We docked in the Port of Falmouth in Jamaica on day 4 of the Caribbean cruise where we were met by Richard Walsh, our guide for the day. Almost sounds Irish but he was Jamaican, the real deal. He began every sentence with “Yah Mon”, had long dreadlocks, finished each sentence with “No problem”and taught us some local lingo, hence the name of this post. He sang, told us all about the history of Jamaica and shares the same birthplace as Bob Marley, Burning Spear (backing track for this post) and many other music legends. The name of that parish is St. Ann, also known as ‘The Garden Parish’ for the same reason County Wicklow in Ireland is referred to as ‘The Garden of Ireland’.
Jamaica’s main industries are tourism, mining and agriculture. At one point in time it produced 22% of the world’s sugar. It’s rich in history and its people are diverse. Claimed for Spain in 1494 by Christopher Columbus, the Spanish were evicted by the British in 1644 and it wasn’t until 1962 that Jamaica became fully independent. Interesting fact; Jamaica has more churches per square kilometre than any other country in the world and almost as many bars.
From the port of Falmouth, an hour-long bus trip took us to Ochos Rios to climb Dunn’s River Falls, a mountain waterfall with lagoon pools. The climb is strenuous enough but very doable and utterly refreshing. You’ll need water shoes and you will get wet so don’t bring phones, devices or money unless they’re waterproof. It’s also very touristy and very busy. A videographer accompanies the group and you can buy the DVD for $40. At the end of the tour we were pretty much ambushed for ‘The Tip’. Here’s my tip; bring small notes, that way you can give a dollar or two and not get caught as we did, handing over a larger note than we should have. Himself bought the DVD, and said he’ll sell it to me for $80 …
We had lunch at a hotel in Ochos Rios, where I had the best Jerk chicken I’ve ever tasted and a delicious local beer. From here we took a boat trip along the coast which is exactly as you’d imagine the Caribbean to be; turquoise waters and white sands dotted with exclusive resorts.
On the way back we were ‘treated’ to another song from Richard who might share the same hometown as Bob Marley, but definitely not the same vocal talent… We said our goodbyes and this time happily handed over the well-earned tip.
The Port of Falmouth has lots of duty-free shops where alcohol, cigarettes, jewelry, local crafts and souvenirs can be bought for decent prices. Beware, you can’t bring alcohol onto the ship to consume but they will keep it for you and return it at the end of the cruise.
Here’s my Top Tips for a short visit to Jamaica.
- Climb Dunn’s Falls, it is touristy but pretty amazing and very refreshing.
- Bring small notes for small tips.
- Try barbecued Jerk Chicken, it’s delicious.
- Bring a long-sleeved light shirt, it’s very hot.
- Enjoy and as always, wear sunscreen.
Next stop Mexico, stay tuned.