Falmouth is a delightful harbour resort, 42 kilometres (26 miles) east of Montego Bay. From here, you can visit Rafters Village for rafting on the Martha Brae, and an interesting crocodile farm called Jamaica Swamp Safaris. There is also a plantation mansion, Greenwood Great House, which was once owned by the Barrett Brownings. The Church of St Paul has Sunday services where visitors can listen to the choir singing.
Ocho Rios lies roughly 108 kilometres (67 miles) east of Montego Bay. The name is said to have come from the old Spanish word for roaring river or, in modern Spanish, 8 rivers. Ocho Rios was once a sleepy fishing village, and although there are now resort facilities, international hotels and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, the town has kept something of the sleepy ambience of small town Jamaica. One of the most beautiful sights in Jamaica is Dunn’s River Falls, a crystal water stairway which leads to the nearby botanical gardens.
Ocho Rios is known as the garden lover’s paradise, and the Shaw Park Botanical Gardens exhibit the charming variety of the area’s exotic flora, for which the town is celebrated. Not surprisingly, 2 of the most popular tours available are to working plantations at Brimmer Hall and Prospect where sugar, bananas and spices are still grown and harvested, using many of the traditional skills handed down through generations. Any sightseeing itinerary should include a drive along Fern Gully, a road running along an old river bed that winds through a 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) valley of ferns. Another tour is the Jamaica Night on the White River, which is a canoe ride up the torch lit river to the sound of drums. Dinner and an open air bar is accessible on the riverbank on Sunday evenings.
Columbus Park, at Discovery Bay, commemorates Columbus’ arrival in Jamaica with a museum and 24 hour open air park exhibiting relics of Jamaican history. Other tours include Runaway Bay, which has fine beaches, brilliant scuba diving and horse riding; and the Runaway Caves nearby, which offer a boat ride 35 metres (120 feet) below ground on a lake in the limestone Green Grotto.
Set on 1 of the Caribbean’s most stunning bays, Port Antonio is surrounded by the Blue Mountains. The town dates back to the 16 th century, and sights include Mitchell’s Folly, a 2 storey mansion built by the American millionaire Dan Mitchell in 1905, and the ruins of the 60 room Great House. The surrounding sea is rich in game fish, such as yellowtail, kingfish, wahoo and bonito. Blue marlin, however, are the great prize and there is a yearly Blue Marlin Tournament run alongside the Jamaican International Fishing Tournament in Port Antonio every autumn.
Rafting is available on the Rio Grande, comprising 2 hour trips on 2 passenger bamboo rafts, which begin high in the Blue Mountains at Berrydale, sail past plantations of bananas and sugar cane, and end up at Margaret’s Bay. The scenic Somerset Falls nearby are a famous picnic spot. Beaches in the Port Antonio area include San San and Boston (where the Jamaican ‘jerk pork’ is found), while the Blue Lagoon is a salt water cove offering fishing, swimming and water skiing and is considered 1 of the finest coves in the Caribbean.