There’s a lot to do in Jamaica. Like, a lot a lot. Beyond event-specific activities like those related to the country’s 60-year-anniversary and thematic ones like a sightseeing itinerary designed around James Bond’s exploits, the everyday options were already a full slate to keep one busy for an all-too-short week of “feel[ing] the love.” So when time is limited and decisions are tough, which tours and excursions should a first-timer prioritize?
ALG Vacations® decided to Ask a Pro – in this case, our destination management partners in Jamaica, Amstar DMC – for the most-booked activities they think are essential for newbies to this country. Here’s what they recommend.
It’s hard to mention Jamaica without someone chiming in about Dunns River Falls, which makes this 600-foot wonder a non-negotiable for visitors looking to get the essentials into their trip itinerary. This tour comes with added bonuses, too, to make it an incredibly comprehensive plunge into the jungle. It includes a stop at Blue Hole, a natural limestone sinkhole and mineral spring you can (and should! There are lots of benefits to wading in earth’s natural minerals) swim in, and an included lunch at the Mongoose Jamaica Restaurant and Lounge. You’ll have a choice between jerk chicken, steamed fish in coconut sauce, or sweet and sour tofu, all of which come with rice and peas, veggies, and a drink. Go back to your hotel sated and in comfort, as this six-hour guided tour also includes round-trip air-conditioned transportation.
Reggae is an essential part of Jamaica’s heritage and culture, which makes this tour equally so. Bob Marley is the star of this experience, as the tour begins in his birth village of Nine Mile, through his childhood home that has since become a museum and gallery, and near his gravesite. From there, the guide will provide deeper context to this music genre’s roots and philosophies as the tour makes a stop at a Rastafarian revival church before breaking for a taste the island’s most famous chicken dish at the Jamaican Jerk Center.
This slow ride will certainly let you take it easy … easier, in fact, than this (non-Jamaican) song reference. You won’t find any white waters here on the Martha Brae River, where you’ll just float on (all right) on a picturesque bamboo raft that lets you take in the sights, sounds, and company of the hills of Trelawny – where Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt was born – and the rainforest. Riverside artisan shops let rafters slow things down even more. A limit of two people per raft makes it great for couples. Plus, upgrades to private transportation lets guests add a touch of luxury to an otherwise rustic expedition. Prices vary depending on the hotel location.
This is a long title, but so is the tour. With nine hours out and about, there’s no mistaking the value and comprehensiveness of this multi-faceted adventure through Negril. The experience includes transportation from your resort to the Black River – the country’s longest – for a leisurely sail past fishing villages, small towns, exotic birds, and crocodiles in the sun. After that, guests get to get in the water themselves at YS Falls, where seven cascades and several natural pools give you your choice of what you want to soak in. It ends with a rum tasting at Appleton Estates, a world-famous distillery that opens its doors for visitors so that they may better understand this spirited spirit.
The Amstar tour description promises that “you can’t ‘glow wrong’” with this excursion, and honestly, we can’t put it any better way. The headliner is a dip in a bioluminescent lagoon gently lit with phosphorescent microorganisms that sparkle with the movement of the water. Seeing this phenomenon in person is already a rare opportunity, but to swim among them and watch them outline you in sparkles is rarer still. Plus, the water’s only five feet deep, making it a much safer experience than other similar settings. You’ll get to it first by a shuttle from your hotel, then by a small boat from a port in Falmouth, where orientation starts with a complimentary rum punch. Note: Please, please exercise environmental consciousness to protect this treasure. If swimming in the lagoon, make sure you wash off your sunscreen from the day and that items like insect repellant is DEET-free and will not harm the dinoflagellates in the water.
One of the most famous beaches in Jamaica, this is a must no matter which of the other renowned shores you’re staying on while in this country. The reason this one stands out is for several touristic icons, even beyond the white sands and blue seas: Rick’s Café. And it’s not just about the café itself, well known as it is. The cliff divers are sunset are spellbinding and as fun as the drinks served there or at nearby Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. There’s also shopping to be done, crafts to peruse, and a visit back to plan during your included ride through the West Coast back to your resort.
Plan with a Pro to add these experiences to your itinerary. By having a professional travel advisor handle your excursions and add them into your travel, vacationers get the benefits of making all major payments from home, having everything put together on one bundled bill, and guaranteed confirmed space for all excursions, whose prices through Amstar DMC are guaranteed to be the same as in destination. Plus, stay at Hyatt Inclusive Collection properties such as Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Secrets Wild Orchid, and Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa for nonstop shared transfer upgrades!