Author: Jomo Barnett
I am an online marketer, Jamaican travel expert, and a self-appointed ambassador for Jamaican culture and food. I am a copywriter and entrepreneur at heart, and I make occasional blog posts to share my thoughts and hopefully help others looking to navigate earning online or planning to travel to Jamaica.
My 10 Favourite Tours In Jamaica
As a professional tour guide and a Jamaican who avidly enjoys his country and culture, I know a thing or two about the various tours in Jamaica. Located in the Caribbean, Jamaica is a beloved country that is famous for its rich culture, delicious food, warm tropical climate, stunning natural attractions, white sand beaches, and a vibrant music and entertainment scene.
With so much to offer a visitor to our lovely island, a popular question I am often asked by my clients is what tours in Jamaica would I recommend. Therefore, I am writing this blog post to outline a list of the 10 tours in Jamaica that I have enjoyed the most, and that I recommend to all my clients.
This list is constantly updated, as my top 5 excursions in Jamaica, in particular, tend to change occasionally, and now and then I discover new adventures that are so amazing that they crack my top 10. With that being said, these are my 10 favorite Jamaican tours.
The Appleton Estate Rum tour in St. Elizabeth underwent a recent renovation that truly transformed and elevated the experience to a whole new level from just another tour in Jamaica to a must-see excursion while visiting the island. The amenities are modern, the property is kept clean and the staff is super friendly and well trained.
From start to finish the tour is well laid out, beginning with a drink at the bar, then heading to their movie theatre to watch a brief video presentation about Appleton Rum and Joy Spence, their Master Blender (the first woman to hold this position in the world), then you are lead outside to a visual presentation showing each step that sugar cane goes through to be transformed from a crop to the finished product.
If you love food like I do, you will surely appreciate being offered a sample of sugar cane and its byproducts as you go along. After a visit to the distillery, the tour ends with a stop at the tasting room where you sample various blends of the world-famous Appleton Rum. A quick stop to the gift shop is recommended if you plan to purchase souvenirs (I particularly love the candles).
Another reason why this is my favorite of all the tours in Jamaica is that in 2019 myself and a group of five clients from the United Kingdom had embarked on a 14-day volunteer vacation that took us across all 14 parishes of Jamaica and to almost a dozen tours, and both myself and the ladies agreed that the scenery as we drove along through St. Elizabeth on our way to the estate was the most breathtaking visuals we had seen in Jamaica. The grass and mountains were majestic and green, the communities were rural and quiet, and we passed several churches and buildings that were simply beautiful to behold. We were so struck by the beauty that we stopped several times to capture some photos.
I find the whole experience at the Appleton Estate Rum tour to be extremely satisfying, and I highly recommend it while on your trip to Jamaica. Currently, this is my favorite tour in Jamaica.
This is a unique experience among the tours in Jamaica, and probably in the world. It is a bar literally in the middle of the sea. Pelican bar is a short boat ride away from the shores of the beaches in Black River, St. Elizabeth. It is somewhat of a rite of passage for visitors to Jamaica, who tend to leave a trinket on the walls of the bar and ‘leave their mark’. There are license plates, bottle caps, key rings, hats, and many other mementos left by hundreds of visitors to this sea-bound bar. Aside from the bar itself, where you usually find a mixture of people from around the world just hanging out, you can also swim along the waters at the bar, and sometimes you can even see dolphins swimming nearby.
The crystal clear Blue Lagoon in Portland is one of the more popular tours in Jamaica. The lagoon offers a unique swimming experience, as the cold river water meets the warm seawater, creating a magical sensation of enjoying both warm and cold water at the same time. The water also boasts shades of blue that I have not seen anywhere else in Jamaica. You can choose between booking a leisurely raft ride on the lagoon for two, take a fishing boat ride around the lagoon and stop at Monkey Island (a small island on the lagoon) or one of the private beaches, or if you are athletic you can simply swim across to save a few bucks. If you are a good swimmer you should try and go out to the deeper end of the lagoon and dive.
When embarking on the Blue Mountain highlights tour, budget for a half-day adventure. Start with a tour of Craighton Estate, a running coffee plantation where you learn all there is to know about the world-renown Blue Mountain Coffee. Afterward, the next stop is Strawberry Hills for lunch and a spectacular view, followed by a brief stop at Newcastle where Jamaica’s soldiers are trained. The finals stop is usually Holywell Recreational Park, where hiking and sightseeing can be done to your heart’s content. If you have a savvy tour guide with you, then you can stop at one of the swimming spots on the mountain for a quick and refreshing swim.
Dunn’s River Falls is probably the most famous of all the tours in Jamaica. Featured in several movies, Dunn’s River is a rite of passage for anyone that visits Ocho Rios Jamaica. You can purchase your water shoes as you enter the property, or simply bring along your own. After changing into your bathing suit and renting a locker, your next order of business should be to head down the stairs to the base of the falls on the white sand beach to begin your climb up the tallest waterfall in Jamaica. There are many guides along the way that will help you up, and you are encouraged to form a human chain, holding hands with other guests as you make the ascent safely. Be sure to tip your guide, no matter how small.
Of course, after you reach the top of the falls, you still have many fun activities you can engage in, like heading back to the beach to swim in the sea or sunbathe, exploring their beautiful garden, navigating the waterpark area, browsing the many stalls or food vendors, and even going zip-lining over the falls. Some companies offer catamaran cruise tours that incorporate the Dunn’s River Falls tour into their package.
Port Royal Highlights
Once dubbed the ‘wickedest city in the west’, Port Royal was once a major destination for ships and commerce until it was mostly destroyed by an earthquake/tsunami combo in 1692 that sunk much of the city underwater. There are still historical buildings that remain standing to this day, however, which is what you explore when you join the Port Royal Highlights tour. You begin with a tour of Fort Charles, which houses Giddy House and other historical monuments, After your guided tour, you embark on a walking tour of the city, where a local will point out historically significant points and fill you in on their backstory.
When I operate Port Royal Highlights tours in Jamaica, I usually take my guests on a boat ride out to Lime Cay, which is a white sand island just offshore Port Royal. I usually allow up to 4 hours on the island so my guests can swim, snorkel, sunbathe and enjoy refreshments on the island before heading back to shore. Most tours of Port Royal ends with a stop at Gloria’s, a restaurant famous for their seafood.
This tour is unique in that it can offer historical facts and sights, a walking tour of a local community, a delicious Jamaican seafood meal, and a refreshing day at the beach in a single adventure.
You couldn’t say you have done a tour of Kingston without paying a visit to the Bob Marley museum. This tour gives you a behind the scenes look at the former home and lifestyle of the Reggae Megastar. After you are done Jammin to “One Love” and other Bob Marley hits, you will explore Devon House, the house built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire. These days it is a heritage site in Jamaica, and they also make the best ice cream on the island. You will get a guided tour of the mansion, then head to the ice cream shop to enjoy a complimentary scoop of ice cream or another treat. The next scheduled stop is the Kingston Craft Market for some of the island’s finest crafts and trinkets (duty-free).
What makes this tour unique is that when our guides from My Jamaican Tour Guide do the tour, we also pass through crucial points in Kingston, including Half Way Tree, New Kingston, Downtown, and Crossroads. Stops at Emancipation park or a supermarket can also be arranged.
Beach Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a romantic and fun tour, but horseback riding in and on the beach takes it up to a whole new level! This 2-hour tour starts on the shores of the Little London Beach and takes you through the 900-acre lush property and along the shore before heading into the sea. The horses swim in the water for a truly memorable horseback riding experience. This is super fun for groups and couples. My clients have expressed that the beach horseback riding at this particular spot is their favorite among the horseback riding tours in Jamaica.
While it isn’t a ‘down in the mud spelunking’ kind of cave tour, the Green Grotto cave tour in Discovery Bay (just a few minutes away from Ocho Rios) is still a fun, unique, and somewhat physically demanding excursion. You start with getting your hard hats to prevent hitting your head on the cave ceiling in some sections, and embark on a guided tour of the cave system. The guides are well trained and give you the full history of the cave including the role it played in Jamaica’s history, as well as its current impact on the island’s ecosystem.
While I wouldn’t recommend this tour if you have issues with walking around or standing for long periods, you don’t need to be super fit and in shape to enjoy this tour (I sure wasn’t).
Dr’s Cave Beach
Hands down the best beach in Montego Bay, and possibly even Jamaica, Dr’s Cave Beach is well equipped, clean, and boasts a low entrance fee. The beach is located on the Montego Bay Hip Strip and is surrounded by several hotels, restaurants, and popular attractions such as Margaritaville. You can easily spend a few hours swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the beach then take a stroll along the hip strip and stop wherever catches your eye for lunch or more adventures.
Dr’s Cave Beach is one of the tours in Jamaica that my repeat clients like to do every time they visit.
Let’s Recap My List Of Top 10 Tours In Jamaica
My list of the top 10 tours and attractions in Jamaica are:
- Appleton Estate Rum Tour
- Pelican Bar
- Blue Lagoon
- Blue Mountain Highlights
- Dunn’s River Falls
- Port Royal Highlights Tour
- Kingston Highlights Tour
- Beach Horseback Riding
- Green Grotto Cave
- Dr’s Cave Beach
While this is my list of the 10 best tours in Jamaica, this is just my opinion and should not be taken as fact. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what your top 10 favorite excursions in Jamaica are.
Ready To Visit And Make Your Own List Of Top 10 Adventures In Jamaica?
If you want to come and see the best tours in Jamaica for yourself, visit My Jamaican Tour Guide and check out the various tours and adventures Jamaica has to offer, or you can visit my Jamaica travel deals page to book vacations, volunteer trips, study abroad programs, travel insurance and more.