.  The cruise industry makes regular stops to Jamaica at Falmouth and Ocho Rios, usually as part of Western Caribbean itineraries.

Weather:

Jamaica experiences a typical Caribbean climate.  The dry season extends from November to April, while the rest of the year is subject to heavier rainfall.   Winter has average highs that are about 30 C (85 F) and average lows at comfortable room temperate.  Summers are only a couple of degrees warmer than winter.  Like its neighbors of Haiti and Cuba, it is directly in the path of the Caribbean hurricane season in September and October.

Attractions in Ocho Rios:

Things to see and do:

You can purchase independent tours at the cruise port in Ocho Rios.  The combination of Mystic Mountain and Dunn's River Falls is our top recommendation.  It includes transportation between the sites and the cruise terminal.  It also includes the aerial tram to get to Mystic Mountain.  Pricing options for Mystic Mountain include the famous bobsled run and a zip line.  We found the cruise ship excurision prices to be competitive for these two venues and recommend booking directly with your ship.

Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica

Dunn's River Falls

  • Dunn's River Falls - Climb up the 600 foot falls or walk the entire route beside the river.  For those doing the climb, be prepared for swift running cool waters that are sometimes waist deep.  You can buy or rent water shoes and there are rental lockers for possessions that aren't water proof.  A guide takes groups up in the falls for about half hour from the spot where the Dunn's River enters the Caribbean.  For those walking along side the falls, there are several spots where stairs allow you to enter the water and you can also walk on the beach at the end of the Dunn's River.  Those who walk on the path get the opportunity to see the falls without tourists, as there are gaps between the climbing tour groups.  Those who climb in the falls get a refreshing experience shaded by the rainforest.  Highly recommended regardless of which option you choose.

  • Rainforest Adventures Mystic Mountain - Ride the famous Jamaican Bobsled Run inspired by the 1993 movie Cool Runnings, plus an aerial tram, zip line, waterslide, restaurant, a small no charge butterfly garden and a small no charge hummingbird garden.  The bobsled run is the highlight of this experience.  The bobsleds are single person cars with a driver controlled hand brake.  Veterans don't use the hand brake at all.  Two bobsleds can easily be joined together by staff.   The circuit is really a roller coaster track.  The run descends 1,000 meters (0.6 miles) and is gravity driven.  After travelling down and reaching speeds up to 60 kph (40 mph), the ride continues at a more leisurely pace as the bobsled is pulled all the way back up the hill with you in it.

Dunn's River Falls at Caribbean, Jamaica

Dunn's River Falls meets the Caribbean

  • Dolphin Cove and Prospect Plantation - The plantation is operated by Dolphin Cove.  See bananas, cassava, sugarcane, coffee, allspice,ostriches, birds, the Great House, plus ride a camel.

  • Coyaba Gardens and Mahoe Falls

  • Shaw Park Gardens

  • White River Valley - rafting, 7 miles south from Ocho Rios.  Try Chukka Tours.

  • Cool Blue Hole - a pool on the White River

  • Fern Gully - 3 miles of twisting road through the rainforest, south of town.

  • Travel 1.5 hours to Nine Mile, where Bob Marley was born and laid to rest.  The mausoleum is operated by his family.  Some think it's a rip off and others think it's awesome.

Ocho Rios Tours:

Mystic Mountain, bobsled run, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Mystic Mountain, bobsled run, Ocho Rios

Things to see and do in Falmouth:

Things to see and do in Runaway Bay:

Things to see and do in Montego Bay:

  • Doctors Cave Beach

  • Great River - jungle rafting, tubing and kayaking.   Try Chukka Tours.

Things to see and do in Negril:

  • 7 Mile Beach - the nicest beach on Jamaica and, since its on the western coast, it has great sunsets.

  • Watch the sunset and the cliff divers from Rick's Cafe.

Things to see and do in Kingston:

Bamboo rafting, Jamaica

Bamboo rafting, © Can Stock Photo / Konstik

Savor the Tastes of Jamaica:

  • Ackee and saltfish - the national dish, ackee is an apple type fruit.

  • Jerk chicken - marinated with spice before cooking.

  • Jamaican patty - Fluffy pastry using egg yolk and filled with almost anything edible.

  • Mannish water - Goat head soup.

  • Lots of fish, plantain and bananas.

  • Influences from the Arawak Indians, Chinese, West African, Spanish and British.

Hotels in Jamaica:


View Jamaica map


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