A favorite of North American honeymooners, Jamaica is the third-largest of the Caribbean islands after Cuba and Hispaniola, with dense jungle in its interior, mountains rising as high as 2,220m (7,282 ft.), and many beautiful white-sand beaches along its northern coast, where the cruise ships dock at either Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, or Falmouth. Montego Bay has better beaches, shopping, and restaurants than Ocho Rios, as well as some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean.
Jamaica’s history is rooted in the plantation economy and some of the most impassioned politics in the Western Hemisphere. The island is also the birthplace of Bob Marley (1945-81), whose reggae music has inspired generations of musicians and music lovers.
With its greater land mass, Jamaica offers a wide variety of shore excursion activities, including river tubing, horseback riding, and mountain biking. (Plus golf did we mention golf?) top draw Just west of Ochos Rios, scenic Dunn’s River Falls (www.dunnsriverfallsja.com ) cascade 180m (590 ft.) to the beach. Tourists are allowed to climb the falls, and it’s a ball to slip and slide your way up with hundreds of others. The most visited attraction in Jamaica, they can be overcrowded when a lot of cruise ships are in port. slice of history Just outside Montego Bay, the 18th-century Rose Hall Great House (www.rosehall.com ) is the most famous plantation home in Jamaica, with a scandalous history of witchcraft, adultery, and murder. Today it’s the centerpiece of the upscale Rose Hill golf resort. top beaches The tranquil waters of Aquasol Theme Park in Montego Bay make it a particular favorite for families. You might also check out the big James Bond Beach, in Oracabessa, about 20 minutes from Ochos Rios. Nearby is Goldeneye, home of James Bond author Ian Fleming. local color Adjacent to the Ochos Rios cruise pier, the entertainment-and-shopping complex Island Village (www.islandjamaica.com ), developed by Island Records’ Chris Blackwell, includes such only-in-Jamaica features as the ReggaeXplosion museum and a museum of Jamaican art.