My mom and step-dad recently visited Jamaica as part of a Caribbean cruise. Their boat docked in Falmouth, which is the capital of Trelawny – the parish where I live.
Cruise passengers are given from 9am until 4pm to explore, take tours, shop and see Jamaica. For a country that is so rich in culture, history and beauty, 7 hours is not very much time! They wanted a cultural experience that didn’t feel too touristy, and I think we struck the perfect balance. So, if you have one day to spend in the coastal areas of Trelawny and St. Ann, consider these options for a fulfilling day:
Falmouth’s cruise ship pier opened up in 2011. It offers a craft market and restaurants, but is gated and entirely separated from the city of Falmouth. I’ve heard some controversial things about the pier, as it is gated and essentially separate from the city of Falmouth. Many of the ships’ passengers choose tours in neighboring Ochi or MoBay, meaning they don’t really linger in the Falmouth area.
The city of Falmouth has a number of historic Georgian buildings, like the courthouse. We did a short walking tour of the city (led by me), bought coconut jelly water and sugar cane from the street vendors in Water Square, and then headed down to hail a taxi.
Cost: tour- free; cold coconut jelly water- J$150; sugar cane- J$100
Green Grotto Caves, Discovery Bay, St. Ann
From Falmouth, we chartered a DBay taxi to Green Grotto Caves just a few minutes down the road from the Discovery Bay taxi park at the Texaco gas station.
We were greeted by a friendly staff, clean environment and a loaded calabash tree. We were escorted to the front of the first cave (called “Runaway Cave”) and met our tour guide. He was professional, funny and nice on the eyes.
Historically, the caves were used by runaway slaves, Spanish pirates, Taino (or Arawak) natives, and more recently, an American who used the caves as a night club. The caves are now used as an educational tourist attraction. My school will likely be taking a field trip to the caves soon, too!
A grotto is an underwater lake. Jamaica is full of underground lakes and rivers, and Green Grotto Caves’ namesake grotto is a mere 67 stairs down the cave. My mom got a little claustrophobic going down (it wasn’t a tight space…she just gets so nervous!), but it was cool to see the roots of the Jamaican fig trees growing down to reach the water. Fig tree roots will go as deep as a mile underground to reach water, and the Taino Indians likely used the trees to locate water sources in the caves.
The caves are full of bats, especially those fruit-eating varieties. Our guide shared lots of information about the bats, like the fact that their poop hits the ceiling.
Overall, I was very impressed with the 45-minute tour of the caves and the grotto.
Cost: Cave entry fee- J$2,000 for adults, J$1,000 for local adults w/ID; chartered taxi from Falmouth ~J$2,000 for three adults
Columbus Park Jerk Centre, Discovery Bay, St. Ann
For lunch, we headed to one of my favorite jerk spots. The jerk is about J$100 more than a jerk pan on the road, but the atmosphere and the view make it absolutely worth it.
We each got an order of jerk chicken, beers, and shared festival (a fried cornmeal dumpling that tastes sort of like a corn dog without the hot dog), fried bammy (made from cassava, pairs nicely with spicy fish) and roast sweet potato (a little different from American sweet potato, more like a yam).
We were lucky to be serenaded by a musical duo, too!
Cost: US$37 for three orders of jerk chicken, two festival, two bammy, one order of roast yam, and six beers; chartered taxi from Green Grotto Caves for 3- $1000
Silver Sands Beach, Duncans, Trelawny
Silver Sands was the true gem of the day.
Until visiting Silver Sands, the only thing I’d heard about it from Jamaicans was “there’s quicksand there! Mi fraid fi go!” …I got that advice from an 8-year-old student at school.
After visiting, I was kicking myself for not going sooner! It’s by far the most pristine beach I have been to in Jamaica.
One bit of advice that I got (from my host mom, so it’s credible!) was to be careful since it’s a fair distance off of the main road. Because there aren’t many people there, it’s wise to go with a group and not bring anything valuable.
I always like to chat up any Jamaicans I see when I’m going someplace secluded that I’ve never been to before. After chatting with some of the fishermen and craft vendors, we enjoyed our stay with no problems.
True to form, my mom instantly met and befriended this dog. She named her “Banana” because she really liked my mom’s banana.
There is a small restaurant and bar on site, as well as several craft vendors. Our first view of the beach was obscured by a number of small fishing boats- really, they were a sight to see all on their own.
To get to the beach, head to to Duncans, Trelawny and ask a Falmouth taxi to carry you down to Silver Sands. If they drop you at the crossroads, you’d have a good 20-30 minute walk, but I’d recommend they drop you down by the beach since the road is “lonely” (not a lot of people walking on it).
Cost: chartered taxi from DBay Texaco to SSB (includes driver waiting at the beach and carrying us back to Falmouth)- J$3000 for three people
We chartered most of our taxis that day, but we did take one regular route taxi during our trip, which was pretty hilarious. My mom was chatting up a schoolah (school youth) and they had to small up a bit when a ‘trong bady gal hopped in the car with us. The novelty of their experience in a taxi made me smile and think back to my first small-up experience.
I carried them back to Falmouth in a chartered taxi – the same one who carried us from Discovery Bay, and they were back on their way. That’s a wrap! Next time, I hope to carry them to my school and some more spots in the interior in search of the real Jamaica.