Falmouth is the capital of Trelawny Parish and during the 19th century, it was a bustling and wealthy shipping port.
Today it is a popular cruise port and commercial development center.
Falmouth is one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns and the Trelawny name may already be familiar to some. Jamaica’s most decorated Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is from the area.
Located between Montego Bay (about 40 minutes driving west of the port) and Ocho Rios (approximately 60-minute drive east of the port), the port of Falmouth was originally built for Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships in 2011.
But today, other cruise lines including Disney and Celebrity visit this busy Jamaican port.
The Historic Falmouth Cruise Port spans 32-acres and features multiple retail stores, a craft market and several dining establishments including American fast food joints like Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and Dairy Queen.
Cruisers can spend their time in port learning about Falmouth’s rich trading and shipping history or sign up for shore excursions in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.
Given its proximity to Florida’s multiple departure/embarkation ports, Jamaica is a year-round cruise destination and you’ll find Falmouth on many Western Caribbean itineraries.
Currency: US Dollar
Primary Language Spoken: English
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Falmouth?
The Falmouth cruise port is triangular shaped and can accommodate two ships at a time. The port area is closed to locals with the exception of those who work at the shops and restaurants.
The red-roofed terminal building and port area has been touted by some cruise passengers as being very artificial and a bit Disney-esque but taking a tour past the port’s gates will allow you to see the real Jamaica.
READ MORE: 14 Must-Pack Essentials for Every Cruise Vacation with Kids
Getting Around Falmouth
While car rentals are available in port, it isn’t recommended for cruise passengers. Cars drive on the left-hand side in Jamaica and Falmouth is very busy during the day which makes navigating quite difficult.
Taxi / Taxi Van– There is no shortage of taxis in the port area. Most drivers should have fares to popular destinations posted. Make sure to discuss the fare before departing. Jamaican Tourist Board licensed taxis have a JTB sticker on their windshield and all drivers are expected to carry photo ID with them. Taxis with red license plates (known as Route Taxis) often have lower flat rate fares because they will pick up other passengers en route.
Trolley / Horse Drawn Carriage – There are several guided tours that take visitors around Falmouth’s historic sights. If you’re looking for a short excursion, a trolley or carriage tour would be a relaxing and economical way to explore the area.
Walking – A short walk beyond the port’s gates leads to several historic sights however due to the compact town and constantly being approached by local vendors (a common complaint from previous cruisers), many visitors stay within the port’s gates or book a shore excursion.
Kid Friendly Beaches in Falmouth
Because there are no beaches within walking distance of the port, cruise lines often offer all-inclusive beach day excursions at nearby resort hotels. But if you’re looking for something less pricey and closer to port, there are two kid-friendly beaches just a short drive away that might fit the bill.
Read More: Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
Burwood Beach – Just 3.5 miles / 5.7 km from port is Burwood Beach. There is a $5/person admission fee (locals and kids are free) which gives you access to the beach and bathroom and shower facilities. The water is very clear and quite shallow – about 4 feet deep for the most part. There’s a lifeguard on duty and umbrellas and beach chairs are available for rent for another $5 each. You won’t find food vendors here but you can purchase drinks at the small beach bar. Cruise crowds typically head to Burwood Beach around noon so if you’re looking to have the beach to yourself for a few hours, you’re better off visiting in the morning before lunchtime.
Red Stripe Beach – If you’re looking for a private family-friendly beach near the port, Red Stripe is a good option. Royal Caribbean cruise passengers can book this onboard and non Royal Caribbean cruise visitors can book this excursion at the port – just look for the Red Stripe Beach kiosk. The $29/adult ($15/child) fee covers the round trip shuttle bus service to and from Red Stripe Beach. It’s approximately a 10-minute drive from the port. Once there, you can rent beach chairs, purchase drinks and food from the bar and grill, get a massage from the on-site massage therapist or enjoy the calm cool water. There’s a lifeguard on duty as well as restroom and change room facilities. Shuttle buses run every hour for those who only want to stay for part of the day.
“All Inclusive Resort Beach Day Passes” are Jamaica’s answer to providing a beach experience with extra amenities – think splash pads for kids, all you can drink and eat packages, and water sports. You can book these excursions directly with your cruise line, purchase passes from a tour company or put one together yourself – you’ll arrange transportation and purchase passes directly from the hotel.
These two family-friendly resorts offer beach day passes and are less than a 25-minute taxi ride from the port.
- Royalton White Sands
- Hilton Rose Hall – day passes can be purchased online here
You can book an excursion in advance through a tour company (some cruise lines offer shore excursions to these resorts) or coordinate transportation and day passes on your own.
Top Attractions & Activities Around Falmouth for Families
Because Falmouth is situated in between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios – two of the most popular tourist destinations in Jamaica – there’s plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions to choose from.
Here are the top kid-friendly activities and attractions we recommend checking out:
Dunn’s River Falls – One of Jamaica’s national treasures and the country’s most well-known waterfall – Dunn’s River Falls – can be found in Ocho Rios (about an hour’s drive from Falmouth). There are many shore excursions and tours that stop at the Falls. This is a very popular attraction for cruisers and those vacationing in Jamaica so if you’re headed this way, choose an excursion or tour that includes other activities in addition to the Falls – it will be a much better value.
Water shoes are required as some of the rocks are slippery and uneven. You can either bring them from home or rent them when you get there. There’s also a small shoe rental stand within the port complex for cruisers who require shoes for the day. Although there are no minimum age restrictions to climb the Falls, this activity isn’t recommended for children under 7. The fast-moving water and slippery walking surfaces can be intimidating for young children. Parents are allowed to carry their children but again, this can be difficult when you’re trying to maintain your balance. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 2 hours
READ MORE: Top 8 Water Shoes and Swimming Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
Irie Blue Hole – If you’re looking for a less crowded waterfall excursion, then Irie Blue Hole in Ocho Rios might be for you. This 20-foot cascading waterfall offers visitors a chance to jump, swing, and swim in crystal blue waters. When compared to Dunn’s River Falls, this excursion is a better option for families with young children as climbing, cliff jumping and swinging off the Tarzan rope are all optional. Tour guides are there to help navigate and lend a helping hand to those less steady on their feet (the reviews from parents with young children have been positive). Water shoes are highly recommended for this activity. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 2 hours
Green Grotto Caves – Nature lovers and history buffs will enjoy exploring 1000-year-old underground caves while learning about their fascinating history. Green Grotto Caves in Ocho Rios was once a refuge for runaway slaves, a home for Taino Indians and a rum storage room during World War II. Just a head’s up – you will encounter bats while exploring the caves! These animals and other creepy crawlies call the caves home. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 1.5 hours
Bobsledding at Mystic Mountain Park – Inspired by Jamaica’s Olympic bobsled team, the bobsled adventure is a must-do for adrenaline junkies. This custom built track takes visitors through 1500 meters of tropical rainforest at 28 mph. All riders must be 46 inches or taller. Mystic Mountain Park is a 100-acre park that offers activities for the entire family in addition to bobsledding. Visitors can ride the Sky Explorer (chairlift), zip line through the rainforest, splash around in the infinity pool and water slide and explore the butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Recommended length of visit – 1.5 to 3 hours
Good Hope Estate – Visit this 2,000-acre plantation and park located just 20-minutes driving from the port of Falmouth. Tour the grounds and learn about the history of this sugar-estate or choose your own adventure. Visitors can go zip lining, river tubing, explore the grounds on an ATV, swim in the pool, visit the aviary, sign up for a rum tour, challenge yourself on the obstacle/ropes course, or try some famous Jamaican dishes. Families can easily spend the entire day here as there are activities for every age group. Lockers are available for rent and waterproof cameras are highly recommended for those participating in water activities. Recommended length of visit – 4 hours or more
Margaritaville Falmouth – If you want to skip booking an excursion completely, you might be interested in spending an hour or two at Margaritaville. You don’t even have to leave the port complex! Splash through a mini version of Dunn’s River Falls, try the Jerk Chicken, play in the pool and swim-up bar and catch up on email – there’s free WiFi here! Recommended length of visit – 1 to 2 hours
Where to Get Free WiFi in Falmouth
Margaritaville offers free WiFi for paying customers.
You can also head to Diamonds International within the port complex for free WiFi.
Read More About Caribbean Cruises with Kids:
- Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Cozumel, Mexico with Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands with Kids
- Which Caribbean Itinerary is Best – Eastern, Western or Southern?