We've had the opportunity to visit Jamaica a couple of times during our travels, and we pack a lot of activities into each trip! There are so many things to do in Jamaica, from Montego Bay to St. Elizabeth and everywhere in between.
We've rounded up amazing excursion ideas to get you off the resort. Enjoy, in no particular order, our favourite things to do in Jamaica, from Montego Bay to St. Elizabeth.
Remember the jingle “Come back to Jamaica, what's old is what's new?” Well, Jamaica ain't stickin' to its old slogan.
Things to do in Jamaica
There are so many new things to do in Jamaica that if you haven't been in 10 years, you will see a huge change – especially in the off resort excursions.
So, maybe it is time to come back to Jamaica, only this time get yourself off the beach and explore the island.
Adventurous Things to do in Jamaica
1. Waterfalls – Ocho Rios or Saint Elizabeth
When going to a tropical island, you have to visit waterfalls. There is nothing more fun than escaping the hot sun by swimming in lagoons.
While Dunn's River Falls is a popular day trip, we enjoyed YS Waterfalls too.
YS Waterfall is a seven-tiered waterfall that is beautiful and fun! We originally wanted to go independently, but I am so glad we had our guide with us.
Having a guide helped us go to places the independent travelers couldn't go, and he set up the rope swings for us. I have never had so much fun at a waterfall.
The pathways are easy to walk and the water is refreshing. You can be as adventurous or as relaxed as you want at YS waterfall.
If you are into doing the rope swings, go for it – it's a blast!
Bring water shoes for walking. The bottom is rocky and slippery and having shoes makes life a lot easier.
Pack a towel.
Bring a waterproof camera like a GoPro.
But you can also bring your photography gear, including a DSLR and tripod. Your guide will stand by your gear and it will stay dry on the path.
For more information visit YS Waterfalls.
2. Jamaican Bobsledding Mystic Mountain – Ocho Rios
If there is one thing you have to do when you go to Jamaica, it's hit the bobsled track.
You can spend a day at Rainforest Adventures on Mystic Mountain.
A fifteen-minute chair ride takes you up to the top of the mountain where you can have a look around before you hop on the bobsled.
After you ride the scenic chairlift up to the top of the mountain, there is a flurry of activities to do.
These include the history museum, pool bar and café, waterslides and zip line, and of course the star attraction, The Bobsleigh.
The ride is fast and over before you know it, but it's exciting and you feel giddy racing through the rainforest.
3. Zip Lining – Montpelier
No Caribbean Adventure could be complete without a zip line excursion.
Our guides were absolutely fantastic, and although this particular zip line was one of the more mellow canopy tours we've been on, it was beautiful and a lot of fun.
We recommend it for first-time zip liners.
It has enough speed to make your heart race and the platforms are high enough to make you realize that yep, you're way above the ground.
As it is located on an old plantation, it is very picturesque. The jungle is dense and scenic, but the highlight is zipping right through an opening where the branches split in a large old-growth tree.
4. Swimming with Horses – Montego Bay
This excursion was so much fun from Montego Bay.
Don't worry, horses love to swim and if they don't, there is no way to get them into the water.
The excursion starts off with a half-hour ride out to the beach and ends with a good 15-minute dip in the Caribbean Sea. It's a hoot!
See our full review
5. ATV with Chukka Tours
Chukka Caribbean is everywhere on this island and we visited yet another location of this Jamaican staple.
We usually find ATV rides a bit tame, but in Jamaica, it was great!
Our guides kept a steady even pace that gave us enough of a thrill to be content with the speed.
It was also cool to climb the steep mountain and take a look over the island once we reached the top.
6. Hike and Bike in St. Elizabeth and Treasure Beach
We've done a couple of hiking and biking excursions in our day and Damian at Treasure Beach on the South Shore was one of the best we've done in the Caribbean.
This trip takes you through the Real Jamaica.
During our cycling trip we stopped to chat with local farmers, we cycled through fields, and we even met with a local historian to learn about the history of St. Elizabeth.
Did you know it was settled by the Scottish?
7. Hike to Chateaux Garden – St. Elizabeth
For our hiking trip with Damian, we climbed to the top of Chateaux Garden, where we had extraordinary views of the South Coast.
What we loved was walking through local villages and farms.
People still live the traditional way on the side of this mountain, moving their livestock and watering their crops all by hand.
It's hard work and it's a privilege to walk through their communities. This is difficult to find and you should have a guide out of respect for the villagers.
Damian knows everyone in the community and they welcome him and his tours to their land.
8. Hike and Bike: Bracco Tours
Have you eaten too much on the resort in Jamaica?
Get yourself out for an informative hike followed by an all downhill bike to the Caribbean Sea. We stopped to learn about the flora and fauna and even tried a taste of the termites in the large mound.
That wasn't exactly part of the tour, but one of our fellow hikers, Steve, told us all that they taste delicious.
The top not only treated us to a great view, but they supplied cold refreshing towels.
After a quick relaxation period, we strolled back down to grab our mountain bikes and ride through the fields to the beach, where we enjoyed fresh coconuts and a dip in the water – if we so desired – while listening to that wonderful island music!
For more information visit Bracco Stables.
Relaxing Things to do in Jamaica
Featured Jamaica Tour
Kingston City and Blue Mountain Tour – Trace the routes of Bob Marley and Jamaica's heritage as you explore the Blue Mountains.
The Tour includes a stop at the Bob Marley Museum, which was his home in Kingston until his untimely death.
You'll also see historical landmarks like the Devon House Mansions, the Décor VIII Jamaican Art Gallery and the Craighton Estate Coffee Farm.
Here you'll enjoy the Blue Mountain Coffee tour.
Book it here. Includes a full day, transfers, lunch, one alcoholic drink, and Free Cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
9. Bamboo Rafting at Martha Brae – Trelawny
It's one of the most romantic excursions in Jamaica.
Bamboo Rafting down the Martha Brae River is a relaxing way to spend 90 minutes enjoying the scenery while learning about the local history and culture of the area.
You can stop at bars for a drink, purchase crafts and paintings from local artisans, or play on the rope swings along the way.
10. The Pelican Bar – St. Elizabeth
The unique Pelican Bar is an excellent excursion to get you off the resort.
Head off with a local fisherman to a place one mile offshore, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
It's a place to party, relax in the shallow waters, and enjoy a cold beer at sunset.
Tours leave from Ochos Rio, Negril, and Montego Bay for half day trips.
If you stay on the South Coast at Jake's Resort, you'll be out at the Pelican Bar in 20 minutes!
The only way to get there is by boat, and it is the perfect spot to watch sunset while enjoying a cocktail.
Book trips to the Pelican bar through Captain Joseph's boat tour -TreasureBeachExcursions or contact him directly at [email protected]
11. Meet the Crocodiles on the Black River Safari
We love a good safari. I think it is a privilege to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
While once endangered in Jamaica, crocodiles are now protected and you can see them on the Black River Safari.
This 90-minute tour lets you get up close and personal with crocodiles as they laze on the banks of the Black River, swim up to the boats, or hide in the mangrove trees.
It's a Jamaican excursion you won't forget.
12. Catamaran Tour – Negril
Leaving from Jamaica's famous Seven Mile Beach in Negril, a catamaran tour covers many of the top things to in Jamaica in one excursion.
This tour has sailing, sightseeing, popping into Rick's Café to watch cliff divers, snorkelling and getting the chance to play at Margaritaville.
Plus, being a Caribbean excursion, there's plenty of rum to be had!
We sat at the front working on our tans until we reached our snorkeling destination where we enjoyed the warm Caribbean waters.
The music was blasting and the snacks were laid out, but there is no drinking until after snorkeling.
Once we were back on the boat, the party began.
13. Snorkeling in Jamaica – Negril
There are plenty of snorkeling opportunities in Jamaica.
Snorkelling in Jamaica isn't as good as some other Caribbean destinations, but it is still fun.
We spotted trumpetfish, puffer fish, and starfish. Plus, the water is calm, inviting, and warm.
A highlight for me was hanging out in Pirate's Cave, a sea cave where pirates used to hide their stashes of buried treasure.
14. Eat Jerk Chicken at Scotchies – Ocho Rios, Montego Bay
It's a Jamaican institution. Most people don't get off the resort to enjoy the truly delicious food available in Jamaica, but when they do, they often go to Scotchies.
Scotchies serves Jerk the way they do around the island. It's family style, wrapped in tin foil and drenched in delicious jerk sauce.
If you are going to try one dish in Jamaica, make it jerk chicken!
15. Take a Jerk Cooking Class – St. Elizabeth
Take eating Jerk Chicken one step further and try your hand at cooking a Jerk dinner.
At Jakes' Treasure Beach, we made Jerk Snapper and it was delicious.
We learned all the ingredients that went into jerk sauce, so we can now make it at home!
But we're not going to give away the secret, that's something you'll have to learn when you try a cooking class in Jamaica yourself.
16. Stay at Jakes Resort – St. Elizabeth
We suggest staying at Jakes as an actual thing to do in Jamaica because it is a unique experience.
Jakes is located in the south end of the island and feels like you are in the true Jamaica.
We walked to local bars at night, locals hung out at the hotel and it is an amazing place to chill and enjoy island life with beautiful sunsets.
What we love about staying at Jakes is that locals hang out here and the tourists have a laid-back feeling that is far away from the all-inclusive chaos of the more popular destinations.
17. Watch the Cliff Divers at Rick's Cafe – Negril
Rick's Café is famous for the cliff divers who put on a nightly show.
It doesn’t look so high from the photos, but it is a fair distance and they even have higher platforms for the pros to jump off of.
We figure it must be dangerous since someone in our group told us that a friend of hers broke her back jumping from this very spot in the past.
So, we suggest watching the experts at work rather than jumping yourself. But if you are confident and have the skills, go for it.
18. Private Boat Tour and Beach Dinner
It was the highlight of our trip to Jamaica when we joined Captain Joseph on his fishing boat with his two sons to go dolphin watching and dining on their private beach.
Captain Joseph is a skilled captain with 25 years of experience.
The rugged South Coast is beautiful to explore, and then to have a romantic dinner on a private beach is pure heaven.
We sat at Dolphin Point watching dolphins swim by, we walked on the long sandy beach, and we sipped rum punch and Red Stripe beer before our lobster feast.
Book trips to the Pelican Bar through Captain Joseph's boat tour [email protected]
19. Luminous Lagoon – Falmouth
We originally had this off our list of things to do in Jamaica because we didn't love our experience.
But then after talking to a friend of ours, we decided to add it, because she said she had an amazing experience.
The waters for here were colorful and the bioluminescence was really strong. We may have gone on an off day or in the wrong season.
So, if you haven't experienced, bioluminsescence, which is lights dance in the water from microorganizms, this may be the place to do i!
20. Rose Hall Great House – Montego Bay
Jamaica was once filled with large plantation estates. There are two main ones still intact that are a must-visit.
Rose Hall is where you can learn all about the white witch, Anne Palmer who killed three of her husband and tortured many slaves. It is said her ghost is still walking the halls.
21. Greenwood Great House – Montego Bay
Another excellent great house to visit is the Greenwood Great house. It is locally owned since 1976 by Bob and Anne Betton.
The views of Montego Bay from here are outstanding and it's an interesting walk through the artifacts and collection of memorabilia from the island of Jamaica.
There is so much to do off the resort in Jamaica.
While it is great to relax on the beach at a luxury hotel with a Mojito in hand, it's exciting to get yourself off the resort and enjoy everything that Jamaica has to offer
Other Jamaica Travel Ideas – Montego Bay
We spent a lot of time in Montego Bay and there are plenty of things to do that we wrote about at Things to do in Montego Bay.
Where to Stay in Montego Bay
See our Tour of the Hyatt
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Jamaican Travel Fast Facts
The state of emergency was lifted in Montego Bay and other parts of the country, but continues in St. Andrew parish and parts of Kingston,. Tourists are quite safe and most activity does not affect them. But like every destination, it is good to observe regular precautions. Don't go out late at night, take reputable transportation and guided tours.
- Guided tours or car rentals can be booked through Island Routes, Jamaica.
- For Independent travel, check out rental car prices here.
- St. Elizabeth is a 2-hour drive from Montego Bay. It's worth the drive.
- Many excursions in Southern Jamaica can be booked through Jake's Resort.
- For more information on Jamaica visit the Jamaican Tourism Website.
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