What better way to experience Jamaica than a drive along the coast and a taste of the local flavors? See my review of the Jamaica Island Panorama & Reggae Hill Rum Tasting tour.
We chose this 5 hour tour of the island as a nice way to get to see as much of Jamaica as possible. Plus, drinking rum on the beach isn’t a bad way to end the day. Check out my review of the Island Panorama & Reggae Hill Rum Tasting tour.
Jamaica Island Panorama & Reggae Hill Rum Tasting Itinerary
We disembarked from the cruise ship and hopped on a nice air conditioned van for our 5 hour tour of the island. It was about an hour drive along the coast before our first stop on the tour.
During this time, our tour guide taught us all the Jamaican basics: how to talk like a Jamaican (“no problems” and “ya mon”), Jamaican lawnmowers (the sheep roaming the pastures and sides of the roads), and crazy Jamaican drivers (which our driver was not).
1. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Our first stop on the tour was Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
This Roman Catholic church sits on the foundation of the oldest stone church in Jamaica. Construction on that first stone church, Peter Martyr Church, began in 1523 but was never completed. Between 1939 and 1948, construction on a new Spanish style church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, took place using only local materials, including the stones from the original church, which were incorporated into the sanctuary.
The grounds are beautifully laid out, with a gorgeous red-flower-lined path leading up to the ivy covered church. Stray dogs roam about, but it’s best not to approach them as they might not be too friendly.
The inside of the church is simple and serene. Stone carvings of the crucifixion line the upper walls beneath wide wooden rafters.
Down the hill from the church is a statue of Christopher Columbus decked out in bronze. Our tour guide said that they credit Columbus not for discovering Jamaica (because he didn’t), but for putting Jamaica on the map.
2. Fern Gully
We departed the church and drove through the city center of St. Ann’s Bay, driving down a street that had once been one-way but that now accepts two-way traffic even though the road was never widened, and that was quite a feat.
Then it was up the winding road through Fern Gully, a lush forest of tropical foliage and of course ferns, over 500 different species of ferns, that create a canopy over the road.
This road goes on for 3 miles, but we turned around about a mile in and went on to our next stop.
On bumpy portion of the tour, we traveled over unkempt and narrow roads, past what the tour guide said was Diana Ross’s house. We came to one point in the road where we met another van full of tourists but the road was too narrow to pass, so that was some tricky maneuvering our driver had to do.
Then we stopped at a rest stop on top of the mountain that offered great views of the bay below.
After that short break, it was time for our final stop – the rum!
Related tour: Taste of Jamaica Food Tour from Ocho Rios
3. Reggae Hill Rum Tasting (at Bamboo Beach Club)
Our rum tasting was supposed to take place at Reggae Hill, a park-like getaway on the river. But thanks to the rainy season, the river had flooded and Reggae Hill brought the rum tasting to us at Bamboo Beach Club instead.
We tasted 5 different local rums in all. They told us not to sip at them because, as they said, Jamaicans do shots.
So we started with the highest proof rum and worked our way down.
As someone who doesn’t like rum or doing shots, it definitely got better as the proof got lower. It almost made me wish I had opted for the juice tasting instead. Or asked for some juice with my rum.
Once the tasting was finished, we relaxed on the beach and slept off the rum.
Related tour: Bamboo Beach Club VIP with Specialty Lunch & Cocktails
Jamaica Island Tour Map
Want to recreate this Jamaica island tour and rum tasting on your own? Use the map below to help plan out your trip.
Top Jamaica Tours
- One Love Bus Bar Crawl
- Rastasafari Experience from Montego Bay
- Private Martha Brae River Bamboo Rafting Tour
More Destinations From This Cruise
Check out more of our Caribbean cruise adventures at the ports below:
- Snorkeling In Labadee, Haiti
- Climbing the Coba Mayan Ruins in Mexico
- Cenote Multum-Ha: What to Expect
Ready for a Caribbean cruise vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Find cheap Caribbean cruises: You can use Orbitz to find the best prices on Caribbean cruises.
- Prepare for your cruise: Check out my top tips for your first cruise.
- Pack for your vacation: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need by checking out my packing list resources.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Jamaica? Let me know in the comments!