Five touristy things to do in Jamaica worth your while

The small island of Jamaica is home to five different cruise ports, all bringing in an average of over a million cruisers each year. With that kind of traffic there are so many touristy gimmicks, but who’s to say some of those ‘gimmicks’ aren’t worth a visit? So how do you know which touristy attractions are worth your time and which should be left to the old guy in the Hawaiian shirt? 

Jamaica has one of the most beautiful cultures of any country I’ve visited, whether we’re talking about the food and music, or whether we’re talking about the unique plants and animals that the island is home to. Jamaicans know how to provide a great time and are some of the friendliest people I’ve met while traveling.

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Today, I’ll be sharing just a few of the most touristy things you’ll actually want to think about seeing and doing while visiting Jamaica. Get packing, tick off those last few items on your to-do list, and get ready. Here’s what you should know before heading to Jamaica:

How To Get There And How To Get Around

Firstly, getting to Jamaica is fairly easy as far as small islands are concerned. There are two major airports on the island in addition to the three cruise ship ports. You can, by all means, rent a car from the airport when you arrive, but I suggest taking public transportation as it’s available in most major towns. Although, having someone else drive you takes the stress out of navigating and can help you find the less touristy adventures (not on this list) by pairing you up with a local guide. 

5 Touristy Things To Do In Jamaica Worth Your While

1. Go A Little Bit Marley

Bob Marley artwork painted on a rock.
Bob Marley artwork can be found in many places

Bob Marley is Jamaica and Jamaica is Bob Marley, so taking the time to check out some Marley tourism hotspots is a bit like visiting England and watching a Shakespearean play at The Globe. Bob Marley was such a key influence in Jamaica’s history that there’s a whole heap of things to check out, from Bob Marley tours to the Marley Museum in Kingston.

2. Browse Ocho Rios

A stunning beach at Dunn's River Falls & Park, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Dunn’s River Falls & Park, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This port town is an interesting place to visit because it’s pretty much built around tourism and has everything that you could want, from fantastic restaurants to stunning little boutiques for you to shop in. 

In particular, I’m a big fan of the beaches. Dunn’s River Falls Park is home to a stunning waterfall that flows over bright travertine rocks and into a pool below.

Alternatively, there’s Bamboo Beach Club where you can rent a comfortable lounge chair, lay back in a hammock or dip your toes in the crystal-clear waters. You’ll find some of the most pristine beaches in the whole of Jamaica, and you can pick up a freshly made cocktail and enjoy it by the shore as the sun sets.

Is there anything that says tropical island better? Be sure to take your camera because there will be plenty of photo ops

3. Explore The Green Grotto

The Green Grotto Caves in Jamaica
Green Grotto Caves by Brandie – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Green Grotto is ranked #1 of things to do in Jamaica by Trip Advisor, so if that tells you anything about this popular destination, it’s that it’s truly worth a visit.

The Green Grotto is a system of caves all connected with the bordering northern coastal waters. While you can hike through and explore a good bit of the caverns, there is also a substantial section called “wild caves” that’s mostly uncharted territory. Intriguing! 

The caves have a rich history from being home to the Arawak Indians to serving as a hideout to the Spanish during the times when Jamaica was a British colony. The caves are also sometimes called the “Runaway Caves” as they were once used by escaped slaves. Be sure to book a tour to hear even more about the interesting history of this unique geological location.

4. Chow Down On Delicious Jamaican Food

Grilled Jamaican food
Spicy Jamaican chicken kebabs

Jamaica is almost as famous for its food as it is for its beaches, and there’s a good reason for that. If you’re feeling adventurous then you will definitely want to try ackee and saltfish, although I’ll warn you that it’s an acquired taste. Of course, you can also play it safe by going for a classic jerk chicken.

There are even some fantastic vegan takes on traditional Jamaican food, from black-eyed pea curry to cauliflower wings. Try a bit of everything and enjoy your food in one of Jamaica’s open-air or outdoor eateries.

One of the top eateries in Jamaica is The Blue Mahoe Restaurant, which is located within The Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel. The Blue Mahoe Restaurant is settled on the West End Cliffs and overlooks the bright blue Caribbean waters. It’s a great place to have a romantic date night and dine on some of Jamaica’s finest seafood. Book a reservation just before sunset for that extra bit of romantic ambiance. 

5. Take To The Water

Loads of yellow fishes while Scuba diving in Jamaica
Scuba diving in Jamaica

It goes without saying that Jamaica has a lot to offer when considering the crystal-clear surrounding waters. Whether you’re hiring a boat or you’re booking seats on a cruise, it’s never a bad idea to explore Jamaica from the sea.

The Caribbean island is home to some of the most stunning, blue waters in the world, and its pleasant temperature means that it’s just as enjoyable to swim in as it is to sail on. If you can, try taking a day food cruise so that you can sample some of the freshest Caribbean food you’ll ever have while enjoying the water views. There are plenty of small charters to choose from.

Check out the Luminous Lagoon to see the rare sight of bioluminescent dinoflagellates that emit blue light when disturbed. You can find kayak tours to the lagoon where the rustle of your paddle or your hand in the water will cause a light show like you’ve never seen before.

Alternatively, if you enjoy taking in the view of exotic sea life then you’ll be sure to enjoy some scuba diving (if you’re lucky enough to be licensed) or snorkeling. After all, Jamaica is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the Caribbean. 

Final thoughts

Now you’re prepared to visit Jamaica’s hottest spots but if you prefer to go rogue and take the road less traveled, here are some must-sees to visit Jamaica off the beaten path. Either way, you’re bound to have a great time visiting this beautiful Caribbean island.

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