Our day in Jamaica was my dad's birthday and our last day of excursions on our 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise. Early that morning we docked at Falmouth, Jamaica, before our 8 a.m. tour we had a quick breakfast and hopped right off the boat to find our tour guide under a gazebo on the dock.
We followed her to a bus where we took an hour long ride to Dunn's River Falls. On the way, our tour guide gave us a history of the land, pointed out where Bob Marley and Usain Bolt were from, and told us a lot about the local culture.
One big part of the culture is music, and the famous song "Day-O" featured in Beetlejuice has a rich Jamaican history, talking about the banana man coming to count their bunches so they could hit their quota for the day and go home. We sang this on the bus and at both of our excursions. Also be prepared to say, "yah mon" a whole lot, because that was almost always the answer to every question they asked us.
We arrived at Dunn's River Falls and it was a bit different than we expected, its way more commercialized than we imagined. You arrive at gates where you get wristbands or buy tickets, and it makes you feel like you are at Disney World. Until you actually get to the water and meet your tour guide, the entire walk down their is different commercial stops with vendors and shops.
Our guide's nickname was "Big Foot' because he walked everywhere barefoot and his feet were huge. He was super energetic and gave us great instructions and did different silly things each time we stopped. (For example: since it was my dad's birthday, at one stop we circled around him and sang him Happy Birthday and splashed him with water). He also guided us under the water falls and down natural slides and let us swim through the water.
You start at the bottom of the river and climb your way to the top, some of the rocks were really slick or had big drop offs, so it was really important we pay attention to Big Foot and yet we each managed to slip a couple of times, but nothing was major.
The falls are an incredible display of natural beauty. The rocks break the water in to the most picturesque shapes, yet they flow so smoothly over the jutting stones. The water was surrounded by incredible tropical trees with ginormous leaves, letting in just the right amount of sunlight. It was the most tropical hike I have been on thus far.
Once we made it to the top we exited the park, trying not to shop at the stands so that we would be on time for our tubing tour of the White River. We arrived at the little shack check in spot, grabbed our inner tubes, and waited at the end of the pier for our guide to help us get in to the water.
We continued as a group down the river, through rapids and whirlpools, using the tour guides to save our butts when we got stuck. It was so much fun letting the water take hold of you and just seeing where you would go. The scenery was incredible all around, it felt like a tropical paradise. But what looked more like a paradise was the bamboo float tours we passed, they looked so romantic and luxurious we were all a little jealous.
But after our tubing adventure concluded and we arrived at our bus, we were off to a true Jamaican lunch at the Shaw Park Beach Hotel and Spa. We arrived to complimentary Rum Punches and were lead down to the patio where the buffet was laid out.
We requested a table by the water, in the sunshine, and ordered a round of Red Stripes before we got food of the buffett. Each of us tried everything they had to offer; curried jerk chicken, Jamaican jerk pork, steamed rice, and traditional beef patties filled our plates. Our plates didn't stay full for long, we each wiped them clean and thought about getting seconds.
Instead, Kendall and I decided to go swim in the ocean and wait to be called back to the bus. We waded in the bath warm water for a few minutes until we decided to dry off. We still had an hour bus ride back to the port, so everyone slept on the bus while it started to rain.